I don't write fiction.
I've never been good at making stuff up from a blank sheet of paper, but I do like parodies. I wrote quite a few as a teenager and since retiring from a full time commitment to anything one of the quirkiest odd jobs I picked up for a year or so was writing a column for Winchester Today - a newspaper, news website and radio station for that town run by my radio friend and BJTC colleague Kevin Gover.
Last year, at this time, I sat down to do my usual wry look at life and instead began typing what follows. I didn't think Kevin would go with it, and I'd have to write some more copy, but he printed it and now reading it back I actually quite like it too.
I don't claim to be any sort of a great writer but I hope this brings a smile on the Eve of what will be for our family and many others a strange, strained and very new if totally un-normal Christmas.
Have the best possible festive season in these wretched times, and let's hope 2021 is a lot better.
A SPACEMAN CAME TRAVELLING (with apologies to Jimmy Perry and David Croft)
“I don’t like it, Wilson”. Captain Mainwaring bristled in an irritated fashion as he surveyed the happy crowds swirling around.
“There are Germans. Here. In the Market Square. In lederhosen. One of them swore at me – loudly. ‘Fröhliche Weihnachten’ or some similar foul insult …”
“it means ‘Merry Christmas’, sir”
“What year is this, Wilson?”
“Er .. 2019, sir. The war ended - let’s see - nearly 75 years ago now. We’re only here because you insisted on the platoon taking cover in that police box ….
“Plenty of space for everyone …”
“ .. and then I had to stop you from going back in time to kill that German Corporal from the first world war with a paintbrush …”
“I wasn’t going to kill him with a paintbrush, I had my revolver …”
“.. thereby ripping open the fabric of existence and creating a new leg in the trousers of time”
“Wilson. These trousers are good Harris tweed, woven in the Outer Hebrides. I can assure you they won’t rip. Oh good grief is that a Sauerkraut vendor?”
“Well you have been calling them names sir, I’m not surprised if they give you funny looks ….”
“So the Germans won then. We did our best. Gave it all we had, but now here they are, camped right outside the town hall, staging a German Market, singing The Red Flag …”
“It’s ‘Oh Tannenbaum’, sir, and it’s a carol …”
“Lording it over the vanquished and noble English race by imposing their strange, alien customs of drinking beer and enjoying big sausages …”
Mrs Pike looked up, startled, and then resumed her knitting.
“even the taxis are Uber … how did we get to this, Wilson?”
“Well sir – we actually won. Hatred was defeated. A wall went up, and then came down again. So now, 75 years on, people here welcome their German friends to enjoy a Christmas celebration together … you do know it was Queen Victoria who made all the old German traditions part of the English Christmas? Advent calendars, holly wreaths, even the sparkle on the big tree is thanks to that Prince Albert …”
Mrs Pike dropped a stitch.
“So isn’t it good to know that even the most bitter disputes can be resolved in time, and that people who are bitter opponents can overcome their differences to drink and laugh together? I mean, they’ve been arguing here over something called ‘Brexit’ now for nearly as long as our war lasted, I’ve been fiddling with the Tardis thing and that doesn’t get settled until …”
There was a wail of agony from Private Frazer, who’d just seen the price of a wee dram in The Bull.
“But you get my point, sir. Peace on earth. Goodwill to all men. It’s what Christmas is all about. If only the people here, right now, could look ahead like we’ve done, they’d stop all the trolling and Twittering …”
“.. same thing … and they’d look up for a minute. Look up from the little newsreel gadgets they all carry around now. See the good things, like the sky and the trees and the decorations and the Cathedral and Amazon Prime next day delivery ...”
“ … never mind … and they’d stop bickering, and shutting out people with opinions other than their own and calling anyone who thinks differently ‘meatheads’ or ‘traitors’ – because in the end what matters here and now is today, the people we love and the people we share our time with. All of them. Goodwill to all men. And women. All of them. Not just the ones we follow and like …
Snowflakes began to fall. They’d had a long day picketing the Bratwurst stall.
The sound of “Stille Nacht” wafted through the air from a choir of schoolchildren gathered around the big tree. The Sauerkraut vendor found he had something in his eye. Mrs Pike sniffled gently. The two stalwart and long-dead Home Guardians looked at each other for a lingering moment.
“… so merry Christmas, sir”
“Merry Christmas, Wilson. We don’t belong here. We need to get back. Back to our own time .,..”
Young Private Pike tugged the sergeant’s sleeve. “Uncle Arthur …”
“Yes what is it ...”
“I think I should tell Captain Mainwaring something ... I just went round that corner and there’s a big new shiny sort of café place where the fishmongers should be and it’s called ‘Yo Sushi’ and it’s full of Japanese people ...”
Merry Christmas. Wherever you are.