In The Grotto
This is based on a true incident I saw whilst working at Tredegar House in Newport one Christmas, as I do most years, haranguing small children as Mr. Bumble.
In The Grotto.
There were four of them,
Ladies of a certain age,
Deliberately wicked as only the wise can be,
Who'd swept through rooms of faux Dickensiana
Like a small whirlpool of flirtation,
Eyes gleaming with mature mischief.
Spectacle chains jingled upon the bosoms
Of M&S quilted blousons in beige and burgundy
Surmounted by coursage of holly, tinsel and baubles,
Adding a festive timbre
To the naughtiness
Of those who should and did know better
But who had decided,
In the spirit of seasonal impishness,
To forget that they did.
Like a cackling octopus,
In eight-legged black polyester slacks
And eight shining black shoes
With just a hint of heel,
They clattered down the stone steps into the cellar
Where the entrance to the grotto glittered.
Patting and tweaking at Sergeant Bob
In his Victorian Policeman's uniform,
And fondling the bobble of Raymond,
The Head Elf,
In a less than grandmotherly way,
They perched conspiratorially together on the foremost bench,
Surrounded by fake snow and real fir trees,
Bathed in twinkle and the tinny belling of an automated glockenspiel,
And brought their loose permed heads of grey with just a hint of rinse together
To plan their deceptions:
For they were the last one's in to see Santa
And they were going to "get one over" on
He Who Knew Their Wrongdoing.
But in the Grotto,
In a semicircle before the elevated throne where Santa sat,
Surrounded by mounds of empty boxes wrapped
In shimmering green and gold
Glimmering in the blink of Asda fairy lights
And the glow of the electric blaze-effect
From the pseudo-fireplace,
When Father Christmas leant down,
An amiable avalanche of red velvet and fake ermine,
And asked them if they'd been good girls this year,
The accumulated crust of a lifetime's misbehaviour
Sloughed to the ground in a mound of decades
And for a brief moment
The tiny girls they once had been
Looked up at the scarlet-robed figure
With the cascading white beard,
And with eyes of now seldom experienced wonder
"Oh yes, Santa!"
And they promised they'd always clean their rooms,
And swore to help their mothers around the house,
But when they'd each one received their gifts from Santa's sack
They all at once recollected who they were now,
And four naughty ladies of a certain age,
Re-invested in the vestments of their sauciness,
Exited the grotto in a gaggle all a-giggle,
Checking their dollies' knickers.
Then Santa took off his beard,
Scratched at his head where his wig had niggled,
"They're just big kids, some of them!"
Took off his bright red trousers
Until the following night.