A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
After this, I promise I won’t run on and on about Christmas stuff until next December.
I must have watched A Christmas Carol too many times over the holidays and the six weeks running up to them, (actually, I have been watching it for over 70 years) because it occurred to me about 2 o’clock one morning that the whole Ebenezer Scrooge business just wouldn’t work today. Oh, the ghosts might still appear, although they really wouldn’t have to since they could text him from wherever ghosts reside these days.
And then there is the problem of flying the old buzzard over London. With so many flights coming into and leaving Heathrow and Gatwick, scheduling would be far too complicated for a spirit. Especially the Ghost of Christmas Past, he or she would be totally confused. (I should explain this he-she business; there may be female ghosts somewhere, but not likely. Almost all ladies go directly to heaven since they have already experienced hell by living with a man who passes gas at house parties and points to them.)
The Ghost of Christmas Present would be a little better off since he may have a few technical smarts unless he’s like me and is totally lost with anything more advanced than my front door key.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come would have no problem at all since he is from the future. He and the old geezer in the night-shirt could simply step into a space age transporter and materialise anywhere the spirit felt like.
No, the problem has nothing to do with the ghosts; it is the people of today and how comfort-dependant we have become. Can you even picture Ebenezer living in that dump he called a house today with no heat, eating leftover gruel and even more ridiculous, walking to the office? Of course you can’t. Today he would have a Bentley and a uniformed chauffeur. And rightly so, you wouldn’t expect the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Scrooge Industries, or Scrooge and Marley Inc. or Ebby-Jake Logistics (apparently that is what they call trucking companies these days) to walk.
The Ebenezer of today would be eking out a meagre existence on a paltry $7 million a year salary plus stock options and a 10 grand honorarium for serving once a year on the boards of God knows how many firms with tons of money.
His house, by the way, would cover half an acre with hot and cold running maids and nine bathrooms with heated toilet seats, while the Cratchets still freeze their buns off in the pail-a-day in the backyard.
But that’s not why A Christmas Carol couldn’t work in today’s world. It is the people. Do you realise how emotionally cold and distant society has become? There is one scene in the Dickens’ story that just couldn’t happen today. It’s the one with the little kid who ran by his house on Christmas morning.
Do you remember that touching scene? Here it is as near as I can recall without forcing myself to watch it again:
“Hey, you there, boy.”
“Yes you, my fine young lad. Do you know what day this is?”
“It’s Christmas Day, sir!”
“Tell me, my good fellow. Do you know if the prize goose still hangs in the poulterer’s window?
“The one as big as me?”
“That’s the one, my fine fellow. Run over and take a look and I’ll give you a shilling. Better still, bring it back and I’ll give you half a crown.”
No, my friends, that was the way it could have happened in 1843, but not today with all the smart-ass kids out there, not today.
“Hey, you there, boy.”
“What do you want?”
“Do you know what day it is?”
“Who do I look like, Grampa? Hey, Google or that Alexa chick. If you’d lay off the crack cocaine, you’d know it’s Christmas Day. You should be locked up or in a home someplace.”
“Do you know if the prize goose still hangs in the poulterers’ window?”
“What the hell is a flippin’ poulterer? You should be hanging in somebody’s window, you senile old goat.
“Run over and I’ll give you a shilling, bring it back and I’ll give you half a crown.”
“Yeah, sure, like I’m going to take half a crown from some lunatic wearing a granny night-gown and hanging out a window, do you think I got rocks in my head? So what am I supposed to do if I get this flipping goose, cook the damned thing for you?”
“Of course not, my fine young lad, just make sure it’s still frozen. Bend over and ram it sideways up your . . . “
See! That’s what happens when I watch ‘A Christmas Carol’ a few too many times.