Jim Plays Choose Your Own Ending

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

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. Quite a tragedy really, 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 in Penthouse magazine that Snowy was a lot more than a housekeeper to the seven dwarfs and that Dopey wasn’t so dopey after all.

The Little Match Person

An interesting thing about the tale of the little match person is it has always been considered a Christmas story and it isn’t. She just happened to freeze to death one Christmas morning outside the Prime Minister’s House. I don’t mean to imply that he/she had anything to do with her sudden demise (I have no idea if the PM at the time was a he or a she since they changed PMs daily over there)- although he/she was seen going through the kid’s purse just moments before the CSI team arrived.

Our story takes place in 1866 in the City of London, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Once again I am not implying 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 – in bed with Benjamin Disraeli as a matter of fact.

We begin, again.

The Little Match Person

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.”

However, to save us from any confusion, I shall call her, Belinda.      

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 very happy. (Felicia, her mom, was quite fertile and popped out kids like a Peds 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. As for Clarence, he drank himself to death.

And so the children were now orphans and since the Conservatives were in power, all 15 kids were tossed out in the street to fend for themselves.

As Doug Ford’s great-great-great grandfather who was a member of the Cabinet at the time was heard to say, “I want those damn orphans out of my house.” It wasn’t even his house, but he booted them out anyway.

Belinda 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 now call them, ‘thieves’. The girls did reasonably well as common prostitutes or exotic dancers – all but the oldest, Ophelia, a young lady who brought a whole new meaning to the word ‘plain’. Sadly, she had to be put down.

But alas Belinda 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, Belinda 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 match 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 35 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.

And so Belinda 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 – figuratively speaking of course.

Whether it was her inexperience or the fact the London City Council had just pushed through a no-smoking bylaw for all public buildings, her sales figures were less than sterling 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 10 Downing Street 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, naked women, dancing in the their heads.

Belinda began to shiver. She was ever so cold and for one brief moment considered lighting up her inventory to keep warm. But she remembered Fagin’s last words as she went out the door, “You can’t sell out of an empty wagon, my dears.”

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. All she had on her frost-bitten tootsies were the little bunny rabbit slippers she got from the Salvation Army.

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. If you really must know, look it up. I can’t do everything.

Poor little Belinda, she knew she was freezing. 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.

I refuse to let a match girl freeze to death just because some sadistic fairy-tale writer said so. As Robert Bulova once said, “Not on my watch!” I’m going to change the ending.

Slowly and surely her little body began to shut down. Suddenly she could see a man approaching, a handsome young man and obviously well-to-do. Smiling, he reached out and tenderly grasped her outstretched little hand.

“Please sir, she said softly, “Would you buy a match, just tuppence?”

“A match! Of course I will, petite. In fact I will buy all of them.”

“Oh bless you, kind sir,” said Belinda, “Bless you!”

“I will buy every match you have, and even more, but not now. I will buy them in 2023. You see I am Pierre Poilievre and I am going to be Prime Minister of Canada.”

A stunned Belinda looked up at the heavens and said, “Then God bless us. God bless us every one!”

And with her little head held high, she stepped out in front of an on-rushing snowplow.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and to you Druids out there, please enjoy the winter solstice

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