By: Blonde Two


Previously in ‘When Ordnance Survey Met Santa’

Rudolph is grumpy, Santa is confused, Ellie can’t stop giggling and St Nick risks running out of… something!


An emergency pre-Christmas meeting at Explorer House, Ordnance Survey headquarters…

Date: December 23rd 2017
Time: 22:00
Time Until Present Delivery: 2 hours

Location: Ordnance Survey Head Quarters, Explorer House, Nowhere Near the North Pole

Present: Santa, Rudolph, St Nicholas G Isles (GIN), Beverley Lively (BELL), Ellie Seeker (ANGELLIE)


Rudolph (unmoving): Oh for goodness sake! You have still no idea! No app, not Skyline, MySky, StarMap or even NativyMap is ever going to beat my nose for accuracy and magnetic deviation detection. My issue, and I speak for the general reindeer community here, is with the contour lines.

GIN (scratching his head and taking another sip of clear liquid): The contour lines? We had our finest linesmen and women measure them very carefully, all of our figures are accurate…

BELL: I can assure you Rudolph, we at Ordnance Survey are in charge of contour lines and we take their placement very seriously. Imagine if we got Ben Nevis confused with Brown Willy, we would be in all sorts of trouble.

ANGELLIE (sniggering again): ‘Brown Willy’, she said, ‘Brown Willy’.

Santa (trying not to smile): Brown Willy indeed, a tricky hill to find because it is so small… luckily nobody lives there so we don’t have to deliver…

ANGELLIE (hand over mouth): ‘Small Brown Willy’, ‘Small Brown Willy’…

GIN (taking another sip but realising that his enamel mug is empty): That’s enough Ellie! (waves cup around) Can somebody get me another cup of… er… coffee please. Rudolph, would you like to explain your issue with the contour lines on SkyContour?

Rudolph: You bet I can… my issue with the contour lines is that they are there at all… until your lot put them into the SkyContour app, none of the other reindeer realised that they were pulling the sleigh uphill. They are disgruntled, demanding more reindeer nuggets and considering industrial action.

BELL: But Rudolph, surely the reindeer knew that up was up and down was down? Santa, do you know the difference?

SANTA: Of course I do, I’d be no use in those stupid chimneys if I didn’t know which way was up! Its just the reindeer, they are up in arms.

ANGELLIE (sniggering again): But reindeer don’t have arms…


GIN (waving his empty mug around): Aha! I think I have the right idea now… The reindeer don’t like the sky contours in SkyContour. This could be a very tricky situation (looks at watch) it is now 22:20 and we only have 50 minutes to save the world.

BELL: Errr, that’s 40 minutes St Nick and we don’t need to save the world, we just need to make sure that Santa and Rudolph can do their deliveries.

GIN (still waving mug): Well yes, I agree entirely… save the presents, save the children, save the world, save at Iceland, Specsavers…

BELL (Taking the mug off GIN and hiding it under the desk): The point is… and I open this question up to everybody… what are we going to do about our contour crisis?

ANGELLIE (reaching for mobile phone): ‘Contour Crisis’… oh that’s good, time for a hashtag!

BELL (Talking phone off ANGELLIE and hiding it under the desk): Not now Ellie… I open this question up to everybody… except Ellie!

SANTA: Can’t we just make the sky flatter? That way the reindeer wouldn’t have anything to complain about.

GIN: You are talking to the wrong government department if you want to flatten the sky. We are in charge of mapping it but ARSe are in charge of its shape.


GIN: Yes, the Astrological Reallocation Society. They allocate stars to specific positions and generally organise the sky superhighways. We just map them… (aside) and are grateful that our initials are ‘O’ and ‘S’.

Rudolph: That’s enough ARSe, what are we going to do about my reindeer? You guys have mapped the sky contour lines and now we have a problem… do you really want to go down in history as the governmental, non-governmental, official, non-official, QUANGO, QUINGO, BINGO organisation that ruined Christmas Eve… possibly forever?

ANGELLIE (sniggering some more): Santa and Rudolph just said ‘ARSe’!


BELL: Calm down everyone, let’s think about this carefully. We can’t flatten the sky without upsetting ARSe.

ANGELLIE (muttering): … and nobody likes an upset ARSe.

BELL (ignoring ANGELLIE): … but we can do something about the contour lines. Let’s just put them back in the box.

EVERYONE EXCEPT GIN (staring at BELL): In the box!? You/we keep contour lines in a box?

BELL: Of course, where did you think we kept them? It’s a secure box with a secret password, we can’t just have random hills popping up all over the countryside.

GIN: Beverley is right, contour containment is our only hope to save Christmas (picks up phone) Nigel, can you bring the box in, please.

SANTA: This has to be a joke, you are seriously telling me that you keep contour lines in a cardboard box?

GIN: Not cardboard, contour lines are feisty things, this is a specially made carbon-free, carbon-fibre, titanium, zirconium, tungsten box made from used sporks.

BELL (shuddering): Just imagine if they escaped, we would have hill chaos. Mountains would appear in Norfolk, Snowdonia would be underground and as for Scotland… well the thought is far too scary.

A small man shuffles in with a large box and places it on the table…

GIN: Thanks Nigel, please could I have some more (looking for his empty cup)…

BELL: That’ll be all thanks Nigel… no more anything for St Nick.

The group stare at the box on GIN’s desk…

ANGELLIE: Soooo, how exactly do we get the sky contour lines back into the box?

GIN and BELL look at each other…

GIN: Well… we’ve never had to put them back into the box before… you usually get contour lines out, spread them around a bit, then sit back and hope the punters like the hills.

BELL: I’m definitely concerned about the security implications of this. Last time we opened the box, one escaped and we had to chase it around Explorer House. There is still a 6-foot wrinkle in the carpet on floor three.

RUDOLPH (sniffing the box): I think my lot can help… for a team that are used to delivering, they’re also surprisingly good at collecting.

SANTA: Great idea Rudolph, they need a bit of Christmas Eve-Eve exercise. Call the team over and give them a  briefing. They’ll be onside because they want to get rid of the sky contours. St Nick, can I take the box on my sleigh?

GIN: Of course… you have top-level security clearance I assume… for your royal deliveries?

SANTA (standing up and reaching for the contour box): The highest in the land… Rudolph, rally your team!

Rudolph (his nose starting to glow): Yes sir!! Nice to meet you guys, and next time you want to mess around with mapping technology come and talk to us. Dasher is great with a widget.

GIN (looking shamefaced): We will, I had no idea a few contour lines would cause such contouration.

BELL (head in hands): I think you mean consternation St Nick.

Santa and Rudolph leave the boardroom

GIN (looking around at his team): Well that was unexpected… well-done team, I think we need to keep this quiet in the press… can’t have the world thinking Ordnance Survey has handed over control of the contour lines to a herd of reindeer and a bloke in a red suit.

ANGELLIE (finding and looking at her phone): I think its too late for that St Nick… Rudolph’s tweeted already.

@Rudolph – ‘Sense at last from @OrdnanceSurvey #SkyContour back in the box, present delivery schedule normal. Your present is important to us #GetOutside #WhoNeedsaHill?’

BELL (looking at ANGELLIE’s phone): Well look at that, he has a photo of all of us here, in the boardroom, he’s even got St Nick waving his cup around. How on earth did he do that?

GIN and ANGELLIE together: I’ve no idea!