Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Once Upon A Time

It was inevitable, wasn't it? After such a disappointing start, and the current seeming inability to bulge the onion bag, we were always going out. Just a shame that there wasn't even a goal to celebrate against the youth of Dortmund, but truth be told we were probably lucky to get the penalty against the Toffees on Saturday, and the ignominy of the worst ever European campaign by an English side is ours to carry like a cross to Calvary. It is now with trepidation that we look to the big one on Sunday. Let's just hope that the Rags' largesse in front of goal continues so that we can at least bang one or two in, and have a happy Hanukkah. Enough of that. Time for a festive story to warm the hearts of my many readers.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked queen who lived in an ice castle in SW1. All in her land bowed down at her feet and did her bidding, in great fear of the spells she was capable of casting, when her eyes bulged and bore through the thick lenses of her glasses into the very souls of those over whom she ruled. An army of workers toiled for her throughout the year, from humble drones to cunning viziers, each one dropping everything to carry out her slightest whim, trembling at the prospect of the dreaded One to One Meeting.

Her trusted lieutenants whipped her dwarf slaves to hard labour in the dusty mines of the Ice Queen's caves which were spread thoughout the land, even unto the far reaches of SE10. The poor dwarves' fingers were nipped with frost and their backs were bent with the heavy weight of the sacks they carried hither and thither. In a clear sign of the wicked queen's cruelty, the dwarves were forced to listen to Heart FM (only the merry jester at the cave in SE1 dared to play a classic rock station, and somehow he escaped the Queen's wrath, using his Tottenham Hotspur laughing stick to distract her from her spells) all day as they laboured for the paltry rewards she threw down to them, as rancid scraps to whipped curs from the heaving feast table.

The only thing which gave the little men and women heart was the prospect of the one day of freedom in their long and wearying struggle which Christmas gave them. A day when they could cast off their cares, rest their aching bones and feel warmth and love in the bosom of their local pub. Now the queen hated Christmas, and wished in her cold and black heart that it did not exist. Yet even her great power was not equal to this sorcery, which only the mighty lords Tesco and Sainsbury were able to perform, so she seethed with anger and jealousy in her frosty tower and devised her plans. At last it came to her! Christmas would remain - for now - but Christmas Eve, which had by tradition been a short day, would become just another working day, with the dwarves held to their labour till darkness fell.

So it came that this year she summoned her lieutenant in charge of the dwarves to the feared One to One Meeting, and sat with her faithful raven, Stanton, perched upon her shoulder. Magnifying her eyes into the trembling lieutenant's lowered countenance, she spoke:

"What treachery are those loathsome dwarf swine plotting against me now, imbecile?" she snapped. Stanton blinked his black eyelid over his black eye and plucked the entrails from a small rodent, held down with one of his black claws. Stuttering, the poor lieutenant tried to answer:

"Ah yes, your majesty - ha ha... They are but lazy, conniving..."

"Enough!" shouted the queen in anger, causing Stanton to flutter up from her shoulder, trailing the mouse entrails across the breast of the queen's gown and leaving a red smear as he did so. Lightning flashed through the tower's arrow slits and thunder rumbled in the Mountains of Victoria in the distance. The lieutenant cowered and clasped his hands across his chest, waiting for the pronouncement.

"You will tell those... pathetic beasts... that Christmas Eve is cancelled!"

The queen smiled, Stanton squawked and swallowed his bloody entrails, and the lieutenant gasped in amazement.

"But... Your majesty... This is... Too much...!"

"Too much?" screamed the queen. "Too MUCH??!! When half the world is grateful for any work, when children are begging for food, when the dying are forced from their beds to seek labour, and when the great Lord Osborne takes away more of my feeble hoard for his steaming money forges each year? Do not tell me 'Too Much'! Go and set those feckless fools to work!" Suddenly she became still, stroking Stanton's midnight feathers and smiling as she rose to her feet. "Unless you wish to join... Them!" The sleeve of her gown billowed as she pointed through the arrow slits to the shambling, shuffling souls outside. Huddled against the cold, their scrawny arms outstretched, they waited for the leavings of the fortunate ones, their eyes hollow with hunger and the death of hope. The queen turned away, and the lieutenant dropped his head into his hands and wept.

And they all lived happily ever after. The End.

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