Home Articles Season's readings: Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
Season\'s readings: Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 01 December 2010 12:31

I can remember reading Raymond Briggs\'s Father Christmas when I thought it was a documentary rather than a piece of fiction. So part of the delicious tingle I get when I open the book now comes from the memory of that early magic. It takes me back to my Grandma\'s house in the run-up to Christmas, snug in my little bed, occasionally glancing out the window to see if I could spot Rudolph. A place I\'d always like to be. Although, at the same time as they bring on the memories, the browning corners of my copy remind me of the impossibility of ever really going back. It\'s the epitome of nostalgia.

But there\'s more to the pleasure than sentimentality. Once I\'ve finished indulging my regression to childhood, I can still enjoy the book as an adult. It\'s gorgeous for a start. Who wouldn\'t want that sleigh full of presents ? especially when their brightness is covered in a military green all-weather tarp. Who wouldn\'t want to be on the inside of the lovely glowing windows Briggs has drawn? Glows are his speciality, in fact. There\'s a brilliant picture of sleigh and reindeers silhouetted against a lighthouse. A splendid glowing sunset. And then there\'s Father Christmas\'s nose as he drives his sleigh through fog. Ouch.

Talking of fog, all the weather is hostile. Briggs evokes winter wonderfully. But not in a tacky wonderland way. It\'s a dark, cold, forbidding and icy beauty. It\'s just as the radio advertises when Father Christmas listens to it (a typically pleasing intimate detail) on a rooftop, eating a sandwich and drinking a thermos of tea: "Snow, ice, frost, sleet, hail, rain."

There are plenty of jokes like that ? and they make the book. Christmas is a time for a big sneer as much as good cheer, after all. There\'s brilliant comic logic behind the deduction that Father Christmas must actually hate his job. Of course it isn\'t any fun dragging all that stuff around in the cold and dark. "Blooming chimneys. Blooming soot. Blooming cats, Blooming cookers. Grrr. Getting a blooming cold now." He speaks for everyone made nauseous by Strictly Come Dancing Christmas specials and The Queen\'s speech. And that makes him all the more loveable.

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Courtesy to guardian.co.uk.

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