“I’m sorry you saw me, Timmy,” says Santa to the boy watching him place presents under the tree on a Christmas cartoon by Nicholas Downes. “But now I’ll have to kill you.” What happened next we are not permitted to say. But Santa’s coat never was blood red by design.
Oh, come, come. It’s only a joke. Santa is jovial, jolly and sexless with rolls of adipose flesh tucked into his ironed gatkes and an itch-free beard that smells of sherry, love and biscuits. Those other Santas, the imposters, I cannot vouch for. Middle-aged men in need of paid work can be avoided. But slap them into an off the peg Santa suit and heavy disguise, and mum and dad will pay good money to line up for an hour or more to have their pride and joy enter a ‘wonderland’ – a polystyrene igloo, perhaps, a foam tree or shed – sit on his lap and tell him their deepest desires. It is one of the many terrors of childhood.
Robert E Jackson has snapshots of some of these other Santas, which we now present for you study. If you recognise any of them, please get in touch. We’re compiling a list.