In which The Author regrets having
the chimney demolished
Or ‘Santa Claus’, as people insist on calling you nowadays. I’m not surprised. You’re operating on a multinational basis these days, and the US dominates everything from nuclear weaponry to the very language we use. All the same, I hope you don’t mind if I use the name I knew you by when we first got acquainted, back in the late sixties. I expect it makes a nice change for you these days.
It’s not a long letter this year. I expect you’ll be glad to know that, as I’ve left it until last minute to write (again!) I thought maybe this year you’d get it quicker if I put it online, rather than posting it. The Royal Mail is unreliable at the best of times, and they even stung me for a couple of quid in Aberdare last week. You’ll probably find this quite funny.
My friend Barbara and I had sold a couple of copies of Bernard Baldwin’s book Mountain Ash & Penrhiwceiber Remembered in Old Photographs to people living in England. I took them to Aberdare Post Office and they charged us £2.16 each to send. We sold our third copy early this week and I took it to my local office around the corner. This time, an identical consignment cost only £1.23. Apparently I’d been charged Packet Rate instead of the (correct) Large Letter Rate. Could you have a word with them while you’re passing? I’m fairly sure your elves double-check the weight and the size of packages before despatch. That’s one of the benefits of outsourcing, isn’t it? Come to think of it, I’d hate to imagine the size of your mailroom. It must make Amazon’s warehouse in Swansea look like a phone box.
Anyway, back on topic. I’m not going to ask for world peace, cures for AIDS, cancer and malaria, an end to poverty, or any of the usual clichés that Miss World finalists always go on about. I’m not even sure whether you should bother visiting me at all. I have to confess that I haven’t been a very good boy this year. I’ve argued with my family, cut myself off from friends, and spent far too much time and money in various pubs. I’ll sure you’ll forgive me this last indiscretion, though. You’re quite partial to the odd glass of sherry, aren’t you?
I haven’t even trimmed up the house – that’s five years in a row, isn’t it? Do you remember that Boxing Day night when I threw the whole Christmas shebang into the wheelie bin – tree, tinsel, cards, baubles, angel, everything? It was nothing personal, but when I found out how ill Dad really was, it sort of destroyed Christmas for me. I didn’t even regret it when the bin men came and took the lot away the following morning. I did get a momentary pang when I heard the lorry coming past, but it wasn’t guilt. It was more my inner sensible person saying, ‘Oh you daft cunt, you could have had the plug off those lights and used it again!’
I don’t want a lot in the way of material things as usual. While I like technology, I don’t see the point of constantly upgrading for the sake of it. Most products have their problems during the first phase of consumer usage (witness the number of students I know who’ve had trouble with their Blackberry phones!) I’d rather hang on for a while and get something that’s gone through beta testing. A new mobile phone would be nice, just because I liked the one that got half-inched in the Glandover during the summer. I was able to put ringtones and pictures on it. Just something I could customise would be cool.
Some clothes would be nice. I don’t do designer labels or brand names, but something new for my wardrobe would be pretty decent of you. Actually, a few complete new sets of gear – some male and some female – would be awesome. I can feel a skirt coming on again soon. Not in this weather, though!
I’d also really appreciate a memory upgrade. Not for the PC or the Netbook – for me. As I’m getting older, I find my ability to recall information that I’ve known for years is on the wane. I know that happens to everyone, but there’s a lot of bad stuff I could quite happily forget without a moment’s notice or a second thought. If the space freed up in my brain could be re-allocated to store new information, I’d be confident to apply for Mastermind and Brain of Britain with no fear of falling. My pal James was on The Weakest Link a couple of months ago and totally lost his nerve in the second round. I’d hate it if that happened to me.
This next one’s a bit trickier. I know they’re in the very early stages of development, but an invisibility device would be awesome. Rest assured, I don’t want it for nefarious purposes. I’d only use it for good reasons, like avoiding idiots in pubs and hiding from a certain psychotic ex-girlfriend if we’re both in town at the same time.
Which brings me to the next item on the list. I know you don’t approve of people trafficking, but this isn’t quite in that category. I’d like a proper girlfriend. I’ve had my fill of mental bints, and I’ve had more than enough near misses over the years. Meeting someone who didn’t just ‘like me as a friend’ would be fantastic. It’s a big ask, I know. Even so, I’m not especially fussy about her age, looks, height, build, nationality, ethnic background, or whether she’s got children from a previous relationship.
I’d prefer a redhead, but a brunette would do if you’re running short. At a real squeeze I’d settle for a natural blonde, but an everlasting supply of hair dye would make a useful stocking filler. As long as she’s really kinky, that’s the main thing. I’m talking hardcore BDSM, not just the odd bit of Ann Summers underwear on birthdays and Valentine’s Day. If she could also hold an intelligent conversation, was interested in books, films, theatre, and had decent taste in music (i.e. no thumpy-thumpy stuff) it would really be appreciated. I’ll leave it to you.
I would also like a puppy. I know a dog isn’t just for Christmas, but since I’ve been walking Stella regularly I’ve remembered just how much I loved having a dog when I was younger. It wouldn’t have to be a big one, just one with loads of energy and bags of personality to match, so that we could go exploring for hours. If you could throw in a supply of food and treats as well, that would be great. Don’t worry about providing a collar and lead, mind – I’ve got that pretty much covered already.
Finally, I’d love a pair of Sennheiser HD 21-1 II headphones. They’re the ones TV engineers and air traffic controllers use, as they’re so effective at noise-cancelling. I know I said I wasn’t into technology for its own sake, but there’s a really good reason for asking for these. I’d be able to take them everywhere, and wear them whenever there was a singer or a band in the pub, or just when the place was full of idiots. That way, I could concentrate on reading or writing or working online without having to contend with the background noise.
Thanks in advance.
Best wishes for 2012,
Steve (aged 45¾)