Anyday now the first Christmas lights will appear on Harvey Road, part of Derby's ring road. It is as if there's a competition to be first. There is certainly a competition in my family to be 'the first spotter' so to speak! I am reminded of all this on Tuesday, the last day in September, the reason being, I had a haircut and beard trim. And yes, there is a connection as I will explain. Being short and bearded, the latter for many years, the former, forever, it is not unusual for people to look in my direction when a 'Santa' is required. (see blog dated 22 September) It is not true that in summer I am a model in a garden gnome factory. I am reasonably happy to oblige but parents insist on the real thing, so to speak, no false beards allowed; herein lies the problem.
I would never claim to be the worlds best dressed man, only the best kept man. But as beards go there is a limit. The limit is usually the time you find bits of left over meals, especially cereals in amongst the unkempt hair. It is also a sign when small children run to hide behind mother's skirt, wide eyed and often screaming profusely; the child that is, but occasionally both. You would be surprised how many small children are terrified of a 'Father Christmas.'
I used to regularly visit playgroups in my role as Community Service organiser at Noel Baker Comprehensive School. In the run up to Christmas I was viewed with awe by many three to four year olds. And this is where it became a little naughty. On occasion it would be suggested I was Santa's brother, a deception seldom queried by small children still innocent of the wicked adult world that lay ahead. The best behaved received the solomn promise that I would inform my brother as to their Christmas wish list. The worst behaved were informed that they needed to reform their wicked ways before 'Brother Santa' could even contemplate a visit. I know, I know, dreadfully non PC behaviour not acceptable today. (Is Father Christmas politically incorrect nowadays?) All this immature behaviour, but lets face it, I'd probably pretend to be Usama Bin Laden if I was wandering in and out of playgroups in the present climate of fear and uncertainty. Some of us never grow up! Strangely enough Bin Laden is left handed like myself and we both use a stick on occasion. Mind you, he is around six feet five to my five feet five. Do little children know all this!
I digress. The haircut and trim was hopefully timed to ensure I am reasonably tidy for the next few weeks but suitably long bearded for Christmas week. Discussion resulted in the use of a number three razor cut. The result is more suave (only kidding) than Santa. We have eleven weeks to go. Is our timing correct. Watch this space!