A Christmas Carol or What the Dickens?
This is another guest article by Graeme No3, one of our regular contributing writers. It’s a new take on an old story and just what’s needed to blow away those post-Christmas blues. Enjoy!
In the first place Marley was dead. There was no doubt about it. His partner Scrooge kept the old company name, not out of respect nor nostalgia, but to spare the expense of making any change. So it was that one Christmas Eve — Scrooge sat in the office of Scrooge and Marley, renewable energy suppliers. It was cold, bleak, biting weather and came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense, that one might have thought that the glaciers had moved south to Yorkshire, and the Climate was cooling, despite what the BBC said every day.
The clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already—there had been reduced electricity all day—and emergency lanterns were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices.
Scrooge was reading a report about renewable energy, largely plagiarized from the Bishop Hill site. Scrooge did not seem at all concerned that he had paid £105,000 for what he could have got for nothing, nor that there was a report every week drawing on sites like Cornwall Wind Watch, Energy Matters or NoTricksZone. Nor was he concerned by the transfer of funds, as legitimate business expenses, from the high tax UK to the much lower tax rate of Lichtenstein. They went to a small Consulting Firm who employed a well paid secretary 2 days a week to produce the reports and the profits went to the owner. Guess who!
Scrooge read them all and had lately started to have some doubts about the future. He wasn’t ready to reduce his investments in wind farms and solar arrays, for Scrooge loved money, and nothing would persuade him to give up business earning 23% pa. For all that he couldn’t delude himself that the Global Warming Scare – or whatever it was called – was likely to last much longer.
The door of Scrooge’s office was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who was sending Last Notices to elderly widows and other poor pensioners with overdue electricity accounts. Scrooge had a very small fire, so small that it looked like one coal only, for he professed a belief in Global Warming which justified his stinginess. The clerk’s fire was very much larger and warmer. Scrooge couldn’t object to it, as his clerk supplied his own fuel.
“A merry Christmas, uncle! Gaia save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew Fred, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. “Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”
“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?”
“I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? And why aren’t you at the Department?” For Scrooge’s nephew was employed at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
“Why,” returned his nephew Fred gaily. “We have a half day off for shopping before tomorrow”. “What right have you to be paid for being idle?” was Scrooge’s retort; “Why must I subsidize the idle?”
What reason have you to be so mean? You’re rich enough.” Scrooge having no better answer ready to the truth, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”
“Don’t be cross, uncle!” said the nephew. “You know full well that my being there has helped you in your business”. For much inside information came Scrooge’s way. “There are many things from which you have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “But I am sure I have always thought of our work to stop Climate Change, as a good thing, a necessary thing, when men and women open their wallets as they think of the plight of their grandchildren. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, Gaia bless it!”
The clerk involuntarily laughed. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and started back as it blazed higher.
“Let me see those sort of emissions from you,” said Scrooge, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation!”
“You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir,” he added, turning on his nephew. “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.”
“You would say that, wouldn’t you?” said Scrooge, looking slyly at his nephew Fred. “It seems a pity that many who have to choose between heating or eating don’t share your views” he taunted.
“Really, Uncle. Don’t you know that we supply financial assistance to those people. They just have to fill out the proper form at the start of winter and wait while they are assessed. Once they have received the Approval to Apply then they can attend the regional office where they can find out what assistance categories they are eligible for. Once they decide which one they want to apply for, then they just have to fill out the right Application and attend the scheduled appointment at the regional office with the required identity documents, and if approved they should get some money within 3 or 4 months”.
“Well, that should fix that problem” retorted Scrooge.
“I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so sceptical. We must never quarrel, as that would only encourage UKIP. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!”
“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge.
“And A Happy New Year!”
“Good afternoon!” said Scrooge.
His nephew left the room without an angry word. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk, who, though he wore a UKIP badge, returned them cordially. He explained that he was going to a Party meeting that very evening, as it might be the last before the party was banned in the New Year. Nephew Fred was so taken back by meeting someone opposed to his beliefs, that he fled into the snow.
Scrooge’s nephew on going out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood in Scrooge’s office. “Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?”
“Mr. Marley has been dead these five years,” Scrooge replied. “He died five years ago, this very night.”
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the first gentleman “it is desirable that we should help the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time from the high cost of power. Many go in want of common necessities as they try to keep their abode warm; thousands are in danger of an early death.”
The second collector added “a few of us are raising funds to buy the Poor some means of warmth. This time, of all others, is when Warmth is keenly needed. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. I help to support the Government — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go to them.”
“Those efforts are little, so many might die.”
“If they die,” said Scrooge, “all the better, for it decreases the surplus population. Good afternoon, gentlemen!” Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew.
That night as Scrooge gazed at his old flickering TV a ghastly visage filled the screen. The party political broadcast rapidly faded, and another horrible apparition appeared looking like his old partner Marley. He dismissed the notion, and rationalized that he had been reminded of him that afternoon. when he was jolted fully awake by a voice calling his name. “What’s this Jacob? You’ve been in your grave for 5 years”.
“I have no grave” replied the apparition “I believed in Global Warming and lost my faith, so I am doomed to roam the BBC airways forever, looking at endless repeats of their propaganda. Beware, Scrooge lest you share my fate”.
Scrooge hesitated, he wasn’t sure how to converse with a ghost, “How so, Marley? You used to like them.” “It is Worse Than You Think” retorted the apparition. “Endless repeats, the same old lack of proof, the empty rhetorical tricks, the suspect claims of support, the frantic efforts to censor any dissenting views lest the scam be questioned”.
“This night you will be visited by three spirits, and you must listen to them or be cursed to the same fate”. Marley departed, leaving Scrooge wishing he could forget his words, but unable to do so.
Second Stave: Ghost of Christmas Past
The first of the spirits appeared promptly, wearing an unfortunate sports jacket and a worse tie. The Ghost of Christmas Past took Scrooge to scenes of Scrooge’s life, when he was more idealistic and more innocent. There Scrooge barely recognized himself as a recent graduate of the University of East Anglia and a fervent believer in Global Warming. He winced as he heard his simple-minded associates chanting their slogans after the UK signed the Kyoto Accord.
He and Marley had set out to Save The Earth with renewable energy. A legacy from an aunt and grants from various government agencies has enabled them to build their first wind farm. They had overcome objections to the wind turbines and their noise, including from his fiancée, Belle, who ended their relationship when Scrooge wouldn’t listen to her, as he loved money more.
Third Stave: Ghost of Christmas Present
The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, took Scrooge to the UKIP Christmas party, where all listened intently, as indeed did Scrooge, to his clerk Scratchit confidently introducing Roger Helmsley to talk on Problems with Wind Farms. The enthusiasm reminded him of the time leading up to the Copenhagen Conference, and their hopes were so high that Scrooge hoped that they would not be dashed.
The second ghost then took Scrooge to a discrete building in the west end. Screams and moans came from a back room. Scrooge peeked and saw Osborne tied down being “attended to” by a whip wielding red-head of a certain age. “More stimulus Madame Westwood” cried the rosy-cheeked Osborne “I can feel that organic birch doing good”.
In the next room Cameron groveled before a stout woman in jackboots. “I will never leave you, Frau Chancellor, I will put wind farms on the White Cliffs.” “Gut” she said “that will double your cost of electricity, so we will be competitive”.
Before disappearing, the spirit showed Scrooge two hideous, emaciated figures named Ignorance and Deceit; he told Scrooge to beware the latter above all, and replied to Scrooge’s concern on how to recognize them, “They may go by the names of Nurse and Connelley, believe not their lies at your peril”.
Fourth Stave: Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
The third spirit took Scrooge to Christmas Day some years later. He recognized the front of his building, TO LET notices were on the windows. Two pale shivering wretches huddled in the doorway trying to shelter from the bitter wind. Scrooge was shocked to see one of the wretches was Lord D. a prominent advocate for wind energy and a Director of several of his companies.
The other too looked familiar, surely not the Nobel Laureate Michael Mann reduced to begging? He held out a rather tattered copy of The Hockey Stick and Climate Wars to passersby but no-one was interested in buying.
The spirit then showed Scrooge a derelict wind turbine that. A large bird’s nest crowning the top. The locked door bore the name of Scrooge’s company, with a painted message Bankrupt Sale. Sobbing, Scrooge pledged that he would change his ways.
Fifth Stave: Aftermath
His nephew then came to see him, very unhappy. In the cold weather the lack of electricity from the wind farms had become a major problem. The Guardian and the BBC claimed, citing “a leak from the Department of Energy”, that the Government was thinking of raising the subsidies, to encourage expansion of capacity. Many were wondering how if the existing turbines weren’t delivering, more would make any difference. He warned Scrooge that this subsidy increase was unlikely to go ahead. “I am sorry for you” he said, “I hoped that it would make you richer”.
“Very kind of you” said Scrooge, taking the bait. “Was there some reason for that?”
“Well, yes” was the response “I was hoping for a change of employment. My marriage has gone bust. Worse, it is a superior in the Department and I foresee a very tough time ahead. Already he’s queried our relationship”.
Scrooge laughed, “Bah, humbug. Enquire into links between the DECC and operators. Does he really think that anybody wants to open that can of worms?”
“I sold out just in time, and that talk of increased subsidies boosted the price I got from those wanting to get their snouts into the trough. The Guardian, the BBC superannuation fund, the French Government – those loonies – they paid twice what the firm was worth. Wait until they find out that I haven’t put any electricity into the Grid for 18 months”. Seeing the stunned look on his nephew’s face he explained “no point in wearing out your turbines, when you can wait until all the wind farms are working and ring up saying more is coming. They pay you better rates not to generate, and as they can’t say how much you might have produced, they err on the generous side”.
Disappointed as he was Fred realized that another might be worse off than himself. “Uncle, what of your clerk Scratchit?”
“He’s the new General Manager. A salary of £1,000,000 a year on a 2 year contract. Don’t worry about him”.
“But won’t they dismiss him, or sue you when they find out?”
“They didn’t read the fine print. He gets the whole £2 million regardless. Anyway, my money is safe abroad and shortly so will I”.
Fred suggested, “you could do much good with it”.
“Yes”, returned Scrooge, “ I have a small charity in mind”
“Wonderful, Uncle, what is it? An orphanage in Rwanda, a hospital for Ebola victims in Liberia?”
“Nothing so grand. I shall I will be devoting my life to the poor and destitute”, handing Fred a photo “her name is Desireé – she was Miss Martinique or some such”. Fred goggled at the photo and reluctantly handed it back saying “well, it’s apparent that she couldn’t afford much in the way of clothing”.
“Well, she will find me willing enough to clothe her” said Scrooge, “and unclothe her also” then reverted to type by remarking “besides if we stayed here she’d want fur coats, but in the Indies it will be cheap cotton dresses and bikinis.” Fred had his doubts, in his view bikinis were like renewable energy – a lot promised but the less coverage, the higher the cost.
“Come with me, nephew, she’s got a sister, you know. I’m leaving this freezing weather and going to the West Indies where my new yacht is moored. Unless you want to stay at the Department with Ed Davey?”
“Department! Bah, humbug!” said Fred, “and as for Davey, what a turkey”.