THE METROPOLITANS — Episode Forty Two: Christmas

A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture

By Tony Carden

 

Episode Forty Two: Christmas

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the House
Not a creature was stirring, not even a louse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hope that Brexit soon would be there;

The MPs were nestled all snug in their sheds,
While visions of high office danced in their heads;
And Mary in her ‘kerchief, and Des in his cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter.
Mary sprang from bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window she flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to her wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, dressed in his leotard,
She knew in a moment it must be Bernard.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the House-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of laws—and Bernard too.

And then, in a twinkling, she heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As she drew in her hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Bernard came with a bound.

He was dressed in a leotard, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of treaties he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a juggler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the skin of his chin was as white as the snow;

The end of a reefer he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And she laughed when she saw him, despite herself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave her to know she had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But she heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY BREXIT TO YOU ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

 

*

 

‘Impressive isn’t it, Mary, how disaster seems to follow you everywhere?’

Mary gazed around. Her bedroom was no more. They were surrounded by a thick mist, a real peasouper of a fog. ‘Who are you?’

‘You don’t remember?’ The voice was familiar, as was the jaunty stance. A familiar pose. It can’t be!

‘Ethan?’

‘That’s better; much better.’

‘You’re dead. I saw you…’ Mary stopped. What had I seen? No, it wasn’t what I’d seen, it’s what Ethan had said. ‘You died because I wouldn’t forgive you for that stunt with the punt.’

‘So, you do remember, then.’

‘How could I have forgotten.’ Mary felt a deep sadness. Ethan had been everything to her. ‘You’re back. Are you going to haunt me for ever?’

‘The learning isn’t over.’ You’ve got nothing to teach me. I’ve grown wiser as I’ve become more important.

‘You’re dead. The dead live in the past.’ Like that day in Oxford. Gone. Gone. Buried. I cried at your funeral, you know. ‘Be a ghost if you want.’

‘Are you going to be like Louis VXI and have learned nothing; forgotten nothing?’

‘What are you saying?’

‘Come.’ He stretched out a hand and took hers. Last time was awful. Why should I go with you now? She felt herself being pulled. The grey mist swirled around her.

The next moment they were in a meeting room. Why, I know this place; it’s the House of Commons! A dozen or more people were seated around a table. Mary recognised them. Brexiters. The bastards. There’s JRM. And Ralston and Christoph. They’re all traitors. But I survived the no confidence motion. But they’re plotting something.

‘You know who they are.’

Mary turned to Ethan. ‘It’s the wreckers.’

‘You mean those who don’t agree with your Brexit.’ Well, yes.

‘Watch and observe!’

The MPs sat with solemn faces.

It’s intolerable, I tell you.

Of course, it is, Chris. A Remainer born is for ever a Remainer. She’s never battled to take us out of the EU.’

She’s a traitor.

In the old days, the Queen would have sent her to the block.

‘They can’t be serious.’

‘You’ve managed to make the Brexiters very angry.’

‘They have no idea what’s involved in leaving the EU.’

‘Do you?’

‘That’s a snarky thing to say.’

‘But do you?’

‘Of course, I do.’

This is the greatest challenge this country has faced since 1940.

What would Churchill have done, Chris?

Made a speech about blood, sweat and tears and fighting them on the beaches.

Perhaps we can raise a Leaver army to fight for our cause.

What? A mass protest like those Remoaners had?

Yes, why not?’

It might work.

We can’t let her remain in charge.’

Who suggested we go for a no confidence vote?

Now, let’s not get into an argument. We’ve a battle to win. We need to work together.’

‘Chris is right.’

‘Of course, I bloody well am.’

Well, the most important thing is to stop her from doing anything that leaves us dependent on the EU.’

‘I’ll vote against her Plan.’

‘We’ll all vote against her plan.’

‘They’re bastards every single one of them!’

‘In your eyes, Mary. They see themselves as patriots.’

‘Traitors more like. I won the confidence vote. They owe me their loyalty. My Plan is the only way forward.’

‘Come.’ Ethan took her hand.

‘Where are you taking me?’

‘They passed through a wall into a corridor.

Mary gazed back at the solid wall she had just walked through. ‘How did you do that?’

‘Dunno. Ever since the accident I’ve been able to pass through solid objects.’

‘But me?’

‘Must be because you’re with me.’

‘But I’m real; I’m no ghost.’

‘I’m real too.’

‘I guess so.’

He led her along the corridor to another room. They went in through the closed door. Another meeting was in process. Remainers. They’re busy plotting to keep us in the EU. Bastards. Scheming behind my back.

‘You know who they are.’

Mary turned to Ethan. ‘Of course, I bloody do.’

‘You mean those who don’t agree with your Brexit.’ Well, yes.

She waved at those in the room. ‘This lot’s been busily undermining me and plotting to keep us in the EU. Scheming for a second referendum and spreading horror stories about leaving.’

The MPs sat with solemn faces.

It’s intolerable, I tell you.

Of course, it is, Ken. A Leaver born is for ever a Leaver. She’s switched to the dark side to take us out of the EU.’

She’s a traitor.

In the old days, the Queen would have sent her to the block.

‘They sound just like the other lot.’

‘You’ve managed to make a lot of Remainers very angry.’

‘They have no idea what’s involved. The referendum must be honoured. We’ve got to respect the people’s decision and leave the EU.’

‘Do you?’

‘That’s a snarky thing to say.’

‘But do you?’

‘Of course, I do.’

This is the greatest challenge this country has faced since 1940.

What would Churchill have done, Ken?

Made a speech about blood, sweat and tears and fighting them on the beaches.

Perhaps we can raise a Remainer army to fight for our cause.

What? A mass protest like those Leavers had?

Yes, why not?’

It might work.

We can’t let her remain in charge.’

Who suggested we go for a no confidence vote?

Now, let’s not get into an argument. We’ve a fight on our hands. We need to work together.’

‘Ken is right.’

‘Of course, I bloody well am.’

Well, the most important thing is to stop her from doing anything that takes us out of the EU.’

‘I’ll vote against her plan.’

‘We’ll all vote against her plan.’

‘They’re bloody impossible.’

‘And where does that leave you, Mary?’

‘Piggy in the middle.’

‘And how does it feel?’

‘Lonely.’

The room swirled around her. Mary found herself back in her bedroom. A bedside light cast a glow that showed a bundle in bed. Des! She looked around.

‘Ethan?’

‘Ugghblurb.’ The bundle in the bed rose up. ‘What the hell are you up to, Mary?’

‘I don’t know.’

 

 

To be continued…

 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

You can contact the author at:

[email protected]

 

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