IN A newspaper the other day, I saw a photo of seven different Santa Clauses standing next to each other.
This was the occasion of the annual Santa Stroll starting and finishing at Nottingham Council House, which is to raise money for Nottinghamshire Hospice.
I found myself wondering what the reaction of young children would have been to seeing so many Santas when they thought there was only one.
It reminded me of a little girl who visited a Santa’s grotto at a department store in Nottingham city centre.
She had seen Father Christmas at a shop only a short time before and she asked her mother: “How did he get here so quickly?”
Mum was clearly flustered as she struggled to come up with an answer to this challenging question.
For the benefit of any youngsters reading my column, I had better make it clear that Santa has magical powers which enable him to multiply himself.
Usually, this only happens in an emergency such as if he finds himself falling behind schedule with the number of chimneys he has to climb down on Christmas Eve.
Of course, the same applies to the most famous reindeer of all, namely Rudolph. That is why so many people are able to borrow his red nose on Comic Relief Day.
It should be explained that some people do dress up as Santa. They even included two armed robbers in last Saturday’s episode of ‘Casualty’ on BBC-1 TV.
But they are not real Santas. Not like the one who brings joy to children all over Hucknall at Christmas time when he travels to their areas on his sleigh, courtesy of the town’s Rotary Club.
Or like the one visited by a seriously-ill girl from Bulwell whom I sponsored a few years ago for a trip to Santa’s home in Lapland, organised by the When You Wish Upon A Star charity.
The only time I have played the part of Santa was a very interesting experience, to say the least.
My debut as the man in red was the highlight of a party to celebrate the fourth birthday of my niece, Jennifer Clarke. Her birthdays fall exactly a month before Christmas Day.
The event was held at the former Bulwell Youth and Community Centre on Coventry Road and the main room was packed with about 60 children.
Jennifer’s grandma, the late Kathleen Robinson, had hired what we thought was the perfect Santa outfit.
Silence descended as I walked into the room and many of the youngsters stared at me with an expression of awe and expectation on their faces.
But Jennifer was not to be taken in. She shouted “It’s Denis!”and, coming up to me, she tried to pull my beard off.
Abandoning the sack, I crept out while what was left of my dignity remained intact. It was a case of ‘Ho,ho,ho... oh dear!”