I don’t know if it was the Brussels sprouts or the Christmas pudding that did for me, but after the exertions of the football match, the meal and the soporific effect of Yorkshire Television, I dozed off into a deep sleep in the armchair.
I woke in the early hours feeling the chill. The only sounds were the hiss of the gas fire and the high-pitched hum from the Rediffusion tv, its screen blank, apart from the white dot in the centre indicating that it had closed down for the night.
I was about to get up to switch the set off, when the hum changed to a deeper tone and the white dot began to swirl and grow bigger.
As I watched, transfixed, the whiteness started to coalesce and began to take on the features of a face. I sniffed the empty glass by my side to check if I might have been drinking something with hallucinogenic properties, but it smelt like just plain Vimto.
When I looked back at the tv, it glowed white and the translucent face had become clearer and it looked vaguely familiar.
Its long hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air, it wore many chains and made strange groaning noises. Then the shade spoke.
‘As it ‘appens, guys and gals, I am the Ghost of Christmas Night Family Entertainment, not to mention Radio One and Top of the Pops. ‘Ows about that then?’
‘Jimmy Savile?’ I ventured incredulously, ‘But aren’t you, well aren’t you dead?’
The apparition grinned mischievously and pulled out a piece of paper and read aloud:
‘I have here a letter, a letter from a young man from Cleckhuddersfax who says: Dear Jim, can you fix it for me leave this benighted place, full of lunatics, druids and cross-dressers and take me to the sanity that lies on the other side of the Pennines.’
‘Well Mr Parrot, as well as being the ghost of all the things mentioned above, I also ‘appen to be the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future Imperfect Tense and Cleckhuddersfax is the tense imperfect future you can look forward to if you keep writing about Yorkshiremen like you have been. But it doesn’t have to be so.’
‘You mean I can change this future?’ I asked. ‘I don’t have to go into police protection, I don’t have to live in a high rise flat that smells of tripe? I don’t have to keep coal in the bath and eat pigeons? I can return to civilisation?’
The spirit nodded and smiled indulgently, so I wasted no time. I went down on my knees and made a solemn promise never to write any factual posts about interesting, eccentric Yorkshiremen ever again, but especially Jimmy Savile.
When I unclasped my hands and opened my eyes, I was back in my own bedroom in dear old blighty.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt light as a feather and happy as an angel. I was merry as a schoolboy and giddy as a drunken man.
I didn’t know what day of the month it was or how long I’d been among the Yorkists. I didn’t know anything!
Running to the window, I opened it and put my head out. No fog, no mist; just clear, bright, jovial cold. Cold piping for the blood to dance to.
“What’s today?” I shouted to a boy on a brand new bike who had stopped to see what was to do. “What’s today my fine fellow?”
‘An intelligent boy! A remarkable boy!’ I said. ‘Do you know if Morrisons supermarket is open today?’
‘Of course not,’ he replied. ‘I just said, it’s Christmas Day, but if it’s a prize turkey with all the trimmings and a case of Thwaites Mild you’re after, I’m sure my mum would oblige if you’ve got the money.’
‘What a delightful boy!’ I thought, ‘It’s a pleasure to talk to him.’ With that, I threw down my wallet and off he sped off from whence he came.
No more Cleckhuddersfax, just good old Lancastrian fare. Who could ask for anything more.
So I raise a glass to you all — Inspector Snow, Pcs Derek and Barraclough, Jimmy Savile, the Ancient Order of Druids and Seers (Cleckhuddersfield Branch), but especially Maurice Wilson — God bless us, every one!
With apologies to Charles Dickens