Fifty Five Skating Santas



I saw the steam before I saw them. Rising as a fog from fifty five Santas’ bodies, fresh from scudding the deep drifts of Langdale moor, it swayed gently in the freezing air, densely bright in cone-shaped beams of the team of head torches bent to scrappy song sheets. The melody was familiar, – the fell-running Santas had created their own anthem to the tune of Wenceslas, an irreverent song of the murky moors, and mud and sweat, trying and winning, laughing and drinking.
The Santas wore studded running shoes, caked with impacted snow, and an assortment of lycra, beards, wigs, face paint, lights, tinsel, bells, and they were thirsty. I welcomed them to the living room, where there was spread an array of festive fare, and opened the door to the back yard, where the ice rink beckoned. When the fortified punch had done its task, they surged out onto the ice, marvelling at its thickness and sheen. It was virtually impossible to stand up on it, as many discovered. Through the window could still be seen a wad of Santas, delving amongst mince pies as if these might be the last they would see before meeting a slippery doom on the rink of terror.
The rink became a whirl of hilarity as novice after novice attempted the impossible, and some achieved it – a clear run across the entire length of the rink. To do this a run up was needed, which entailed a jump down a step onto the ice, adding to the challenge.
The minutes were being counted; the Santas were on a tight schedule and soon had to leave. One by one they filed away, calling their thanks and leaving only a wash of shimmering fog.

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