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Christmas is coming...

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in Santa's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a halfpenny will do,
If you haven't got a halfpenny then God bless you.

So goes the old Childrens Rhyme. And children throughout the world will be getting excited as its now only just over a week away from Christrmas Day. But, whats happening in the rest of the world as part of the buildup to Christmas?

In Belfast,

'Black Santa'
has started his annual charity collection outside St Anne's Cathedral until Christmas Eve, continuing a tradition started by his predecessors. This tradition is relatively recent, it was only started in 1976 by Dean Sammy Crooks, but in the intervening years Black Santa has collected over £2.8 million for various Northern Irish charities and Christian Aid.

And in England and Wales in 180 town and city centres the police will from tonight be handing out £80 fines to people caught fighting, urinating or being sick in the street. This campaign will run until the 3rd January 2005 as announced by the
Home Office today. In the same article, the BBC announced that in Wales mobile hospitals have been set up to treat Christmas casualties. In Cardiff and Swansea mobile casualty units and rapid-response teams of paramedics are being set up on Friday - the last Friday before offices close for Christmas. The units will also hit the streets on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Paul Evans, head of the Police Standard's Unit, said "This is a period where people tend to drink more - we are not being Grinches or killjoys, but we want this to be a safe holiday season". Minister Richard Caborn said "We're not messing around - we want decent, law-abiding people to be able to get home safely from their Christmas and New Year's parties".

It seems as if the message of enjoy Christmas but don't get drunk and obnoxious in public places is becoming more strident and louder, and with the police being able to enforce higher fines [up from £50 to £80] the pain of a hangover could be even greater! I for one, applaud these efforts - yes, I admit to being drunk and vomiting in the street one Christmas in my youth, but it only has ever happened once ..... losing a whole Christmas Day with my family through being drunk and recovering from the hangover was not a pleasant experience, and one that I will never repeat.
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