Nicholas settled wearily back in his bed. Well, it had been another hard day’s
work, as it usually was at this time of year. He had checked that the Elves had
finished their work, watered and fed the reindeer before locking them in for
the night, and then greased the sleigh. He fell into an exhausted sleep.
was awoken by the sound of his door opening, and a stranger appeared at his
the hell are you?” he demanded. “What do you mean by waking me up in the middle
of the night?”
said the sharp-suited stranger, “but we thought you ought to know about our
decision as soon as possible. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Future.”
are, of course, aware of the excellent work you have done over the years, and
have had many tributes to your efforts. But with climate change, increasing
population, and modern marketing conditions we have come to the reluctant
decision to let you go.”
do you mean? Climate change? Population increase? Marketing conditions? Are you
telling me that I’m being made redundant?”
afraid we have no choice. Of course, you’ll have a year or two to plan your
retirement, and we will guarantee you a decent package – and probably an
honour. But you have to realise that the North Pole is scheduled to be clear of
snow shortly, in which case a sleigh pulled by reindeer would just look
Also,” the Ghost continued relentlessly, “ there are now so many children in
the world that you cannot possibly cope with them all. It is unfair to ask you
to at your age. You only just about managed last year, and that took you a
couple of months to recover. And with all-electric housing with no chimneys, and
the narrow flue-pipes of wood-burning stoves, the task is becoming impossible.”
what about the Children? They’ll be so disappointed,” he protested.
was coming to that,” his visitor continued. “Most of the letters to Santa are
now sent by email, so we will intercept them as usual. Now I know you are
particularly interested in Northern Europe, so we have arranged for GCHQ to
intercept all i-phone activity from children to ascertain their wants. They
will all have i-phones by then –
well, they have to have something to occupy themselves during their waking
hours. On Christmas morning they will receive an email voucher for Amazon or
Argos for the items chosen for them – they will be able to redeem them on
the Children who have not deserved
presents? What happens to them?”
yes. They will be given a voucher for a course on Social Responsibility from
the Open University, NVQ Grade 1, and will have to produce a Pass certificate
to qualify for next year”.
who is going to run all this?” queried Santa, not believing what he was hearing.
glad you asked. We have a marketing company very experienced in internet
commerce. It is a progressive company, based in Hong Hong. It’s called Melly
what am I to do over the Christmas period?” said Santa.
sit back and enjoy yourself. Have a decent Christmas Dinner for once. You’ll be
able to stock up – the Eskimos will sell you a decent freezer after the ice has
gone. The Elves will be looked after by the National Elf Service.”
just what am I supposed to eat at this feast?”
said the Ghost of Christmas Future, “You will find by that time reindeer steaks will have become very popular.”
morning, Santa woke up to realise that he might have just suffered from a
nightmare brought on by overwork. He certainly hoped so.
went down to let the reindeer out into the yard where the overnight snow lay
deep and crisp and even.
yet,” he said softly, as he stroked Dancer’s muzzle. “Not yet”.