Frivolous Monsters

A Christmas Miracle

A Christmas fable, and a revelation where I become a father, in a festive blog post sponsored by Raspberry Sourz. As they say in their adverts: GIVE IT SOME…Raspberry Sourz

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.

Land Train 2

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!

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37 thoughts on “A Christmas Miracle

  1. And a thumbs up from me too, stranded as I am in Portsmouth on Christmas Day, when I intended to be in Kent with family (public transport has been a bit of a nightmare down south this past day or two, as you’ve doubtless seen in the news!). Never mind, others have suffered much worse Christmases this year, and I’ll be back next year ;). Anyway, your fable above is an entertaining alternative to Toy Story 3 et al, and best wishes for 2014 :).

    • It is really sad seeing all those stranded people on the news. Makes me thankful that I’m holed up at home safe and well. I’m glad I was able to provide you with a minute’s distraction at this bad time. Hope you get home soon. FM

  2. Nailed it once again. cheers from down under.

    I studiously avoided your dr who tweet. Spoilers! It’s on tonight ( Boxing Day).

    We have good friends in Essex but we have never been to Bury. Will insist on going next time we are fortunate enough to be there.

    • Sorry, I use twitter so little I don’t imagine anyone reads that stuff at all. It was something I missed on the TV anyway, just a tiny detail I spotted in the preview pictures they released (that I didn’t look at until afterwards, of course), so I hope it hasn’t ruined your enjoyment!

      And I think the other Bury, Bury St Edmunds, might be a bit more picturesk and a hell of a lot closer to Essex!

      Hope you enjoy the episode!

    • Yes, the northern one – Just Bury – is the town with the shortest names professional football club in the UK. Something like that. Although I do know that people in Bury St. Edmunds just call the place Bury to confuse people!

  3. and a happy Christmas to you too. Thanks for the entertaining tale. Pity I missed the little train in Bury. Too busy packing!

    hope you enjoyed Dr Who tonight. I turned it off. Difficult to follow with screaming children running around.
    love Denise.

    • Hope you had a good Christmas with the Grandkids then. I did enjoy Doctor Who, although it wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

      I’m glad you found it entertaining. For me this just started out with me having nothing to write about at Christmas, but then this stemming from a trip to the shops and a trip to Marks to get their crisps. We always get their crisps for Christmas.

      I have a couple more stories revolving around Christmas decorations that I’ll try and work up into another festive blog post. We’ll see.

  4. Congrats on becoming a father so painlessly, another Xmas miracle! Abandoning your new children on a train though, that seems a little harsh. I suppose the scene when you forced them to go home with you might have caused more questions to be asked than you had ready answers for though….

    I find it hard to believe that they needed to be accompanied by an adult, after all, it sounds like the train was going along so slowly that any misbehaviour could see the driver turfing them off without even slowing down!

    The kids and I are very much looking forward to watching the new Doctor Who tonight. (Santa bought us the 50th anniversary Doctor Who version of Monopoly too!)

    • Tonight? I can never quite work out when your tonight is. Perhaps it’s here already. Doctor Who was certainly not what I was expecting, and what I built it up to be, but it was solid, and sad, and funny, and poignant.

      We were in a separate carriage from the driver but he told me his complaint was about kids jumping up and down. But, if I understood mine right, the youngest was sixteen and so where do you really draw the line? I mean they were out (presumably) doing their own Christmas shopping and then all of a sudden they’re a child again. There was one stop (Mothercare) before the statue of Robert Peel and I was so panicked that this would be another fifteen minute wait that I bolted off in panic.

      Happy watching. Hope you’ve avoided Spoilers.

      • Right now it is about 10pm on Boxing Day. I think that makes it your tomorrow?

        Fortunately we had managed to avoid any Doctor Who spoilers, and it seems it was almost completely unadvertised here, so it was an enjoyable surprise for us. Sad though, we loved Matt Smith almost as much as we loved David Tennant.

        I did think that your adopted children were probably old enough to be trusted on a slow moving vehicle if they were old enough to shop on their own. I think if the driver was worried about the jumping up and down he might have been thinking of a more exciting ride than the one he was piloting…..

  5. Talking Dr Who – wasn’t that the fastest regeneration ever? My daughter momentarily glanced down at her phone and missed it!

    • Yes, I was a bit taken aback. With David Tennant he had memorable last words, but with this I was left reeling thinking: “What was the last thing he said?” To balance it out we did have all the lovely stuff up the bell tower and the “Love from Gallifrey, boys!”

      And did you know that in a certain scene, with a certain long-legged redhead, that both her and Matt Smith were really as bald as coots and wearing wigs to pretend that they weren’t!

    • No, before this and the fiftieth anniversary episode he was filming some American Ryan Gosling (?) movie called ‘How to Catch a Monster’ which required him (who knows why) to have a shaved head. Whether he went completely bald, as that other scene suggests, I’m not so sure but a wig was definitely required.

      Why Karen Gillan went bald I seriously do not know. Looking on the internet now it appears that’s for a film too called ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.

      • Thank you for the reply. I know irony on the Internet is tricky but was the ‘some American’ and (?) after the ‘walks on water’ Mr Gosling genuine or ironic – as he IS a GOD and a Canadian! Yeah, I’d seen he was directing Matt Smith and thought it all a bit strange specially all this shaved head business.

    • Ahh… No… I genuinely don’t know who he is, but I put the question mark as I think I’ve heard the name bandied about enough and so assumed other people might. Looking up a list of his “stuff” now I’m still not sure which of any of it has made any impact over here.

      And as for films “over there” I assume they’re all Hollywood and come out of Los Angeles. That’s how we’ve been brought up thinking about most films these days. If it is Canadian (as I now see that he is) then I do apologise for the mistake!

      • Oh no – don’t apologise, I was teasing – Ryan Gosling – it’s a girl thing. He has been in some very American, romantic, not exactly challenging films, but ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ wasn’t too bad. I am not a fan of contemporary standard Hollywood fare, but I have been to see several Gosling films as he reminds me of a modern-day Gary Cooper.

  6. Glad you pointed out the wreaths or I would have missed them. I drove by Bury St Edmunds this afternoon, but not into the town where there is a new space age shopping ‘experience’ which I found rather alarming when I first found it having not enjoyed the delights of shopping in the old town centre for quite a while.

    • Yes, the way the journey panned out it stopped a couple of times when it ran over things. Once was someone’s umbrella. The lady with the fluorescent jacket did have her uses, after all! So bearing that in mind I am prepared to believe that the wreaths are mashed up Christmas trees it’s already encountered and are now wrapped around the axel.

      I have never been to Bury-St-Edmunds but I imagined that to be a bit more ancient and posh and not something with a “space age shopping experience”.

    • It does look like a space-age carbuncle. It’d fit in on the surface of Mars, but not so much in an ancient historical market town. Birmingham has something similar, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

      • One of these days I shall go to Birmingham and search out Dudley Road Hospital where my mother did her SRN training.
        I know everyone is rude about it, but as I have only seen the worst bits (Spaghetti Junction) from the inside of a car, I feel totally unqualified to judge. And I know Mother was happy there.

    • Well I did not enjoy my time in Birmingham, but looking on a map I see that that hospital is about 800M away (north of) the two Tolkien towers I covered in my previous two posts!

      One bit of Birmingham that takes my breath away every time I go there is the church of St Martin in the Bull Ring. It’s the (new-ish) shooping centre that has a break in the middle and when you exit into the sunshine and the wind you’re elevated higher than the rest of the Birmingham landscape to the right of you and the church is just there. Hard to explain, but it’s a sight.

      • oh yes I know what you mean about St Martin in the bull ring. its a little oasis in the middle of all that modern commercialism. More evidence of our parallel family lives. ( along with shower rooms , Tesco in Bury and your age .) .. my son went to uni in Birmingham…….. are you sure I am not your mother? LOL!

        hilarious how people keep talking about Bury St Edmonds!

      • Ooh, no easy way of replying to this so shall click on the above and hope for the best. I think I must have a picture of St Martin in the Bull Ring, from a recent visit, but I am surprised that that is the name of it.

        Coincidence is an odd thing. When I was a halls of residence tutor in Bangor my building held 48 rooms. I did it for two years, so that’s 96 students give or take in my time there. The site held 1500 and there were many other traditional halls around the city. So 96 chances, taking into account the student population of the UK/world, that I would know one of them. So I was staggered to leave the building when new students were moving in to see my old Primary School teacher parked outside dropping her son off. She lives on the next Bury street to me. These odd things happen.

        Also both me and Danny Boyle were both born in Radcliffe, at the same hospital I guess, and both went to Bangor University. Although I never made a film about people going to the sun to turn it back on.

      • oh the miracle of coincidence keeps going on and on! I also lived in Radcliffe, my stepson went to the same school as Danny Boyle AND I worked as a midwife at that hospital! probably delivered you and Danny Boyle!……I MUST be your mother secretly writing my own blog!!! lol!

      • I was born at Bealey hospital, now a hospice, but I don’t know if there’s any other. My picture of the church of St Martin in the Bull Ring.


      • Yep, worked at Bealeys, Maternity home in the 1970′s. What an experience that was!…as the junior midwife I spent many a bumpy journey riding an ambulance up Rochdale road transferring a mother in labour to Fairfield hospital, and delivered a few on the way. Sad when they both closed. But now realise that Danny Boyle was born in 1956!

        The picture of St Martins in the Bullring must have been taken before they built the shopping mall around it as it is now surrounded by glass fronted buildings. or they have found a unique angle. I always pop in to meditate for two minutes when I visit Bloggerman in Birmingham.

        Never been to Bury St Edmonds. Had to google it to find out where it is…..couldn’t be further from Bury Lancashire, (refuse to recognise Greater Manchester!)…….the one made famous by John Lennon with four thousand holes!

      • I had thought you couldn’t be old enough to have helped deliver me. Maybe not though, it seems. Way too young for Danny though.

        And that picture was taken by me about a couple of years ago. That’s why it’s such an amazing sight as the Bull Ring shopping centre has a hole in the middle and you emerge out to that sight. In my three years living in Birmingham I don’t think I ever saw this even though I hung around that area, so they’ve opened it up from one direction.

        And the four thousand holes are in Blackburn, Lancashire, but I still class myself as living in Lancashire too.

  7. I mistrust any product that pluralises a product by adding a “z”. Sourz?? What’s THAT about?? What’s wrong with Sours, or just Sour?

    Happy Christmas and good luck with the competition :)

    • Hmm, is that what they’re trying to spell out? I have never had this product at all, nor seen any advert that uses the “Give it Some” slogan that they advertise on their webpage, but in my mind it pronounced the word “sauce”. I know this makes no sense, but that was my go-to translation.

      I automatically mistrust anything with a Z in it, in an Americanisation way of replacing the Ss.

      I’m not sure what they were looking for in that competition, but not sure that was it. We’ll see if humour penetrates the tired soul of whoever’s job it is to sift through hundreds of these things.

  8. brilliant! i hope you win, too (won?)
    enjoyed this read. thanks for sharing!

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