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Another Post-Christmas Carol (Nightmare on Portman Street)
Written by dusth on Thursday, 2nd Feb 2017 22:38

Christmas had passed and the sales, when all good folks looked for a fair bargain, were no longer in full swing. In fact they were over. Poor Mick McCratchitt was still at his desk at old Scrooge's Ticket and Footballing Agency, looking on his iPad at the bargains that might have been when young Tel his assistant brought him a bowl of warm water and a teabag. "This'll cheer you up boss!" "Thanks, old lad," said Mick and plunged his hands into the bowl. It instantly froze.

     Upstairs Old Scrooge was asleep in the boardroom on a Lay-Z Bed amongst his football trophies. His long dead partner at Scrooge Town, who he had put out of his mind these days, had left him many and Scrooge had long pondered how much they would fetch on eBay!

     Poor old Scrooge was having a nightmare about Brazilians. Normally this wouldn't be a nightmare but this time they weren't going cheap in a transfer deal - they were after him! But were they even Brazilians? Why were Alf and Bobby on Strictly doing a Samba?

     As he tossed and turned Old Scrooge heard a noise which sounded like chains being dragged across the floor. He sprang out of bed, his nightcap askew and then.... into view came a hideous figure.

     It was not long ago that he had seen the poster for a zombie film called "Night of The Living Dead" which reminded him of his own midfield at Scrooge Town - ("Gruesome!" "Nightmarish!" "Don't Miss It!" "You Will Scream and Scream!")

     But this creature was far, far worse than any zombie film. It shuffled towards Scrooge in a tattered pin-striped suit with a ghastly grimace. It stretched out its hideous hands towards him as if to take him by the throat.

     "Oh Apparition! What do you want of me?" said Scrooge.

     "Claret!" it said in a rather posh voice.

     "West Ham?" said Scrooge, not understanding at all.

     The apparition pointed towards the boardroom mini-bar.

     "The Claret? The Bordeaux? The Cabernet Sauvignon? It's gone!"

     Scrooge sank to his knees.

     "Oh Apparition. It is not my fault. It is because of Financial Fair Play."

     The apparition turned an even ghastlier shade and actually did take Scrooge by the throat this time.

     "Don't talk to me of 'fair' play. Your play isn't beauteous, it's hideous, more hideous than even I in my present state!" said the Apparition pulling his face about like play-dough. "And there is no claret!"

     "It is there!" said Scrooge pointing to red stains on the boardroom carpet."

     "Nay, that is not claret!" said the Apparition, "That is the blood thy defence has shed over many a long game walking backwards!"

     "Who are you?"

     "I am old John Cobbold. Thou knowest me. "

     "I know of thee. Speak comfort, Old John."

     But the Apparition just pointed and a merry little spectre only three feet high jumped into old Scrooge's sight. It had a Town scarf and all over his blue and white BabyGro were price tags and photographs of players long retired. "Mariner £220k." " Holland £800k" "Stewart £2.5m" ... on and on went the names and Scrooge could hardly look at them.

     "That is the Ghost of Transfers Past," said Old John.

     "Inflation, " Scrooge muttered weakly.

     "Bah, humbug! When the Town had a name for FOOTBALL , the best would come to us."

     Almost immediately the little fellow vanished with a merry and, to Scrooge's ears, rather sinister cackle.

     He was replaced by another. This Apparition moaned ceaselessly and had the appearance of an old beggar. He held a battered tin which he shook and rattled from time to time. Around his neck was a string of broken mobile phones and his pockets were stuffed with many sheets of paper upon which Scrooge observed endless lists with many names crossed out in a frenzy.

     "Financial Fair Play ...."

     "Humbug!" said Old John and straightened his drooping face again.

     "Give me some comfort, Old John!" said Scrooge. "What about the Ghost of Transfers Future."

     Old John sighed and shook his head. After he replaced it again, he snapped his fingers and a new Apparition replaced the previous horror. This creature was like white smoke and had black hollows for eyes and whistled like a cold wind from the North Stand.

     "Look upon this, Old Scrooge and see your future! That is, if you don't mend your ways and put your hand in your wallet."

     And at this the Apparition produced a ghostly ladder and on each rung was the name of a town or city, nearly a hundred and they changed places endlessly until Scrooge's eyes swam. As a reflex action Scrooge's hand tightened protectively on his wallet.

     "I have no comfort to give. Though see-est that ladder. Behold, the very bottom of the bottom is thy destination." said Old John. And with a burp, he was gone.

     * * * * * * * * * *

     Mick McCratchitt nearly jumped out of his track suit when Old Scrooge rushed into the room where he and young Tel were warming themselves in front of the kettle.

     "The Dry January is over, " shouted Scrooge loudly and started to dance round the room.

     Mick caught Tel's eye and they both started to grin. Scrooge had lost it. Well, it was coming....

     "Follow me," said Scrooge, "we're going shopping."

     "It's too late Mr Scrooge," said young Tel. "The window's closed."

     As if to defy him Scrooge threw open the office window, letting in the wind and rain.

     "No it isn't, halfwit!" said Scrooge. "We're off to Tesco's to buy some Chilean Cabernet for the boardroom!"

(With apologies and respect to monty_radio)





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armchaircritic59 added 23:32 - Feb 2
Funny, but also, sadly true! To think we could pay £2.5m for Marcus Stewart back then. Now look at us, bargain binning at Poundland! Can't help wondering what the Cobbolds would have done with the other Marcus's £800m!
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ronnyd added 23:35 - Feb 2
Nice one
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SpiritOfJohn added 07:51 - Feb 3
@dusth, well done. IMO this tops your first effort. While Mr John would have been aghast at what is advertised as football at Portman Road nowadays, one hopes he would appreciate that we can retain a sense of humour through these grim times.
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FreddySteady added 10:09 - Feb 3
Excellent that. And a bit too true. Hard Times.
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