Susan Morrison: Mince pie addicts going cold turkey were the final straw

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Rudolph Reindeer’s new exposé reveals the rivalry and cruelty at heart of Santa franchise

Christmas books rarely raise controversy, but Rudolph Reindeer’s searing expose, Behind The Red Nose, has had a stormy reception, culminating in Jeremy Clarkson’s now infamous “cull them” comment.

It’s no shock to the public that relations between Rudolph and the Claus family have become strained. Rumours of a rift between Santa and his principal navigator began swirling when the lead reindeer spoke out earlier this year against the introduction of new pension plans for the largely elf-based workforce.

Rudolph claimed he was forced into action when Santa ignored a mass rally of elves and dwarves outside his workshop. Santa said he couldn’t see them.

Less well known, however, are the explosive rivalries that have festered for so long in Team Reindeer. Behind The Red Nose rips the mask away from the public image of a close and successful team working in harness to expose jealousy, bullying and epidemic mince pie addiction, as well as confirming the use of the contro- versial practice of “antlering up” female reindeer when one of the boys was in rehab.

Rudolph Reindeer’s battle with his own addiction issues recently hit the headlines when he was snapped by the paparazzi falling out of a taxi with Charlie Sheen. It was, he said, a wake-up call, and in his biography he credits Oprah Winfrey for stepping in to help the red-nosed superstar. Rudolph, obviously, not Charlie.

Winfrey arranged therapy sessions for Rudi, where his low self-esteem issues were finally confronted. That unique talent, his very shiny nose, set him apart but also marked him out when he was young. All of the other reindeers used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Rudolph was a bullied loner until fate, in the form of that foggy Christmas Eve, brought him face to face with the man Air Traffic Control codenames RedSuit. The rest, as they say, went down in history.

But the team flying behind that famous red nose deeply resented this new kid in town, and Rudolph once again found himself alone. Mince pies became his crutch. As he writes, they were easy to come by. Practically every home had them.

Now, pie free, tanned and healthy, Rudolph looks like he’s put those dark days behind him. Next week, we review Donner and Blitzen’s new cookery book, Wind Beneath Our Hooves: 1001 Bean and Lentil Recipes for Christmas.

Newcastle nightlife brought a sparkle to a winter’s night

There are few cities in the northern hemisphere where you will stand waiting for the wee green man (which, weirdly enough, I find myself doing at one in the morning on the way home from work, when the only traffic on the road is one of those very slow moving street sweeping contraptions that would take about an hour to run over you. But it would leave you neater). Anyway, I digress. There are few cities in the northern hemisphere where you’d find yourself outdoors in the early hours of the morning standing next to a young lady wearing a red basque, fishnet tights, black lacy panties, six inch heels and deely boppers that light up. Oh, and a clutch bag.

Welcome to Newcastle.

Joking my way out a slippy situation in front of a roaring Geordie crowd

For 14 years I have confidently stepped on the stages of The Stand Comedy Club. It’s generally the easiest bit of my job. Get on the stage, and stand in front of the microphone. They make it even easier for me by using a spotlight so I can see clearly. I’ve done it in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and saw no reason for it being any different in Newcastle.

It’s known as ‘hitting the stage’. That is exactly what I did last week. With my face. This was no ladylike, “jings did I just slip” trip, oh no. This was a full forward, “let’s try body surfing oh oops there’s no crowd in front of me”, sail into the air like a really short fat superhero with no super powers and then a crash landing like a frog being fired from a cannon.

The Geordies went wild, but clearly an explanation was in order, so, as I swept my hair out of my eyes, I told them that I’d been watching young Tyneside lassies falling down in the street and it looked like fun, so I thought I’d give it a go. Look, I said, that pratfall practically makes me a Geordie. No, said a woman in the front row. You’re wearing a jacket.

You read it in black and white

So panda interlopers, you thought you’d just shimmy on in and seize the limelight with no-one batting an eye, did you? Ha! Did I not warn you a zoo is a dangerous place to make an enemy? Did I not say that the penguins would make their anger known?

Panda fans pelted by Rockhopper poo. Oh yes, the poo really hit the fans.

I really like penguins …