This should be in Reheated Sunday Leftovers, as it is a piece that appeared on both this and a previous blog and was originally written two years ago. But it’s not.
Despite receiving slight edits elsewhere, the story ends in precisely the same way as it did then. Which will probably tell you how much has or hasn’t changed in the world in the last two years.
Bryntin will leave it for you to decide if it’s still relevant.
Also, it’s not Sunday today.
Just from Bryntin’s general demeanour and attitude – and he had promised not to mention it again – it may seem to you that he is somewhat less than ‘a Christmas person’. However, he is sufficiently aware of the traditions associated with it that he thought he should attempt to recognise them in some traditional, happy and cheery way. And he’s also not above trying to get seasonal views on the back of it.
So, in an effort to get into some semblance of the spirit, he has written a short play that he based on that absolutely quintessential classic that everyone knows and loves, ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol’.
It’s just like it except it doesn’t have any musical numbers or frogs and the story is completely different.
He will reproduce his version of the full screenplay here as he has written it, in the style of an original film. Some say a book might be better for this story but he found that there was barely enough substance for a few movie scenes as it is.
Mr and Mrs Bryntin are sat on the couch in their lounge a few days before Christmas.
Mrs B: So, Christmas soon then?
Christmas Eve. Bryntin is in bed asleep, the hour is somewhere between three and four o’clock.
Strangely he is awoken not by the singing of his bladder but by the sounds of clinking chains. He rubs his eyes and can make out a ghostly looking figure at the foot of the bed, clinking some chains. Shocked, he reaches for his glasses, puts them on and can see a slightly sharper ghostly figure at the foot of the bed, clinking some chains.
GCP : (Spookily) I am the ghost of Christmas past… GCP, see?
GCP: (Still spookily) Come with me and I can show you Christmas as it was before you got all cynical about it.
Bryntin: Can I put my dressing gown on? I’d hate to wonder about in my underpants. It’d be like doing PE at school when you forget your kit.
GCP: Yes. Actually, I’d prefer it if you did put the underpants on as well really.
Bryntin: Oh, sorry…
Can you stop with the clinking too? It’s loud enough to wake the dead. Or Mrs Bryntin. Although I don’t think she’s dead, judging by the snoring.
GCP: Yes, of course. Sorry.
Bryntin: Good idea just to use your initials though, otherwise you’d have to write ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’ every time you spoke.
GCP: Yes. Now, can we get started?
Bryntin: Yes, sorry. I’m ready now, carry on.
A mist rises, seemingly out of nowhere. It couldn’t be Mrs Bryntin putting the kettle on, too early for that. It falls again and a scene is revealed.
Bryntin recognises it straight away, a small boy and a small girl are in their pyjamas in a bedroom, each sat on the edge of their beds, strumming guitars, the large empty boxes strewn on the floor.
It’s “the one where he and his sister got a guitar from Santa, way before either of them knew how to play a guitar, so it was one twingy-twangy hell of discordant din.”
GCP: Do you recognise this Bryntin?
Bryntin: Oh yes, those were fun times. Not very tuneful ones though.
GCP: Yes, watch on.
A man bursts into through the bedroom door. Bryntin recognises his younger looking father in his paisley pyjamas.
Dad: Will you two shut the hell up and get back to bed? It’s only half past three.
Children in unison: Look Dad! He’s been, he’s been!
Dad rubs his eyes and hiccups. There is a smell of whisky and mince pies.
Dad: Yes, I’ve only… umm… of course, lovely, fine…(yawns) But if he knew you were awake and playing with the stuff already, he’d beat you with the horny end of his reindeer. And not come at all next year. Now get back to bed.
Children: Yes Dad.
Bryntin: He’s got me a radio too Dad!
Dad: Well if you turn that on now, I’ll beat you with the horny end of a reindeer right now… Now come on, time for us all to get some sleep. Hic…
The mist rises again and the scene fades away. Perhaps it was Mrs Bryntin having a shower.
Bryntin: Why did you show me that year Ghost?
GCP: I dunno, I just thought it was funny I suppose. Oh, and it was a Sony radio wasn’t it? They make great audio equipment, should you want to buy anyone a present after this night has finished. You could do worse than gifting a loved one with a good piece of Sony audio equipment, they’d be really happy with that, good brand.
Anyway, here’s my colleague to take you through the next scene. It’s a doozy apparently, and it’s got some more great brands in it.
Bryntin: (Wistfully) I had some pencils that year too, still got the drawings…
With that, the GCP fades away and Bryntin feels a tapping on his shoulder. He turns around and sees another blurry and ghostly figure.
Reminder to self: Make opticians appointment as soon as everything’s back to normal again.
GCP: (with spooky gravitas and some emphasis on random words…) I am the ghost of Christmas Present
Bryntin: Ha, you have the same initials as the last guy.
GCP: Oh. Yes, so I do. Umm… Well, thanks for not making the obvious joke about present and presents anyway.
Bryntin: That’s OK, I’m not normally funny.
Mist rises once more and then fades away to reveal another scene.
A young man and woman are smiling and putting wrapped gifts at the bottom of a decorated tree in their lounge. The lights on the tree are flashing, matching their rhythm to the Mariah Carey tune that’s playing, ‘All I want for Christmas is You’. They are both wearing ridiculous jumpers with knitted scenes of snow flakes, fir trees and goofy reindeer faces with glowing red noses on.
GCP: This is Christmas in your colleagues house, right now, this evening.
Bryntin: They really are twats aren’t they?
GCP: No Bryntin… Oh alright then, yes Bryntin.
But you see how innocently happy they are? No bitter cynicism, just pure happiness and enjoying some of the lovely Christmas traditions invented by the Victorians. Not Mariah of course, she was mostly invented by the record industry and plastic surgeons.
Bryntin: Yes, but… ewww… it’s so… tacky. Does anyone really have this sort of Disney Christmas… really?
GCP: See all the Christmas cards in their lounge Bryntin? How much they are loved by all of their circle of family and friends? There must be a hundred of them. Not just two, like in your house.
Bryntin: It’s awful, the cards thing isn’t it? Like, the only reason to send a card is because you don’t want to let anyone to know you haven’t given them a moments thought since you last sent them one? And when does it ever snow at Christmas eh? And robins? How did that start, eh?
Bloody wrapping paper as well, loads of it. And glitter, it’s made out of plastic you know, washes out of your clothing into the sea or just sits in the landfill, spoiling the earth, getting eaten by the fish or worms. Goes up the food chain and you eventually end up eating glitter yourself.
More useless crap in the presents too I expect… Plastic junk, used for a week then stored in a cupboard somewhere… I had one of them coffee capsule machine things once, couldn’t for the life of me work out what advantage a capsule had over a spoon…
GCP: God you’re a hard case Bryntin.
Look, just notice the big screen HD Panasonic TV, the new, latest Apple mobile phones, the sexy thin laptop, the jokey socks, the many novelty plastic decorations and heady smell of the mix of spicy mulled wine and the other attractive scents in the room.
Notably of course Chanel for the lady, Calvin Klein for the gent.
And look at the sparkles coming off her jewellery… diamonds of course… isn’t that just heart warming?
And listen…. there’s a knock at the door and… look! Friends Bryntin, these people have friends! They’ve bought gifts, there’s bottles… good stuff I can see, Moet, Dom Perignon, Blue Nun…. A festive tin of Cadbury chocolates… It’s festive because they’ve printed a Victorian snow scene on the tin, see? They’re going to have a party! All your colleagues… but you’re not there.
There’s lots of food, lots of smiling, slightly soft focus and a lovely warm colour balance for a cosy feel. Look at their faces, if only you opened your wal… er, heart to this too, eh?
Bryntin: He asked me at work, solar panels for the house next year or diamond earrings for the wife at Christmas? Idiot’s gone for the earrings. Probably embarrassed invite me and let me see he went for the earrings.
GCP: They are Tiffany though… Ah, sod it, time to hand over to my colleague… I’ve got a busy night you know.
Bryntin: Yep, OK mate. Fade off.
The mists rise as the ghost gradually disappears. They fall again to reveal a graveyard. Bryntin is aware of a chill to the atmosphere all of a sudden.
A ghost of a man appears, sitting on top of a gravestone and picking his nose.
GCF: (Chirpy and breezily) Hey blud, how’s the night goin’?
Bryntin: Hang on, you’re GCF? That’s different.
GCF: Tis good yeah? Da future innit? Glorious Commercial Future right ‘ere… Wicked!
Bryntin: Do you speak English?
GCF: What? Oh yeah, course, we’re in the future now ain’t we? Yeah, dis is English now innit, Got ya foreign, dat dem foreign geezers did, over the sea yeah, and we got English, proud innit?
Bryntin: I have no idea what you just said
GCF: Jokin’ right? Haha… What it is right, so Brits all speaks dis, like Estry?
Bryntin: Estuary English? So London was gradually taking over Britain like we thought?
GCF: Gotta get ya wiv it blud… So Brexit happens yeah? Eventually. Den there was riots and civil war and all that…
Bryntin: Oh… What year are we in?
GCF: Ummm… 2050 I think… So, anyways, sea’s all poison now ‘course… weird green innit? Government says poison anyway, try swimming away, dead. Dissolved. Or shot. Maybe depends which way you swimmin’.
Course, no planes, ships, shut down customs, right?
So, no Brits outside, no foreign stuff in. No trade see? All meat gone now, no cows, sheep, rabbits and pigeons all gone… not many rats left eiver.
Bryntin: Eiver? You mean either.
GCP: Yeah, eiver.
Bryntin: Never mind. So Brexit actually did ruin the country then?
GCF: Nah, you can’t say ruined, unpatriotic innit? Get you shot. Like these.
The ghost waves his hand to show Bryntin the graveyard in front of him. The headstones seem to stretch for many kilometres.
GCF: Nah, mate, miles. Kilometres, metric get ya shot. Unpatriotic innit.
The ghost waves his hand to show Bryntin the graveyard in front of him. The headstones seem to stretch for many miles.
Bryntin: OK, you convinced me. Now, what do I have to do to avoid this?
GCF: Nah, can’t do it bro, y’see. You was warned. Y’know, Brexit yeah, that’s a t’ing, a distraction, like Trump and China and Russia an everyt’ing else in your time but.. an’ y’all got really angry about a lot of stuff but…. but dis… Ya missed the really important thing yeah? See da lake?
Bryntin: That green glowing watery thing?
GCF: Yep. Sussex. Sank last week.
Bryntin: Well, that’s not too bad.
GCF: Yebbut, now’s only Yorkshire and Scotland left.
Bryntin: Sod it, that is bad.
GCF: See, der was science, warnings and signs and statistics and everything but nah… it just went on and on… take, take, take, buy, buy, buy… so distracted… no one listened… kept making things, kept buying things, shiny things, unnecessary things, all year, not just Christmas… kept burning things, burying things… but it don’t go away bro… it’s still there, only now you’ve used what you wanted and what’s left, it’s no good for you. Need yer fuel out the ground, need to fuel yer cars, need to grow more and more meat, food, crops…need to have your coffee in capsules… So der’s not much left, see?
Bryntin: The whole world? Not just Europe?
GCF: Nah, not there any more. Melted ice, high sea water, methane, rain and wind and fire, boil and trouble… din’t need no asteroid to wipe you lot out.
GCF: Yep, shame. Still, I’m already dead so don’t matter to me.
Bryntin: So am I now aren’t I? Is my grave out there? You’re meant to show me that, you know, according to the tradition aren’t you?
GCF: Weird, it’s spooky, we looked for it good but didn’t find it.
Mrs Bryntin’s alive, smiling, happy, drinking punch, dancin’ n partyin’, new extension on the house… but no sign of you. Seemed so happy when da man was deliverin’ da concrete for da foundations too.
Bryntin: Hmm… how odd. Especially spooky coming from a spook. Mind you, if we’re in 2050 and she’s 90 odd, fair play for still dancing.
GCF: Hey, anyway, gonna rock’n’roll now, got a party booking. Gotta try getting some Conservative MP’s to understand compassion. See ya!
Bryntin: Wait, aren’t you going to leave me with a moral lesson?
GCF: Oh yeah.. Umm… yeah, well… I dunno if you can change it by yourself… you’re doing OK like… but you might if you keep trying and get others to join in though, innit?
GCF: Now you’re getting it… see ya!
The ghost fades away
As Bryntin wakes he struggles to remember all of the dream he just had. He suddenly fancies buying a big new TV and a Sony radio for some reason he can’t quite put his finger on. He dismisses the feeling, pulls on his dressing gown and obeys his more urgent biological signals instead.
He goes downstairs to the kitchen afterwards. He finds his empty coffee cup and spoons a few measures of ground coffee into his machine and he suddenly remembers.
He had three cups of coffee after dinner last night.
And a cheese sandwich before bed.
A faint clinking noise comes from somewhere in the still dark morning outside.
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