Thursday, January 03, 2008

All I Want for Christmas...

Dear Santaclau

This is easily the best thing that I got for Christmas. It's a discarded draft of a letter that I wrote to Father Christmas that my parents saved and found 27 years later. It looks like it was binned due to a spelling mistake in the first line, but, crucially for historians, it was then used as the backing sheet in the typewriter for the next (and presumably final) draft, so that the imprint of what I typed can still, with a bit of effort and holding it up to the light, be read. (I believe that the Guildford Four had their convictions quashed after analysis of their "confessions" using a similar technique, though it's not recorded what they asked Santa for - presumably to stop being hit in the face by the nasty policemen.)

OK, so if I'd done it in Word in the first place I could have inserted a space between Santa and claus, and capped up that 'c', and it wouldn't have done that funny thing with the 'a', and I would have saved myself the bother of having to start again each time that I made a mistake. I still let quite a few typos through though - check out the quotation marks where I meant to put the '2' (to this day I still think of quotation marks as "number twos", as that's how my sister and I referred to them when we played with my Dad's typewriter), and also the capital 'I' instead of the lower case 'l' for the '1' (this typewriter didn't have a '1').

But if I'd have done it in Word then this copy would never have existed, except perhaps as a deleted file sector somewhere on a hard disk, and I've never wanted people looking at my deleted file sectors in case they found out about the embarrassingly mild and ordinary pornography that I had looked at.

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Santa Claus,
I hope you and Mrs. Claus are well. Are Rudolph and the other reindeer well? For Christmas please may I have a large size "Millennium Falcon". If you cannot get this please may I have an electronic detective game. Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

P.S. On the hearth is a mince pie and a glass of sherry for you and a carrot and a saucer of sugar for your reindeer. MERRY CHRISTMAS again.

I didn't get the Millennium Falcon (please note the correct spelling of Millennium - who knows how many drafts it took to get the right?), as I think that I only mentioned it to my parents about a week previously. I'd only seen The Empire Strikes Back that half term at some cousins', and hadn't seen the first film at all, so they had no idea that I would suddenly ask for this. My parents had actually bought me a fischertechnik construction kit, and I remember some not too subtle brainwashing that night about what I should expect Santa to bring.

But what was this electronic detective game that I was asking for? I don't remember ever seeing such a thing on I Love 1980. Perhaps my Mum had said that I should suggest an alternative present to Father Christmas, and I had cleverly asked him for something that didn't actually exist to ensure that I then got my first choice (which was itself quite hard to source, regardless of the fact that they had already bought me my present).

The only other question is what on earth was I doing writing to Father Christmas at the age of ten? That I was typing my letter should perhaps have been some kind of clue to the fact that I should have been growing out of that kind of thing.

Alas, this was the only such missive that my parents found. I'd love to know what I'd asked for in other years. I expect the originals are all filed away in Lapland, but I won't disturb Santa now as he probably likes a rest at this time of year.