We definitely caught the right bus today.
Not in terms of the right number or the correct route, you understand - but can you guess who was driving our bus? Father Christmas,
that's who. He was in his full regalia, too, complete with curly white beard which stretched right down to the steering wheel. Instead of saying "More fares, please!" he trumpeted a cheery "Ho, Ho, Ho!" Everyone climbing onto the bus, however heavy laden with
Christmas shopping, couldn't help but grin.
One small lassie, about five years old, could be heard telling him that, whatever he might understand to the contrary, she had been really, really good this year.
"I guess I'll be heading over your way on Christmas Eve then," said Santa - and the littl'un trotted off to find a seat on the bus with the hugest of smiles on her face, stopping only to accept a small bag of Haribos from one of Santa's elves.
Ah, yes, the Elves. There were two of them, one wearing a Christmas jumper with jingling bells hanging from his belt, the other rather more stylishly clad in a green silky dress with a silver cardigan. Along with the red sack
containing the Haribos, they held a green collecting bucket with the logo of the local hospice plastered on the front. They didn't wave it about or ask for donations, however, just sat there in the hope that the Christmas cheer they were generating would lead
at least some passengers to make a donation.
In fact, when I came to take a proper look round, I realised that the whole bus had been decorated. Glittery chains had been fastened between every post and garlands
of cotton wool snow hung from the windows. It was as if we had, all unwittingly, stepped onto a Magical Bus. At first I thought that maybe Stagecoach had been overtaken by Christmas spirit and had sent out a Company Directive that all staff were to be festive
and merry but, peering out of the window at other passing buses, none of them had been decorated, none of them were transporting elves and - most telling of all - none of them were being driven by Father Christmas.
Well, of course they couldn't be, could they? There is, after all, only one Father Christmas and he was driving the Pulse bus this afternoon, from Lancing to Tesco's in Durrington. What I am struggling with is - why? After all, it must be one of his
busiest days in the lead up to the Long Journey. Shouldn't he, at the very least, be hosting a thank you lunch for all his Little Helpers who have been working their pointy socks off for the best part of the last year? Or poring over the Overtime List and
making sure that every shift will be covered, despite the number of elves phoning in sick after eating and drinking too much at their Staff Dinner on Friday evening at their hostelry of choice, the Sleigh and Jingle Bells.
Possibly Mrs Claus, that wise and wonderful woman, had decided that he needed to get out from under her feet for the afternoon so that she could spring-clean the sleigh, retune the jingling bells and take Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer through
a quick Elf and Safety Check (with particular attention to sloping roofs, smoking chimneys and the dangers of eating too many carrots in a single night.) "Just go and do something useful!" she told him, crossly, as she led Prancer and Dancer off to have their
hooves checked. Like what? Santa had retorted, equally crossly. "Oh, for goodness' sake just go and - drive a bus or something!" Which is how the Great Man came to be on our bus this afternoon. You know it makes sense.
There is nothing quite like meeting Santa to put a smile on your face. You don't have to be five years old - though the Elf in the shiny green dress obviously judged Mr B and I too old for a bag of Haribos. We alighted the bus with broad grins on our
faces and they haven't slipped yet. I sang "Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat," all the way home and, such was the Magic of Santa, that Mr B didn't tell me to desist. Not once.
At home, a bit
more Christmas present wrapping. Several of you have been kind enough to ask about the Missing Sellotape and I am happy to report that it has turned up in a place I am absolutely sure I looked when I first found it gone. It waited until I had paid out the
princely sum of 99p for a new roll of the sticky stuff before allowing me to find it again.
It's probably the same for Mrs Claus. When she told Santa to go drive a bus, she never imagined he actually would.
All she can do now is wait till, like my Sellotape, he turns up when she least expects him.
Unless, of course, he decides that it's far, far easier driving the Pulse bus than a one horse open sleigh.
Not to mention keeping those pesky reindeer in order...