The plot so far: Ebenezer Fysshe has been visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob McCaskill, accompanied by two other apparitions. The ghost of forecasts past took Fysshe back to an embarrassing scene from his youth. Fysshe blacked out and is now back in his room.
When Ebenezer opened his eyes, he was relieved to find himself back in his bed. His hopes that it had all been a bad dream, however, were rapidly dispelled and the second apparition came towards him, its bony arm outstretched.
"I am the ghost of Christmas Present," said the apparition. "Look upon me."
"I don't give Christmas presents," said Fysshe, averting his gaze.
"No," shouted the ghost. "That's present as in the present time, not present as in gift wrapping."
"Oh," said Ebenezer. And they wafted off together towards the fringes of London.
"Whither are you taking me?" asked Fysshe. "I have never ventured to these areas before."
"This is the place they call Charlton," said the ghost, "where the poor live."
Ebenezer winced, but his discomfort grew as they entered a small terraced house in a squalid street and he recognised one of the inhabitants. "Why, that is dear Suzanne. And is that not her old father out in the garden kicking a football?"
The apparition nodded. Then they heard Suzanne say: "Come in Dad, it's going to snow."
"Stupid girl," mumbled Ebenezer. "Not this Christmas." But at that moment, just as the old man hobbled in from the garden, a blizzard unleashed its full fury. Within seconds, everything was covered with snow.
"I blame El Nino," said Fysshe, with a trace of bitterness in his voice and tears beginning to form in his eyes.
The next he knew, he was back in his room again. McCaskill had gone and taken the two apparitions with him. "It's over," thought Fysshe. "Terrible dream. Must get back to sleep." But as he closed his eyes, a grim wailing spread through the room. He opened them again and saw a vision still more terrible than those that had assailed his senses before.
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come," said the apparition. "Come with me." Fysshe did as he was bade, but this time their trip took them high into the skies, whence they looked down upon the earth.
Throughout the whole of Europe, all Fysshe could see was parched and barren land. There was no life visible anywhere save the occasional rat or cockroach scrabbling among the detritus of a civilisation long dead.
"Is this what is to happen to our beloved planet?" asked Fysshe.
"Well it might," said the ghost, "or it could be like this." Then with a swish of his cape, he transformed the entire scene into one of luxuriant growth and happy Englishmen bathing in the warm seas around their islands.
"Frankly," said the ghost, "I don't really know. You'll have to ask the Ghost of Global Warming if you want a reliable long-range forecast."
Fysshe went to work the next day with a spring in his stride. He had bought Suzanne a new umbrella and a new football for her dad. "It's snowing," he told the nation. "I was wrong. But what the hell! Merry Christmas one and all."Reuse content