The last Probus meeting before Christmas is always a good fun affair and this year’s was no exception. Keith Bailey’s one-man acting performance of Charles Dickens’s famous novella, A Christmas Carol, was a first for the Club and in just over an hour with the aid of different props including a bed, table and lectern Keith enacted to our enthralled members a highly professional synopsis of the whole story which ended with rapturous applause from all present.
It was Christmas Eve and Scrooge, in his miserable poorly lit office, was grudgingly giving his overworked clerk Bob Cratchit the following day off for Christmas. Scrooge was reminiscing about his former partner Jacob Marley’s death seven years ago to the day as, having balanced the books, he locked up the office and made his way back to his small, poorly lit abode in Camden Town. He entered and, no sooner had he climbed the stairs to his cold and uninviting living room than his front doorbell started to ring announcing the arrival of a guest. As he opened the door there was the transparent face of Marley’s Ghost. Marley had no guts, Scrooge had been told, but he hadn’t believed it.
Marley’s apparition was there dragging a chain wrapped round his body which brought a feeling of foreboding to Scrooge, particularly as Marley stated that three ghosts would appear to Scrooge over the next three days. He was warning Scrooge not to follow in his own footsteps and have the burden of dragging a chain around for the rest of his days both on this earth and beyond.
The ghost of Christmas past with his glowing head symbolising the mind and representing memory came into sight and took Scrooge back to his happy childhood days when he was carefree, but then Keith wrapped a shawl round his head to become Scrooge’s sister who told him that he hadn’t changed, reminding him that she was poor and penniless. This was too much for Scrooge who shouted “begone spirit” as past truths came home to haunt him. There came the interval, for Kevin’s one-man role was somewhat exhausting and again it added to the drama; what would the second half bring?
Part Two started with the Ghost of Christmas present appearing and representing generosity, empathy and the Christmas spirit. Scrooge wanted to become a giver. His nephew Fred appeared, wishing his uncle a happy New Year, and suddenly Scrooge realised that he must start being charitable toward his fellow men. He asked Fred to go out and buy the largest turkey he could lay his hands on and take it forthwith to Bob Cratchit’s family. The fact that Scrooge paid him a mere 15 shillings a week was starting to pray on his mind.
He was then shown an apparition of Tiny Tim, Cratchit’s crippled young son who was being carried around on his father’s shoulders and was apparently about to die. This moved Scrooge greatly and he was concerned that the turkey should arrive quickly at the Cratchit house, ordering his nephew to take a take a taxi, if necessary, to get there quickly. The clock struck 12 and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appeared representing the fear of death and tomorrow’s day of reckoning. Scrooge contemplated this as he lay in his bed.
“Bob, you’re late”, muttered Scrooge, “what sort of time of day is this? Well, I’m not going to stand for this any longer and I’m raising your salary and want to help your struggling family.” Scrooge was better than his word, Tiny Tim didn’t die, Scrooge became a better man and we were left with the thought that there is a moral in life for all of us here.
Perhaps the world’s dictators might benefit from reading A Christmas Carol as, on behalf of our Probus Club, I post the last blog for 2022 and wonder how the one this time next year might read, before we all receive a message from “The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come”!
A healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to all of our blog readers.