Noises off in the night, so perhaps it was time to check the fridge to see if anything urgently needed consuming. In the lounge nearly fell over a large, obese man in brown overalls and working boots flat out on the floor. "Just doing the yoga to relax" he told me. "What...." I began.
"Seasonal deliveries" he waved a hand to a stack of well wrapped items by the window, "EU personal distribution regulations say that after a certain number of items a work break is compulsory, it just happened to be here."
"But who are you, this time of year it is Santa Claus alias Father Christmas?" He rubbed the fashionable stubble on the chin where the beard should have been". "Ah, as I've been caught napping, so to say, I had better tell you."
"The Santa Claus and all that is now simply a brand image retained by the conglomerate that it was merged into following a general shake out in world distribution services. Publicity was out because of potential adverse media coverage."
"So who are you?" He coughed, "TDS Delivery Services". "Who are they?" He coughed twice, "Trident, but I am not employed, I am a self employed contractor on zero hour contract working under stipulated conditions." "Trident?"
"When defence missile management systems were out sourced the commercial potential for subsidiary profit return activity was realised. Financial consultants and advisers created a network by taking over various online retail and delivery systems."
"I see, what about the reindeer?" "Most of them are in packets on cheap offer at Lidl". "Including Rudolph?" He hesitated, "Ah, bad business that." I stared, "What?" "Shot down over Stornoway by nationalist Free Presbyterians. They thought he was canvassing for the Liberal Democrats. The nose is now on a harbour warning buoy".
"OK", it was not going well. "Just how did you get in?" He hitched up his jeans, "Our associate affiliates, commercial offshoots from the CIA and GCHQ sell us the enabling technology." "And how do you know what to give?" "Easy, simple profiling and info searching, then goods are ordered, priced and you pay for them."
This annoyed me, "I don't shop online, I don't use credit, I don't order anything except from shops. I keep accounts." He smiled as though I was stupid. "There is a shadow you, we operate the shadow. Nobody knows but that all have shadow personages out there."
"Well, I am not going to pay a penny." "Suit yourself, most people don't know what they are doing so we just merge the shadow into the actual. In the awkward cases they are treated as bad debt, no problem." "So who really pays?"
"The shadow purchasers are on shadow credit. These are accounts with controlled banks who carry the bad debt. This is covered by government or related financing of the banks with other credit. This comes from Central Banks in the form of quantatitive easing or bond purchases. Some of goes into other forms of credit and just keeps going round the system."
"This can't work." "Yes it does, what do you think economic growth really is, or rising consumer confidence or the rest?" I shook my head. "Look, Santa Claus economics can't work." He sniffed, "Well, it's my job along with others to see that it does."
"But what about all the elves and others up at the North Pole, what is happening to them?" "Global warming, squire, they are signed up for a bottled water franchise and an experimental new floating city. They are quite happy, EU conditions of service apply and all that."
"Must go," he said, "when this lot is done we have a contract for moving footballers around during the transfer window. When we have worked out where to send them and who pays."
He climbed out of the window and into a large whirring drone. There was a bright flash and a puff of smoke and he was gone. Out of curiosity, I began to open the parcels. Then is all became clear.
There was nothing in them.