In the early to mid fifties, when I was a little tacker, a certain Draper's store in South Molton Square was a frightening establishment on the Thursday market day shopping trip.
During most of the year I wasn't bothered when I entered the "Lovely knit wear, Ladybird children's wear, Dannimacs, Gor Ray skirts and silk nylons" emporium. However, when the interior was decorated for the festive season it was a place to be feared, and I had to be dragged in by my mother or aged maiden aunt when they wished to purchase lace edged handkerchiefs, initialled handkerchiefs and boxes of scented bath salts.
In a corner a sixpenny lucky dip bran tub. Next to it a motionless seated, plastic masked, figure.Was it an effigy or a human being? After my first encounter I informed my parents that I didn't want him coming into my bedroom, and he could leave my stocking and presents at the foot of their bed. Even when I ceased to believe in him he continued to scare me.
My aunt in her own inimitable way tried to reassure me,"Don't be so silly it's only an old get-up got up in a red dressing gown with a wad of cotton wool for an old beard."
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Today, I recall that hideous plastic mask with eye slits so narrow that if even if there had been a pair of human eyes behind them I wouldn't have been able to glimpse them. Aged 65 those slits, those empty slits, and the thought that my childhood Father Christmas was eyeless still haunts me.