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Tim Dowling: I’ve recorded a Christmas song for charity. What could go wrong? | Life and style


It’s a cloudy Friday morning and I’m standing on a disused golf course someplace in London, making an attempt and failing to select up a canine turd. I’m having bother opening the biodegradable poo bag due to the white gloves I’m carrying. I’m carrying white gloves as a result of I’m dressed as Santa.

The canine is pulling on the lead as I hunch over the moist grass. Within the distance an onlooker is standing on the golf green, watching this disturbing scene unfold. He’s additionally dressed as Santa. By the point I get the poo bag draped over my gloved hand, there may be one other drawback.

“Now I can’t discover it,” I say.

“It’s to your left,” the director says, wanting up from his monitor.

“After I look down, all I see is beard,” I say.

“We are able to’t see the turd within the shot,” he says, “so perhaps simply fake to select it up.”

“I’ve some expertise of that,” I say.

When the band I’m in played its last gig in March 2019, we had no future plans past our yr off. On the finish of the evening I believed to myself: perhaps that is it. However by the beginning of 2020 our diary was full: spring gigs, summer season festivals, an autumn tour. After which impulsively it wasn’t – every part received cancelled. We couldn’t play in entrance of individuals, after which we couldn’t even practise. When gigs that have been postponed till 2021 received postponed once more, I believed: perhaps this actually is it.

The thought of a Christmas charity single arose partly out of frustration, however the course of itself was irritating. The music was written and organized largely by e mail. Each up to date model was in a distinct key. It was recorded between lockdowns, in shifts, over two days. It turned out higher than we may have hoped within the circumstances, however a charity music wants a video, and a video wants an concept. Sadly, I had an concept.

In the midst of my work as a journalist, I as soon as attended Santa faculty, so I understand how lonely and humiliating spending hours dressed as Father Christmas will be, particularly once you’re within the midst of 20 different Santas – a few of them with actual white beards – who’re ready to remain in character all day. Within the morning I watched two of them shake fingers throughout a desk.

“I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your identify,” one mentioned.

“It’s Santa!” the opposite mentioned.

“After all!” the primary mentioned. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” I believed: screw this.

I make a horrible Santa: stooped, skinny, cautious, useless behind the eyes. My arms are too lengthy for many regulation Santa sleeves, and the massive belt hangs spherical my knees. They let me graduate from Santa faculty that day – I hold my diploma protected, so I by no means need to resit the examination – however I used to be positively backside of the category.

So the video concept was easy: lonely folks getting on with their soul-crushing each day routines, however dressed as Santa.

“Why is that humorous?” my spouse mentioned.

“It’s not, it’s vastly miserable,” I mentioned. “The right message for a pandemic Christmas.”

“I see,” she mentioned.

“Anyway, it’s for charity,” I mentioned.

The subsequent factor I do know, I’m being despatched a taking pictures schedule, a few pages of social distancing protocols and instructions to a golf course. I hate it when folks say, “You’ve received nobody however your self responsible.” I all the time assume: there should be somebody.

“That was good,” the director says. “Possibly go searching after you’ve picked it up, type of defeated.”

“I can do this,” I say. My canine pulls on the result in get away from me, as a result of I’m dressed as Santa.

“And a bit slower on the stroll up this time,” he says.

“What concerning the glasses?” I say. “Does it look bizarre with me carrying glasses?”

“The glasses are good,” the director says. “The glasses are humorous.”

“I don’t have a way of humour about myself, so…”

“Come on!” a voice shouts. I flip to see the accordion participant standing 20 metres away. He’s additionally dressed as Santa, accompanied by a canine the scale of a reindeer. His arms are folded throughout his spherical Santa stomach, which shakes when he laughs, like a bowl stuffed with jelly.



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