The man in red tells Time Out Kids all about elf work ethics, keeping Mrs Claus sweet and the truth behind Rudolph’s red nose
Time Out Dubai Kids staff
Thanks for taking time to talk to us – you must be really busy. Ah, it’s not a problem. There are two rules I live by: preparation and delegation. It’s not like Christmas is a surprise every year, is it? Although the way some people run around the malls like headless chickens you’d think they didn’t know it was coming! We’ve been working hard for the last year, and I have a competent team of elves who get all the toys and gifts organised. Do they grumble about being over-worked and under-paid? Ho ho ho! Doesn’t everyone? Those liberal troublemakers in the TUE (Trade Union of Elves) are a constant fly in my Christmas pud. They’re always asking for longer lunch breaks, lower toy quotas and extra visas for their third world dwelling cousins. There were rumours of an elf strike last month, but I nipped that in the bud. I think most realise that in the current economic climate, they’d struggle to find another job – and certainly not one with unlimited hot chocolate and mince pies in the Claus canteen! Chocoholism and obesity among them can be a problem, though.
What’s their average day like? It’s a pretty cushy number being an elf – all you have to do is play with the most popular toys and games in the whole world and wrap pressies. It’s certainly not the sweat shop some make it out to be. Oh dear. Should we fear an 11th hour walkout? You never know with elves. Most of them are quite jolly, but, as in any group, you get the odd troublemaker. Don’t worry, though, Rudolph and his pals are extremely loyal and they wouldn’t let me or the world’s children down.
So you’re close to your reindeer, then? Very – especially Rudolph. We go back a long way, Rudy and I (smiles fondly). Reindeer can’t talk, but they’re good at listening, which is what you really need in a friend when you’ve been married as long as I have.
Do things ever go wrong at the last minute? Do they ever! A few years ago we’d just taken delivery of our new sleigh and were giving it a test run when – whooooosh! – it blasted off like a rocket. I singed my beard, but poor Rudolph’s hooter was flame-grilled like a Christmas chestnut. It’s still a bit red even now. Mrs Claus was furious because I’d told her we were at a toy conference in Japan that weekend – when we were actually joyriding the sleigh with the lads in Bali. Talk about bad timing! But she obviously forgave you. Yes, but, you know, she can have her up days and down days. She’s quite a private person and there’s been a lot of media intrusion recently – rumours about where I go every December, endless queries about her first name, comments about her weight etc. She gets a bit upset, but she understands I have a very important job to do.
Does she deliver pressies? Sometimes. She came to Dubai last year just to check out Christmas in the desert, but I said ‘never again’. She’s a little on the large side, is Mrs Claus – her job is to make sure all the Christmas chocs are up to scratch – so packing for the warmer weather was a nightmare. She was stomping around in a right old grump because her bingo wings were dangling out of her sundress and we had endless tears and tantrums when she tried to squeeze into her old shorts. And the less said about the fur-trimmed bikini incident, the better. The whole drama almost delayed my Middle East run, which would’ve been a disaster. I’m not taking any chances this year, though. Her indoors will be staying put in Lapland.