You’re immediately recognisable thanks to your distinctive garb. Have you ever thought about updating it or amending it so it is more befitting to modern-day life?
Certainly not the colours. Over the years I’ve worn green and white and now my uniform is primarily red after I (St) Nicked the colour off Coca-Cola. I do however like to accessorise in black or de-accessorise depending on which part of the world I’m in. In Phuket for example I like to go barefoot and lose the black boots. In Scandinavia I always look forward to donning my black ear muffs. In dangerous places like Iraq and the USA, my accessories aren’t so visible but I always make sure I’m armed with suitable weaponry to protect the kiddies.
Are there any Phuket residents that have made it onto your Naughty List?
Santa doesn’t do naughty, I see the good in everyone. Tuk-tuk drivers are just sadly misunderstood, greedy developers had the misfortune of a disadvantaged childhood, and tradesmen who never show up on time simply can’t afford a watch. As I said, Santa doesn’t do naughty, and you can’t blame the kiddies for the sins of their fathers.
What about about the other end of the scale, are there any Phuket residents that have been exceptionally nice over the past year?
Absolutely. The wonderful people at The Good Shepherd Charity who work so hard all year round on behalf of the disadvantaged women and children on the island. They know who they are and one of them might get a very special present from Santa on Christmas morning this year if she plays her cards right. I would also like to give a special mention to the Soi Dog Foundation. Without their efforts it’s doubtful I could convince my recalcitrant crew of reindeer to come anywhere near the island. Unlike SDF, Donna and Blitzen aren’t huge dog lovers. There’s a bit of trivia you probably didn’t know.
Mince pies and a tot of Scottish spirit are rather hard to find in Phuket, what treats do you most look forward to when you drop by Phuket homes?
You can’t beat a good pad Thai goong or barbecued squid, and Mrs Claus is always happy for me not to be eating the heavier foods I tend to find left on the mantelpieces of Europe and the Americas. She maintains love handles are one thing but monster truck tires are entirely another. As for a libation or two in Phuket, my motto is ‘anything will do as long as it’s cold’. Incidentally, this is an adage the reindeer abide by as well although we have to keep an eye on Dancer. She’s a bit of a sipper that one, and tends to boogie to her own beat after one too many. That’s how she got her name.
Is it politically correct to call your helpers ‘little’ anymore?
It is. The tallest one is only 130 centimetres tall with his hands in the air so what else would you call them? When you consider for the most part they’re called scallywags, scamps and rogues, ‘little’ is the least of their worries. They’re forever taking anything that’s not tied down and I couldn’t even guess at the number of times I’ve had to replace the alloy wheels on the sleigh. ‘Helper’ is the word I’d be questioning if I were you, and serial pests is a more accurate description of them.
What do you do for the rest of the year?
The rest of the year? I only get one day off as it is and that’s the 26th of December. For the next two days we have a Santa Inc. board meeting to review my performance over the past year and to anticipate trends for the coming one. After that I’m straight back into it. New production lines have to be constructed because you can’t build an Xbox on a Barbie Doll line, and with the greening of the world, recycled paper has to be sourced, my carbon footprint has to be reduced and the reindeer have to be fed non-methane producing foods. There’s no rest for me and the Santa Union doesn’t believe in annual holidays I’m afraid.
Where do you park your sleigh in Phuket? Don’t the tuk-tuk drivers get upset if you take a spot?
Yes, we learned that early on. They can be tetchy, especially if an inebriated tourist mistakes the sleigh for a tuk-tuk and tries to hitch a ride. You’d think my reindeer would be a dead giveaway but surprisingly that’s not always the case. Those people don’t like the idea of someone getting a free ride and they don’t care who’s giving it. However, Rudolph has become rather adept at biting tuk-tuk drivers and I’m afraid he’s acquired quite a taste for them.
What’s been the most requested toy for Phuket boys and girls this year?
That would be iPhones, iPhones and more iPhones. Here’s a tip for if you if you haven’t already jumped on: There’s a certain fruit-named company in the US that might be onto something.
You dress in red, is that a nod to your political leanings?
No, as I mentioned previously it’s purely a Coca-Cola thing. Wow, can those boys and girls market something when they put their mind to the task and to think I was a sad and lonely philanthropist with a very limited profile until the 1930s. Santaville is actually apolitical, doesn’t hold elections and is ruled by a very generous and benevolent dictator, namely me.
Does Mrs Claus ever get jealous of your global fame?
Absolutely. She says it’s bad enough everyone the world over knows the names of my nine reindeer and Rudolph even has song in his honour, but when a certain Queen who shall remain nameless got confused one year and wanted to knight some of my ‘serial pests’, she almost went ballistic.
The Phuket News would like to thank Rick Tudor for helping us contact Santa Claus.