GERMANY is facing a Santa Claus shortage in the run-up to Christmas, as new recruits fail to meet high Teutonic standards of jollity and expertise.
Job agencies, which are currently conducting a desperate last-minute recruitment drive, have reported a distinct lack of jolly, rotund, fluffy-bearded Santas with no criminal records.
Among the tough criteria are a suitably low voice, child-friendliness, good German, not too youthful, and a full repertoire of Christmas poems and songs. For good measure, they must show spontaneity and energy.
“It takes a lot to be a good Santa,” said Tarik Kilinc of the Heinzelmaennchen agency in Berlin. “About 10% don’t make it through the casting process.
“Just handing out presents isn’t enough. Our Santas have to sing songs with the families and talk to the parents about their children and the evening’s arrangements,” he added.
“The kids want to see sleds and reindeer and you need calm nerves to deal with that,” Kilinc said. “Every year it becomes harder to recruit people.”
Source: The Times
A man who has celebrated Christmas every day for the last 14 years with a full roast dinner, champagne and presents is scaling back his celebrations because of the credit crunch.
Andy Park, known as Mr Christmas, has munched his way through 117,600 sprouts, quaffed 5,110 bottles of Moet, and sent himself more than 230,000 Christmas cards since his festive fetish began.
But this year the 44-year-old electrician, from Melksham, Wiltshire, is having to make swingeing cuts to keep his unique devotion to Yuletide on the road.
Mr Park, a divorcee, said: “I’ve been through 37 electric ovens and worn out 23 video recorders by watching the Queen’s Speech every day. I’ve also sent myself 235,206 Christmas cards. But these days the postage is so dear I’m having to deliver them myself.
“The credit crunch is getting to me big time and I may even have to cut out the champagne and start singing for my Christmas dinner.
“The lunch with all the trimmings and alcohol is costing in excess of £150 a week, but I’m fighting hard not to let the financial crisis ruin the celebrations.
“I’m not being tight but a few of the little extras are having to go. I’m only having one Christmas tree this year, instead of two, and I’m cutting back on the Christmas lights because of energy bills.
“I used to get a 14lb turkey, now I’m going for a 9lb one. I refuse to compromise on champagne and always have Moet, but now I’m having to make it last two days.”
Every morning since July 14 1994, the father of one has breakfasted on mince pies and sherry, before opening the presents he has bought for himself. Then he eats a full roast turkey lunch and watches the Queen’s Speech on video, his favourite being her “annus horribilis” address.
When he last took stock of his intake in October, Mr Park calculated that he had consumed 5,110 turkeys, 94,080 mince pies, 28,224 roast potatoes, and opened 204,400 Christmas crackers.
Explaining the moment his life changed, Mr Park said: “I’ll never forget the day it started. The sun was shining, but I was just feeling fed up and bored, so I went home and put the decorations up. Suddenly I was happy. I thought, this is fun. So I did it again the next day, and the day after that.
“People do think I’m crackers, but I enjoy treating myself and I’m the only one in the world who does it. Others have tried to copy me, but they can’t last.
Maybe Mr Christmas should have a go on our Happy Christmas Turkey Scoffing Game?
Source: The Telegraph
The Prince of Wales will feature in a special edition of the Antiques Roadshow, Top of the Pops will return and the cast of Blackadder will come together for a one off special to mark its 25th birthday - these are some of the highlights of the BBC’s Christmas schedule that have been unveiled.
The Prince will talk to Fiona Bruce from Dumfries House near Cumnock in East Ayrshire and Blackadder Rides Again will include the first ever in-depth interview with Rowan Atkinson, about his personal experience of being involved in the show.
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will also present a Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, featuring previous winners Alesha Dixon and Jill Halfpenny, also Kelly Brook, who pulled out last year after the death of her father will return to compete with the remaining contestants of the latest series.
Nigella Lawson will be returning with a five part series ‘Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen’ comprising of three new programmes and Rab C Nesbitt returns in a 45 minute long special.
As well as special holly-encrusted editions of Doctor Who, The Royal Family, EastEnders and Gavin and Stacey, other BBC1 highlights include a Christmas edition of the detective series Jonathan Creek and The 39 Steps, a drama based on the novel by John Buchan, and set in the build up to the First World War, starring Rupert Penry Jones.
Comedy will include the return of Shooting Stars, and Jack Dee will star in a special of Lead Balloon. Among the plethora of feature films due to get a Christmas airing will be the television premier of a new Wallace and Gromit adventure In A Matter of Loaf and Death, and Finding Nemo, Shark Tale, The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest and Starter for Ten.
Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said the BBC had: “Pulled out all the stops this year to ensure a truly wonderful holiday schedule featuring the very best of British talent in a great line-up of exciting seasonal specials”.
She added there was something to appeal to everyone. So while the schedule of BBC1 is unashamedly populist, BBC2 is emphasising the highbrow in its own Christmas offering.
Highlights include the conductor Daniel Barenboim in The New Year’s Day Concert 2008: Live from Vienna and two major religious documentaries In The Truth about Carols, looking at the major traditions and Star of Bethlehem -Behind the Myth, which takes a look at the latest findings of scientists, astronomers and historians as they map the night skies.
Source: The Telegraph
Top Of The Pops, that old TV hit parade favourite, is back for two special shows over Christmas and New Year. Presented by Fern Cotton and Reggie the schedule is for one show to go out on Christmas day building up to the Christmas No1 and the second show on New Years eve highlighting the best music of 2008.
Going aganist a BBC embargo to relesase the news Chris Moyles informed the nation on his Radio 1 show this morning. Clearly delighted with the news Chris Moyles also announced that “TOTP is part of Christmas day, I can’t wait to watch it whilst eating my mince pies”
The Jonny Vegas of radio then went on to talk about trifle.
Fern Cotton also interviewed on the Chris Moyles Radio 1 show this morning tipped the XFactor winner to be the Christmas No1.
Robbie Williams will reunite for his former Take That band mates for a TV special, according to reports.
Williams is expected to take his seat among the studio audience at the taping of Take That’s Christmas special, An Audience With…
Williams hasn’t reunited in public with the group since he left in 1995 to pursue his solo career. A source told the Sunday People: “Gary [Barlow] was pleading with Robbie to come back and join them on their tour next summer and he was happy to discuss it.
“It all spiraled from there and Robbie is planning to sneak into the filming and be a surprise guest. “Imagine the look on everyone’s faces when the camera pans around the audience and there he is.”
Work has got under way to decorate a giant Redwood tree with 1,800 lights at Kew’s country garden in West Sussex. The 100ft Redwood at Wakehurst Place is said to be the UK’s tallest Christmas tree - and when lit up is visible from the sky on flights to Gatwick Airport.
Expert tree climbers were scaling the tree with ropes and high-level platforms from 0730 GMT on Wednesday. James Pumfrey, from the conservation and woodland unit, said work would take most of the day to complete.
Mr Pumfrey is one of a team of arborists who look after trees around the 500 acre estate near Haywards Heath. He said: “Stringing up 1,800 Christmas lights is a bit different to our normal work, and it always marks the start of the build-up to Christmas here at Wakehurst.
“The tree is a local landmark which can be seen for miles when the lights are switched on and it is great to be part of this festive tradition.”
The energy-saving lightbulbs will be tested on Wednesday and will be officially lit up on 28 November.
source: The BBC
In the build up to Christmas we will be giving you advice and assistance to help you plan, be safe and get the best from Christmas.
Be Prepared, Shop early to take advantage of the widest choice and pre-Christmas Sales.
Put money aside into a Christmas fund each month throughout the year, to make Christmas more affordable.
Before buying any Christmas Presents decide how much you are going to spend on everyone and write lists of everything you need to buy. Keep to your lists and try to avoid impulse buys.
Buy from reputable traders. Don’t fall for counterfeit goods. Clothes, CDs computer games, DVDs perfume, aftershave and videos are all popular with counterfeiters. Look at the price of the goods. If it is too cheap, it is probably fake. Check the quality of the packaging and check for spelling mistakes.
Look for bargains online, online shopping is becoming very popular. Remember pay for items over £100 by credit card – this gives you extra protection but make sure you are buying from a secure site when you give your credit card details. Never send your credit card details by e-mail.
Beware of scams especially of sites that say “this is not a scam” - reputable traders don’t need to say this.
AT THE CHECKOUT
Different shops have different policies. Check the shop’s policy on unsuitable goods. You do not have an automatic right to a refund on unsuitable goods. Some shops will offer a refund on unsuitable goods while others will just offer credit notes or exchanges. Some may not offer anything. It is up to the shop what its customer policy is. Check on time periods for returning unsuitable goods. This can also vary from shop to shop.
KEEP ALL RECEIPTS
You will need the receipts if the presents are unsuitable and the shop is prepared to offer an exchange. It is always useful to have receipts if you have bought something that is faulty. If you pay by credit card check your receipts against your statements. If you purchase your presents online ensure you keep all email confirmations sent to you from the e-tailer.
Take care when buying toys. Always check for the CE safety mark and make sure the toy is suitable for the child’s age.
Use cash for small purchases and check your change. Use your credit card for items over £100 for extra protection.
CHECK YOUR PURCHASES
Test any toys you buy to make sure they work, and that all the accessories are there. Check if they need any batteries and buy these so that the toy can be played with on Christmas Day.
If something you have bought is faulty return it as quickly as possible. Delays in returning faulty goods can affect your rights.
TOP 10 TIPS ON RETURNING GOODS AFTER CHRISTMAS
Go back to the shop as soon as possible, but NOT on the day they start their sale!
Do not remove labels if you think goods might be unsuitable and may have to be returned
Keep unsuitable goods safe and secure and preferably not in a smoky atmosphere
Bring the receipt – most shops ask for this when unsuitable goods are being returned
Check the shops policy. If the shop says its policy is to offer exchanges or credit notes on unsuitable goods THIS IS REASONABLE
Know your rights. If you have bought faulty goods you can ask for a refund or a repair or a replacement. Exactly what you are entitled to depends on the particular circumstances of your complaint
Remember shops do NOT have to give refunds on unsuitable goods unless this was agreed before the goods were bought
Being told you can bring goods back does NOT necessarily mean the shop will give a refund. It may just be offering an exchange or credit
Different shops have policies on unsuitable goods. This is legal. In law shops do not have to make any offer at all when someone is returning unsuitable goods.
KEEP CALM – DO NOT LOSE YOUR TEMPER! Do not be rude about the item, especially if the person who bought it is with you. Be polite and friendly and expect the assistant to want to help you – they usually do! Smile! It can work wonders
The puddings will be eaten at Christmas parties and lunches. A team of chefs are starting the festive season early by cooking 3,000 Christmas puddings in a single day.
Up to a dozen cooks at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport will be involved in mixing together the 300kg (47st 3lb) of ingredients needed for the puds. It includes 580 eggs, 94kg (14st 11lb) of mixed fruit, 66 pints of Guinness and 17 bottles of rum.
The ingredients of the hotel’s own pudding recipe, will be mixed using a two foot high and wide bowl.
The ingredients will also include 72kg (11st 4lb) of brown sugar, 30kg (4st 10lb) of flour, 18kg (2st 11lb) of treacle, 17.5kg (2st 10lb) of syrup and 12kg (2st 2lb) of ground almonds.
Once ready, the puddings will be served at Christmas parties at the venue over the festive period as well as at lunches for more than 1,000 people on Christmas Day.
Source: The BBC
More than 50,000 people gathered in central London to watch pop stars McFly turn on the Regent Street Christmas lights. The foursome did the honours at 6.50pm from a stage set up at the junction of New Burlington Street and Regent Street.
Bass guitarist Dougie Paynter said: “It was awesome and there was so many people there to see it.”He added: “So many great people have done it before. When we did it there was a plaque saying who had done it in the past and there was people like Sir Anthony Hopkins and members of the Royal Family.
Thousands of small energy-efficient lightbulbs have been used to design the lights which are based on the theme of stars.
The tradition of switching on the Christmas lights dates back to 1954 and previous guests invited to turn them on include Diana, Princess of Wales, pop star Kylie Minogue and jockey Frankie Dettori.
McFly begin a UK and Ireland tour on Friday in Sheffield and will release their next single, backing the Children in Need appeal, on November 24. Dougie said: “We have been on the show before a few times and we opened it last year I think, but doing the single is another honour.”
The double-A side features the track Do Ya, from their current album Radio:ACTIVE, and a cover version of The Faces’ Stay With Me.
Source: The Press Association
Milton Keynes centre may become architectural treasure by Christmas.
Its grid-pattern layout, concrete underpasses and roundabouts have long made it the butt of jokes for some, but the centre of Milton Keynes could soon be recognised among Britain’s architectural treasures.
The culture minister, Barbara Follett, is considering official recommendations to have the town’s 1970s central shopping area designated as a listed building on the same level as the Tate Gallery in London.
English Heritage is backing calls for the half-mile long covered retail area, known officially as “The Centre”, to be given a “grade II*” listing which would put it into the top five per cent of all buildings in the country.
Surrounded by concrete flyovers and dominated by rectangular glass and steel structures, it could soon be afforded the same protection as stately homes, country churches and grand Victorian railway stations.
Supporters have hailed the geometric complex, one of the world’s longest shopping malls, as a landmark of post-war architecture. But retailers have been privately fighting the listing, believing it is “just a shopping centre”. The decision, is expected before Christmas!
Source: The Telegraph