Thursday 20 December 2012

Happy Health & Safety

Just in case the Mayan preppers are right, I thought I’d get this out there before Friday! 

T’was the night before, er, Friday and all round the house, not a creature was stirring… unless you count that mouse. Mouse? Where? There on the stair, right there, see? The little mouse with clogs on? Anyway, I digress. The wind swirled, bringing soft flurries of snow to settle on the window sills and all slept soundly in their beds. All except for Uncle Ebenezer… 

Uncle Ebenezer was a retired Health and Safety Officer. He had spent his years seeing life as one long hazard and he hated Christmas with a loathing hitherto seen only on the faces of ‘Occupy’ mobtards sensing the arrival of an honest tax-payer in their midst. Ebenezer’s vituperation of the Christmas season knew no bounds and would put to shame even Andrew Mitchell’s supposed anti-constabulary invective. Look, he didn’t like Christmas, okay? 

Ebenezer it was who had insisted on grab rails and fall arresters on every roof in the land, to guard Santa – imaginary character or not - from any slippery folly on Christmas Eve. And he it was who had decreed that every tree erection should be preceded by a thorough risk assessment; tinsellation not to commence until suitable hard hats and armoured gloves were donned. In the department he had attained the ultimate accolade of ‘right miserable twat’. 

The snow fluttered softly down and all was at peace until a sudden crash caused Ebenezer to sit bolt-upright in his bed. Grabbing his hard hat (not a euphemism) and drawing his bedclothes up to his chin he called out, “Who is there?” and then added, “And how did you get in? I double locked those doors myself!” A vague shape stirred in the corner of the room. 

“I am the ghost of Christmas presents!” said a disembodied voice and the walls of Ebenezer’s bedroom dissolved into a soft glow. Images appeared and he recognised a family, gathered around a Christmas tree. All the usual trimmings were there: non-flammable decorations especially dulled to prevent any hazardous reflected glare; a large bucket of sand either side of the tree and a small arsenal of fire extinguishers nestled beneath; twin, interconnected smoke alarms in the vicinity and clearly-marked, illuminated signage to the nearest exit. A door opened and in walked Bob, Ebenezer’s trainee, with an armful of presents. 

“Bob, Bob, Bob!” wailed Ebenezer, as Bob went to put the presents down, “bend your knees, for pity’ sake!” he pleaded as Bob, straight-legged, bent over to shower the parcels haphazardly on the table. Ebenezer winced in professional anguish and cried out, “Why are you showing me this torture, spirit?” The ghost replied, tetchily, “I am the ghost of Christmas presents – weren’t you listening? Look!” In slow motion, a tumbling parcel arced through the air. Ebenezer saw, too late, where it was heading. He cried out, but to no avail. The parcel struck the youngest of the family, Tiny Tim, on his little toe. “I could have prevented that!” said Ebenezer, sadly. “If only I had not wasted so much time at my desk.” 

Ebenezer leapt from his bed and dressed hurriedly. He ran out into the snowy street scene and besought of an urchin thereon, “What day is this?” The urchin replied, “It’s Friday, you nonce!” for the vernacular was ‘street’ innit. “Then I am not too late!” cried Ebenezer and hurried away, as the urchin made ‘wanker’ gestures toward his departing form. 

At Bob’s house all were gathered around Tiny Tim as Mrs Bob administered the Elastoplast. Tim bravely gained his feet and wearing but one slipper hobbled towards the table of parcels. Suddenly the door burst open and there stood Mr Ebenezer, the right miserable twat himself. Bob cowered and pleaded, “Surprise inspections, sir? Not on a Friday, surely?” Ebenezer laughed and said, “Fear ye not, Bob. Not this Friday, nor any Friday hereafter, for I bring you…” and with a flourish he revealed his gift to them. They gasped.

The family stood around, gawping in awe as Ebenezer busied himself at the table. “It is Christmas, Bob!” he cried as he worked, “A time when everybody should be safe and well!” He smiled beatifically at Tiny Tim before stepping back to reveal his work.

The scene was magical. Lights twinkled at every corner of the table; amber lights, atop a barrier of the brightest yellow. And not only that, but multi-coloured, multi-lingual signage glistened, securely fixed, on every bollard.

Santa's little Health & Safety helpers

The family fell still for a moment in wonder and shock, until the silence was broken. Tim shuffled forward and grasped the incident tape in his tiny, tiny hand. He looked up into the smiling face of Ebenezer, shook his head and uttered the immortal words, 

“Gawd ‘elp us, every one!”

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