A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
And now it’s time for our Christmas story.
Once upon a time – just a bit of information here before we begin. Whenever you hear Once upon a time you know you are about to hear bad news. Every fairy tale told by the Brothers Grimm started with once upon a time and all sorts of gruesome things happened. Red Riding Hood’s granny got et by a wolf. She was only 46 and had several good years left in her.
Snow White was poisoned by a wicked queen and Prince Charming (who married her without running a background check on what she had been up to in that little hut in the forest) went insane. We later learned on CNN that Snowy was a lot more than a housekeeper to the seven dwarfs and that Dopey wasn’t so dopey after all. He wore that floor-length nightgown because he had to. The sweet and innocent Miss White of the Disney classic was.. well, she was a tramp that’s what she was. And now we begin.
The Little Match Girl
An interesting thing about the tale of the little match girl is it has always been considered a Christmas story and it isn’t. She just happened to freeze to death one Christmas morning outside Buckingham Palace.
Our story takes place in 1866 in the City of London, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Please understand I am not implying here that the Queen had anything to do with the tragic death of the little match girl. We know from sources close to the Palace that Victoria was several miles away shacked up with Benjamin Disraeli.
We begin, again.
The Little Match Girl
Once upon a time there was a pretty little girl named – well, she didn’t have a name really. There were so many kids in the family her parents simply ran out.
I’m sure you realize English people are really big on flowery and often asinine names. You rarely hear of a Sue or a Sandra. It’s always a Hermione or a Hortense. Which of course led to that wonderful old joke,
“Is that Hortense over there?”
“I don’t think so. She looks pretty relaxed to me.”
So let’s call her Myrtle. In spite of the fact her folks had ever so many children and they were all crammed into a three-room shack, the family was happy. Felicia, her mom, was quite fertile as you no doubt have already surmised and popped out kids like a Pez dispenser.
But as always seems to happen in children’s stories, her parents were killed. First Felicia cashed in. She was looking over the White Cliffs of Dover and Clarence, her devoted husband, playfully goosed her with his walking stick. It was quite humorous from what I hear and she laughed all the way down. An hour later her father, Stanley, was resting his tired head on a block in the Tower of London
Sadly, Myrtle was the youngest and the poor little tyke was worse off than any of her siblings – or her brothers and sisters either. The boys were able to make a decent living in the lucrative field of investment banking as brokers or as we call them now ‘thieves’. The girls did reasonably well too as ladies of the night and sometimes morning.
As some of the older members of the audience will remember, prostitution was considered a fairly seedy profession in the 1800s, not the cushy career it is today. In 2020, a young lady willing to put her a little effort into it can make a lot of money and at the same time see some of the finest ceilings in the country.
But alas, Myrtle was much too young to hit the streets. And although she lined up every day at Employment Britain, she found there were few jobs available for 5-year-olds unless the little tot had a university education or willing to stoop really low and article with a law firm.
Then one day, Myrtle happened to be sitting in a pub reading the want-ads in the London Daily Telegraph and saw that E. B. Eddy, a large Canadian manufacturer, was opening a branch office in Britain and would you believe it? They were looking for a number of young men and women to train as salespersons. As the ad said,
Are you tired of working for someone else? Are you prepared to make 25 or even 30 pounds a year? Then join our team of independent match sales persons! See Mr. Fagin, Pumpkin Cottage, the Mews, Nausea on the Varicose, Tuesday next at 9:00 a.m.
Admittedly Myrtle was a bit surprised the spacious offices of Fagin and Associates were actually two dustbins behind the Pig and Whistle. But Mr. Fagin, the sales manager, seemed quite nice and so did young Oliver and Artful, his two apprentices.
And so Myrtle joined the elite force as district sales manager and set out eagerly for downtown London with a handful of matches to set the world on fire – so to speak.
Whether it was her inexperience or the fact that the London City Council had just pushed through a no-smoking bylaw for all public buildings, her sales figures were somewhat less than startling in her first few days on the job. Like zero!
Nevertheless with the bulldog determination of Brits everywhere, she never gave up and that is why our poor little match girl was standing outside Buckingham Palace on Christmas Eve.
It was getting late and one by one the lights began to go out all over London as all the little children were tucked into their beds with visions of sugarplums and in the case of some of the older lads, scantily-clad women, dancing in the their heads.
Her little red nose was running and her sleeves were full from her elbow to her mittens and frozen solid. Her threadbare little coat was so thin her starter bra could be seen right through the fabric. Her feet were icy cold.
Her Skidoo boots had been stolen by some ruffians and used as goal posts for a Shinny game down the street. All she had on her frost-bitten tootsies was a pair of the bunny rabbit slippers she got from the Salvation Army. Nor did she have a hat. The little sweetheart had tied one of Fagin’s undershirts over her frostbitten ears to keep them from dropping off.
It started to snow around 4 o’clock and a fierce wind off the North Atlantic began to howl.
I say, the North Atlantic, but since I’ve never been to London I have no idea where in hell the wind was coming from, but it was blowing.
Slowly and surely her emaciated little body began to shut down and a tear tricked softly down her cheek only to freeze and form an icicle on her chin. It was the end and…
Wait a minute!
This is terrible. I refuse to let a little match girl freeze to death just because some sadistic fairy-tale writer said so. I am not a heartless soul. I’m changing the ending.
Slowly and surely her little body began to shut down. Suddenly she could see a man approaching, a handsome young man considering his hair was orange and he could stand to lose a few pounds. Smiling tenderly, he reached out and grasped her little hand.
“Please sir, she said softly, “Would you buy a match, just tuppence?”
“Buy a match! Of course I will, my little princess. In fact I will buy all of them.
“Oh bless you, kind sir,” said Myrtle, “Bless you!”
“I will buy every match you have; just send them to my hotel and invoice me. You see I am Donald Trump and I will one day be the President of the United States.”
A stunned Myrtle looked up to the heavens and said,
“God bless us then. God bless us every one!”
And with her little head held high, she stepped out in front of an on-rushing snowplow.