The North Pole
While most of you have been very good this year, your parents need talking to. Okay, I know, authority requires respect, the negation to do so leading to a label of disobedience and naughtiness, aspects known to hinder the prospects of getting some good stuff at you-know-what.
But if there is one time of the year you deserve to bend the ears of your mother, father, gender-neutral parents or guardians, Christmas is it. Tell them I said so. I mean, it’s not as if I don’t have to drop off the odd jug of after-shave, Jamie Oliver cookbook or mysteriously packaged toy for their wishes, too.
I am talking about the stuff that gets put out for me as I do the annual deliveries of, yes, presents. This would be those plates of cookies, sandwiches and beverages left for me to enjoy after having slipped down the chimney, dropped the swag beneath the tree and nursed the eyeball that has inevitably pierced by a pine-needle.
The grub left for my refreshment and sustenance has mostly been fine over the few years past, although the gluten-free bread and kale scones topped with coconut butter is getting a bit off. The reindeer love the kale, though, despite it giving them winds, the aroma of which can fog the windows of a Boeing 747 on a late Christmas Eve flight.
Not wanting to sound ungrateful, it’s the beverage department I find lacking. Encouraging the powers that be – you know who they are and so do I – to get a better grip on the drinks offering will definitely improve the chance of you receiving the most desired gifts.
Let’s start with the wine. For some or other reason, your parents seem to think that I prefer red wine to white, probably on account of my suit and the fact that I have zipped in from the North Pole. But believe you me, by the time I have made the deliveries in icy Europe, crossed the equator and had the reindeer vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease before entering Southern Africa, Old St Nick has worked-up a hell of a sweat.
So having arrived for the South African section of my tour, the last thing one wants after evading a few hijackings and dodging pot-shots at the reindeer from trigger-happy farmers is a glass of tepid Shiraz or Merlot.
Yet, chances are this is what will be waiting for me, some half-oxidised warm red wine poured in a glass that looks as though it was stolen from a Brakpan wedding.
Talking of the latter suburb, I have learned that these kinds of areas tend be inhabited by adults showing a particular fondness for brandy, something I generally do not have a problem with. But when mixed with Coca Cola and left to stand in a tall glass for a few hours, this flat, room-temperature beverage is not at all agreeable. I hesitate to use the word “disrespect”, but take it this way: You are unlikely to receive the portable tattooing machine or Steve Hofmeyr Greatest Hits CD you so dearly wanted if I am again confronted by this unsuitable showing of hospitality.
The same goes for beer, despite my general fondness for this beverage as underscored by my girth. A can of dull lager or mug of flat beer is just not worth getting one’s beard wet for – and I had that on the UK rounds, anyway.
But as your young minds are being taught at school, let’s be positive and proactive.
Seeing that I have to wade through your wish-list of presents you’d like for Christmas, how about giving me a chance of asking what I’d like in my glass once the reindeer are parked, I’ve deactivated the burglar alarm to your house and made friends with the Rottweiler?
If I am to be given wine, please make it white. Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, preferably, poured in a decent stemmed glass just before midnight so it will be cool once I get there. Does this mean no red?
Well, I know I mentioned Merlot as being tedious. However, should there in the house be a bottle or two of wine bearing a label with the red letters reading “Pétrus”, pour it in my glass, by all means. In fact, why go to the trouble and hassle of opening the bottle at all? Just slip the whole thing behind the curtains next to the tree, and I’ll take it from there.
The other red wine I would like, if red is the house-thing, is a spot of Pinot Noir. Lovely stuff this is, kids. But if a glass is to be left, please ensure that the cookies are replaced with chunks of fresh French bread and a good slab of that soft Brie or Camembert cheese – the stuff your Mom refers to as smelling like your Dad’s gym-bag or the neighbour’s attempts at cooking choucroute. Just do it and you’ll get more than a pair of trainers from me.
Sweet wine has always been deemed a “Santa favourite” – and I know you little buggers are aware of this because sometimes I get there to see you have already taken an illicit little sip from the glass under the tree. You are still too dim-witted to know this, but that sweet wine is usually poured from the same bottle as the sherry your Mom uses to make her trifle. With respect to the trifle, the sherry at hand is usually entry-level rot-gut stuff: good for pudding, awful on Santa’s palate. Next time I am offered this you are getting snakes-and-ladders instead of PlayStation and a mouldy Granny Smith instead of an Apple IPhone.
Put some pressure on the folks to select a real sherry from Jerez de la Frontera, preferably Amontillado or Pedro Ximenez, 10 years at least.
And if there is a Madeira Malvasia going, I promise you all your dreams will come true and wishes granted. Because surely, then you are the best boy or girl on earth.
Looking forward to my visit on the 24th and enjoying a longer, better stay.