My daughter used to work in the Plaza, and she came one day to visit me.
She says: “Dad, they are looking for a Santa, are you interested?”
Hey, who is?
“At the Plaza there”.
Who is that?.
Well I said: “I will go there and have a word with him anyway”.
So I go down and had a wee chat with him.
He [the manager] said: “Have you done anything like this before?” I said: “No”.
He said: “First things first. Do you like children?” I said: “I have five of them”.
He said: “Ok, you will do”. So I started from there. I was paid, but just enough to buy me a bottle of wine, and leave you that little bit extra. You know, you’ve got to cover that.
Personally, well I don’t know about any body else playing Santa, when it comes around September every year I used to go round Toysarus and these other big toy stores and find out exactly what is available, what new toys to have in the market. Because, to me, it wasn’t just a case of sitting there placating children with; oh! I am not sure if your mum can afford that, you know. Or, what about this instead, you know. Because, to me, as soon as you say to kids what would you like, I will turn the wee one away in the booth, the next one you know. To me, it wasn’t that. Well, I went through four managers. Three of them, they complained because I had a queue and did not speed up a bit with them, you know. I say to them, the mother or guardian or whoever is paying their money, each child is entitled to stay as long as he deserves to stay with me. That way I will get them back next year. If you are not happy with that, give me back my boots. Again. I said the same thing to now Frasers in the West end, they were the first in Edinburgh to ban Santa from taking the child on the knee. Em, they supplied me with a stool for the child to sit on. The manager told me it is against the law. I said: “Stuff you with the law. I was checked out by the police many years ago before I started Santa. If you have the bloody indication in your mind that I am a bloody paedophile, you can have your Santa suit right now!”. [He said] “Oh! No, no, I don’t mean that”. I said: “Your business is outside the grotto to look after the centre. My business is inside the grotto here making sure that regardless of what state is the child in when he comes into my grotto, he walks out with a smile in the face. When a kid walks with a smile in his face, I have done a good job”. You see I used to have young girls, well, they are still young, coming with their children to see Santa. I have the mothers of those children on my knee years before. I had them coming, from afar, from Witburn, to see me at the Plaza because she remembered that when she was a child her mother brought her in to see Santa. So the manager still kept me on.
The reason I mentioned going round to Toysarus is this: to me if a kid say to me I want a U2 Santa, I have to know what the hell a U2 is. What its purpose is. Otherwise if I say to him: “What’s a U2?” hey, [He would say] “You are Santa, you are supposed to know!” You get asked so many awkward questions that you are not just going to blow a lot of crap to the kids. You have to have your mind very active. Say out of the blue, when a wee girl said to me: “Santa you’ve got wee elves working for you, haven’t you?” I say: “Oh yes, I’ve got a small army of them”. [She said] “Why don’t they grow big like me?” Hey, you have to answer that! I said: “Well, because of the extreme conditions, weather wise, up where I am, up the Artic, I have my workshop underground, and it is so much hard work cutting through that earth. It is so solid that I only have to build it small and I only able to employ small people to work there”. [She said] “Oh! Oh, I see. I wandered about that”. Hee, hee, hee, One up to Bill!
So you have to be a liar to be a good Santa. But you also have to be a very good liar to be a very good Santa. One year, these two little girls came in. They were in bloody tears when they came in. Some rotten swine had broken into their house. Stole the televison, the video player. Ransacked all the drawers and even stole the bloody little children’s presents from under the tree. Ah, to me that is the lowest of the low, when you steal from the child. I mean no matter what I did to console them, they were still so upset. The best I could do was say to them: “Anything extra I can have when I have done my deliveries, I will send one of my minions back to your house”. That helped.