A (Late) Xmas Tale..
It is very very early on Xmas morning, the whole world sleeps, little
children slumber, their dreams punctuated by fond imaginings of all the
presents they will be getting in just a few short hours. Adults sleep
too, but none with less certainty, and more tossing (ahem!) and turning
in their bed, than the software mogul and multi-billionaire, Bill
"Oh woe, US Supreme court, Russian Hackers, and Linux, why are you
tormenting me so!?"
Another deeper voice cuts in. "Because they think you deserve it Bill?"
Bill Gates suddenly snaps back to a fully awakened state.
"Wh-who are you? Is this some modern day re-run of Charles Dickens
'Christmas Carol', with myself playing the scrooge figure. Are you my
mysteriously deceased, but no-one was able to prove anything against me
former business partner, J.C.Marley jnr? So where are the three ghosts
of Xmas's past, present, and future?"
(Unimpressed) "Hell no, that's just too obvious! Nice of you to tell me
that stuff about your business partner though, I'm sure someone else
can use that later. Now look closer at me, and you'll soon realise who
Bill gawks myophically, he really isn't very good, first thing in the
"Santa Claus, yes, that's right Bill."
Indeed, it is the familiar red-coated and beared figure, known as
'Sinter Klaas' in the Netherlands, and originally as 'St Nicholas'.
Bill is not too happy, and more than a little bit frightened.
"But you really don't exist! You're just a figure of myth, legend, and
the corporate imagination. What I'm seeing in front of me, the modern
image of so-called 'Santa Claus', is the poster boy for Coca Cola's
1931 Xmas campaign! You don't properly exist, so I must still be
Bill pinches himself, hard. A small bruise wells up on the flabby skin
of his forearm. Santa, real or not, remains distressingly in view.
"That doesn't usually work Bill!" Santa taunted.
"But I told everybody that you're not real..."
"Ahh, so you remember back all those years, to when you were a smart-
arsed seven year old who thought he knew everything back then. Haven't
really changed that much, have you Bill?"
Through the magic of the state of the art pocket DVD player, that Santa
has brought with him, a crucial scene, long buried in Bill's
subconscious, is stirred back to life. It is a typical American
suburban living room, sometime in the early 1960's. It is decorated
heavily for Xmas, a couple of adults, who turn out to be Bill Gates
parents, and a group of small children, who are his friends, are all
gathered excitedly around the Xmas tree.
"So when Santa comes, he knows who's been naughty, and who's been
(In a chorus of childish voices.) "And Santa only gives presents to the
The view cuts to a sharply unimpressed seven year old version of Bill
"That just isn't true!"
"How is that so Bill, everyone knows that Santa Claus is real!"
With something of a triumphant gleam in his eye, the young Bill Gates
puffs himself up, and then lets forth..
"It's so ridiculous. Santa Claus can't exist. He would have to deliver
presents to at least 256 million households, between midnight and six
am. To do this, his sleigh would have to have a carrying capacity of
five hundred million cubic feet. This would need a team of forty
million flight-capable magic reindeer to pull them, and 256,000 of
these would have to have a shiny nose."
"Even allowing for different time zones, the so-called Santa Claus
would have to break Einstein's laws of relativity in several places,
and average a speed of three million miles an hour, assuming a present
delivery time per household of two minutes per visit."
"As for the additional complications to the flight dynamics of the
magic sleigh, imposed on it by the 50,000 tonnes of mince pies, that
Santa consumes en route, that will have to wait for a more detailed
calculation next year!!"
"So it is clear to any logical clear thinking intelligent person, Santa
Claus CAN NOT EXIST!"
Bill's parents stand there, open-mouthed and aghast. The rest of the
children gathered there aren't too impressed either, one or two of the
smaller ones start to cry... The scene finishes, and Santa folds up the
pocket DVD player.
(Pedant note:- The above "facts" are not strictly accurate, just
illustrative, so don't even THINK about writing in to complain!)
"Since then, you have been in denial about the magic of Xmas, and the
story of Santa Claus. It seems to have affected you so much, that you
sought to take my place, and be loved by all the children around the
"The problem is, that you could only go about doing this one way, by
producing and selling progressively crappier software. You wanted to
dominate that industry totally, and take over Xmas yourself, which is a
time of year when most new computers, game consoles, and software are
"Now I'm back to prove to you that I DO exist Bill. The war is over,
you don't have to keep on smashing through the same old Windows!"
Bill is almost blubbing himself now, it is a strangely touching scene.
"So you mean, I have a second chance Santa?"
Santa is back to his traditional old and sunny 'Ho ho ho!' self...
"Yes of course Bill. You don't have to keep Microsoft on, you can come
to work for me, as one of my toy-making elves!"
Bill almost jumps out of his skin with joy..
"Thank you Santa! When can I start, can I have a go on your magic
As they leave together, Santa turns, as if to an invisible audience..
"A merry Xmas to all you Alive! readers, and a happy non-Windows new
If only it were that simple :)
CiH - For Alive! magazine - Dec '00