Does Santa Claus really exist? I have to say I have become very sceptical in recent years. There is something about this character which simply does not ring true, not to mention his rather sinister retinue of airborne reindeer. I am not saying that he definitely does not exist, simply that we should not be too credulous, too ready to believe what the authorities tell us.
A junior school teacher in Dorset is in trouble for having allowed into the minds of his eight- and nine-year-old charges a similar element of doubt. According to news reports, when asked by some children if Santa really existed, the educator reportedly ‘raised his eyebrows’ in a slightly sardonic manner — and now the parents are outraged and the school has had to issue an apology and, indeed, a correction. As an investigative journalist, I am naturally suspicious of this rather Orwellian reaction: it makes me think there is something going on, that they are trying to keep something from us.
Then again, even if he did exist, would we really want him grooming our kiddies with promises of reward from behind that strange white beard? A few years ago a man purporting to be Santa in a Melbourne department store had to be reprimanded for repeatedly saying ‘ho ho ho’ — because the authorities rightly calculated that this ejaculation could prove offensive to any black women in the vicinity. He was told to say ‘ha ha ha’ instead. So, a borderline racist who behaves inappropriately — at best — towards children. It seems to me almost certain that if he does exist, he will currently be under investigation by the police, possibly for hate crimes, but without question under their comprehensive and vigorous Operation Yewtree, which has resulted in the arrest of so many similarly worrying public figures. Most of those arrested have been rather old — 82 years old, in the case of the retired sports broadcaster Stuart Hall; so the fact that ‘Santa’, or to use his nom de guerre, St Nicholas, is — improbably to my mind — something in the region of 1,500 years old should not deter the police from pursuing their proper inquiries. I assume they will be sending officers back to 4th century Lycia, where the young Nicholas would prowl the narrow streets of an evening, offering ‘gifts’ to attractive young women, i.e. grooming. We know all about that sort of thing, thank you; apologists may say that it was acceptable behaviour back then, but it is highly dubious by today’s more civilised lights and that, therefore, is how we must judge the matter.
It seems almost certain to me that at least one of these women whom he importuned will now come forward to explain that her life has been destroyed by the mendacious old perv, but only now, all these aeons later, has she found within herself the courage to come forward and inform the authorities as to what, precisely, according to her excellent memory, happened back then. Luckily we now have plenty of support groups and charities to give succour to such a woman, should she come forward, and prosecute her case with great resolve, insisting that no matter how long the passage of time which has indeed elapsed, she must be unequivocally believed.
Thank the lord that we do have these sorts of people around. I was a child in the 1970s and it seems, upon reflection, incredibly lucky that I was not touched up or buggered by roaming packs of feral BBC disc jockeys, light entertainers, actors, broadcasters, producers and the like every time I stepped outside to take a quick spin on my Raleigh Chopper. The horrible possibility I must face up to is this: perhaps they did not find me attractive enough. It may well be that as I was pedalling along the streets of Middlesbrough in late 1973, Morecambe and Wise and Dick Emery and maybe Derek Nimmo were peering at me gimlet-eyed from behind a hedge, mulling over if I was an appropriate victim for their depraved sexual lust and deciding, on balance, that I wasn’t — move on, move on, nothing to see here. If this does turn out to be the case — and I can think of no other reason why I, almost alone in the country in the 1970s, was not subjected to a sexual assault by a famous or quasi-famous person — then it will feel singularly slighting and I may file for some form of monetary redress. And counselling.
So what is it now? Another 25 slebs, largely from that sexually ravenous decade, about to be hauled in over the Christmas period, held in the cells for 12 hours, cross-examined and then released into a new world where they are now hated, rather than regarded with a certain nostalgic fondness. And the harridans from the charities and pressure groups screaming ‘Arrest more of them!’ and apt to believe everything they hear, because it conforms to their long-held view that men are always up to stuff like this, always have been, the bastards, and that there has been an establishment conspiracy to cover it all up, because the establishment is full of men and they’re probably up to it too. One of these spokesmonkeys even described it as ‘Watergate’ and described people who were a shade sceptical about the fury as ‘abuse-deniers’. And because the issue has thus become politicised in a Gramscian sense, taken up by the middle-class faux left, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Doesn’t it have the faintest whiff of a witch-hunt to you?
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 15 December 2012