by Robert Williams

"Done your Christmas shopping yet?" enquired Mick on Christmas Eve.

"No, not yet," said Des.

"That's leaving it a bit to the last minute, isn't it!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.

"I'm going to do it this afternoon," said Des.

"You don't sound very enthusiastic," said Mick. "Come on, it's Christmas!"

"Yes, it is," sighed Des.

After lunch Des drove off to Kingston to do his shopping.

"Oh, I'll never find a parking space," moaned Des, driving round all the car parks to find them all full. He ended up parking in the nearest space he could find - which was right outside his house, and walked all the way back to Kingston.

"Last minute shoppers everywhere!" exclaimed Des to himself, looking at the queues in every shop. "Oh, I just can't be bothered."

Des walked all the way home and made an announcement.

"I've decided not to bother with Christmas this year," said Des. "It's just far too much fuss and nonsense. So expect no presents from me, and you can unwrap any presents you were thinking of giving to me."

"But what about our Christmas lunch we're gonna have at your 'ouse tomorrow!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"We'll just have to have it at my house," said Mick.

"Great, that means more turkey for me!!" exclaimed Clive.

"I'll see you on Boxing Day then," said Des, disappearing off to undecorate his house.

"You old Scrooge!!" shouted Mick after him.

"Bah! Humbug!!" exclaimed Des. "Who needs Christmas anyway! And you lot can shut up as well!!" he snapped at some passing carol singers.

Des went to bed that night feeling very uneasy. He fell into a deep, deep sleep...

It was Christmas, and a young boy knocked on the door of Scrooge and Marley's. As Deseneezer Scrooge answered the door, he began to sing.

"I wish you a merry Christmas, I wish you a merry Christmas, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy Easter!"

"Happy Easter?" said Deseneezer.

"They're already got Easter eggs on sale down the supermarket!" exclaimed the young boy. "Can I 'ave me money now?"

"Bah! Humbug!!"

"Oh thank you!" said the young boy. "I like humbugs!!"

"No, no, no! Christmas!! Humbug!! Now get out of it, come on, get out of it!!"

The young boy ran off.

"Pesky kids," snapped Deseneezer, closing the door.

"Thank goodness for that," sighed Mick Cratchit, Deseneezer's clerk, removing his overcoat.

"What are you shivering for, Cratchit?!! I've switched the new central heating on!!"

"You put my desk right by the door," moaned Mick. "And that candle is right over the other side of the room!"

Just then the doorbell rang again.

"Oh no, not again," moaned Mick, putting his overcoat back on.

Deseneezer opened the door and saw a jolly man standing there.

"Now what do you want?!"

"I'm collecting money for the Kiddies in Need appeal," said the jolly man. "I've heard that you've raised £359 by not switching your central heating on this winter. By donating that money to the appeal you will bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of some needy children this Christmas."

"Bah! Humbug!!"

"Oh thank you very much," said the jolly man. "I like humbugs."

"No, no, Christmas! Humbug! My money is staying right here in my safe!"

"Your partner Bob used to be much more generous! He used to donate money and copies of his latest records!"

"Well he's dead! Now be off with you!!"

"Merry Christmas!!" called the jolly man, running off.

"Bah! Humbug!" exclaimed Deseneezer, closing the door. "And what do you think you're doing, Cratchit?"

"It's time to go home," said Mick, getting up from his desk.

"Is that the time already?! I haven't even started counting my money yet! Well off you go, I shall see you tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow morning? But it's Christmas!"

"Bah!! Humbug!!"

"Oh thank you very much," said Mick. "I like humbugs."

"No, no, no! Christmas! Humbug! And why should I give you the day off?!"

"I've worked all year to be able to buy a pigeon for Christmas lunch! My wife, three children and two hundred pigs will be so disappointed!"

"Two hundred pigs?"

"My eldest son breeds them," said Mick. "Anyway, Mr Scrooge, please may I have the day off!"

"Very well then," sighed Deseneezer, "as long as you turn up extra early on Boxing Day."

"Thank you sir, thank you!" said Mick, running off. Soon afterwards Deseneezer decided to pack up and head for home. As he walked back to his lonely house, he felt a chill in the air. Not surprising, since Mick Cratchit had stolen his scarf.

Once he had arrived home, Deseneezer settled down in front of the television, but all that was on were Christmas specials of all his least favourite shows. So he decided to go to bed.

As he was cleaning his teeth, he suddenly felt footsteps behind him. Deseneezer went cold all him. The footsteps then stopped right behind him.

"Hey, man!"

"I know that voice!" exclaimed Deseneezer. He turned round - and saw his deceased business partner, Bob Marley. "But you're dead!!"

"Hey, that's right man! I'm a ghost!!"

"What do you want, Marley?! If you're going to wish me a merry Christmas then I..."

"Hey, no, man!! I've come to warn you!! Tonight you're going to be visited by three more ghosts, at one o' clock, two o' clock and three o' clock."

"Oh really?!" said Deseneezer, not believing a word of it. "What for?"

But Marley had already vanished.

"Strange man," said Deseneezer, going to bed, and trying hard to go to sleep, but failing.

At one o' clock Deseneezer's great grandfather clock (it was that old) downstairs struck one, funnily enough.

"It's one o' clock!" exclaimed the perceptive Deseneezer. "But where's the first ghost?"

He waited half an hour and no ghosts turned up.

"I knew it," said Deseneezer. "That Marley was always joking about."

Just then a mysterious figure appeared in a flash of light.

"Stop flashing at me!" exclaimed Deseneezer. "Are you the first ghost?"

"I am," said the ghost, as the light receded

"Well you're late!" exclaimed Deseneezer.

"It's not my fault, it's these British Rail holiday timetables!" exclaimed the ghost. "Anyway, I'm the ghost of Christmas past!"

"I thought I recognised you! You're that Doug Whitehouse! Now what do you want?"

"Come with me," said Doug, taking Deseneezer's hand, and they flew off.

"If I knew we were going out, I would have got dressed!" exclaimed Deseneezer. "I look a right idiot in my Mickey Mouse pyjamas!"

Before they knew it, they were in the church hall. A Christmas party was in full swing.

"What are you doing here! I hate Christmas! Humbug!!"

"Oh thank you very much," said Doug. "I like humbugs!"

"Oh, not you as well," sighed Deseneezer. "Hold on - I recognise one of those people! It's me when I was younger!!"

"That's right!"

The young Deseneezer was dancing around and enjoying himself with the others to the sound of Bob Marley's band playing live. The old Deseneezer looked on sadly.

"What's the matter? Obviously you miss those old days when you used to enjoy yourself!"

"No, it's not that, I just hated that song," said Deseneezer.

Doug then whisked Deseneezer away from the party to a not so jolly scene. Deseneezer was talking to Bob Marley, who was trying to convince him to join his band. Deseneezer, though, was trying to convince Bob to become his business partner.

"I won," said Deseneezer, sadly. "Just think if I had joined Bob Marley's band - things would have turned out much different - and when he died I could have become a solo artists and made piles more money than I make in my business! Hey, look at the time, it's two o' clock! Better take me back home otherwise I'll miss the next ghost, and there won't be another one for a whole hour!"

Suddenly, Deseneezer was back in his bed. He heard his clock strike two, and suddenly appeared the next ghost.

"I am the ghost of Christmas present!" said the ghost, who bore more than passing resemblance to Ralph Berkshire.

"Oh thank you very much, what have you got me this year?" asked Deseneezer.

"Not the ghost of Christmas presents!!" exclaimed Ralph. "I'm the ghost of Christmas present!! Now come with me!!"

Deseneezer was whisked off with Ralph to Mick Cratchit's house.

"What are we doing here?" asked Deseneezer. Ralph took Deseneezer inside.

"Don't worry, they won't see us here," said Ralph.

"That's Mick Cratchit's wife, Mrs Greasy (no, I haven't worked that one out either) stuffing the pigeon! But it's two o' clock in the morning! What's she doing up at this hour?!"

Just then rushed in Mick Cratchit, the three children Clive, Tiny Wayne and Files, and two hundred porkers.

"How is this pigeon supposed to feed two hundred and five mouths!" moaned Mrs Greasy.

"It's all because my evil boss Scrooge only pays me a shilling per week!"

"How dare he..." started Deseneezer.

"But we went decimal twenty-five years ago!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.

"Exactly," said Mick.

"Why am I called Tiny Wayne when I'm taller than everyone else?" moaned Wayne, who was on crutches.

"Will Tiny Wayne live?" asked Deseneezer.

"Well of course he will! He only fell down the stairs because they don't have enough money for a light in the hall!"

Deseneezer felt a little guilty.

Suddenly the ghost whisked Deseneezer back to his bed and disappeared. Deseneezer had hardly time to put his head on the pillow when his clock struck three, and the final ghost turned up. This one looked much more sinister than the others, and was clothed in a long dark cloak and hood.

"It's amazing isn't it," said Deseneezer. "You don't meet a ghost for years and years and then four turn up at once! Now don't tell me...we've had the ghost of Christmas past, then the ghost of Christmas present, so you must be...the ghost of Christmas future!!! Am I right? Eh? Eh? Well tell me!!"

The ghost said nothing.

"Where are we going then?" said Deseneezer. The ghost took him back to Mick Cratchit's house where Mrs Greasy was sitting anxiously in the living room. "Oh, the last ghost brought me here!! Can't we go somewhere else!!"

In walked Mick. Mrs Greasy stood up.

"I'm afraid it's happened," said Mick. "He died."

"Oh, poor Tiny Wayne!!" said Mrs Greasy, bursting into tears. "He was so kind and generous. An idiot, but kind and generous."

"Not him!" exclaimed Mick. "He only fell down the stairs! No, you know who's finally popped his clogs!"

"Who's 'you know who' then??!!" exclaimed Deseneezer. "What's he on about?!"

The ghost took Deseneezer to the graveyard.

"Oh, this is a great place to take me for Christmas," moaned Deseneezer. "What have you brought me here for?"

The ghost pointed Deseneezer to a gravestone.

"What's this...'Desenezer Scrooge RIP'??!!! I don't believe it!!!"

The ghost nodded sadly.

"They spelt my name wrong!! I can't let this happen!! Tell me - er, well, show me, then, what can I do??!!"

The ghost just looked at Deseneezer, Deseneezer looked at the ghost - and suddenly he was back in his bedroom. Deseneezer slept the rest of the night like a yuletide log, since it was Christmas.

The next morning Deseneezer leapt out of bed and ran into the street and shouted "MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!"

Except that there was no one about because they were all at home opening their presents. So he went round to Mick Cratchit's house.

"Oh, hello, Mr Scrooge, how nice to see you," said Mick, shivering.

"May I come in?" asked Deseneezer.

"I suppose so," said Mick, rather apprehensive. "Here, have my coat!"

"No, no, no," said Deseneezer. "I was wondering if I could possibly join you for Christmas lunch."

"Are you feeling all right?" said Mick, as Deseneezer went into the living room and tripping over some pigs. "We've only got a pigeon to eat!"

"Not any more!" exclaimed Deseneezer, producing a turkey from his overcoat.

"Where did you get that from??!!" exclaimed Mick, as him and the children looked on in amazement.

"From the 24 hour butchers! (Open 8am to 2pm, closed Sundays)," said Deseneezer, giving the turkey to Mick. "Here, have it!"

"Mrs Greasy!!" called Mick. "Look what we've got for Christmas lunch!"

"Oh no," said Mrs Greasy when she saw the turkey. "I was up all last night stuffing that stupid pigeon! Now I've got to stuff this thing!!"

"I'll do it for you!!!" exclaimed Deseneezer.

But Deseneezer left it till the Christmas lunch for his biggest surprise.

"Now everyone, I think it time I gave you my Christmas present!!"

"A Christmas present?!! From you??!!" exclaimed Mick. "What is it?"

"A raise!!!" exclaimed Deseneezer.

"Oh goody!" said Wayne. "I like being lifted into the air!!"

"No, no, I'm going to raise your wages!!"

"I don't believe it!!!!!" exclaimed Mick. "YIPPEEEE!!!!!"

The whole family and all the pigs got up and started dancing around. Deseneezer decided to join in too, and to help liven the atmosphere even more he produced a new compact disc player and slapped on a Bob Marley CD. The two hundred and six of them danced along to the music and celebrated.

"This has got to be the best Christmas ever!!" laughed Deseneezer.

Just then Des awoke from his dream.

"Uh? Eh? Oh, it's Christmas Day! What time is it? Nine o' clock! Just enough time!"

He hurriedly got dressed and dashed outside to the 24 hour general store (open 8.45am to 12.15pm, closed weekends and Thursdays) and bought some stuff and some wrapping paper. He went back home and quickly wrapped up the presents before bursting into Mick's house where everyone else was about to tuck into their turkey.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!" exclaimed Des. "Here's all your presents!!"

"I thought you said..." started Mick.

"Oh forget all that, it's Christmas!!" said Des. "Now where's my bit of the turkey?"

They had a delicious lunch, and after watching the Queen's speech Des decided it was party time and slapped on a CD he had bought that morning.

"Come on, let's have a dance, and celebrate Christmas!!" exclaimed Des.

"You really have changed your tune since yesterday!!" exclaimed Mick to Des as they danced around merrily to the music. "But I never knew you were a Bob Marley fan..."

Copyright © Robert Williams

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