"Christmas is for children, first and foremost. I help keep the spirit of Christmas alive, which is very important." So Father Christmas told the Harrodian Gazette in 1955.
This was the old fella's first gig at the Knightsbridge department store, and one which he's returned to every year since. Since then, Christmas has in some ways deformed into an avaricious, nagging, drooling cack-goblin. Kids are no longer satisfied by a Meccano set, a satsuma and a pat on the head. At Harrods, parents smuggle the latest iPhone into Santa's mitt because that's what little Chesca really wants.
For Christmas 2019, the Harrods Christmas Grotto will shimmer and sparkle — not with goodwill to all mankind, but a shit-ton of Swarovski crystals.
What kind of a child is it who still believes in Santa, yet also appreciates that their rendezvous is in a hut smothered in thousands of pounds' worth of Austrian crystal glass? Very special kids, it turns out. Strictly those with parents who are rewards customers, Green Tier 2 and above. You'll know if you're important enough; you'll receive an invite by the end of August. Otherwise, you ain't coming in (even it you've spent £15k there over the year; even if you're Shakira).
Your magical journey through the tastefully-sponsored wonderland lasts (up to) 10 minutes and costs a mere £20 (we're not sure what present Santa has in his bag, although if you're not satisfied you can always pocket a fistful of Swarovskis on the way out).
While he's doing tete-a-tetes with the creme de la creme of London's kiddiewinks — indulging in his 64th lucrative year of employment — let's pray Santa doesn't suffocate the spirit of Christmas to the point it's snuffed out altogether. Let's pray Selfridges or Hamleys or John Lewis come up with a grotto that caters to London's less fortunate kids too — the ones who feel lucky to get any presents at all.