Dave Penman’s letter to Father Christmas

Dear Santa…


Photo: PA

By Dave Penman

20 Dec 2019

It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it? Don’t think I need to say it, but I have been really good this year. Despite severe provocation, I haven’t whacked anyone in the ERG and well, TBH, I think that should be enough.

Firstly, I’d like to assure you that I bear no grudges about your failure – OK, not failure, that’s a bit pejorative – your inability to deliver on my single wish on last year’s list, namely: “Please, for chrissake, can you stop everyone going on about Brexit relentlessly? It’s making my ears bleed.”

I did, at one point around late March, think that you were actually taking the piss. Instead of making it stop, there was nothing but endless, wall-to-wall, 24-hours-a-day, repetitive drivel about Brexit.  However, I now realise this was a tough one, even for someone of your mythological abilities, and may have necessitated actual bodily harm which, however justified, is not really your bag (or sack).

This year, rather than one big present, I’m asking for a number of smaller ones. The first one is easy. Can you stop everyone going on about Brexit?

Now, before you say anything, hear me out. Boris reckons, if elected, he’ll have it all sewn up in a couple of months and apparently, it’ll be the easiest trade deal in history. If it’s Corbyn, then he’ll renegotiate a new deal in three months and put it to a referendum (though he’ll be ticking the “none of the above” box ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Not sure we really need to go into the other options so, you see, Brexit should be sorted by Easter at the latest. Lemon squeezy, as the kids say.

Second one. Any chance of a decent pay rise? If I’m honest, I shouldn’t have left this one off the list last year so I do take some of the blame. Following the total cluster... well, mess of 2018, I had thought lessons would be learned. As you said that time we shared a brandy whilst Rudolph freed his horns from the central heating vent, I’m just too nice a guy.

Anyway, this year, despite all of the incredible work the civil service has done – preparing for two potential no-deal exits, welcoming a merry-go-round of new ministers and a new PM,  preparing for multiple outcomes beyond no deal, supporting the renegotiations and yes, of course, maintaining vital public services – it appears ministers still think civil servants deserve the lowest pay rises in the public sector.

The civil service has been really, really good though – in fact it’s the most effective in the world, according to independent international analysis. So if anyone deserves it, they do. I know you’re all sweet old Santa n’all, but maybe a little bit of pressure on ministers on this one? I realise you’ll have to head to Google to find out who’s in the cabinet but don’t be embarrassed, we all do.

Next one, could politicians just dial it down a bit? Honestly, the last few years have been manic and frankly, a lot of it is from those who should know better. It sets a terrible example and sometimes I even think it’s deliberate, not just people being “passionate” or whatever. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be missing out a few houses in SW1 this year.

The last one should be the easiest. Can you just get the morons who wouldn’t know how to run a bath, never mind any part of the public sector, to stop trying to undermine the impartiality and integrity of the civil service?

Honestly, it’s like that bad flu/cough thing I had in October: it’s catching. We’re getting it from all sides now. It’s not like there’s a shred of evidence for it. Apparently if they think it, then it must have some validity, but it’s just the usual “it suits my argument and I hate the elite/establishment/global conspiracy/remainiacs” (delete as appropriate).

That’s it from me. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not some “magic money wish list”, like the Amazon one I helpfully sent to my partner apparently is.

Yours sincerely,

Dave Penman, aged 52 and 3/4

PS Could you help out Partick Thistle in the January transfer window? Shouldn’t set you back much.

PPS Any chance of one of those iPhone Pros? They look really cool.

PPPS That’s it.

Read the most recent articles written by Dave Penman - Opinion: In the office, but out of touch

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