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SARAH VINE: Pardon my French but why is Santa a sodding bloke?

With the possible exception of my friend Sebastian, who approaches the entire festive season with precision planning that would put some of the greatest strategic minds in history to shame, Christmas is mostly a woman’s work...READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶

Present-shopping, tree-sourcing, decorating, food-buying, house- cleaning, spare bed-making, child-managing, granny-wrangling, teacher-gifting, soaking the turkey in a bucket of whatever Nigella says, remembering to cater for the inevitable vegan, checking the council website for revised rubbish collections – in the vast majority of families, those tasks (and endless more) fall to the lady of the house.

Blokes tend to focus more on the lunchtime drinking aspects of the festive period. As one friend said to me recently of her dear husband: ‘He’s basically p***** between now and new year.’

As for planning, I always remember my ex-husband enquiring vaguely, usually somewhere around teatime on December 24, what ‘we’ had bought for the children.

I often wonder what would have happened if I had simply replied: ‘I don’t know – I thought you were sorting all that?’

SARAH VINE: Why is the yuletide mascot, the magical figure revered by children worldwide, the one who cuts a swathe through the night sky and brings good cheer to all, a sodding bloke?

SARAH VINE: Why is the yuletide mascot, the magical figure revered by children worldwide, the one who cuts a swathe through the night sky and brings good cheer to all, a sodding bloke?

(Actually, I know exactly what would have happened: the kids would have got hastily wrapped copies of whatever book he had been reading that week, which doesn’t sound so bad unless you happen to be a three-year-old finding volume two of Robert Caro’s epic four-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson in your stocking on Christmas morning, all 300 pages of the damn thing.)

But I digress. No doubt today the shops will be full of bewildered males combing the shelves for the remnants of the last-minute festive rush, vaguely conscious in the back of their man-minds that perhaps that slightly dodgy looking jar of home-made chutney they picked up at the office Christmas charity sale might not quite light up their beloved’s face in the intended manner on Christmas morning.

For those gentlemen about to sally forth to remedy this, just remember: items purchased at petrol stations don’t count, neither does food or drink – and do keep in mind that you are buying for your significant other, and not the charming young sales lady behind the counter, however persuasive she may be.

Also, wherever possible try to steer clear of anything bearing the words ‘anti-ageing’, even if it is on half-price special offer.

And don’t, whatever you do, mix your wife up with your mistress. One of the most unsatisfactory Christmases I remember was the year my father gave my mother a decidedly racy item that was very clearly intended for someone else. That was a frosty one, I can tell you. I’m half joking, of course (or am I?). Either way, I have a question. Given all this, why, if it’s not too impertinent to ask, is the yuletide mascot, the magical figure revered by children worldwide, the one who cuts a swathe through the night sky and brings good cheer to all, a sodding bloke?

What has Father Christmas ever done to get that gig? Truly, why does he get to swan around with all his ho-ho-hos, soaking up all the attention and glory as though any of this magnificent yuletide largesse was somehow his doing?

Isn’t it time we got rid of the old fool and gave the credit to the person who really deserves it: Mother Christmas? Of course, some cultures do feature a woman in their festive celebrations.

Present-shopping, tree-sourcing, decorating, food-buying, house- cleaning, spare bed-making, child-managing, granny-wrangling, teacher-gifting, soaking the turkey in a bucket of whatever Nigella (pictured) says - in the vast majority of families, those tasks fall to the lady of the house

Present-shopping, tree-sourcing, decorating, food-buying, house- cleaning, spare bed-making, child-managing, granny-wrangling, teacher-gifting, soaking the turkey in a bucket of whatever Nigella (pictured) says – in the vast majority of families, those tasks fall to the lady of the house

In Italy, where I spent my childhood, we have a character called La Befana, who visits children on the eve of Epiphany to either reward the good ones with presents or punish the naughty ones with a lump of coal – very much like Father Christmas. We even leave out a small glass of something and a plate of biscuits for her. But there the similarities end. Because instead of being celebrated as a benevolent bringer of joy, La Befana is a witch. That’s right, a proper witch, with a hooked nose and warts and rotten teeth and obligatory cackle – and very much a figure to be feared and reviled.

And unlike Father Christmas, who gets to wear a glamorous fur trim and ride through the night sky in a chariot drawn by dashing reindeer, La Befana dresses in rags and rides a rickety old broomstick. Which, being a good housekeeper, she uses to sweep the floor before she leaves. Of course she does! It’s a woman’s lot, you see: all the work, none of the glamour – or credit.

But don’t worry, ladies, the end is in sight. Just one more sleep, and then it’ll be over for another year. Until then, just keep taking the tablets. Oh, and a very merry Christmas to you all!

Any space left for a mince pie Gwynnie?

Forget Christmas jumpers and tinsel – on Christmas Day the truly chic wear… a bikini.

Witness Victoria Beckham, on hols in the Bahamas after another exhausting year being fabulous, and Gwyneth Paltrow, poolside in Mexico with her husband and two children.

Fair play to the woman, she does look pretty amazing in that itsy-weeny string bikini.

Although not sure there’s an awful lot of room for that extra mince pie…

Any space left for a mince pie, Gwynnie?

Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a bikini on a poolside in Mexico with her husband and two children.

Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a bikini on a poolside in Mexico with her husband and two children.

Grubby truth about posh folk

Actor Dominic West, who plays Charles in The Crown, almost betrayed his commoner heritage when in one scene he tucked into a plate of asparagus with a knife and fork.

Properly posh people, of course, only eat asparagus with their fingers, swirling the tips around their plate like a piece of bread in the butter and lemon sauce.

I can’t remember who first taught me this – probably the same person who pointed out to me that the way to tell if someone comes from money is the state of their kitchen. Really posh people have chaotic kitchens where nothing matches because everything’s been handed down from generation to generation.

They also tend to be rather grubby, as they grew up used to servants and never learned to wash up properly. Oh, and they can’t cook, for similar reasons. That’s why whenever I’m invited anywhere really grand, I always keep a small snack in my handbag and carry a packet of disinfectant wipes.

Actor Dominic West, who plays Charles in The Crown, almost betrayed his commoner heritage when in one scene he tucked into a plate of asparagus with a knife and fork

Actor Dominic West, who plays Charles in The Crown, almost betrayed his commoner heritage when in one scene he tucked into a plate of asparagus with a knife and fork

There are many people who do amazing things for charity. But one very astonishing young man is 26-year-old Russell Cook from Worthing in West Sussex, who goes under the name of ‘Hardest Geezer’ on X/formerly known as Twitter.

It could not be a more accurate description, for since April, Cook has been running the entire length of Africa – around 6,400 miles – in aid of The Running Charity, which helps people turn their lives around through sport.

Along the way he will cross 16 borders and traverse cities, rainforests and the Sahara desert. His longest daily run so far is 68.4 miles – and he even had a brush with a gang of armed robbers in Angola. So far he’s raised more than £100,000 but is hoping to reach the £1million mark. If anyone deserves a Christmas bonus, I’d say it’s him.

I can see that etiquette dictates that King Charles must confer a knighthood on the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in his New Year’s Honours, but honestly – why?

His sermon at the Coronation was excruciating, but perhaps more importantly the man has always seemed far more interested in politics than God. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice man, but as someone who has presided over an unprecedented decline in church attendance, does he really deserve such an honour?

Having little interest in sport, I wasn’t bothered either way when Mary Earps, goalkeeper for the Lionesses, won BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

I do, however, think it’s a bit much for ex-footballer Joey Barton to then accuse her of being a ‘big sack of spuds’.

First, she’s manifestly not; and second it reminds me of the time Kanye West got up on stage and insulted Taylor Swift after she won Best Female Video at the VMAs in 2009. Where is Taylor now? And where is Kanye? There’s a lesson there somewhere…

About the author

Kylian Walterlin

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