As the infamously dyslexic Dr Ebeneezer Spooner-Scrooge once remarked, “Hah! Bumbag!”
Today is Christmas Day: yes, the Big One in the Peace on Earth space. The two small children of Donald and Arabella Faursse-Eppes creep downstairs early to find Shang Hi Tec under the Christmas tree, and Santa Clausterity eating all the mince pies….
….while Osborne the White-nosed Feigncheer gives a blood sample to police officers outside after colliding with Daddy’s new Porsche Cayenne in the driveway.
Donald is a CO2 futures trader with Erdogan Stanley in the City, and the prospective Conservative candidate for Brixton West. Arabella is a senior Account Director at Bollinger Belsen PR. Much against their better judgement, the Romanian au pair Daciana has been allowed to go home for Christmas as her mother has been diagnosed IVF Positive.
Around 10 am, the family grudgingly motors over to Grandma’s house for sherry and the traditional WASPI game of Hunt the Pension. Safely back home following this mercifully brief exposure to her mother Jane’s Senior Citizen life, Arabella is relieved to see that the caterers have arrived and a large bird-shaped thing is in her eye-level oven.
Noon approaches, and husband Donald is still wrestling with the tree lights supplied by Shang Hi Tec last year, wishing he’d simply bought a new set this year…such being, apart from anything else, the only way to keep the global mock-designer village standing vaguely upright.
A fight has started between two of the caterers: it takes place entirely in Polish, but eventually Arabella discerns that the argument is about whether the oven is on or not. Closer examination reveals that it isn’t.
“Well then,” says Donald, “We’ll watch the Queen, and then eat afterwards.” One of the Poles asks Arabella what these luttle grone bolls are, and she replies that she’s fairly sure they’re Brussels sprouts. She telephones the agency, and listens to a message telling her what the office hours of Cuisine on Tap are. They don’t include Christmas Day.
At 3pm the television is turned on, and a familiar face appears onscreen.
It is Gute Königin Geli offering the traditional Heilige Nacht greeting to her joyful EU subjects. She calls it ‘Heil Geli Nacht”. Donald laughs. The children don’t. Neither does Geli. Arabella ignores the broadcast: she is at her laptop, Googling ‘Cook Turkey’.
On discovering that the caterers have slipped quietly away out the back door and over the garden fence, Donald wonders why he bothered to try and fix the tree lights, but decides it is of little import, as he failed anyway.
“I need a drink,” he announces, adding “Glass of Piper sweetie?” But Arabella is glued to the telly, watching a download of Nigella’s Christmas Goose, figuring that there can’t be that much difference between geese and turkeys.
Donald walks into the sitting room just as Ms Lawson says, “I like to use cider vinegar in this sauce, but if you’ve run out, then champagne vinegar will do just as well…”
“Fuck off” says Arabella to the TV. She takes the champagne being proffered by her husband, and launches into a monologue about how those fucking caterers will never fucking work again just wait til I’ve got them blackballed by every fucking client I’ve got, fuck me they’ll wish they’d never been fucking born.
“Why is mummy cross daddy?” asks Sienna aged seven, playing her new game Syrian Pipeline Massacre on the tablet screen while munching contentedly on sea salt, moules & orange balsamic crisps.
“She’s not darling, really,” says daddy, “it’s just that all this goodwill thing gets a bit trying for her, and….”
“She doesn’t usually say ‘fuck’ all the time,” observes Toby aged nine, “but she did say fuck six times in a row just then. I counted”.
“I’m sure you did,” mutters Donald, reaching for his phone.
“Jane?” he asks on hearing his mother-in-law’s voice, “Slight crisis here I’m afraid, Arabella’s got one of her migraines and….
“Oh, the poor dear. Well I’m sure her caterers can manage,” says Jane, with just a hint of withering emphasis on ‘caterers’, “and you see…”
“Only,” Donald lies, “We’d love you to join us for a late lunch, well that is, supper – and I’d very happily…”
“Oh my dear,” she butts in, “I couldn’t possibly eat another thing, you see I went down the welfare centre and they did us ever so proud”.
“Ah,” her son-in-law replies, “I didn’t realise you’d…”
“Now don’t blame yourself Donald,” she says, “How could you, not having asked and so forth? Look….my dear boy, I can’t stand here gassing any longer, Sidney James is in Carry on Screaming on ITV3 and by some miracle I’ve never seen it. Tell Arabella I wish her better soon.”
And with that, she puts the phone down.
Back in the sitting room, one quarter of the carpet is barely visible under well-trodden crisp detritus, and it’s clear to Donald that his wife has been helping herself to the fizz.
“Zhoo know,” she begins, “I think za Nishe Farashe might have a point about fucking migrants, I mean those fucking Poles didn’t know…”
“That makes eleven fucks,” records Toby, “and it’s Christmas. Miss McCall at school says Muslims never swear, and..”
But Donald is saved from requesting his son to pipe down by the unexpected sound of their doorbell.
Donald opens the door to see two adults and a child in long robes, all of raggedly swarthy appearance. Their hands are outstretched.
“Pleess,” says the adult male, “We come very long way, very legal, very bombed, very hungry. Choose England over Germany because your Premier League much better, very happy work every hours even zero contracts but you look like kind man…”
The monologue goes on, with the wife and daughter’s faces working hard to match the husband’s tragic tale. As he feels the blood in his veins readying for the sort of racist outburst that would be considered unforgivably incorrect, the left and thus more sociopathic brain hemisphere of Donald Faursse-Eppes unexpectedly takes control.
“Can you cook?” he asks nobody in particular. Both adults nod excitedly.
“Can you cook Turkey?” asks Donald.
“Ohooh sarr,” says the man, “Many years restaurant in Ankara serving Syrian delicacy. Nobody cooked Turkey like us….”
“Right,” says Donald, “Come on in”.
“But can’t you see?” said Arabella the following Monday to her much-valued Daily Mail contact Quentin Pynche, “this is the perfect goodwill story of a hugely successful professional couple who took in refugees, and whose admirable charity was rewarded with a memorable Christmas feast cooked by Muslims”.
“Where’ve you been Belli?” Pynche asked, “Christmas was last week. Now it’s go-go into the New Year, bombing Syria and business as usual. You need an angle closer to our tabloid view going forward into 2016….the story has potential, but not as you’re telling it”.
“So how should I tell it?” she wondered out loud.
“I was thinking,” he replied, “of something along these lines: ‘How Syrian Jihadists foisted on Britain by EU took advantage of caring City couple and their two young children on the Holiest Christian Day of the Year”.
Having wondered out loud, Arabella pondered in silence.
“You could sell that to Dacre?” she asked.
“It’s right up his boulevard,” said Pynche, “it’d be a big hits player on the website”.
“And if you run it,” she demanded, “my client gets a big plug in your Best of British feature, right?”
“Correct,” he confirmed.