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Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 13:00 GMT
Santa: 'I'm not a Superman, but I do exist'
Santa is dead and his annual present delivery is scientifically impossible, the Reverend Lee Rayfield has shockingly told children. Father Christmas has responded with an unprecedented public statement. Read it in full.

You can't have failed to notice that there's been a lot of allegations about me over the years and I haven't said anything.

But when I read BBC News Online yesterday and saw that the Reverend Lee Rayfield was effectively suggesting that I was a complete fiction, I knew the time had come to say something.

I know I'm in a very special position. I have an interesting job, a wonderful family in Mary (yes, Mary Christmas, and yes, we've heard the jokes) and the elves, but I am not a Superman.

Imitation Santas
Often imitated, never bettered
The reality of my daily life is that I'm juggling lots of balls in the air.

It's not just reading scrawled children's letters, wrapping 378 million presents and tending nine reindeer.

I have six homes to maintain - the North Pole, three towns called 'North Pole' in the US, a Lapland pied terre and my address recognised by the Royal Mail, Santa's Grotto, Reindeerland, SAN TA1.

Then there are the helpers always threatening a winter of discontent. And long beards don't comb mince pie crumbs out of themselves, you know.

Sometimes it does seem that there just aren't enough hours in Christmas Eve, even when (thanks to shifting my sleigh through timezones) it's a day of 31 hours. But I thought it was more important for me to do my job, than to personally appear before every child and doubting vicar.

Santa with the Hamiltons
"Should I learn to be more media hungry?"
When I was just St Nicholas, knocking around 4th Century Lycia, I didn't spend much time worrying if people thought I did not 'scientifically exist'.

When Mary first worked out that I and the reindeers would have to travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound to complete my present drop, it didn't cross my mind her sums would get me in the mess I'm in now.

Santa does add up

I should have asked her more questions. 'Won't Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph vaporise within 0.00426 seconds at that speed?' 'Won't I be crushed by 4,315,000lbs of force?' 'Will anyone believe it's possible?'

I assumed the military satellites of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) regularly tracking my Christmas Eve route would be enough proof for anyone.

Santa and a child
"I can't meet every child, can I?"
Obviously if I had known a vicar was going to kill me off with notepad and a slide rule, rather than having blind trust in my existence, I would have put my face around a bit more. Possibly on GMTV or BBC Two's I Love 1974.

But they were wise words from my old friend Ulrika, whose little darling Cameron was in Mr Rayfield's congregation. She told him just because the vicar didn't believe in me, it didn't mean Cameron couldn't.

So be a good boy, Cameron, and I'll still visit you. To be honest, if any of your friends have believed what the reverend told them, it makes my job just that bit easier. (I will take their lack of belief as a tick in the opt-out box.)

And should you happen to run into the good rev (who I well remember delivering presents to when he was a little fella), just point out to him that he really shouldn't believe in internet gossip.

Sometimes I have felt I would like to crawl away and hide, but I will not. I'd miss the sherry.

Click here to go to BBC Berkshire Online
See also:

10 Dec 02 | England
24 Dec 98 | Science/Nature
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