A Night At The Museum Storybook Glen.
Continuing a tradition stretching back nine years, Aberdeen Voice presents Suzanne Kelly’s annual Christmas-time satire covering the vibrant and dynamic goings-on in The Deen, the shire and the wider world.
Courtesy of Universal Credit, the acclaimed petrochemical engineer was ‘retraining’ as a security guard.
He was at a wooden bus stop waiting for his bus to Story Book Glen. Nearby hung a poster – ‘Fatima’s Next Job Could Be in Cyber, Only She Doesn’t Know It Yet’ read the kindly, helpful advert, featuring a ballet dancer who obviously should give up her dancing to become a government computer spy.
If Angus got lucky, he too might be retrained in cyber. But first, he had to prove himself to Universal Credit to get that £80 a week payment. His bus arrived after an hour or so, and off he went.
It was getting dark as he got off the No. C-19 bus on the outskirts of The Deen; the city lights were coming on, showing how vibrant and dynamic the city looked. From afar.
Wandering through the Maryculter streets he arrived at his work placement. ‘WELCOME TO STORYBOOK GLEN – no dogs allowed’ read the sign at the entrance, where a man sat waiting for him. There was a papier mache castle wall with an archway; it was as pretty and as well built as any of the Barratt Homes he’d been walking past.
The little old man, smelling a bit like Buckfast Angus thought, thrust a flashlight and some keys into his hands.
“Hullo! Ye must be thon work experience loon, Aye? Weel, welcome tae Storybook Glen,” he said, gesticulating around him as the sun continued to sink.
“Ere’s yer keys.”
The wizened old man led Angus to a little wooden hut; in it were a wooden chair by a solitary window, a tiny fridge, and a heater. Before they went in, Angus looked around and in the distance he could see the figures of several nursery rhyme characters as the sun continued sinking, like the feeling in his stomach.
“Did ye tak yer passport like we tellt ye tae?” the man asked; he seemed a little tipsy.
“Sure, have it here.” Angus replied, assuming it was needed for tax or ID purposes.
“Good, good – keep it on ye fer noo. Noo ye micht get some tresspassers; some n’eer do wells were through the ither year, paintin punk rock slogans on oor statues – caused a fair stooshie,” the man warned.
“Aa ye hae tae dae is tak a walkie roon’ noo an again, an hit onyhin ye see o’er the heid wi yer flashy, ken? And bide oot o’ trouble!”
‘What trouble could I possibly get into around here?,’ wondered Angus ‘this will be a boring but easy way to earn ma minimum hourly wage so I can pay my council tax off soon.’
The man thrust a paper bag with a bottle in it into Angus’ hand.
“Noo, fae time tae time ye micht hear some funny stuff gan on, aye, and see even funnier stuff” said the old man.
“Tak a scoof ‘o this an’ athin will be fine. There’s some o’ ma homemade mushroom pate in tha fridge along with half a bottle o’ Fred Wilkinson’s Tullos Hill Red – help yersel. Ahm awa noo; see ye in the mornin’ – if ye’re still aboot.”
And laughing to himself, the little old man hobbled away through the fake castle entrance away from Storybook Glen and out of sight.
An owl hooted. Angus looked in the bag at a bottle that read ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin.’ ‘Ah fine; this job will be a breeze’ he thought, and with that he set himself down in the chair in the tiny guard’s booth. He helped himself to the amazingly delicious homemade wine and pate, had a swig of Penguin, and started to doze off.
* * * *
Angus woke with a start some hours later; the owl hooted. He shivered and got up to turn on the space heater. As he turned to go back to his chair, his eyes glanced at the window and he froze.
Looking back in on him were a pair of giant reptilian eyes. He dared not move.
Angus blinked, but when he looked again, the thing was still there, and was trying to open the door to the guard hut.
It had a round face. It looked like – but no it couldn’t be –
“Onywye. Fit Like? Ah’m Barney” the thing said. It stood in the threshold now; a giant lizard that looked like –
“You’re Barney. Barney the -the-“ Angus stammered lost for words
“Dinosaur, aye, it’s often been said” said the beast with a chuckle an swish of its tail.
Grabbing Angus by the arm (Angus had just enough time to grab his flashlight and bottle) Barney took Angus out of the hut. An eerie green glow illuminated Storybook Glen now, and Angus could see Barney was wearing a chain of office.
“You’re a talking dinosaur. You’re Barney the dinosaur. And – you’re purple – how is this possible?”
“Why am I purple? Well, when ye start oot as Labour, but form a coalition with the Tories, the red and the blue get a bittie mixed up, and ye get purple.”
(Angus had actually meant how had a Barney the Dinosaur statue started walking and talking).
“Weel ma loon, let ma lead ye doon the Storybook Glen gerden path and Ah’ll tell you aa ye need tae ken, and introduce ye to the rest o’ us.”
“Rest of you?” Angus repeated weakly as Barney led him away from the hut.
* * * *
“Ye’re here on an affa special nicht” Barney said, elated.
“Ye ken, Storybook Glen Cooncil has won nae jist ane, but twa awards! The hale o the Glen is celebratin’ the nicht!”
Angus was being led down the garden path. Soon they came to a 6’ high wooden soldier which stood at tollhouse.
“HALT! Who goes there?” Demanded the soldier; it had very red cheeks and a mop of blonde hair.
“Passports out! Non-Storybook Glen characters this way – take off your shoes, belt, coat, take any computers out of bags, only one flagon of mead per person do you have any cigarettes to declare –”
“Ah Boris, it’s me – Barney,” the purple dinosaur laughed at the guard.
“We surely dinna hae tae go through aa that, div we? This is ma new pal Angus, oor new security guard.”
“Well OK then,” said Boris.
“I’m a tough negotiator.”
And Barney and Angus were waived past the checkpoint.
“Bleeping ~&!!&! bleep!”
Barney and Angus were approaching what looked like 4 tiny yellow cars driving around in a circle. Elves driving them were waving their fists, honking their horns and shouting at the other drivers.
“It’s a one wye system ya bamstick!”
“Ah’m only gan one way ya gluepot!” shouted another elf
An older elf was in her yellow car sobbing;
“Ah jist wanted tae dae ma shoppin’; I canna go a bike or walk, ken? Aa thon one wye signs hiv me gan roon in circles fer oors! Ah jis want tae ging hame!”
And sure enough, the little path they were on was covered with one-way signs, do not enter signs, and a sign which read ‘Storybook Glen Fun Beach next left. No left turn’. Dotted around were wooden bus stops and 136 wooden benches.
Barney puffed out his Devonian-era chest and said:
“Storybook Glen may yet win anither award for this An’ aa. Ah’m richt prood. Ess is how we fecht the dreaded plague here in the Glen. We canna hae fowk jis drivin intae toon an’ parkin’ cars tae ging intae shops; it’s nae safe. Abody should be on bikes. An’ it’s only cost £1.76 million pieces o’ gold tae get it sortit oot.”
Angus took a swig.
“Do you ride a bicycle then?” asked Angus, feeling sure Barney could not manage such a feat – knowing there were many others who could not either.
“Oh aye, yer yer a funny guy, eh?” Barney replied nodding his head,
“Me on a bike? Are ye wise min? Ah’ve got ma ain Barneymobile wi’ a chauffeur.”
Barney pointed to a large marquee in the distance; it was lit up, as were its customers apparently; the shouting and carrying on could be heard faintly on the air.
“At’s far we’re heidin,” said Barney, dragging an unwilling Angus along,
“Jist one mair stop tae mak.”
Heading down the path, Angus could make out in the green glowing light which filled the glen one brick house, a wooden house, and a big pile of straw.
“That’s …. surely not?” Angus stammered, seeing three little pigs; two were patting a sobbing pig on the back. Angus took another swig.
“Aye, yer richt enough. Come an’ meet some o’ ma constituents, The Three Little Pigs.” Barney replied, anticipating Angus’ question.
Wordlessly Barney and Angus now stood in front of the pigs. The sobbing pig looked up at Angus
“Stewart Milne Home, eh?” Angus commiserated and the pigs nodded.
“Come on an’ hae a drink lads, it’ll gee ye up a bittie” Barney said to the pigs, who immediately perked up.
And soon Angus, Barney and the three little perky pigs were heading to the giant marquee.
Angus could barely hear Barney, who was telling story after story, as a terrible din rose from the marquee, which Angus soon realised was a big beer tent. A huge roar went up; Angus peered inside.
The place was filled with storybook characters brought to life; swigging flagons of ale, Jaegerbombs, and Buckfast. There were banshees screeching; elves dancing on tables, screaming, laughing and hugging. Above hung a sign saying ‘Welcome to the Seven Dwarves Incorporated Trades of Storybook Glen Annual beer tent – An Inspired idea’
Dwarves mixed with trolls and witches; in a corner sat Little Jack Horner, eating a Christmas pie. Angus swore he’d never drink again as he took another swig of the Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
Beer flowed, shouts were heard, everyone hugged one another. Barney took Angus by the shoulder and they entered the crowded tent. A witch at a table stopped them at the entrance.
“Good evening. Do you have reservations?”
‘Quite a few’ thought Angus.
“No” answered Barney.
“Good – I hate all that red tape.” Answered the witch.
“Are you in a bubble?” she demanded.
“Course Ah am, Ah’m wi’ the Cooncil.”
Barney and the witch both laughed.
“Right then, have a great time, social distance or wear a mask if you feel like it, and hug the nearest strangers if there is a goal scored in the football match on the telly.
“We canna stop ye daein ‘at can we, ken?” She said, forgetting herself and lapsing into her default Doric.
Passing it off as humour to hide her embarrassment, she continued in her adopted, more ‘professional’ tone:
“We close at the stroke of midnight, except if we don’t. The big award ceremony celebration starts at 11”
“Come an’ meet some o’ ma fella cooncillors.” Barney said.
“Sit doon an’ A’ll get the drinks in – nah, dinna sit there –“ Barney said, grabbing Angus away from a tall bald man and plonking him in a chair next to a man in a suit.
Angus was introduced to him as being Wee Willie Wilkie.
Angus took another swig of his Penguin. And with that Barney started to make his way through the throng to the bar, using his tail to sweep the crowd out of his way. Angus was left at the table. ‘I am definitely asking for a pay rise’ he thought, taking another sip of Penguin.
“An then –” cackled the bald man,
“then when Ah wez on me holidays, Ah got them te gissies another suspension!”
He leaned forward on the table, and the others laughed and nodded approvingly.
“An then…” he continued, hushing the approving chuckles of agreement.
“Then Ah got them te postpone the hearing fre a furtha month. Another month on the payroll!”
He nodded confidently and the others smiled and cheered.
“What’s all that about?” asked Angus to no one in particular as the bald speaker polished off flagon after flagon of wine.
Wee Willie answered him.
“That’s Donnelly Wonnelly Puddin and Pies. He assaults the unwilling and always denies.
“He gets away with lots of things – like taking sex offenders fer drinks in shady bars in STorrybook toon, and taking cash fer upgradin passengers tae first class on Thomas the Tank engine trips an keeping their gold.
“Nothing touches him, he doesn’t even get his wrist slapped, and if he does get into trouble, the judges say ‘it’s just a one off’ or ‘it didn’t seem like an assault to me’, and away he goes on holidays. Unlike poor me.”
Angus felt revolted and was glad Barney stopped him from sitting next to Donnelly. Donnelly Wonnelly continued:
“Aye man, but get this,” he threw back his head howling with laughter,
“then at the hearing the convener sez the assault wez ‘a one off!!’”
The whole table – except Angus – erupted in laughter and they clinked their glasses and toasted Donnely Wonnelly.
Wiping a tear of laughter from his eye, Donnelly addressed Wee Willie,
“Ahm sorry aald mate, Ah divvent mean te celebrate me victories when Ah knaa yee hev yer problems. or should Ah syah ‘Wall te Wall’ problems!”
Everyone at the table laughed again – except Wee Willie and Angus. Willie shook his head and sighed.
At that several eyes silently met each other around the table, almost as if they didn’t believe Gertie was responsible.
“Yes, go on, laugh if you must. But it was not as easy as you might think to remember whether I owned the wall, whether I didn’t own the wall, whether I owned the wall with the wife, whether the city owned the wall, or me or my da or-“ Willie stammered
“Aye,” interrupted Barney, who was back with drinks, plonking a steaming tankard of something or other in front of Angus.
“Some of’ us drink tae ferget; but Wee Willie, you dinna need ony help at aa, div ye? How’s the amnesia? Cleared up noo?”
A few at the table laughed; Willie blushed.
“Dinna worry yersel aboot it Willie; that’s aa fergotten”.
“Handy though that ye didnae hae to pay 200,000 pieces o’ gold tae get it fixed. But this ither business needs tae blaw ower, then ye can come back in aboot the body o’ the kirk.”
“What has to blow over, Barney?” asked Willie,
“You mean when I told the peasants we had to build Marischal Square Castle or that they would have to pay a billion pieces of eight in penalty?”
“Nah, nae thon” said Barney.
“Ye mean that I’m in the Labour party but support the Tories?” asked Willie.
“Nah, ‘at’s nithin; hisna stopped the rest o’ us.”
The table laughed.
“You mean when I didn’t know who owned that wall but I gave verbal permission for the repairs, that I sent and got emails aboot it using my council email and held meetings in my council office aboot it?
“Maybe you mean when I accidentally leaked some information about yon Marischal Sq? Or-”
“No Willie – Abody likes to mix a wee bit o’ business wi’ council business” said Barney
“Ah mean this fortune cookie Covid-19 racist cairry on. We hae tae hing fire til ‘at aa blaws ower. Ahm thinkin we’ll get oor pals at Inspired tae dae some’hin in the Storybook Glen Press. Gie fowk some’hin else tae spik aboot. Mibbee some good news aboot the ‘Inspired indoor Christmas fayre’.
“We’ll hae thoosans o’ fowk come in aboot tae shop – and they’ll be gled we stopped them gan intae aa the wee shoppies. Some’hin’ lik ‘at. But dinna worry Wee Willie; anither wikk or twa, and it’ll be aa business as usual again.”
Everyone at the table chatted to each other, growing increasingly drunk. Angus, who was feeling somewhat left out of the conversation, decided he really wanted to do the rest of his security guard rounds – and to get some fresh air out of the stifling, noisy, crowded tent.
After he finished whatever was in his tankard that is. Soon he was ready to go, but feeling somewhat worse for wear.
“Barney, ladies an gents; I really must go do my rounds” Angus said.
“Maybe I’ll be back here though before closing time.”
“Cinderella will arrive around 11pm; myek sure yee are heor fre tha – she’s got summat ta celebrate – we’ve won awards – and that’s why so many of weh are oot the neet – though Ahm not heor in me official capacity, yee knaa” said Donnelly, and the table laughed.
Angus got up, wove his way out of the crowd, and found himself in the night air once more. He had another hit of Penguin. Somewhere an owl hooted.
* * * *
Angus felt dazed; ‘Well, at least things can’t get any stranger’ he prematurely told himself as he wandered down a further path.
He heard a whirring noise, and stumbling towards it, found himself face to face with an imp hard at work on a spinning wheel. On the creature’s left was a huge pile of sh*te and straw which he placed on the spinning wheel; on the right was a tiny pile of gold, falling from the wheel. There was also a giant pile of books.
“I’ll bet ye canna guess ma name!” The creature said in a smug, satisfied conceited manner.
“Err, yer Damian Bates, disgraced news editor who used his job to further his wife’s business aspirations.”
“”$!”%!!! ye little sh*te” said the outraged creature,
“I’ve rebranded! I’m Trumplestiltskin!” said the thing angrily, spinning harder than ever.
Angus picked up a book; the cover read ‘Shirk in Scotland: Thon Real Deal, Ken’; over it was a sticker saying ‘SALE NOW ON: ONLY 1 GROAT OR 2 EGGS’
“Ah’m a Spin Doctor! If aince on a blue moon Shirk says or daes some’hin’ that could be taen the wrang wye, it’s ma job tae spin his sh*te intae gold.
“Like, fan Shirk cages immigrant bairns -he micht be cooking them fer aa I ken- I spin for him an’ tell fowk that nasty trolls fae abroad are tryin tae sneak intae Storybook Glen.
“Hiv ye nae read any o’ the stories I wrote aboot fit a topper o’ a boy Shirk is? Did ye nae hear aboot thon time he rearranged some o’ his paintins in Turnberry Glen Castle? Amazin! Fit a guy!
“Anither time, he tellt me personally – he likes eatin ornery grub like hamberders and cofvefee! Can ye believe Ah got these amazing insights! I really ken the loon! He’s ane o’ wer ain, ken?
“Ah’m ees best pal! Lik Brithers! He took me tae farawa lands in a flying machine aince.
“Ah hae a Ferrari. Ye needin a copy o’ ma book? It’s chock-a-block wi smashin stories lik thon. A could gie ye a signed copy fer jist one egg if –“
“Wait a minute” Angus interrupted “Just who is this Shirk guy?”
The imp was astonished and stopped his monologue. Jaw dropping, he said:
“Well if ye dinna ken, jis follae the path on the richt. Tak a far richt turn, an’ hud gan as far tae the richt as ye can. Ye’ll find Shirk. He’s wi ma bonny wife richt noo – She’s ca’d ‘Fee-earner’. Just tell them Ah sint ye!
“Then I ken ye’ll be back ta buy ma book!”
Angus, feeling a desire to be away from the imp, made his excuses and headed away down the right-leading path, taking one further swig of Penguin from the now half-full bottle.
After a time, Angus saw a clearing up ahead on the extreme right. As he got closer, he heard bellowing- then a golf ball whizzed past his ears.
“ANOTHER HOLE IN ONE FOR ME, FEE-EARNER – I’M MAKING GOLF GREAT AGAIN!”
An enormous ogre stood in a golf swing pose.
Its skin was bright orange with bright pink lips on a misshapen mouth.
White circles were around its beady black eyes.
It was as wide in the stomach as it was tall.
Before Angus could recover himself, an ear-splitting shriek went out, and an ogress grabbed Angus by the arm.
“EEEEK! FA ARE YOU?” the ogress shouted.
“FIT YE DAEIN HERE? ARE YE FAE THE PAPERS? THEY’RE AA OOT TAE GET ME AN SHIRK, KEN? AND IT’S NAE FAIR!”
She had brown hair teased up into a ridiculous do, wore impossibly high heels, which kept sinking into the grass, and from her shoulder hung a banner which read ‘FACE OF THE GLEN – 2010.’
Angus found himself dragged in front of the Ogre, who wore a red baseball hat with the initials MSGGA.
“Look fit ah’ve foon, Shirk” she said to the golfing ogre.
“WHO IS THIS GUY? WHADDYA WANT? AN AUTOGRAPH? A MSGGA HAT? GONNA VOTE FOR ME AGAINST THOSE COMMIES?” it bellowed.
“Er, my name is Angus, and some guy named Trumplestiltskin told me I should come and say hello.”
“WHO? OH YOU MEAN FEE-EARNER’S HUSBAND, THAT WRITER GUY -WHAT’S-HIS-NAME. HE BETTER BE SPINNING ME SOME GOLD.”
“Aye, too richt boss”, crooned the ogress, pointing to her oversized feet spilling out of her high-heels,
“Thon ‘Jimmy Choomaker and the Elves shoes’ dinna come cheap.”
Angus’ curiosity got the better of him, and taking a swig from the bottle in his tightly-clutched paper bag asked:
“Why de they call ye ‘Shirk’?”
“BEATS ME!” Bellowed the ogre, lining up another golfball
“SOME PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD IT IS TO BE AN OGRE. SOMETIMES THEY EVEN WANT ME TO LISTEN TO SECURITY BRIEFINGS. DON’T THEY KNOW I’M BUSY? DID YOU WATCH FOX LAST NIGHT?” he asked while swinging at the ball, which flew off into the sky,
“ANOTHER GREAT SHOT! MAKE GOLF GREAT AGAIN! MAKE STORYBOOK GLEN GREAT AGAIN! MAKE ME A HAMBERDER FEE-EARNER!”
Angus felt a strong desire to get away, but what to his wondering eyes did appear but Santa Claus, a team of reindeer pulling his flying sled, which landed on the edges of the clearing.
Santa was not what Angus expected: he was tall and thin, and looked a bit like Sir Ian. Santa approached.
“Shirk, wonderful to see you again, and you too Fee-earner. I’ve got a few presents for you,” Santa said, pulling some brown envelopes out of his sack.
“Ah, just look at all these trees, glens and glades.” Santa smiled, waving his hand towards the trees and a sand bank.
“Isn’t it a pity” said Santa slowly,
“that the Sandman no longer has environmental protection on his sand dunes? Who could have seen that coming?”
“Between that ‘unfortunate’ loss of protection, my connections and your, errr, obvious charisma, this will all be Stewart Milne homes before you can say ‘Jack Swinney be Nimble’.”
“THANKS SANTA! THIS IS MUCH BETTER THAN THAT DIPLOMA THINGY YOU TRIED TO GIVE ME A FEW YEARS AGO. DID YOU BRING ME ANY KFC? HUNGRY!”
“Yes, well. I wanted to-” but before Santa could finish his thought, shots rang out from several directions.
Donner and Blitzen fell over dead in their tracks. Dasher was wounded. Angus took a big sip.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” said a little donkey clutching an AK47, “Daddy I killed them! I’m a hunter daddy, a big scary macho hunter!”
“JUNIOR, THAT’S NICE NOW RUN ALONG AND PLAY, DADDY’S BUSY.” Said Shirk as his son, the ass, who was visibly crestfallen, “NOW THERE’S A GOOD BOY, GO RUN ALONG AND MAYBE FIND SOME SHEEP YOU CAN SHOOT TOO.”
“I got one! Kill! I got one! A Tree for every citizen! Kill!” Another hunter emerged from the glen. She was a tiny little witch with a pointed hat.
“Damn those deer! They eat plants! Kill! Kill!”
“JUNIOR, TAKE YOUR FRIEND AILEEN MALICE WITH YOU AND GO KILL STUFF SOMEWHERE ELSE, I’M BUSY”
Shirk dismissed the pair who wandered off together. Soon other shots rang out as the pair disappeared into the trees.
“Don’t worry about those deer” said Santa coldly,
“No one is irreplaceable. I’ll just be off now though, plenty of ‘gifts’ to be delivered at the Awards Ceremony, not least to the people behind the Storybook Glen incinerator and the Storybook Glen harbour expansion. Shouldn’t we all be heading there now?”
And as everyone always obeys Santa, off they headed back to the beer tent. Angus had some Penguin.
* * * *
Shirk, Fee-earner and Santa all headed back down the path towards the beer tent. Angus followed behind.
“PSST!” Angus heard a voice,
“Come here fer a second”
Angus found himself face to face with three fish. What three 2-metre-long fish were doing in this place he had no idea.
“Ye must be the new security guard” said the first fish.
“Ok, I’ll bite – who are you?” Angus asked.
“Ye see we’re actually the legendary Black Fish. Ye ken? – fish that were caught and landit, but nivver declared tae the Storybook Glen tax mannie. A big ‘net profit’ ye micht surmise. There wis heaps o’ gold in that back in the day.”
“Still is” said the second fish.
“T’wis the Crookit Man fa steert thon up, Ah’m tellin ye.” said the third fish, which inexplicably wore a bowler hat.
“Them fa land black fish ayewis say it’s by accident – but we ken it’s daen on porpoise.”
Angus, who found himself transported from Universal Credit minimum wage security guard to grown man talking to three giant hat-wearing talking fish who was about to catch up with ogres and Santa, found himself finally lost for words. He had another swig from his bottle.
“Ye ken the story” said the first fish: “There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile? That guy. Affa fishy indeed.”
“Need tae watch thon crooked mannie lik a hake” said the second fish “He’ll come bearing gifts an’ acting like yer best pal. Ye’ll fa’ for him hook, line an’ sinker if ye dinna look oot.”
“Aye,” said the second fish, “he stitched ma mate up like a kipper.”
“What’s your names?” asked Angus.
“Ah’m Gil” said the first fish.
“And this is Finn, an’ Ray.”
“Well, thanks for the warning and all, but I think I need to go get a drink.”
“Sorry we canna jine ye.”said Finn.
“Gil drinks like a fish, an we’ve aa been barred. Thinks he’s the life and sole o’ the party.”
“Always legless” said Ray,
“And Ah dinna like pubs; Ah aye feel oot o’ plaice – lik a fish oot o water.”
Angus, who feared he had a haddock coming on, had had enough.
“Bye then chaps; I’d best get my skates on. Bigger fish to fry. Sea you later.”
“Whale meet again!” chimed the three fish.
And off Angus hurried to catch up with Shirk and his party, taking a quick sip from his bottle on the way.
* * * *
The Seven Incorporated Dwarves tent was heaving. A space had been cleared in the middle of the tent when Angus arrived. His friend Barney sidled up to him and thrust a further tankard of drink into his hands.
“Been haein a fun wi Shirk an’ Suntie Claas Ah hear” smiled Barney, who was now clutching a brown envelope.
In fact Santa was working the room, handing out brown envelopes large and small. Just then, to Angus’ astonishment, Santa pulled off his beard, which had been a disguise, and his Santa hat. He put on a tall, black hat, which was crooked.
“The crooked man” muttered Angus to himself.
“What wez tha, Angus?” asked Donnelly Wonnelly tucking something into his suit jacket pocket.
“Er nothing. I-“
But Donnelly wasn’t listening and a sudden blast of trumpets made even the drunken revellers hush.
“Ladies, Gentlemen an’ Cooncillors” Barney addressed the room; he was now in a spotlight talking on a mic.
“Here she comes noo; the fairest in aa the land: Give it up fer SNOOOOW WHITE!”
A hush fell over the room as Snow White glided to the centre of the room.
‘She looks just like Melania Trump’ Angus thought, although he didn’t recognise her at first with so much clothes on.
“Ladeees and Gentlemen. I am Snow White. Whiter than White. White Power. Obama he had never been born – no birth certificate. My husband Shirk is going to make Storybook Glen Great again! Be best!”
Huge cheers rang out in the tent. She continued, but it was clear she was a bit tipsy. Suddenly as Shirk tried to take her hand, her mood changed abruptly.
“I really don’t care do you? F Christmas! Who gives a F about Christmas! I-“ Snow White growled, as she was suddenly being dragged away by footmen.
“I have more to say! I am brilliant like Shirk! I have Epstein Visa!” she bellowed as they took her away.
Barney swiftly recovered the event.
“OK, Movin richt along noo, here she is: oor ain Cinderella, an’ AWARD-WINNING COUNCILLOR OF THE YEAR! Welcome Jeanny Ling!”
The crowd shouted wildly and applauded as a pumpkin coach drawn by six hydrogen-powered cars pulled up next to Barney, who helped the beautiful award-winning Cinderella out.
“Well, this is the best thing that has ever, ever happened!”
“I WON! I won an award as best councillor!”
The crowds chanted ‘Jea-nny! Jea-nny! Jea-nny!’ as she held the shining golden trophy aloft.
“Ah micht nae be Labour richt noo, but Ah’m an AWARD WINNER!” Jeanny told her admirers,
“Aye, thon prestigious, fee-charging, private thinktank, the LGIU decidit to mak me – ME! The top cooncillor!”
Barney handed her a bouquet of flowers; Angus thought he saw a bulging brown envelope inside of it.
“Tae show oor gratitude, Ahm hopin ma fella Storybook Glen cooncillors will be a-signing up fer some o’ the LGIU’s braw workshops – there’s a bargain course ‘how to deal with difficult people’ for jist 540 pieces o’ eight. Some o’ ye micht need ‘at if yev hid ony doins wi Donnelly Wonnelly or Wee Willie!”
The crowd guffawed except Wee Willie, who was busy live-tweeting the event, pretending not to notice the slight.
Angus started to have his doubts about the integrity of his new-found pals.
“Ah hope ye’ve aa got yer memberships; maybe cometime ye’ll win an AWARD as weel – jis think foo happy the peasants will feel aboot ‘at – or think they feel, Ah should say. Costs Storybook Toon Cooncil next tae ni’hin for the annual membership fees – but we canna tell ye foo muckle.”
“And this prestigious LGIU award is sponsored by CCLA. And fit’s the CCLA?” Jeanny trilled,
“A charitable investment fund! AND..” she waited for cheers to die down.
“Last year CCLA had a turnower o’ 33 million gold coins!”
The applause was thunderous; streamers and balloons fell from the sky. Brown envelopes were flying like confetti. The Crooked Man had left the Santa suit he’d been wearing across a table; he was now talking to a few men in suits.
Angus felt a touch on his arm. It was the witch from the table at the doorway.
“Here dearie,” she crooned,
“Ye look a wee bit peaky. I’ve something tae mak ye feel better.”
“Is it a magic potion?” Angus asked.
“Well, dearie in a wye it is” and she pressed a small but thick brown envelope into his hand.
“Time ye wis back doon tae yer guardhoose.”
She snapped her fingers.
* * * *
With a jolt Angus was awake. The sun was coming up.
Next to him on the desk was the now-empty dish of home-made mushroom pate and the empty wine bottle. There was still a slug of Penguin left.
The old man who’d helped him last night was knocking on the window of the guard hut; his face was beaming.
“Ony bother last nicht?”
Angus took a few moments to recover his senses.
“Err, all fine last night, nothing to report.”
“Smashin,” said the man with a twinkle in his eye.
“Morn’s nicht again then, Aye?”
“Err.. sure” said Angus, gathering his things.
“Mind if I take the rest of this Penguin with me? I’ll bring you some ‘Sink the Bismarck’ tomorrow.”
“Ach, ‘at would be affa good o’ ye”. said the man patting Angus on the shoulder.
“Ah think me an’ you’s gan tae get on jist rare.”
Angus turned to leave and was walking away when the old man caught his arm.
“Ye fergot this, pal.” said the old man, and he thrust a brown envelope at Angus, who swiftly put it in his inside pocket.
Angus took a further swig from the bottle, patted the envelope through his jacket and headed to find the bus back home. Somewhere a sleepy owl hooted.
* * * *
From Aberdeen Voice, Old Susannah, and the fictitious, unrelated to any plaice, place, person or persons, Storybook Glen and its fake inhabitants – MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY 2021, and Good Health! Wear a mask.
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