How I Met Saint Nicholas
The church was said to be built on the foundations of the older Christian church where Saint Nicholas served as a bishop, and to contain his tomb. As I walked around a local guide approached me. He told me Saint Nicholas’ story, talked about Santa Claus and how terrible it was that Saint Nicholas’ truth had been lost. People tend to use the names Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus as if they're the same person, but that's not quite right.
My only souvenirs from that trip to Turkey were bracelets, an ashtray and a book bought from the gift shop. I’d spent my last lira on the book and, outside the church, I wrote the date on the inside cover: Turkey, 28th September 1995. Later, I placed the two photos I’d taken that day inside (the one of me, taken by the guide). That I took a photo of the sign and kept it still makes little sense to me. Clearly part of me was worried I'd forget.
But that little book, with the photographs from that day, have stayed with me through university, births and house moves. The two remaining objects from my youth are a plastic dinosaur and my book about Saint Nicholas. They’re both in my office.
When ‘The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke’ is published this October, it'll have taken me twenty-five years to tell Saint Nick’s story.