IT’S the kind of perfect Christmas scene which, if truth were told, only occurs in our imagination.
The snow is pure white and a few inches deep, yet people don’t seem to be panicking.
Not even when the snow continues to fall at a steady, mesmerising pace, giving overcoats a speckled rather than a smothered look.
Look through that window, the one where the curtains are open. And you will see a perfect family group.
Mum, dad, children. All smiling and eager for the morrow, Christmas Day.
The kids – ruddy-cheeked from their exertions in the snow outside – say their goodnights and trot off to bed.
And a stillness, a peaceful all-enveloping stillness, settles on the land.
Until a voice interrupts the scene: “You can’t park that there.”
A slight start and the bemused response comes: “But why not? I’ll only be a moment.”
“It’s not safe.”
“Not safe? I’ve parked here for years, and on thousands – no, millions – of other rooftops. It has never caused any trouble before.”
“I know. We’ve seen you on CCTV many times but only just managed to organise the training needed for one of our operatives to get up here and speak to you about it.
“So, come, come, sir. I’m going to have to give you a ticket if you don’t move your sleigh. It is not permitted to park on a roof. Let alone a sloping one covered in snow. Heaven knows what kind of disaster might befall.”
“You don’t seem to understand. I have presents to deliver. I’ll only be a moment.”
“What? And leave your reindeer untended? There are animal welfare issues here. I might have to inform the RSPCA if you persist in this kind of irresponsible behaviour.”
“Please. Please! It only takes a second or two to nip down the chimney and...”
“Down the chimney? Are you insane? Don’t you know what kind of fumes and obstacles can be encountered in your modern-day flue?
“There seems to be no end of health and safety regulations of which you are unaware, or choose to ignore.”
“Oh? Oh. Oh!”
The response moved rapidly from querying the statement to acceptance to being flabbergasted. He continued: “Do you mean to tell me that the things I have been doing for all these years, delivering kindness and courtesy throughout the world and expecting nothing more than to see a smile on the little ones’ faces, are suddenly and inexplicably deemed to be hazardous?
“Are you telling me someone somewhere has nothing better to do than cast judgement on festive, traditional behaviour which has been accepted, appreciated and abetted (you may notice all the mince pies and glasses of sherry generously left out for me in the households roundabout), not to mention something which has assisted the local seasonal economy no end... that they have the temerity to suggest that it is somehow dangerous to me and a danger to passers-by?”
“If you take that tone, sir, I’m afraid I am going to have to give you that ticket. Merry Christmas”
Only joking. This is 2011 and we are almost in the enlightened age of 2012.
It couldn’t possibly happen, could it?