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Will the real Santa Claus please stand up?

The turkey carcass has been dismembered and the last crumbs of Christmas cake have been spilled on to novelty jumpers, but a weekend of keeping the Christmas decorations up is still ahead of us.

FErret's burrow, however, is increasingly bare at Yuletide, as colleges choose not to send Christmas cards and instead opt for charity donations and newfangled e-cards.

While one can't deck the halls with bits and bytes, for some it's probably a good idea. What, for instance, would the younger and more impressionable FErrets think if they had seen a card on the wall from Barnfield College's federation?

Depicting smiling students of all ages from Peter Birkett's Luton education empire, each wearing tinsel and a reindeer hat, the e-card also included a message reproducing the charming handwriting of six-year-old Adentinuke, from Barnfield Moorlands Free School: "I love Christmas because Santa is really my dad."

Can Adentinuke be right? That he is the son of the real Father Christmas? Will he inherit the family business? Or did Santa, heaven forfend, have an illicit affair with his mother, perhaps during a brief sherry-and-mince-pie break on his annual rounds? Because the other conclusion, that Santa isn't ... no. No. That's just too terrible to contemplate.

Why adult education is like a box of chocolates

The best way to choose a course, experts say, is to avail yourself of advice and guidance, then make a considered decision. Bravo to City Lit in central London, then, for pioneering another way: turn up on the day and get what you're given.

The adult education college has started Curious Courses, a series of mystery taster lessons to introduce punters to something new. A dozen people were expected at the first session this week, told only to bring clothes they didn't mind getting dirty and a picture of someone they loved or admired. (Don't worry, it was nothing more sinister than sculpture.)

Staff plan more for February. But FErret suspects he knows the real reason for their success: a glass of wine is included.

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