from the Dungeon
Well dear friends, that time of year is upon us once
again and I am well and truly beside myself. Mr Webb
has most generously passed more writing paper through
the bars of my cell, and fresh newspaper to line the
floor’s damp concrete. What I am really excited
about is his promised Christmas gift of a second hand
mattress to replace the one that has gradually rotted
from the runoff under Ironoutlaw’s premises.
But what the heck; I know that deep down, this is going
to be one memorable Christmas.
What I really do look
forward to is Christmas Day. I’ll press my ear
tight against the wall to hear his greetings to family
and friends as they arrive for Christmas dinner. ‘Merry
Christmas!’ he’ll say; ‘Merry
Christmas to you all!’ I’ll smell the aroma of roast turkey and Christmas
pudding as it wafts down the staircase that leads to the cell, and I’ll
be once again most thankful for the burnt skin and leftovers he’ll generously
offer me. The sounds from above of laughter and excitement as gifts are exchanged
followed by the clink of glasses will bring a smile to my face and a tear to
my eye as I reflect on my own Christmas’s of many years past.
tree from the nearby forest sits in the main room of
our modest cottage, decorated with tinsel and brightly
coloured baubles all shimmering from the fire’s
glow. Coloured paper chains that have been patiently glued together by tiny hands
hang from each corner of the room adorned with carefully assembled paper lanterns.
Christmas cards sit on the mantelpiece, and coloured socks hang patiently; waiting
to be filled with wondrous things as the night before Christmas draws ever near.
I peer with great interest out
of the ice-laden window pane at my father, axe in hand,
chasing and cursing at our feathered Christmas dinner
as they both weave and duck through the falling snow.
I always wondered why he named these poor creatures
Adolf, until my mother explained it to me many years
later. While my father is busy taking his revenge out
on Adolf, I enter the kitchen to find my mother busy
placing shillings and sixpences into her secret plum
pudding mixture. I cringe when I remember all too well
the Christmas before; when through pure gluttony I
accidentally ate not only the pudding but one of the
sixpences. To save myself from choking to death, I
decide to swallow it. The sixpence remains in my stomach
for two whole days, until the ringing bell of the ice-cream
man finally gives me the encouragement I need to quickly
and agonisingly dispense it.
My brother and I soon don our
woollens and head off to the dairy to borrow the farmer’s milk sled without his knowing. After several rides, building
three snowmen and countless snowball fights, we return home exhausted. After
tea, the old tin bath tub waits for us in front of the fireplace. Scrubbed and
ready for bed the expectations of what we’ll discover in our pillow cases
the next morning are immeasurable. I again peer out of the window and into the
night sky, straining my eyes against the darkness for any sign of Father Christmas
and that reindeer drawn sled; the sled that would be carrying his sack and ultimately
my wind up police car made of good quality tin. With no sign of him, I bury myself
under the covers, all the while trying hard to keep my tired eyes open for the
long awaited arrival of my white bearded visitor.
The morning light brings with
it untold excitement as we search through the half
filled pillowcases. I pull out a rubber tomahawk, a
small bag of marbles, two Beano comics and a bag of
sweets, not to mention a plastic spade. I stare at
the spade as I hold it in my tiny hand and think to
myself. I’ve been shafted
by Father Christmas. What the hell do I do with a plastic spade. WHERE’S
MY BLOODY TIN POLICE CAR OF GOOD QUALITY? Now I know how my father felt when
chasing old Adolf around the back yard. Instinctively I pick up my rubber tomahawk
and wave it about my head and squint menacingly into the morning sky, then quickly
turn my disappointment and frustration on my brother. The rubber tomahawk is
confiscated by my mother long before we sit down for Christmas dinner. As I climb
to the table I stare at the roasted corpse of Adolf and his upturned drumsticks
and wonder if I’ll ever get that tin police car.
The times have changed
dramatically in fifty years. A five shilling toy is
no longer on most children’s
wish list, rather a three hundred dollar I-pod or expensive computer games and
clothing. A ride on a milk sled is replaced with a trip to Dreamworld fun park.
The Christmas decorations are not made by the family but bought in bulk from
supermarkets and department stores along with the plastic moulded tree from Taiwan.
The pudding comes in its own plastic container for the microwave oven and Adolf
comes already cooked and served in a special recipe of herbs and spices with
a choice of gravy and mashed potatoes. Oh how times have changed.
I’m soon brought to my senses by the sound of staggered
and unsteady feet with a wisp of burnt turkey skin coming down the stairs. ‘Melly
Chrishmas he slurs, Melly Chrishmas Alan!’ It’s none other than Mr.
Webb with his fine offerings. Not only did I miss out on my tin police car, but
it also looks like my second hand mattress will be surely missed for yet another
year. But who cares, Christmas is a time for celebration, for giving, and for
families to come together and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. So from the dungeons
of Ironoutlaw and to all the readers out there.
Keep Ya Powder Dry
A Merry Christmas!
Alan Crichton web site Ned Kelly Tales