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A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale

When I was a boy I loved Christmas, for the same reason every little kid loves Christmas. Presents!

I grew up in a poor part of town. My parents didn't have much, so we kids didn't get much. Having new toys was a rare event.

I remember when I was eight, I had asked Father Christmas for a new Action Man. Action man was a toy soldier that boys loved, because you could buy various action suits in which to dress him up.

Action Man could be cast as a Frogman, a Soldier, a sailor, a pilot. But I did not want my Action Man to have any of those identities.

I wanted my Action Man to be a Red Devil. A Red Devil was a free-fall parachutist. You could throw this Action Man high into the air, his parachute would open at just the right moment, and he would float majestically, under full control, back to earth, just like a real parachutist would.

That was my dream!

I told Santa I needed a Red Devil Action Man.

I told Mum I needed a Red Devil Action Man.

I told Dad I needed a Red Devil Action Man.

Then disaster struck.

My dad said, "You want an Action Man? That is a doll. You're not having a doll. Dolls are for girls. No son of mine is going to be seen playing with dolls!".

This was a terrible turn of events.

I pleaded, "But Dad. Action Man is not a doll. He is a toy soldier. All boys have toy soldiers."

Dad said, "It's a doll. And you're not having one! I'm going to tell Santa that you are not allowed a doll and that you have to get a proper boy's toy, like a sword or something."

My Christmas 1970 was now officially ruined. All the fun had gone out of it. I suppose I was going to get snakes and ladders or a stupid plastic sword or something else that was rubbish!

Christmas Day Dawned

Time passed, and morning dawned on 25th December 1970 and the young and intrepid Chris Farmer opened his eyes to find a bulging white pillow case at the foot of his bed. I was glad to see that Santa had delivered, as promised, and I was mildly interested to see what I had got.

I sat up and pulled the sack towards me. My two brothers awoke and did the same. (We three brothers shared a small room.) Mum and Dad appeared at our bedroom door. They wanted to watch us open our presents.

I looked inside my pillow case and magically, there was Action Man. He was the Red Devil Action Man in his red flying suit, white crash helmet, black boots, and parachute pack. Plus, he was a TALKING action man. He could talk!

I had heard whispered rumours of a technologically advanced talking Action Man that spoke if you pulled the drawstring on his back. I had heard these things at school but I had put them aside as fanciful dreams.

But here he was. In the flesh.

I pulled Action Man's voice chord and I heard him say the epic and memorable line: "Enemy in sight. Range 2,000 yards!"

I was in heaven.

My Dad smiled and said, "Merry Christmas son. I hope you like your Action Man".

"Dad! He is a Red Devil. And he talks!"

Then I stood up on my bed, opened my bedroom window, and threw my Action Man out of the window, as high into the air as I could.

I wanted to see Red Devil in action, as he has been trained to do.

Action Man plummeted to the ground and smashed on the concrete path below my bedroom window. His crash helmet smashed into a million pieces and his foot came off. He made a strange metallic cry and lay lifeless on the path.

My Dad said "What are you doing, you idiot?".

We rushed down stairs but there was nothing that could be done.

Action man lay there, lifeless. He never spoke again.

Later, crash investigators discovered that the cause of the accident was that the parachute was not packed properly and that is why it failed to open. The manufacturer of Action Man disclaimed any culpability, they claimed the onus of responsibility laid with me. Which was unfair, because at my school they don't train us to pack parachutes.


Action Man did not die, but he was severely injured, and he was never allowed to make a free fall parachute jump again.

He lived on for many years in my bedroom, never going out, but we did play lots of imaginary games together. Although Action Man never recovered his powers of speech, I took it upon myself to voice his thoughts. Which, in a way, was better because it allowed him to say much more.

I tell you this story, not to gain your pity, I use it to demonstrate that suffering is not always a bad thing.

For it is by overcoming these kinds of struggles that I have moulded myself into the Action Man that I am today. (Thanks Dad).

Happy Christmas!

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