Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (98) Christmas in Sharpington – James’s Tale (Part 01)
The traditional seaside resort of Sharpington-by-Sea with its Victorian Pier, seafront hotels, crazy golf, The Palladium ballroom, well maintained gardens, promenade, theatre and illuminations, has all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside, as well as amusement arcades and of course the Sharpington Fun Park and 55 year old triplets, Alex, James and Jenny Wardle live together in the huge house they grew up in, in the grand neighbourhood of Granite Hill, which in a nod to San Francisco, the locals had nicknamed Nob Hill.
“So it’s Christmas time again” Alex said as he looked out the window.
“As if anyone could fail to notice” James added as he and Jenny joined him at the drawing room window.
Even without leaving the house they could see more than half a dozen houses decorated to the hilt.
Every coloured light imaginable, Santa's on the roof or climbing a ladder, sleighs, elves, snowmen, bells, stars, baubles and last but by no means least standing almost four feet high that perennial favourite Winnie the Pooh.
Alex was taken aback, what the hell did Pooh have to do with Christmas? And later as he and his siblings walked down to the seafront he noticed that every other house seemed to have one, there was even one on the pier so he guessed there must be something in it.
He didn't recall mention of him in the bible and in all of the many nativity plays he had seen over the years Winnie the Pooh was conspicuous by his absence and although there is a donkey in the story it wasn’t Eeyore.
The stable did not house Piglet and the wise men did not travel from the east with Tigger bearing gifts of Huney.
Nor in any of the Christmas traditions around the world is there a single reference to Pooh as one of Santa's helpers, there was Black Peter, and the Jolly Elf, there was even the devil figure Krampus, but no Pooh, but it appeared to him, that the people of Sharpington were giving him pride of place on their lawns that Christmas.
As they turned left onto the promenade the early winter sun broke through the mackerel skies exposing patches of the bluest sky and if he had had any remaining doubts that Christmas was coming to Sharpington they were soon dispelled as the promenade was decked in its Christmas garb.
Inflatable Santa’s climb the walls of the Fun Park and the pier was draped in LED icicles.
Then when they passed the Seaview Hotel they saw what looked like a cheery red-suited burglar hanging from one of the balconies and they all laughed before they went their separate ways.
James returned to Sharpington for the first time in twenty years after his brother Alex lost his wife and he found it very welcoming so as he was divorced and his son was living in America he decided to move back to the old family home and as he had independent wealth and plenty of time on his hands he took to doing voluntary work.
After he parted company from his siblings he made his way to Jubilee Park which was playing host to Santa’s grotto in the pavilion.
When he first walked in a week before, he found the place in disarray as a group of volunteers were putting the grotto together and his eyes were drawn to the throne in one corner where jolly Santa Claus would be sat next to his sack of gifts.
James had always been fascinated by the genesis of Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas was a Bishop in 4th century Turkey and became a giver of gifts to orphaned and poor children and James liked that such a wonderful tradition had begun as acts of kindness.
The second thing he noticed in the “work in progress” grotto, was the diminutive figure of a pretty middle-aged brunette called Charlotte Morley who was to be his Elf in chief, and when she turned and smiled at him he was hooked, and he wanted to get to know her better.
And he got to know her very easily because when she turned and smiled at him she liked what she saw and set her little pixie cap at him.