Timeless as Father Christmas is, this spring chicken from the Glasgow Science Centre is well at home in the 21 st century. Catch up with him as he reveals the secrets of a space age Santa . . .

Name: Alasdair

Age: 22

Lives: In the North Pole in a converted Iceberg.

How did you get into being Father Christmas?

My father was Santa and his father was Santa and his father was . . . well. to cut a long stery short. it's been a family business since time began.

What’s your day job when not handing out presents to small children?

It‘s a very erSy job handing out presents to all the children in the world so I generally put my feet up. relax and get my sleigh ready for the next day's deliveries.

What’s the strangest thing a child’s ever asked for?

I remember this one child who asked for a return trip to the planet Mars. A tricky reguest but nothing is impossible for this space-travelling Santa.

Has anyone ever tugged your beard?

Yes. a jealous Snowman once tugged my beard.

Does it get hot under all those layers?

No. not at all because my costume was designed using space age breathable materials.

What’s your favourite film representation of yourself? Santa vs the Snowman 30

What do you think will be the most popular requests of this year?

It's always a Surprise. but I think K'nex sets and dance mats will be the favourites this year.

What is the best thing about being Father Christmas? The best thing about being father Christmas is reading the letters from all the children, they really do make me laugh. What’s the worst?

There's nothing bad about my job at all it‘s the best job in the world.

What is your favourite post-work tipple?

A fine malt whisky.



From inauspicious beginnings this legendary Father Christmas has risen to be top fat chap. He’s worked at Gleneagles and the Edinburgh Ice House but you can find him this Christmas at the Edinburgh Wheel.

Name: James Martin

Age: 7?

Lives: Originally from Glasgow but has lived in Musselburgh for the last 30 years.

How did you get into being Father Christmas?

I've been doing Father Christmas for about 90 years. I was asked to do rt originally in the local village. The lady who organised rt said she was getting the costume from the Co operative Hall. She brOught rt along but it was full of beer stains because it was used at a rugby party the night before. We had to hire one. But after that my wife made me a superb costume. What’s your day job when not handing out presents to small children?

I'm an actor for the rest of the year.

What’s the strangest thing a child’s ever asked for?

To set fire to her wee brother the was annoying her Iotsi.

Has anyone ever tugged your beard?

Yes they do because I've got a good beard. It's not cotton wool or anything. I also have naturally bushy eyebrows and so I just put a little whrtener on them and they look so real.

Does it get hot under all those layers?

It does indeed but y0u do get used to it. I'm only about ten and half stone and so l have some nice padding and a terrific

velvet like costume.

What’s your favourite film representation of yourself? The original Miracle on 34th Street wrth Edmund Owenn and Maureen O'Hara.

What is the best thing about being Father Christmas? The smiles on children's faces. When some of them see Santa for the first time their faces just light up.

What’s the worst?

The worst rs when they're afraid.

What is your favourite post-work tipple?

Believe rt or not I'm a teetotaller. It's another advantage of being Santa -— it doesn't smell on my breath.


> Are you sitting comfortably . . . ?

Now we are three. I thought our movie- gomg days were over and we'd have to make do with renting vrdeos. That is until those lovely peOple at the Cameo

in Edinburgh set up The Big Scream. Since October the Cameo has been hosting fortnightly screenings for parents or carers and babies under a year old. Rather than hiring a babysitter you can take Toots With you. There's no creche you watch the rnovre together. As the lights dim. the auditorrurn fills wrth the sound of sucking. burprng and wailing it beats the po-faced hush of an ordinary screening.

Although this rs a first for Scotland. the th/y in Brrxton has been running sornethrng similar for the past year and a half. The idea was thought up by manager Lynn Morrison (who has

recently moved to Glasgow's Grosvenor

crnemal after she noticed that people stopped coming to the rnovres when they had kids. She knew she had a

success on her hands when the buggy park was jammed to capacity. Attendance at the Edinburgh events has snowballed. ‘We have had more positive emails. customer feedback and word of mouth for these screenings than ever before so they're obvrously well received —- l wrslr we'd started these years ago.’ says Diane Henderson, manager of the Cameo. (Kate Tregaskrs)

I Further screenings: /t 's a Wonderful Life, Thu 18 Dec. 10.30am. Then Thu 15 and Thu 29 January at 10.30 am and every second Thursday thereafter: Admission is $3.50 (52550) and includes free tea and coffee and free access for babies. Contact the Box Office on 0737 228 4 MI for fr/m details.



Kids editor Ruth Hedges rummages through the year 's goodie bag to find her bestest, tastiest treat.

The life of a writer can be a glamorous one: premieres. private views. product launches. trips overseas. Sadly, such benefits don't often come in the pursuit of children's cultural activities. Standing awkwardly in a queue of school children, trying to look as professional and un-weird as possible is more par for the course.

But the nature of touring shows does mean you get to travel about. This year I've been to Glenrothes and Stirling (for a show that got cancelled) and one fine. rainy day. St Andrews. Catching the bus from possibly the strangest and most remote station in Scotland. Leuchars. I have to admit my commitment was wavering ever so slightly. In a bid to make sure a review went into the magazine to coincide with the Glasgow and Edinburgh performances. l was standing in the middle of nowhere. fighter jets tearing into the sky amid an otherwise eerie silence.

But the bus pulled up. I arrived at Byres Theatre and from the first moments of Catherine Wheels' The Story of the Little Gentleman. was completely enchanted. Disgruntlernent dissolved and faith restored. The play. based on a story by Swiss writer. Barbo Lindgren. is about loneliness and friendship. With only two actors. a cellist and accordionist. simple but subtle shifts of emotion flicker with bewilderment across the face of the little gentleman. Jay Manley. And despite having barely any dialogue. the piece conveys great depth of feeling. The y0ung audience was equally transfixed. as music. SOLrnd and movement wove together the story. conjuring up a spell of moods.

And so this. in an odd and round abOut way. was my year's highlight. The jOurney back home was a lot less lonely and all the warmer for it. I remembered what is really possible on the children’s stage and why my job is great.

I1 Dec 26:73 hi \Jtt'l 1);)04 THE LIST 113