Santa has always made me feel a little uneasy. Even as a kid, I didn't want a big fat man with a white beard and dressed alarmingly in red sitting me on his knee as I was urged to put up with each year when we visited department stores. I imagine that particular 'tradition' has died a death since Saville. I hope so.
One of my uncles looked very much like Santa Claus in civvies – and when I was six or seven I was in awe of the enormity of his tummy. How did he carry that around with him, I wondered. I understood that Santa was fat because he ate so many mince pies and quaffed so many glasses of sherry. In fact, it's been calculated that on Christmas night, he consumes 90 billion calories. Santa's problem is that the exercise he does – going down chimneys and climbing back out – isn't enough to burn more than 45 billion of those calories. Hence the need for loose fitting garments.
It's a pretty common problem. As my partner always says: 'Abs begin in the kitchen'. I have recently put on some weight and although I exercise most days, I'm not doing enough to counter the indulges of the day. This time of year is supposed to be one of indulgence and although I don't feel I am eating much more than I normally do, there are all sorts of temptations lying around – homemade chocolate truffles (homemade = good for you), mince pies just out of the oven (oh, just one then...), fragrant panettone (it's so light, what do you mean, it's full of butter?), vintage port (good for the voice), puddings galore (rude to refuse)...
It's not that I'm greedy – I just love eating!
I enter the festive season already in deficit and of course as everywhere else, Islington's gyms and pools are closed. So this morning, before guests start to arrive and I get distracted and my self-discipline collapses, I'm going to go on Youtube and do some Joe Wicks exercise routines. If you don't know them, take a look; they're terrific – apart from all that shouting... I may have to wear my Santa hat over my ears.