A word in your ear - November 17, 2011

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AND you think we’ve got it tough here in these austere times.

Look at New York, heck, they really are being put through the ringer, as they say. . . in fact it’s so bad they’ve just sacked Santa.

Faced with balancing a tough budget, officials in New York’s Suffolk County said they had no choice, Mr Claus just had to go.

The county executive said he could not justify carving out $600 from his $2.7bn budget to pay David McKell, 83, a Second World War veteran and former homicide detective, to don his Santa suit for the 10th year running and greet children on Long Island.

“How do you justify that expenditure when a health centre is losing money?” said Steve Levy, the Suffolk County Executive.

America’s a tough gig for the Big Fella.

Slushy films like Miracle on 34th Street will lead you to believe the Land of the Free is just a subway ride for Mr C and his North Pole helpers. But it has a chequered record of white bearded-employee relations of late.

Remember John Toomey? Well, of course you don’t. Who does, apart from the two “older” shoppers he got a little fruity with last Yuletide?

Toomey, a veteran Santa at Macy’s for 20 years, was dismissed after the couple made a complaint about his brand of humour.

The 68-year-old’s claims he was “no bad Santa” came too late to save him – especially after he admitted: “When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they’ve been good and they say ‘yes’, I say ‘Gee, that’s too bad’.

“If they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke it’s because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live.”

Yo, ho, NO Mr Toomey really, we’ll call you.

Back in New York, Stuart Levy has already been labelled “Grinch” by his political opponents.

“Do we really have to hold Santa Claus hostage to balance the budget?” said Democratic opponent Bill Lindsay.

You can sort of see his point, why not take Bambi out with a 12-bore while you’re at it Mr Levy.

Not that such unfestive shenanigans are the sole domain of the US of States.

Scottish actor Andrew Bryden claims he was given the heave-ho-ho-ho after delivering a sackful of ‘ideas’ to management.

But brassed-off bosses at one Ayr garden centre thought he had gone too far and have sent him on his sleigh. Now the former wrestler has unleashed a petition in an effort to win public support.

Signatures include the name of a South Ayrshire councillor, as the festive row threatens to turn nasty.

And there was me thinking of entering Blackpool’s now famous Santa Dash on December 4.

Given the current air of anti-Santa festiveness you’ve got to believe this year will see the introduction of drug tests for unlawful levels of mince pies.

I tell you, that red suit suddenly seems more hassle than it’s worth.