From a sickly sky a blizzard blanketed the country lanes, trees and hedgerows in snow. A lone figure stumbled along on the icy roadway, intermittently slipping over, becoming sodden and bruised.
After hours of lumbering along in the whistling wind something powerful suddenly came hurtling along. With a deep panting, rushing, jingling sound it whizzed past, sending him crashing down into a deep slushy ditch. A faint sound of a familiar Christmas tune lingered in the air.
For a time He stayed, bewildered, in the ditch. Waist deep in frosty mud barely daring to stand up, He was unsure and uneasy about what had just passed Him by.
Back up on the road, wetter and colder than before, He scanned the vastness for any signs of life. He searched for even just a pin prick of light perhaps. He had been travelling for too long and had to give in and find some refuge. He trudged on and eventually through the dimness He could make out the silhouette of some kind of building a mile or so up a hill, from where a chink of light shone forth.
As He approached it became clear this was once a grand manor house but it now lay unkempt and ramshackle. The warm light that flickered from within looked so very inviting. He smoothed down his tattered wet garments, and rapped loudly on the door with the rusted knocker. Nothing stirred from within so he hammered on the door with his arms.
The door swung open and a booming ‘Hallo!’ came forth from a big round red cheeked face in the door way. The face was attached to a body, of which the stomach was comparative to the size and girth of the big bulbous head. A white beard was attached to the face and in his garish suit of red and white fur the large-domed one gestured ‘enter’.
The insides of the dwelling were much more hospitable than He’d supposed. A cosy warmth and the smell of spiced mulled wine prevailed. It has a plushly interior with red velvet curtains, chaise longues, wall drapings and cushions.
‘I heartily apologise for knocking so violently, thanks for letting me in, I’m just so frozen and tired’ He continued ‘I wouldn’t bother you but I’ve lost my way and wondered if you could advise me and give me rest for a while?’
The host replied ‘It would be my pleasure sir, I get few guests and at Yule tide that means I’m especially empty inside’.
He was ushered through into the main lounge area where a fire glowed and candles twinkled. Decked around the wall panelling was festive bunting and, in the corner, a decorated tree glittered with tinsel and lights.
‘Let me get you some seasonal victuals. You rest easy and dry off. I see you were in your finery but what has become of them?’
He replied: ‘Yes, I am still in my ceremonial gear. I had no time between the ceremony and the celebrations to change and I have had such a troubled journey’. It passed through His mind that He could not actually remember the time between the ceremony and celebrations, in fact He couldn’t remember the celebrations –just the cold wet, snow.
The rotund one went out of the room leaving Him to find a seat next to the fire, a big soft lounger was the most apparent.
His host re-entered the room with a tray laden with brown chocolate log, mince pie and hot mulled wine. The heady scents mingled in the air and He was sent into a reverie.
‘Now my good chap’ said the host ‘would you like some of my delicious festive cream?’, ‘Come on, get that down you’. He didn’t have any option but wasn’t in a position to decline.
‘Watch this –it will help you on your way’. The host opened an intricately carved cupboard to reveal a TV, he switched it on to reveal a magical dark Christmas elf dancing over a map of the country, the Midlands. As He hastily fed He learnt from the elf that the weather was to continue to be nasty, and at least He now knew where He was.
‘You must be tired, and after all that food need to lie down and rest before you resume your journey’. He couldn’t reply, only nod, the rotund man was right, He was suddenly very sleepy and unable to move.
‘Well my companion is coming soon and we will entertain you!’ he beamed ‘he is a joyous fellow who will spread the Christmas cheer into you, as he has in me!’
‘Look up my good fellow –you’re under the mistletoe –and we must observe the traditions of the season!’
He could hear some tinkling bells and an ebullient merry voice coming in from the hall way, singing out a familiar Christmas tune. The plump one joined in ‘Chestnuts roasting by an open fire…’ as he leered over Him. A grandfather clock chimed 12 midnight, it was Christmas day He realized as He fell out of consciousness.
A stark daylight cast into the room, He was cold, a draft whipped through the open door. Where was He? What had happened? What day –what time was it?
What was this on the floor? His dirty clothes –all of them! He was naked!
He jumped up and scrambled to put His clothes on, they were encrusted with blood and tattered. And what was this by the hearth? A false white beard and the red and white fur trimmed suit, neatly folded suggesting the chubby man had very carefully disenrobed, unlike himself!
It came flooding back to him –the rotund man, the food, the warmth, the singing, the mistletoe, the flesh!
It was then He noticed across the room a curled pink body, laid cosily on a big sofa. That big round head was smiling while soft contented gurgling noises were emanating from within, cradled in his arms lay a Polaroid camera.
Blotting the night from his mind, and the cuts and bruises he could feel, he put on the colourful suit.
In a panic He fled the house, down the driveway and down the hill. He could, in the grey morning light, see the town in the distance.
Finally remembering his purpose and bearings He ran along the road townwards. The roads were very quiet but the odd car parped at him as He tried to gesticulate He needed a lift.
A slow moving dated car stopped, it was a little old lady taking pity on the bedraggled sight. ‘I’m on my way to church you yobbish young man –why don’t you come with me?’, ‘Are you a tramp? Look at the state of you!’
He pleaded ‘Please don’t, I’ve been attacked, my manhood compromised and I’m in an emergency – I need to get to the town centre’.
‘Yes my church is that way, get in – but no funny business!’
After 10 minutes of preaching about the virtues of dressing nicely and visiting church they arrived in the town centre, the old lady stared at Him and said ‘You look very familiar, now where have I seen you before?’
He shouted a ‘thank-you’ and tripped up the steps to the Theatre Royal and in to the stage door….
‘Kemp!’ a familiar ebullient voice shouted. ’Where have you been?’.
‘Looks like you had a heavy night.’ The cheeky chappy continued in a knowing tone. ‘I heard you had a bit too much to drink after the TV awards ceremony last night. Sorry you didn’t win anything. Now get your tushy moving; the Christmas day link is about to go live to the nation!’
‘Oh and Biggins hasn’t turned in so you’ll have to play Widow Twanky, as well as the Genie. Looks like you two have been off somewhere together ey ducky??’
Barrowman winked mischievously and waved a wad of Polaroid photos in the air as he broke into song ‘Chestnuts roasting by an open fire….’