Read by Paul Clarke (Full podcast here)
In the beginning there was the Word. And the word was Santa.
And Santa stared out into the dark, cold void and bellowed “Let There Be Christmas”, and there was.
And on the first day of Christmas, Santa created the Heavens, the Earth and “Hungry, Hungry Hippos”, the Greatest of All the Christmas Presents.
And on the second day He created us Elves, to serve Him. Then he fashioned the North Pole as a place for us to live. Which was kind and mighty of Him. Even if the place was a bit cold.
On the third day He created Toys, and also Parents to be the giver of Toys. And those first parents, in gratitude at their creation, invented giant barrels of Sherry to thank the Mighty Santa.
The fourth day, sadly, was a write-off because the Mighty Santa had the mother of all hangovers.
To achieve this required that all Elves work incredibly hard. And us Elves, being good and obedient, were happy to do this. However, in the midst of all our joyous, unpaid endeavours, there was one terrible elf who was not happy. An Elf known as Twinkle Cuddleheart, a name that is now a blasphemy for all true Elves. For this Twinkle Cuddleheart would spread dissent on the North Pole as he whispered to his colleagues on the production line “Is this Santa guy taking the piss, or what?”
And then came the Sixth Day, where Santa revealed to all the object of his Divine Plan. The heart of Christmas Itself. For it was on this day that Santa created Children. And He commanded that all understood that henceforth Christmas, ultimately, was “all about them.”
And all who beheld the children, and their smiling happy faces, saw that it was good. All except one. For when Twinkle Cuddleheart beheld the first infants, in all their noisy, screeching glory, his black soul grew angry.
“Santa,” this accursed Elf cried out, “What the fuck are you playing at?”
And Santa jovially replied “Ho Ho Ho, little Elf. Can you not see the light of Christmas magic in the tiny eyes of these children as they see their presents for the first time? ‘Tis truly the wonder of the Season.”
But this reply did not satisfy the dark soul of Twinkle Cuddleheart, “I mean, you say that Santa,” he shrugged, “but look here. Just now one of these brats came up to me, clutching a brand-new train set in his grubby mitts and whined that its ‘not what he asked for’. Two of them over there are already fighting over batteries, their eyes glazed over in a hideous sugar-rush, while another has eaten so much cake they’ve ended up throwing up all over my pink and white striped stockings.”
“And that reminds me. The stockings. Did you really think these were practical attire for all the hard labour we’re being forced to do? They’re bloody useless against these freezing Arctic winds and they chafe like a bastard in all this cold weather.”
“And, let’s be honest, it’s not as if we elves don’t have a hard enough time being taken seriously, given that we have these skinny bodies the size of pot plants, ridiculous names and we’re called bloody elves. But that’s not enough for you, is it? You go and dress us up like we’re starring in the twisted Technicolor nightmare of a camp costume designer who comfort ate what, he thought, was a large bowl of marshmallows but was in fact LSD-infused mushrooms…”
“NO, NO, NO!” bellowed Santa at this point. And all who gazed upon his countenance saw that this was a wrathful Santa. “Foolish Elf. Question not the wisdom of the Christmas All-Father. And get back to work.”
And so afeared was Twinkle Cuddleheart at the angry majesty of Our Santa that he did indeed return to work. But his heart remained impure. And he continued to whisper poisonous thoughts to his brethren. Such as “ooh, get Santa. Touched a nerve there.” And “I’m not the only one, am I? These outfits are fucking wrong.”
And so, it came to pass that the Elves of the North Pole became divided. Many stayed true to their beloved Father Christmas, but others became seduced by the dark teachings of Cuddleheart. And as his army of followers grew, so did his confidence to rebel. And when he felt emboldened enough, he began to challenge the Christmas conventions.
Firstly, he grew his own beard. Not the gigantic jolly white beard of Santa but a well-trimmed, black goatee. He stopped wearing the colourful pixie-garb of Santa’s Elves, and would walk around the North Pole clad entirely in black. And his followers began creating for themselves deviating from the hallowed designs of Santa. They rewrote heart-warming Christmas fables to give them unhappy and cynical endings. Good Elves in shock and disgust would remark that some of these toys weren’t even suitable for children. Even though they might still need batteries.
His followers even fashioned for Twinkle a sleigh, twisting all that was good in Santa’s honest, wooden transport into a chrome and black monstrosity. It was pulled by eight ill-tempered Alpine goats, which Twinkle named in direct mockery of Santa’s reindeer – Thumper, Crusher, Gouger, Minger, Bazooka, Grindr, Bludgeon and Shitstorm.
But greatest of all Twinkle’s sins was that he travelled to a distant ocean, and raised himself a vast new land. Bathed in baking sunshine throughout the whole of December, which seemed to all to be least Christmas-y thing imaginable.
This final insult was more than even an all-loving Santa could take. Standing at the very top of the North Pole, he drew on all his strength and yelled “IT’S CHRISTMAS!”. This call summoned forth a great army of good elves, their ranks further strengthened by giant mace-wielding snowmen and herds of noble reindeer.
And so, it came to pass that the great armies of Santa Claus and Twinkle Cuddleheart fought a great battle at the very dawn of Christmas. For twenty-four long and terrible days they fought, with much loss on both sides, until Cuddleheart’s last line of defence was broken and the remnant of his army scattered.
When finally the Fallen Elf was brought to Father Christmas, he begged for mercy. “Oh come on, mate” he declared, “It IS Christmas.” But Santa is not always a merciful Santa and on that day he vanquished Cuddleheart, so that his wickedness would trouble Christmas no more.
This is the true and accurate telling of the events that happened during those dark days. I, Saint Hamleys, as a man of Santa, feel compelled to write this down because of terrible rumours that persist. That maybe Twinkle Cuddleheart was not utterly defeated. That somehow his spirit lives on, and that in the very middle of our most sacred advent, there are gatherings of those who might follow his forbidden ways. Secret meetings held in darkened basements where dark lies are whispered. Lies about Christmases that might not be just for the children.
(c) Alan Graham, 2016
Alan Graham studied "Creative Writing" and "Economics" at UEA and is still unsure which discipline relies on make-believe the most. He currently lives and works in London.
Paul Clarke trained at the Central School and always got cast as a baddie or a monster. Or, for a bit of variety, a bad monster. Now a photographer, technologist and occasional performer, he finds the League's stories islands of relative sanity in his life.