It was the
night before Christmas and all over the world little boys and
girls were hanging up their stockings and arranging mince pies prettily
on doilied platters. Snow was falling from the big, black, clear,
starry sky and church bells rang out for all the world to hear. There
was a certain kind of magic in the air and everyone was happy.
No laughter filled the air at the Grimnozzle Orphanage in Sickiton, a
little town in a particularly nice and wholesome part of the U.S.A. The
children there had no stockings to hang on the jagged remains of the
empty coalless fireplace, they sang no joyous Yuletide songs nor did
they nibble mince pies. The children slept on smelly, mouldy, torn
mattresses on the draughty stone floor and some of them didn't know what
But Bob did. He lay on his stained and smelly mattress with tears in
his eyes as he remembered last Christmas. His ma and pa had saved all
year to buy him a Sega Megadrive and his ample stocking had been
brimming with goodies. But on Boxing Day his parents went to the shop
to buy some sprouts and didn't come home. And now he lived here. Every
day Bob would put his little hands together and pray to the baby Jesus
to bring back his mother and father so that he could go home.
The owner of the Grimnozzle Orphanage was a tall, thin, scary woman
called Hildegog Wentlesplice-Nipnip. She had thin watery lips which
curled downwards, framed by a curvaceous moustache which hung down to
her pointy chin. Her face was an explosion of hair and warts, and her
grotesque body sagged and flopped despite its unnatural thinness. Her
eyes were grey and menacing and her long twisted fingers were scabby and
wrinkled. All in all, she was a pretty unattractive woman. I think you
get the message. Anyway, Hildegog wasn't very nice. She hated children
and used the money from the council that she was given for their care to
finance her award winning Beatles memorabilia collection.
So, Christmas was an unhappy time for the children of Grimnozzle, a time
of longing and memories and yesterday's re-heated gruel. Bob tossed and
turned on his little mattress trying desperately to sleep but he was far
too miserable. He got out of bed and went to the window (I say window -
it was actually more like a hole in the wall with a bit of yellowed
newspaper losing its fight to keep out the bitter cold) to look out at
the glittery snow which was still falling silently from the big, black,
clear, starry sky. Father Christmas would never find him here. There
would be no tastefully wrapped mysterious presents beneath the no tree
that they didn't have at Grimnozzle. Bob looked out at all the families
playing in the snow and thought again of his own beloved parents.
And then Bob saw something in the sky. At first he thought it was a
helicopter. Then he thought it might be a bird or a plane. Then he
thought maybe it was Superman. But it wasn't.
"My!" he gasped, "It's Father Christmas!"
And it was as well.
Santa's sledge came to a halt on the roof of the Grimnozzle Orphanage
and Santa got out and scratched his beard. Bob darted up the fire
escape and onto the roof top.
"Santa!" he cried, "I thought you wouldn't come!"
"Ho, ho, ho!" said Santa, predictably, "I always visit every little girl
and boy, ho, ho, ho. Why did you think this year would be any
"But the children here have never had any presents," explained Bob,
"They told me."
Santa looked puzzled.
"But every year I get a little note from the children of Grimnozzle
which clearly states the requirements of every child here," he said,
"Ho, ho, ho."
He started to fumble in his pocket, "Mmm. I have it here somewhere."
He pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and passed it to Bob. It read:
Dear Mr. Christmas,
This year we would like a signed picture of Ringo Starr, a limited
edition gatefold twelve inch of Hard Day's Night with free postcards on
coloured vinyl and a life-sized blow-up John Lennon doll. Please do not
come down the chimney as you might wake us up and we will be very tired
after all the excitement of our big Christmas Eve party and very full
after eating lots of nice imported chocolates and drinking freshly
squeezed orange juice. Instead, please leave our presents in our
beloved Aunt Hildegog's room for safe keeping.
The Children of Grimnozzle. xxx
Bob tore up the piece of paper.
"So, that's why we never get any presents. Hildegog is keeping them all
for herself and hoarding them, just as she does with our food and
clothes money. The evil old witch!"
And Bob told Father Christmas all about it.
Santa shook his head in disbelief.
"Ho, ho, ho," he said sadly, "Well, it is certainly a shame young Bob.
But there is nothing I can do for you now. All my presents are
accounted for. Of course, I shall make sure the children get to keep
all this Beatles stuff, ho, ho, ho."
"Don't bother," said Bob sadly, "The children here don't like the
Beatles. They're more into Take That and East 17."
"I know!" said Santa suddenly, "How would you like a
Map-Of-The-London-Underground tea towel? I think I have a spare one of
"No thanks," said Bob.
Santa got back into his sledge.
"God," he said, "It's been a bloody miserable Christmas. First of all I
discover I was all out of reindeer petrol, then I couldn't find my
regulation sodding fluffy red hat. I've spent all evening delivering
hefty computer equipment and bleeding Power Rangers( to a bunch of
spoilt ungrateful little snotty nosed brats. I've just had to put up
with a four hour long sob story from a couple who lost their little boy
last Boxing Day and now . . ."
"What did you say?" asked Bob excitedly.
"Oh yes," said Santa, "A right pair of whinging miseries, the pair of
'em. Apparently they were suffering from a severe case of temporary
amnesia brought about by inhaling sprout fumes and by the time they had
recovered their only son had vanished."
"Sprout fumes? Why, they sound like my parents!"
"Really?" asked Santa, "Well, hop into the sledge and I'll take you to
So Bob did have a nice Christmas afterall. He was reunited with his
loving parents who had bought him another Sega Megadrive in the hope he
would return. And later that night, the evil Hildegog dropped dead from
horridness and her collection of Beatles memorabilia was sold off and
the profits used to buy parents for all the other children.
Bob hugged Santa as he said his goodbyes.
"Thank you, Santa! I can never fully repay you. Could I offer you a
glass of warm milk and a home made mince pie?"
"God, no!" said Santa, "I hate mince pies. They taste like shit. I
don't suppose you've got a bottle of Newky Brown and a couple of B&H I
could pinch, have you?"