A Christmas Miracle
I read in the local paper with disbelief that the local town had done the unthinkable and invested in a Christmas Land Train to link both its town centres, built an impossible distance apart. We’d secretly all bemoaned the lack of some sort of ride-on carriage when Marks and Spencer upped and left their old floor space for a purpose-built building ten minutes away in the new multi-million pound town centre. I even once got cornered in Costa Coffee by a fracking millionaire called Nice Guy Roger who espoused on his dreams for a railway. Maybe it’s a boy thing.
But after walking all the way to do my festive crisp shopping nothing was going to stop me and I queued up behind two college girls in the rain. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t sitting for twenty minutes in a Liberace-themed nightmare, with wreaths for wheels and Christmas music played in over a tannoy, and that was before it even pulled away on what was to become a long journey home.
I had to adopt the college girls as the train driver wouldn’t allow “children” without an adult. The drivers had mercilessly told them to sling their hooks as they needed to be with an adult to ride his train. They walked off disconsolately into the rain and, next in the queue, I couldn’t help but offer up: “Could I not be their adult?” So, for a short time, my dreams came true and I suddenly became a father. It was like a Christmas miracle… or an episode of Jerry Springer.
In a nice reference to the early days of motoring, where it’s said someone legally had to walk in front of your car with a red flag, we unexpectedly had a similar yellow-jacketed woman. Rattling around the streets of Bury at two-miles-an-hour there were people pushing baby buggies faster than we were moving.
As we cruised at top speed down the high street I saw a burger-eater open-mouthed in the window of Burger King. We surely must have been that impressive a sight for the thirty seconds it took to pass her.
The driver gave me a card to enter a competition for £££’s worth of clothing by telling them in under 50 words what my perfect day in the shopping centre was. I had enough time to compose an answer:
“Making an attempt at the land speed record from Marks and Sparks to the Robert Peel statue in a steam train whilst Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Slade are pumped into the carriage. Magic!”
I do hope I win.
I had a more tasteful experience in Morrisons supermarket as they had a brass band in playing Christmas carols and the piped-in muzac was turned down throughout the rest of the shop so everyone could hear. Then at the till I became part of a real-life Christmas fable.
A woman wanted to buy a bottle of alcohol and the young female cashier struggled to remove the security tag, no matter how many times she banged it against the device, and in the end she had to call upon her old woman superior.
The moral, I imagine, is: that with age comes experience which can overcome youth.
The older woman kept banging the same bottle, against the same device, with the vigour of someone trying to launch a ship with a bottle of champagne… even though it wasn’t a bottle of the finest champagne, but a lurid pink bottle of Raspberry Sourz. But she too had to admit defeat and call upon the nearby young man for help.
So the moral now, I imagine, is: that if you want something doing properly then don’t worry your pretty little heads about it and just get a man to do it for you.
The man looked at the woman and the girl with disdain and he banged the bottle down against the device harder than either of the puny females were capable of… although he didn’t get the security tag off, he just smashed the bottle.
OK I’m not sure what the moral is now. It’s probably just don’t drink Raspberry Sourz.
And now it’s Christmas day, a time for family, and I spare a thought for my own adopted children, the girls off the train for whom I became their legal guardian. People say that parenthood is difficult, and a long road to travel, whereas a couple of hundred meters down the high street I just abandoned mine on a train outside Mothercare and hoped for the best. You never know, it could be the making of them.
And so that’s another year and, in the words of William Hartnell with which he shocked a generation in 1965 by breaking the fourth wall of the television screen: A happy Christmas to all of you at home!