Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Form ...part the second

(Part 1)

Govscrooge awoke again, this time with a desperate urge to wee. Damn that Leffe! Having endured a trepidatious waddle to the toilet, she washed her hands (remember kids!) and decided that the table was not a good place to sleep after all. She turned to go upstairs. At that precise moment, the clock in the hall struck three. "Bollocks", thought our protagonist, "I'm going to have some fucking head on me tomorrow."

"And right you are", quoth an iridescent globule which materialised suddenly at the foot of the stairs.

"What the fuck!" screamed Govscrooge. As a fairly heavy drinker, she had seen some weird things in her time, but never what looked like a talking hyperbolic paraboloid. "Oh wait, are you one of those things Morley said he was sending?"

"That's right", said the thingy, which morphed into a vaguely humanoid figure. "Now, if you'd like to sign this docket as proof of delivery, we can get started." The figure proffered in its hand something that looked vaguely like a form. Govscrooge retched at the sight of it. But signed it anyway and handed it back. Immediately, the ghost took Govscrooge's hand and every atom of the surrounding environment vanished as if a thick fog had suddenly seeped around them.

When the fog cleared, Govscrooge recognised their new, grim surroundings instantly. "Holy shit, it's the sales office of Disgrace Brothers! I had my first job there! There's the office manager now. What a bitch." A small, pinched looking woman came into view. She was brandishing a large pile of order forms. "Govscrooge", she said, "The customers have changed their orders. As there's no-one else here and we have to make deliveries before close of business because it's Christmas Eve, you'll have to amend them all." The younger Govscrooge looked up and said "But I've already made plans for tonight. I wanted to go on the piss with my mates!" "Do I look like I care?" said the manager. "You want this job, don't you? We pay you 100 quid a week, so start earning it." She left the forms on Govscrooge's desk and walked back to her own office, where the accounts manager was waiting, with a barely concealed bottle of wine under his jacket. Govscrooge sighed and took the first order form off the pile.

"Jesus, what a fucking shithole. I hated that job.", said the present-day Govscrooge. "I wouldn't put up with that shite now. I've a good mind to find out where that bitch lives and petrol bomb her house". The ghost merely smirked. Some synapses in Govscrooge's inebriated brain began to work again: "Oh right, I get it, you're trying to teach me something. Well I think I get the message, so if you don't mind, I'd like to go home now." "Yeah, all right. You're a bit too sweary for me", said the ghost. "I've been dead for two hundred years you know. That was when ladies were ladies." A mist descended once again, and Govscrooge found herself back in her own home. "Ok, maybe I'll be nicer to Bob from now on", she muttered to herself as she ascended the stairs. Without a further thought, or changing into pyjamas, she collapsed into bed and promptly fell into a deep alcoholic sleep.

The clock struck four, and, with an almighty clatter, the bedroom windows flew open. Govscrooge woke with a start, "Not again". A second figure appeared, at first translucent, but then filling out into a comforting opacity. "Hieeee! I am the ghost of Christmas Present" announced the apparition, which now resembled a Yummy Mummy dressed in a Juicy Couture pink velour leisure suit and Ugg boots, laden down with a bulging Prada handbag and lots of bags from BT.

"Oh Jesus. I think I liked the first one better", moaned Govscrooge. "Don't be silly", said the ghost, and grabbed Govscrooge's hand with her own, French manicured one. "Come on, the Land Rover is outside." "So much for the bloody recession", growled Govscrooge. The ghostly Land Rover took them through the deserted streets of Ballyfuck, then into the next town. It stopped outside a small house. "Come on, let's have a look!" enthused the ghost. They peered through a window into a cosy family scene. Bob Scratchit was there, surrounded by his grown up children, and their own young families. They were unwrapping their presents.

"Gawd, look at that wallpaper" said the Ghost. "I mean, loike, you can get the look of handpainted damask at knockdown prices in Dundrum. " Govscrooge glared at the ghost and resumed looking at the Scratchits. Bob's wife handed him a parcel. "Bob, it's not much, but I think you'll like it". Bob unwrapped his gift. It was a knobbly, uneven, handknitted scarf. He grinned up at his wife. "It's lovely. Thank you so much." "Oh my Gawd, have they no taste? Alexander McQueen..." the Ghost was silenced by Govscrooge's hand clamping firmly across her mouth. Bob gave his wife her present. It was his civil servant diary, wrapped in ribbons. "Sorry love, department wouldn't sanction overtime this year. And I couldn't get out of the office to do any proper Christmas shopping because I forgot to apply for the leave on time. But look, it's got a nice leathery cover and everything." Mrs Scratchit hugged her husband and said "Never mind. At least it's something I'll use. Here's to a better year. I hope your application for a transfer at work is successful. You might get a more accomodating manager. I wish that Govscrooge woman was here right now, I've a good mind to give her a knuckle sandwich."

Govscrooge turned away from the window, retching once again. Mrs Scratchit was a big woman, with hands like shovels. "Get us out of here before she sees me", Govscrooge whispered hoarsely to the Ghost. "OK, but the Land Rover's just been repossessed. We'll have to walk", replied the Ghost. They walked the miles back to Ballyfuck in silence. Well, near silence. The clicking of the Ghost's Manolos on the road almost drove Govscrooge into a frenzy. "If she wasn't already dead..." she thought.

Back home, Govscrooge attempted to sleep, but knowing that there was another fucking ghost on the way didn't help. And the room was spinning. That wasn't good. Neither was the third ghost. It was just standing there looking down at her. Silently, it extended a skeletal hand from underneath its black cloak. Govscrooge knew better than to refuse. "Bloody hell, you stink", was all she said.

The scene instantly changed to the interior of the Department. A small group of HEOs that Govscrooge knew were having tea together. "So, Bob Scratchit got promoted to EO at long last" said one of the HEOs. "Yes, good for him. He's a good worker. He hasn't had an easy time of it in his last section" said another, "I hear he's to replace Govscrooge. Well, he knows the work inside out." Govscrooge looked at the ghost. "What do they mean, replace? Did I get a transfer or something? I hope I don't get stuck in HR. Everyone expects you to know everything in there." The ghost shook its head.

The scene changed once again. They were standing alongside a long queue of people. The queue was extending out of the door of a large, grey building and went all the way round the corner. They walked to the door and entered the building. No-one complained. They were invisible, you see. A large counter with perspex windows dominated the room. There were also several metal chairs, all of which were occupied, and all of which were bolted to the floor. A man with a can of cheap cider sticking out of his back pocket was banging on one of the perspex windows. A tirade of filthy abuse issued from him. "Where's me bleedin' dole, you fuckin' miserable oul' BITCH?" he screamed at the petrified woman behind the counter. Govscrooge squinted. That woman looked vaguely familiar. A bit older, yes, but not much. "Oh fuck, that's me! What the hell am I doing in the bloody dole office?" she screamed, grabbing the ghost's robes. "What the hell am I doing in an understaffed dole office in the middle of the RECESSION?" Govscrooge fell to the floor, retching yet again. When she looked up, she was back in her own home. "Oh, Christ", she moaned, and slumped, unconscious onto the floor.

Bob Scratchit awoke on Christmas morning with a splitting headache. It was not helped by his wife poking him in the ribs with her toe. "Get up, you git!", she shouted. "What a sight for your grandchildren to see, you lying there, drooling on my nice new wood floors. Get up and help to set up Tiny Tom's new Nintendo Wii." Bob groaned, roused himself and slowly shuffled into the kitchen for a drink of water. The smell of roasting turkey that filled the house did nothing to help his hangover.

Not long after there was a knock on the door. Wiping the crusty drool from his cheek, he went to answer it. "Oh Holy shite", he screamed as he realised who the caller was. "What are you doing here?" Govscrooge stood in the doorway with a big grin on her face. Her eyes were bloodshot and she was still wearing yesterday's work clothes, including ID badge. In fact, she looked totally bolloxed, but she still managed a cheery "Merry Christmas, Bob." She had two cases of Leffe at her feet. "Here you go, Bob, I thought you might like these. I'm giving up the booze." Bob was still staring at her, open mouthed. Govscrooge continued, "Oh, and there's absolutely no problem with taking today off. I've signed your leave form. And there's a few blank ones there too so you can fill your own dates in. Here, have a look." Bob took the familar form from Govscrooge. December 25th was indeed signed off. "Wait a minute, Govscrooge", Bob said. "Today is my day off anyway. It's everyone's day off. It doesn't have to be signed off. Not by you, not by anyone."

"Oh, bollocks. I was wondering why everywhere was closed. I wanted to get you all something for Christmas. This beer was all I had. I must be really hungover, not to know even what day it was."

"Never mind. Do you want to join us for dinner? There's more than enough", invited Bob.

"No thanks, I've heard how your wife picks her... errr... I think I need to go home and sleep now", said Govscrooge.

Bob watched her go. The next year was going to be better. He wiped the drool from his mouth once more with the form and went inside.

"God bless us every one", he said cheesily to his assembled family.

"Shut up you corny git", said his wife.

The End (At last)
With apologies to Charles Dickens

Have a great Christmas, folks.

No comments: