MICHAEL WOLSEY: Bad little Benny is an elf and safety issue
BENNY is back. I thought I had seen the last of this uninvited house guest a year ago when he departed without even saying goodbye.
But, no, he’s back – along with my grandchildren.
I meet him every morning in a different part of the house. Today he was at the foot of the stairs and yesterday he was hidden among the branches of the Christmas tree. He caused a right mess in the kitchen by spilling flour and writing his name in it. And I wasn’t too impressed at how he crumbled a mince pie on the table and seated himself among the wreckage. He didn’t even eat any of it.
Benny is an elf. Not a warrior-style elf like Legolas, who can brandish a sword, draw a bow and fight the forces of evil. Not even a jolly ho! ho! ho! elf who can help Santa make toys and pack the sleigh. Benny is a rather anemic class of a pixie who looks like he has never done a day’s, or a sleigh’s, work in his life.
Nevertheless, this little chap in a red suit does have a direct link to Santa. For Benny is an Elf on the Shelf. His family come from America. Some of them moved to Ireland a few years back and they have now multiplied and installed themselves in half the homes in the country. Homes with children, that is.
Benny apparently pops out every evening to visit Santa at the North Pole and report on the naughty-or-nice status of the children he has been living with. He returns next morning and hides in a different part of the house each day where he sometimes gets up to tricks, like the writing in the flour episode.
Benny bothers me, I must admit. I don’t want to shatter any illusions but I have a strong feeling he won’t be able to make his nightly return journey without some intervention from me. So what if I forget to send him on his way or if I return him to the same place twice? It’s no laughing matter. Well, not for me.
The children are having great fun with the little guy in whom they seem to have total faith. They greet each new Benny appearance with peals of delight.
Their grandfather, however, is a worried man. I wake in the night vaguely anxious that I may not have sent Benny on his polar journey. Last night I just couldn’t remember and had to go downstairs to check if he had really moved.
That’s not all that worries me about Benny. There’s something disquieting about the way he looks at me – reminds me of the sinister clown in the Stephen King novel. It also strikes me as rather sneaky of Benny to be reporting to Santa every night. Fine when the children are nice – but does he really relate the naughty stuff as well? Is that any way to repay a family’s hospitality?
The Anglo Saxons had a fear of elves, believing they might attack them while they slept, causing the sort of problems we would nowadays attribute to rheumatism or arthritis. When they felt such pains they said they had been ‘elfshot’.
The cure for this misfortune was a combination of feverfew, red nettles and waybread. I’m probably worrying over nothing, but I think I’ll mix up some, just in case. Anybody know a good shop for feverfew?