Santa Claus has admitted that his decision to allow Rudolph to guide the sleigh last Christmas resulted in the red nosed reindeer becoming less rather than more popular among his colleagues.
"I'd been on a leadership development course over in the States in the summer," explained Santa, "and they suggested that Rudolph's popularity among the other reindeer could be improved by demonstrating the key strengths he brings to the team. His colleagues were always laughing at him and calling him names and certainly never, to my knowledge, let him join in any reindeer games so I figured I had to do something to bring harmony back to the group."
However, it appears Santa's tactic misfired. Despite initially claiming that, as a result of Rudolph's efforts, all the reindeer now "loved him" and shouted with glee that he'd "go down in history", he has now revealed that the first sight to greet them on their return from delivering presents were the words "Red-nosed twat!" and "Santa's little suck-up" spray-painted on his locker.
Rudolph's line manager, Darren, himself a reindeer, criticised Santa's decision:
"Well he clearly scored a complete own-goal with that one didn't he? I mean, it was true enough that Rudolph wasn't very popular but all of the lads take a bit of stick here and quite frankly it's no wonder he never joined in the games. You're hardly going to be any good at hide and seek with a big, red nose like that, you stand out a mile.
Anyway, having him guide the sleigh was the biggest joke of all; the lads don't take kindly to bullshitting. Santa was like 'oh it's a foggy Christmas Eve, we really need someone with a bright, red nose to guide the sleigh tonight'. Bollocks! It's been foggy every Christmas Eve since I can remember and we always did just fine with the fog lights. Having Rudolph's nose up at the front just meant we kept getting pulled over by the police so Santa could be breathalized."
On a more positive note, Santa does not foresee any similar problems this year.
"Luckily I had the good sense to attend another leadership development course in the US back in October and think I've now got it sorted. Rather than making a big thing out of Rudolph's red nose and demonstrating its benefits to the team, I want to focus instead on his excellent academic record at Reindeer School. That's why I've made him a huge badge saying 'I got this year's best math grade! Be sure to come up and say hi and we can be math buddies!'"