Belfast Telegraph

How elf and safety killjoys might finally catch up with Father Christmas

By Lindy McDowell

Dear Mr Claus, Following our recent meeting where you outlined concerns that cutbacks to your sleigh maintenance budget may impede your ability to deliver your annual global present distribution service, we write to update you on a number of further changes which we must ask you to comply with in order to adhere to relevant elfin safety legislation.

While we have listened to your argument that your existing vehicle has served you well since time immemorial and is still capable of circumnavigating the world on Christmas Eve, we feel that in this day and age a reindeer-drawn sleigh with its elf crew and animal methane emissions is no longer economically or environmentally sustainable. We are, therefore, currently investigating a drone distribution system. Going forward, we believe this will deliver not just the goods but cost savings in onboard elf wages, reindeer feed etc.

In the meantime we ask that you adhere strictly to the following requirements.

Visibility - Rudolf's nose notwithstanding, concerns have been expressed about the visibility of your high speed vehicle travelling as it does into and out of international flight paths. In future yourself, the reindeer and all other sleigh workers will be required to wear hi-vis jackets. Similarly hard hats must be worn by all when the sleigh is in flight.

We have noted your fears that this may detract somewhat from your traditional garb. Elfin safety we would remind you, is paramount and more important than seasonal cheer.

Sleigh workers will be required to attend a six-week course instructing them on how to access and exit the vehicle safely. You yourself will undergo training in how to lift sacks which must not exceed the combined weight of one games console and Elsa from Frozen.

Safety belts must be worn at all times and, when the sleigh is passing through areas of turbulence, elves must remain in their seats.

We have noted your complaints about restricted parking in some delivery areas. You say that on occasion you have been approached by men wearing red jackets not dissimilar to your own who then have proceeded to stick tickets on your sleigh windscreen.

Unfortunately we are unable to offer an immediate solution to this problem.

We would point out, however that as a man of substantial girth you may now be able to apply under EU legislation to be designated as disabled and thus be permitted to use any space in the parking zone.

Which bring us to ...

Weight management - You have previously informed us that you see the tradition of small children leaving out drinks and snacks for yourself, the reindeer and elves as a charming custom that is much appreciated by onboard personnel. However, we would ask you to bear in mind healthy eating leaflet guidelines. Please feel free to share carrots left out for Rudolf as these count towards your five a day. It is imperative, however, that no home baked goods are consumed since these do not comply with EU directives. Mince pies must come from authorised suppliers and milk should only be consumed if it is clearly marked with a sell-by date and is kept in a refrigerated container.

We would encourage you to refrain from the consumption of alcoholic drinks. If you do insist we would remind you to drink responsibly and to ensure that the sleigh reins are handed over to your designated elf.

Noise abatement - It has been brought to our notice that in previous years following consumption of above mentioned refreshments, noise levels on the sleigh may have exceeded authorised limits. Some nations have complained about excessive jingling of bells.

We would also ask you to desist from ho-ho-hoing over North America as this has caused some consternation in the rap community.

We would like to remind you that all toys should be non-gender specific, age appropriate and compliant with safety standards.

And finally we would ask that you refrain from labelling your lists "naughty" and "nice". We would prefer the terms "behaviourally challenged" and "behaviourally gifted".

In closing we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your many years service and to remind you again that all reindeer waste must be deposited in the bin provided. There is a £300 fine for non-compliance. Happy Christmas!

Lapland Management Elfin Safety Team

You missed a real party with us, Dave

Surely it cannot be true? That story - hideous lie, I think - that David Cameron left 'The Talks' early last week to get home in time for an "Ibiza-themed" birthday bash with the wife. The very notion that someone might drag themselves away from our always fascinating, compelling talks to join the missus in a bit of Tory twerking to David Guetta is frankly hard to believe.

How much more fun it must have been up at the Big House verbally twerking with Peter and Martin ... thinking about the champers on chill back in London ...

I tell you. It can't be true.

That's one very hacked-off lady!

I don't know if you saw that footage from North Korean TV of the female newsreader in a salmon pink suit delivering (with considerable fervour) the report that Kim Jung Un was demanding a joint investigation with America into claims that Pyongyang had hacked into the Sony email system ... and warning of dire consequences should the US fail to comply.

Never mind despot Kim, that was one scary lady. As they say in these parts, you wouldn't like to go home to her with a fiver short in your pay packet.

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