It was snowing outside, like it does every xmas, sort of- the clock had stopped at midnight xmas 1974- it had not moved from there as the years rolled past and the TV was jammed into a permanent rotation of Morecambe and Wise, the two Ronnie’s, middle England murder TV specials and crumbling old films with long forgotten stars and, aaah yes, the dusty monarch reciting her xmas speech to a comatose nation wearing paper hats.
‘Humbug to those men who don’t line ye pockets of the superrich’ went the billboards all the way down the rum high streets full of fighting drunks and shrieking office parties as the scowling wind sandpapered the skin of anyone mad to walk down their monochromatic mid winter trajectories.
It was into this mouldering scenario that a young couple approached a war torn town bearing a young child dressed in swaddling clothes and settled in there for the night. There were several odd visitations during that evening as the TV slumbered in the corner with its endless mystery of skulking repeats and insane hysteria. The first was the three wise men who had found the little baby Jesus, for it was he! nestling in the manger in what was actually Harrods. They found him under a christmas tree- the traditional christmas tree that was always there in the manger and central to this most wonderful of stories.
When they got there there were several portly gentlemen in red and white outfits stinking of the stench of 1970’s pubs of warm ale and endless fags laughing ‘ho ho ho’ without any sense of humour standing guard in front of a flock of terrified looking Turkeys who had escaped from a factory farm but were now ready for the chop.
The Three Wise Men had arrived by camel because the trains were far too expensive, overcrowded and running late in the true spirit of christmas. They were bringing their gifts of gold, Frankincense and myrrh- no-one was very sure what this stuff was and the police had become interested briefly before leaving them to continue on their way. The mystery substances that they held in their rucksacks had confounded everyone, apart from the gold which was swiftly swopped in the pre xmas sales and the German markets that now fell upon the land like a plague.
They had spied the glowing infant in the cattle shed surrounded by sales notices and half price tack. They had found their way by spying the xmas tree glowing in the distance and lights that were upon it. It was a wondrous site.
The child had been left on its own as the parents were not there. The mother was grabbing sales items and the father slumbering in front of the TV after the traditional xmas eve drink in town where he had been on the rampage with his friends in a beautiful and ancient tradition.
Alastair Sim was on the TV screen getting visited by the ghosts and told off for being so mean and not spending all his money in the shops and giving their multi millionaire owners a huge xmas bonus. In those hazy far off days Ebenezer Scrooge had been some sort of porridge faced pen pusher with his white knuckles wrapped tight around his coinage- in the 21st century he was now a banker and celebrated for his thriftiness.
The swirl of xmas traditions was confusing the three wise mice, it had been a long time since they had visited this scene but now they were expected to give each other greeting cards and wear small paper hats, and set up a small chopped down tree in the corner of the room because it was ‘tradition’.
As they sat there in the room the snow came tumbling down and monotonous carols droned in the distance as Eric and Ernie appeared on TV yet again with their christmas special. It felt like nothing had ever changed in the world and for one day it hadn’t.