Tag Archives: childhood

Here comes Santa claus?

We are off to see Santa today and I for one can’t wait. I have a shopping afternoon off work, we have booked in (yes, you need to book with santa’s PA for an appointment) and my son has no idea what is going on. It’s not a surprise, it’s just that he is not yet 2.

Last year was a disaster. We took the boy to a shopping centre, got there early, queued for ages and had to leave within seconds due to the screaming. Our expectations of a magical and festive experience were smashed to pieces by the piercing screams of our nearly one year old. To be fair to my son though what did we expect? There you go son, sit on this big fat mans lap in a strange place, try to ignore the massive beard and strange person (with big ears and a stripy outfit) taking your picture, just smile for the camera. New parents? You bet.

But what makes a truly great Santa? Here it comes…

1) real fatness. Santa must actually be fat. It’s no good shoving pillows up a skinny mans top as it makes him look like the voodoo head Shrinkers have got to him. Scary.

2) a good beard. It needs to be like goldilocks hair, white of course, but not straggly. The last thing you need is your Santa looking like Dan Ackroyd when he goes nuts in trading places. It also needs to look real, not stuck on, otherwise pulling of the beard will occur. De bearding Santa? A dream crusher.

3) the grotto. It needs to be cosy, warm and welcoming. The one last year looked like an evil Micky mouse lair. No wonder my son went nuts.

4) Santa needs to be old. A young Santa is just weird. Crows feet yes, deep, gruff voice yes. Youthful exuberance no.

I hope today goes well. To be honest I just hope it’s not a scream fest. Above all else though, I hope the picture is good. It’s a long time to wait for the next one.

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A very London show

The stage was set (some painted pieces of fabric held up by wooden frames), the actors were ready (a travelling panto cast of 6 or 7), the audience waited (7 classes of primary school children ranging from 4 to 11 years old) and the orchestra started to play (a lady at the back with a MacBook). It was the school panto.

I must admit, I was slightly dubious when I found out that the panto was to be The Wizard of Oz. Never before had I heard of a film based pantomime. To my surprise though it was very good.

Yes the acting was hammy. Yes the set was more functional than stunning. Yes the music was very synth based. But I found myself singing along and clapping in all the right places.

The thing I didn’t expect was the reaction of the children. Don’t get me wrong, they very much enjoyed it, the problem was that they didn’t know what to do. Panto rules state that
1. If someone shouts ‘oh no they didn’t’ you response should be ‘oh yes they did’.
2. When the baddie comes on you boo, when the goodie comes on you cheer.
3. Clap along with the music whenever possible.
4. Direct the person on stage who is looking for someone, either ‘it’s behind you’ or ‘over there’ will do.
5. Fidget uncomfortably on your seat when the slow/love song comes on.

I often forget that working in a very deprived area means that the kids don’t get much. They had no idea what to do. Most of them have never been to the theatre, even for a pantomime. I now feel bad about my last post bemoaning the fact I had to attend 2 pantos a year.

I now realise how lucky I was, and even though I moaned a little at the time, hindsight (and the kids I teach) have taught me a valuable lesson.

In their defence, the kids did admirably with point 5 on my list of rules. Some things you just know.

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