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The Santa Clause

22nd December 1950
Page 53
Page 54
Page 53, 22nd December 1950 — The Santa Clause
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Keywords : Jim Zwerg, Didem

Political Commentary By JANUS The mistletoe hung in the ivory tower, The guests had been waiting for over an hour, And the Baron's retainers , And the Baron's retainers , HAVE you a shilling?" asked Maggie, who has a well-developed faculty for finance. "It's so near Christmas

that I feel I can't let the carolsingers go off empty-banded." ' She was away some little time. "It's snoWing hard," she said, on her return. "A white carpet everywhere. Just right for Christmas Eve. There was a dear old gentle man talking to one of the choir. I brought him back with me. He has some sort of transport problem on his mind. Your Lord Hurcomb has been worrying him, as far as I can make out. I said you might be able to help."

She lowered her voice.

" After aII, it is the season of good will, and I felt rather sorry for the poor old .chap. He tells me he has a very large family, and they all seem to be depending on him. He looks almost past it, anyway. Perhaps you can make something of his story for your paper."

The visitor certainly seemed advanced in years, and he was well wrapped up against the cold. He wheezed gently as he subsided into

an easy chair.

Always in Trouble "Life is difficult to-day," he began. "Last time I was in these parts they pulled me up for not having a light at the back. Now I'm told I should have something called a permit, and a vehicle pass." "There has been • a good deal written on the subject in the technical Press," I told him, "and your association must have told you What has been happening.'

He smiled self-deprecatingly. "I. must admit I've always been something of a free lance. It's engrained in my character. And as for reading. I never seem to find much time —at least, for that sort of literature." , • I briefly explained the permit position to him, and asked one or two questions about his business.

.Apparently, although he had only ..-One vehicle, which he drove himself and had parked inst round the -corner,. ,his !ATI* occastons,.. :neeeaSitated.,JoiirfieyS. well'. beyond

the 25-mile limit, His long-distance work, he said, was seasonal, "about this time of year particularly," and he was considerably taken aback to learn of the restriction which came into force last February.

His ignorance surprised me all the more when I found that, on many other subjects, he showed a wide knowledge and a shrewd judgment. Many leading transport personalities were numbered amongst his acquaintances. He was in the habit of giving them presents at Christmas time.

"It's , by way of being a hoblby of mine?' he explained, his eyes twinkling. "Now, last year there was a craze for mottoes and things, done in poker-work on thin panels of wood. Very tasteful they looked, hung up, with a sprig of holly peeping over the top."

"Is that what somebody meant the other day when he spoke about the writing on the wall'?" interposed Maggie.

"Certainly, he must have done, my dear," said the stranger, "although I didn't hear him. Mind you, there was nothing unrefined about my texts. You can't be too careful if something is to be put up where the children can see it. There's an art in choosing the right words. -Not.. everybody can do it. You must hit on something that has a wide popular appeal, and at the same time has a special meaning to the person for whom it is intended. You need something with a simple message—a bit of uplift—so that a man can always find it inspiring

"For example, I worked this out for the head one at the British Transport Commission If the public wears a frown,

Never mind!

If you're twenty million down,

Never mind! Just go smiling on your way, Never mind what people say, For the public has to pay, So never mind!

Cheer for the Minister

"I bet that has cheered him up no end during the past twelve months. Then take the Minister of Transport. If ever a man had a loadof worry on his shoulders, it's the .Minister. I thought up a really powerful-message for him ":— PRESS ON REGARDLESS Your friends may kick you from behind.

But close your eyes and cloSe:Yout mind.

Budge not for friend nor enemy, Nor mind how bad the roach may be. , °

Press on regardless!

My visitor showed me one or two shorter mottoes he had devised for his friends within the industry.A prominent haulier had received this:—

Steer your vessel carefully Betwixt the devil and the B.T.C.

This message went to a C-Iteence holder:—

Cord/v.1as he .say:

Whoso putteth his trust iii the ivory tower

Eindethit verily a whited sepuldh re.

A Passenger operator had the following:—

. Fight fot, freedom, everywhere! -None but the 'brave desa-rv_eg: the

fare .

"I must go now," said the stranger, hurriedly. "I have a lot of work to do."

I apologized for not being able to help him.

" You may still be able to think of something," he said, "1 shall be back this way later, in any case, although I cannot wait now. My friend outside doesn't like to be kept standing too long He is liable to take the bit between his teeth, and run off."

"Wait a minute!" I cried. "You mean you haven't a motor van?"

"Certainly not," he answered. " don't believe in this newfangled stuff. What has been goad enough for me all these years is good enough for me a few more years yet."

" But it helps your problem," I said. " As it is not a mechanically propelled vehicle, I think you can safely forget about permits."

"I'm not ashamed to be oldfashioned," said the old man, one hand on the door. "Machines may be all very well for the youngsters. They don't interest me. All the things I carry round with me I make with my own hands—every bit. It's nice to know I can carry them herever I like, and not worry about nationalization It sometimes pays to be old-fashioned. I'm more glad than ever that I stuck to my reindeer" And he was gone.

I turned to Maggie. "Did you hear that?" I said, in some excitement.

She thought hard for a few moments. Then her eyes lit up.

"I see. Don't say I never remember the things you tell me. As they are his own goods, he is not carrying for hire or reward. So he doesn't need a permit."

From somewhere a long way off there came the sound of veils.


People: Now I'm

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