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Father Christmas reveals exclusively to Clive Aslet his ambitious plan to rebuild his Lapland home…

14 Dec 2021
...and confides his wife has different ideas — to say nothing of the elves.

Ho ho ho.   Father Christmas here.  I’m calling RedBook for a bit of advice about the new gaffe.  That’s right, we’re building a house – going to, that is.  Can’t give much brain space to it now, the busy season you know – about fifty million presents to deliver and that’s only in the UK.  But after lockdown, well, we’ve seen enough of the grotto.  People think it’s all fairyland and coloured lights but I can tell you, that exposed stone gets extremely cold at this time of year and talk about cramped.  Too many small, dark rooms and no chance of knocking through for a family kitchen.  Everything underground.  Stalactites and drip, drip, drip.  I have to go around with a lantern.  Can barely see to comb my beard.  At my age, I need comfort.

“It’s like reading Country Life.  I get house envy. Then I have to go back to the grotty…”

“… Sort of place I can walk around in just a pair of socks without caching pneumonia.  A sauna for after the Christmas Eve run.”



I’ve been meaning to for years.  Of course, it’s the chimneys.  Every year I squeeze down about half a billion of them around the world.  Never know what I’m going to find at the bottom, then out I pop and, wow, you’d never believe some of the homes.  It’s like reading Country Life.   I get house envy.  Then I have to go back to the grotty, as Mrs Santa calls it, and it gets me down.

My idea is, let’s be ecological.  We’re in Lapland – flat and covered in snow for half of the year but ripe for rewilding during the other six months.  Give me a wildflower meadow.  Rudolph will love it and the herbs may help with his nose.  Dasher, Prancer, Blitzen and the rest of them go completely free range, healthiest meat you can get.  Whoops, no – haha, or rather hohoho.  No plans to sell reindeer steaks although a food brand might help diversify the operation.  Presents aren’t a good business model when you have to bundle them into a sack and give them away for nothing.  Santa’s Sausages – what do you think?  Back to the house: I’m going log walls.  Remote, nothing flash, very private, so that nobody knows where we live.  Sedum roof. If any more kids turn up, I’ll do them serious mischief.  Proper insulation, obviously – we don’t want to perish

like we do in the grotto. Ground source heat pump.  Big windows and lots of light.  Then just one big open space with underfloor heating.  Sort of place I can walk around in just a pair of socks without caching pneumonia.  A sauna for after the Christmas Eve run.  Somewhere for the classic sleigh collection, completely invisible until you go down the steps, spring a switch and, bam, you’re in Goldfinger’s lair.  Otherwise only a fireplace made of boulders and some woodburning stoves.  What’s that?  The regulations are changing.  We’ll just have to have a woodstore to season the logs.  It can go next to the reindeer barn and the workshop.  Elves live in the forest of Middle Earth, as that tiresome Professor Tolkein kept describing – they’ll just have to commute, with the rest of the staff.

“RedBook, you can make our dream home happen, if anyone can.  Isn’t that the magic of Christmas?”

But the wife says it won’t do.  ‘We can’t have open plan dear, not with your voice.  All that Hohoho-ing.  And if you sat on a spindly designer chair, it would break.’   She wants columns, a bit of Quinlan Terry, mahogany furniture – those dining chairs for people with big behinds.  Cornices in the kitchen and a staircase that sweeps down so she can make an entrance when we entertain.  I tell her, ‘You’re Mrs Santa, not Scarlet O’Hara.’  It’s no use, she’s going for a Georgian Group award.  ‘We’ve done well in life, let other people see it,’ is her mantra.  Can you believe it, she likes children.  They’ll be hanging around in droves, wanting to sit on my knee.  Frankly I don’t know what to do.  Could have tried marriage counselling but instead I heard about you guys.  RedBook, you can make our dream home happen, if anyone can.  Isn’t that the magic of Christmas?

Clive Aslet is a member of RedBook’s Advisory Board, and a distinguished architectural historian, author and critic. 

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