Column: December 22, 2010

“RUDOLPH the Red-nosed Reindeer/Had a very shiny nose . . . ”

Whenever I hear that song, I find myself feeling sorry for the other reindeer.

I am not condoning the practice of leaving out Rudolph when organising reindeer activities. Heaven knows I was picked last many times at school – and that was bad enough – but at least they let me play.

But put yourself in the place of the other reindeer for a moment. You’re playing a reindeer game. I have no idea what games reindeer play – I suspect football is a non-starter because of the antlers – but that is irrelevant.

Then along comes Rudolph with a nose so shiny one would even say it glows.

And here I think the song is probably underselling the luminosity of the nose. I think it’s quite clear the nose does glow in itself. Never let us forget, the light from this nose is powerful enough to penetrate a fog which envelops THE WHOLE WORLD. A red reflector isn’t going to cut the mustard in daylight hours, never mind at night.

So, back to our reindeer game. Along comes Rudolph with what is, quite possibly, the most powerful fog lamp in history attached to the front of his face.

How on earth are you going to play against him? You wouldn’t be able to see the ball or frisbee or whatever you are playing with. You don’t even have hands to shield your eyes from the piercing light as you are a reindeer with hooves. The game would be utterly ruined.

Or what if the reindeer game is hide and seek? How would anybody be able to hide in the Arctic forest from a reindeer with a searchlight? Conversely, how would a reindeer with a facially- mounted red light conceal himself?

If he were not the first reindeer “found”, then I would suggest that he would be being patronised.

No wonder all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. The laughter would be the nervous howl of the truly terrified. And the names they would call him would not be “Tomato Nose” or “The Scarlet Hooter,” but “Mutant Laser Freak” and “The Bogey Reindeer.”

Because the question in all of the other reindeers’ minds would be, “What is powering this glow? Is he radioactive? Can his beam give us cancer? Will he use his uncanny powers to enslave us all?”

Again, I say that none of this is Rudolph’s fault, he was simply born a mutant, like one of the X-Men, but we should not be so swift to judge his peers. If anything, Santa Claus is the villain of the piece.

We are supposed to be grateful that Father Christmas stepped in to smooth over the fractious relationship, making Rudolph take point on the night of The Gigantic Fog, but where was he for all those months when Rudolph was being shunned? It’s only when Rudolph becomes useful to him that he takes any interest.

And a more suspicious mind than mine might wonder if Santa Claus himself were the cause of Rudolph’s mutation. Perhaps there were other mutant reindeer with less useful powers, like the ability to predict the outcome of football matches that had already happened.

I might be over-thinking what is possibly intended to be a cheery Christmas song, but I doubt it.

Come to think of it, they wouldn’t be able to play with a frisbee either.

Merry Christmas.

NEXT WEEK: What would possess a man intent on proposing to his sweetheart to take her to a snow-blasted meadow in the dead of night, construct a frozen effigy of the local clergyman, and conduct a creepy conversation with it in lieu of said proposal?

And what sort of woman then would go back and sit in front of the fireplace with him, apart from a very cold one who’d just been out in a frozen field? I ask the questions . . . 

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