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May's Rudolph tale brings misery

TO those of us who suffer from a scarlet proboscis, the song is something of a curse.

We are waddling round the supermarket aisle, minding our own business, perhaps wondering if we should buy an iPhone since we only came in for a pint of milk, when the warbling erupts over the Tannoy: "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose".

Damn Rudolph and his luminescent beak, for suddenly we are made self-conscious and become convinced we're being tittered at.

No one actually comes up and says: "That's you they're singing about, ha-ha!" But you can tell they're thinking it.

Rudolph was created in 1939 by New York advertising copywriter Robert L May as a cheery Christmas poem in a giveaway booklet for shoppers. Little did he know the misery it would cause.

He drew on memories of his own "painfully shy" childhood when creating the story and chose deer because his little daughter Barbara loved them.

When singing cowboy - a once popular phenomenon now banned by international treaty - Gene Autry recorded the story as a song in 1949, it sold like hot cakes. As no one sells hot cakes nowadays, the analogy would be inept, but back then it indicated phenomenal success.

Since then, the song has been blasted out at 15-minute intervals in public places every Christmas, as a reminder to red-nosed people everywhere that they are an object of scorn.

Why some of us humans have red noses is unknown: drink is often a cause or circulation problems or, as in my case, just because God hates you.

No one thought reindeer themselves actually had red noses until this week, when scientists discovered it to be the case, at least in pictures using thermal imaging cameras.

Top boffins at Lund University in Sweden found the beasties' hooters glowed because of the amount of heat they released. Reindeer are able to release this heat because they've a high concentration of blood vessels in their snouts which keep them warm when sticking their faces in the snow.

Well, bully for them. Personally, I find I have little reason to shove my hooter in the snow, so I just can't see the point of it.

May, incidentally, went on to write several other stories, including Winking Willie. Thank God that wasn't made into another song with which to mock us.

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