James Marston: Apparently I was born to be Santa (when the big man is busy, of course)

James Marston

James Marston - Credit: Lucy taylor

Don’t laugh, but in the church of St James in Icklingham this weekend I shall be playing the greatest part known to the acting profession.

The real one is too busy up North, so I, like my father and grandfather before me, will be donning the red robes of Santa. We are about the same size so I’m not worried belt-wise. I am hoping my performance doesn’t result in too much laughter at my expense, though sister Claire was forced to stuff a handkerchief in her mouth when she heard the news.

I only mention it to you in the hope you might come along and buy a cake as the church is in dire need of a new roof thanks to the theft of the lead in the summer. Apparently Icklingham wasn’t the only one targeted, so if you do fancy coming along, the ladies of the church would be grateful.

In the meantime my plain-speaking-photographer-friend Lucy and I popped to London to chat to Ipswich MP Ben Gummer. We were anxious to find out how he fights on behalf of our county town in Westminster and if, because he has a new son, he’s getting enough sleep. He assured us he is. As we walked around the Houses of Parliament, in what can only be described as the corridors of power, Ben showed us where it all happens. We walked through the chamber itself which, even for us cynical hacks, was a thrill, before passing through Westminster Hall - the scene of many high-drama moments. There, we met students from Ipswich Academy who had come to town for a day of cultural enrichment. Ben said his day would end at midnight because of a vote.

When he scurried off for a meeting, Lucy and I hiked up to Fortnum and Mason for a mooch around, although I didn’t need much in the way of macaroons. The windows were lovely, though, but tempted as we were to live the high life with a sumptuous afternoon tea, we didn’t think our expenses would stretch!

By the time we got back to Suffolk it was cold and I was tempted to put on a little woolly hat I carry as my hair isn’t as thick as it was, but Lucy insisted I desist for fear I would look like Benny off Crossroads.

I have also been to Dedham to interview the founder of men’s health charity CHAPS, which encourages men to maintain a healthy weight and other sensible things. But what with this weekend I suddenly find my girth a much sought after asset.

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As Claire said as I tried to pass on the burden to someone, anyone, else: “You’ll have to be Father Christmas. There is no-one else and you’ve got the build.” HOHOHO.

For more from James, see his page here