HOST: And good morning! Or is it late night? Who cares? Who needs windows? I know I don't! Let's get this show on the road, this very jolly show! That's right it's...
[Cue two thumps, two beats, two beeps, a cacophony of laser sounds]
ELECTRONIC VOICE: Merry Maker FM!
[Cue sleigh bells jingling and a rush of wind]
ELECTRONIC VOICE: At Christmas!
HOST: Well actually it's Christmas Eve but we are at the cusp, the edge, approaching the turn of midnight. Sounds like we're teetering. Oh dear. Let's try that again, something a little less ominous. It's technically still Christmas Eve if you're not an insomniac child. But if you are an insomniac child, the phone lines are open. Ring us up and tell us your favourite lesser known Christmas song and why and maybe we'll play it for you. Well I say we but I mean me. Either way, bear in mind 'lesser known', we don't want any famous carols or cheesy tunes that have survived the 80's or earlier. We definitely don't want any crap from the 90's, well I don't at least. A-ha! And we have our first caller! Tell us, Morris from Paterhurst, what song would you like us, me to play?
HOST: Oh and hi. Sorry, completely forgot.
MORRIS: That's quite all right. I was wondering if you knew Crunching Through the Snow by the Hartnells?
HOST: Let me check. [30 seconds] Nope, I'm afraid nothing's showing up.
MORRIS: Oh right.
HOST: Sorry. How about your next most favourite Christmas tune?
MORRIS: Stocking Prayer by Edgar Henderson?
HOST: Stocking Prayer? Sounds suitably saucy. [30 seconds] I'm afraid it's not looking good, Morris. How about-?
MORRIS: [overlapping] For Pete's sake...[click and phone line goes dead]
HOST: Sorry, Morris. Still, there's really no need for that sort of language. Really no need. Anyway, bringing things swiftly along, how about a change of question? And of course that wasn't the question for all you...eagle-eyed viewers? Sharp-eared? Whatever. Anyway here is the question: what is the wildest argument you've had during the festive season? It can be any year but I would absolutely understand if you chose the 90's. That was a very hostile decade. Anyway caller you are on the air!
UMA: Hi this is Uma.
HOST: As in Uma Thurman?
HOST: Go ahead, Ms Thurman.
UMA: Actually it would be Mrs Bullock.
HOST: As in Sandra Bullock?
UMA: If my name was Sandra then yes.
HOST: Sorry. Go on.
UMA: Anyway my family had a rather explosive argument last Christmas over who did the washing up. We all thought it was our mother and she does everything. It wasn't right that she should do that as well.
HOST: And it was her?
UMA: No it was the dog.
HOST: The Dog?
HOST: Is that a nickname?
UMA: No, his name is Morris.
HOST: Just like the last caller.
UMA: He was the last caller.
HOST: So you're from Paterhurst too?
UMA: No, I live in Lyonesse.
HOST: As in the female big cat? Only slightly more French?
HOST: Is Paterhurst in Lyonesse?
UMA: No! Completely different ends of the world! We're separated.
HOST: I'm sorry to hear that. [30 seconds] So what you're telling me, Uma, is that your dog Morris rang me up and requested a couple of lesser known Christmas songs?
UMA: But you didn't have them.
HOST: Well yes. And I presume that your, um, your recent separation is because of the, uh, the issue with the dishes?
UMA: Among other things, yes.
HOST: Okay. Well thanks for that Uma. Have a nice Christmas.
[click and phone line goes dead]
HOST: Okay. So let's put on a classic! Now do we have any classics around here...A-ha! We do have Stocking Prayer for you Morris! Here's hoping you have no bones about me not checking properly. Oh dear. So, without further ado, here is Stocking Prayer by Edgar Henderson.
HOST: [muffled, away from the mic] I'm not completely useless. Here perhaps yes but that's because I've gone and picked the wrong media, the wrong set-up. But I do have a way out, just need to jiggle the playlist and now I'm...
EDGAR HENDERSON: CHRISTMAS, AS ALWAYS. Relive the classic songs that made the 80's a decade to remember. And some of the 90's. Let the angelic guitar solos echo through your yuletide mind, like the unforgettable Snowy Bells:
I stood there,
the moment you were
the snowy bells that lasted through
Or ride your one-horse sleigh high to upbeat Christmas hits like Decorating Father:
Tinsel round the neck,
baubles on the chair,
a Santa's hat all crumpled on
father's snowy hair...
And let us never forget the raw beauty of Edgar Henderson's first song, a number one at Christmas for almost five years, Buying Shit for Stocking Fillers:
I grabbed myself a stocking
and stuck it up your fat dog arse
blah, blah, something or other
Edgar Henderson: Christmas as Always. You're not even listening, are you? It's because this isn't working again. I need something that doesn't require me to rhyme. I need to switch on to the visual. Now where would Edgar Henderson feasibly appear? Christmas TV! Of course, CD plugs on a late night chat show or, one better, a sketch show! Now I had a name ready, I even wrote it down in my diary. I've had this diary since I was eight. Well, it wasn't that page, it was this...
AND WELCOME BACK TO THE ROMEO REDDING COMEDY HOUR CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!!! WITH YOUR HOST ROMEO REDDING!
ROMEO: As if it'd be anyone else.
[Cue laughter track]
ROMEO: Is this at the bottom of my stocking? Canned laughter?
[Cue laughter track]
ROMEO: Or is it tinned. Nah, I'm just kidding with you. Welcome back. So we've already discussed the plight of the paper party crowns you get from crackers and, of course, the typical British reaction to a little snowfall so let's move on to the next most inevitable progression: the dinner itself.
[Cue laughter track, quieter this time]
ROMEO: One time I remember vividly was when I came to this big family Christmas up in Lyonesse and we were all expecting a mammoth of a meal. My grandmother was the world's finest cook, she even broke the chicken's neck with love.
[Cue sketch. EXT: a large dinner table set up for a glorious Christmas meal. All the silver gleams and the plates aren't made of paper. A much younger version of Romeo is sat mid-shot with a young woman to his left and an old man to the right. He looks very hungry, in a cute sort of way.]
ROMEO V/O: The platters had just been lowered. Yes, grandma had platters because she was that sort of old-fashioned. Anyway she started with a covered bowl and there was the soup for starters...
[Young Romeo stares at the bowl of soup but can barely see anything aside from the croutons. Cue laughter track, louder this time.]
ROMEO V/O: Well, it was somewhere under there, underneath all the croutons. They seemed to push together on the surface of the soup, almost forming a plateau. Now this wouldn't be so bad, grandma's cutlery was usually rather sturdy but, as soon as they hit the croutons, they just couldn't pierce. I tried each of the knives in turn and still no deal.
[Young Romeo stabs the crouton upper crust with a sharp knife but gets nowhere. Cue laughter track, the loudest its ever been.]
ROMEO V/O: So what I did was, what I did was I picked up the bowl, the whole bowl mind you, and ran out of the door, out onto the street and kept running. Auntie Uma followed me all the way to the butcher's and just as I reached it...
[Young Romeo runs with Auntie Uma following just out of reach behind him. He stops in front of a butcher's shop and collapses.]
ROMEO V/O:...I had a brain aneurism.
[One minute of silence. Cue Romeo back on stage.]
ROMEO: It's no joke. Well perhaps it was something like one, only with more shock value. But you're still not paying attention. I can't really blame you though, I'm none of these things, I'll never amount to them. I lack the patience. [rips open jacket and throws it down on the ground. He sits down on stage] Originally Romeo never looked like me, he had far more personality in these eyes. He didn't have to be funny, he'd just sparkle with it. Now me, I don't sparkle with much at all. I'm good at devising scenarios but lack the drive to do much about them. I'm no social climber, I'm a stay-at-home guy. It's sad, yes, but it's not New Years yet. No point resolving change till the New Year, maybe not even then. [glances around] The lighting in here is ridiculous. I'll just take the tinned joy and go off. Canned laughter. Whatever.
[Exit Stage Left just for the hell of it]
I suppose I'll just have to settle for a blog-like thing with bloated paragraphs and an overuse of bracketed side notes. You see, I'm like one of those kids living on an estate somewhere in England watching an American TV show featuring all his favourite actors and celebrities gathering together for one fantastic Christmas romp. I'm watching it, barely realising that it was filmed in the past and that all the actors and celebrities have probably long since gone home and besides there's no way I could get to have a ridiculous conversation with that famous improv comedian from the 80's because he's probably nowhere near as likeable in person and I'm nowhere near him, geographically or in terms of fame. If I appeared on stage it would be for me more than the audience and that would take something away from the work all the other actors and comedians and personalities are putting into the performance. It gets worse when you see a pair of famous women who you find insanely beautiful walk on together and all you want is to be snuggled between them like you were a ladies' man or something.
I'm not quite getting this point across am I? Okay. Succinctly, it's like this: I'm not famous, I'm not really that creative and I just don't feel like I'll reach the height of either vocation. I'm not energised enough and besides I'm about to enter the illustrious career of a till worker at some grotty little supermarket. That may sound like the beginning of a rise to fame but it's all a little too comfortable for that to be true.
I can always write but who reads Christmas stories or musings that isn't part of a feature article in some sort of newspaper? And who can properly communicate the joy they feel at Christmastime in a blog post anyway? Joy is a bit of a loose word to be honest because we all know there is a lot of shit to deal with at this time of year: family, loneliness, work and more pressing concerns than decking the halls. And, from the way that that joy is sold, it may as well be tinned goods. There's a lot of room in my cupboard.
What I'll round off by saying is this: the Christmas Special is there to create a warm fuzzy feeling inside you but mostly around the shallow parts. We all know that it's saccharine, we all know that the actors and celebrities really aren't that mad about each other, we all know that the illusion is hiked up as soon as the sleigh bells start to ring but we take it because we need it. Otherwise this whole time of year would just be piles of presents with the occasional charitable act squeezed between and you know that as soon as we try to take a closer look then everything will come tumbling down.
If you'll excuse me I'm going to fall asleep whilst watching a black and white movie. At least the snow will look cleaner. I might even go running through it whilst I'm still lucid.
And, hey, no parenthesis. Ho, ho, ho.