Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a much-loathed ogre whose sin was that he stole time. The villagers hated him, and never more so than in November.

Sim Sala Dim (all my father’s characters were called this), the monstrous one-eyed giant, was particularly hated in November. With just one month to go till Christmas, the ogre took great delight in speeding up time.

My father, the storyteller, would pause for dramatic effect, scaling down several octaves as his rumbling, gravelly voice began the countdown. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Then he’d growl and turn into the ogre threatening the end of time.

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