January 27, 2022

The Editor Speaks: A Cayman Christmas Scrooge

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If I said someone is a Scrooge what would you say he is?

I was asked to read a story at a family Christmas event called “Back to Bethlehem” and it mustn’t last more than 15 minutes.

After pondering for a while on how to entertain grownups and children alike I decided to perform the story of Scrooge. I had always wanted to play Scrooge but alas never have I been able to achieve that dream so what better than to do it now. And so I did.

To answer the question I am sure 90% of you will know. Scrooge describes a miserable, mean person who loves money more than anything else. And it was a man named Ebenezer Scrooge who the definition came to be associated with. He was the central character of a book called “A Christmas Carol” By Charles Dickens.

So the following is the story I told and acted out. I modernised it and instead of a cold miserable day in London, England a long time ago, I moved it to Grand Cayman a few years ago.

Many apologies to Dickens and many thanks to Wikipedia for providing the plot of the original story.

So this is my Christmas Story for all our readers. (Please remember there was an audience I was playing to.)

My story starts on a hot and sweaty Christmas Eve in South Sound exactly seven years after the death of my business partner, Jacob Marley. I live alone in a big house on the beach and I am a lawyer, a very good one although I hear people talking about me as being an old miser, “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!” (Laugh)

I say to them all “Bah humbug.” Bah humbug to little boys and girls, irritating monkeys, and especially Bah humbug to Christmas. I hate Christmas. Don’t you all hate Christmas? You don’t? Then Bah Humbug to all of you, too.

My nephew, Fred, invited me to come and have dinner with him and his family tomorrow, Christmas Day. Me spend Christmas Day with him? Ba Humbug I told him – No!

Can you believe it? Two men knocked at my door and asked for a donation to provide food and some fans for the poor? It’s a wonder they didn’t ask me to provide an air conditioner for them, too. Bah Humbug I told them and slammed the door in their face. I was busy tabulating out how much money I had made today on my computer.

But don’t think I’m not generous. I employ a clerk, Bob Walter to answer the phone, make appointments, run errands, clean, and a multitude of other things. You see he isn’t qualified to do anything else and he got in trouble with the law even though he protested his innocence, and I am the only person on this island to give him a job. Now that’s kindness isn’t it?

In return I don’t pay him very much, just enough to keep his head above water and if he was to complain about me to the Labour Board he knows he wouldn’t get a job with anyone else. So I work him to death – well not quite death. If he was dead he would be no asset to me at all. And to show even more kindness I allowed him to take Christmas Day off with full pay. Isn’t that kind of me?

So now I’m off to bed.

Snore.

What’s that. Can you hear chains rattling and a voice groaning? You can’t? Then you’re all deaf. I can. So I’ll tell you what I can see and you can’t.

O my. There he is? Do you see him? No. You can’t. This is very irritating. It’s Jacob Marley. But he’s dead. It must be a ghost. And he looks terrible. I suppose he would being in the ground for seven years. And he’s dragging all these heavy chains and moaning.

What is it Jacob? What are you telling me? You are forever cursed to wander the earth dragging a network of heavy chains, forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. You’re telling me I have one last chance to avoid the same fate — I will be visited by three spirits, one after the other and I must listen to them or be cursed to carry chains of my own, much longer than his chains.

He’s gone. Thank goodness. I’m quite shaken up.  I’m going back to sleep.

What’s that? Who’s there? It’s another Ghost. Who are you? The Ghost of Christmas Past. I have to come with you? I can’t say ‘No”. Where are we going?

Oh it’s me when I was a young boy. Oh I look so happy. So innocent. And I’m playing with other children. But then I’m lonely. All the other children have gone and my mum and dad die. But I have my beloved sister Fran. And then Fran dies, too. She’s run over by a hit and run driver when she’s crossing the West Bay Road. The RCIPS never did find out who did it. Someone should pay for it. May the person who did it burn in Hell.

I go to the Truman Bodden Law School and qualify as a lawyer. It was there I met Jacob Marley. We become close friends and go to work for a big local law firm. The Senior Partner treats me like a son. And there I fall in love with Joanne. She wants to marry me and I her, but first I must make lots of money. Jacob convinces me to join him and start our own law firm. I agree and we call the firm Marley and Me. I steal a lot of my former law firm’s clients but that doesn’t matter. Oh. I cannot believe how much money I am making. Then Joanne meets and marries someone else. She says she realises I love money more than anything. Much more than she. Then I see her at her house with her husband and her four children. And it’s Christmas Eve. And they are all so happy. They are looking forward to Christmas Day.

I wake up. It was all a dream. I must go back to sleep.

What’s that? Who’s there? It’s another Ghost. Who are you? The Ghost of Christmas Present.Where are you taking me? Oh The Farmer’s Market? Now it’s Hurley’s, Foster’s and now Kirk’s. And everybody’s cheerful and buying food. And now it’s Camana Bay. Wow people know how to spend. But they’re buying gifts for other people. Not on themselves. How silly? But they are all so happy. Now we’re going to an area I never knew existed. I think it’s in George Town but it looks so drab. And the houses are so tiny. We go in one. Oh it’s Bob Walter’s. The woman with him must be his wife. I knew he was married but I’ve never met her. She looks nice and they are sitting down to eat. They don’t have much. There’s no turkey. Looks like some chicken wings from KFC. It must be Christmas Day otherwise he would be at work. But there’s someone else in the room laying down. He is a young boy. Their son and he looks so ill. I’m sure he’s going to die very soon. His name is Tiny Tim. Tiny is right. He certainly is tiny. What is wrong with him? He has a rare blood disease and if the course of events don’t change he will die by the end of the week.

What’s this. Oh. Two awful children. They look starved and they full of sores and lice and there are maggots crawling all over them. I can hardly look at them. They are called Ignorance and Want and I must beware of the one called Ignorance. Look Spirit I want to help both of them. Tell me how? What’s that? You don’t believe me? Stop mocking me? It’s true? Now you’re laughing at me. Stop it. I do want to help them. I do. I do. What’s that on my cheeks? Wetness? And my eyes are filled with water. Where did that come from? From the air conditioning I think. I will have to call someone in.

I wake up. The ghost has gone. Another bad dream. I feel so tired. I must go back to sleep.

What’s that? Who’s there? Oh no. It’s another Ghost. Who are you? The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Where are we going? A Christmas Day in the future. The ghost shows me scenes involving the death of a disliked man. The man’s funeral is at a Church but it is only attended by local businessmen — no parishioners or family and friends. He didn’t have any. The man’s maid, his housekeeper, and the local funeral director steal some of his possessions and sell them to a drug dealer. I feel sorry for this dead man and I ask the ghost to show me someone who feels any emotion over the man’s death. The ghost can only show me the pleasure of a poor couple in debt to the man, rejoicing that his death gives them more time to sort their finances. I ask to see some tenderness connected with any death. The ghost shows me Bob Walter and his wife and relations mourning the passing of Tiny Tim. The ghost then shows me the man’s neglected grave, and the tombstone bears the name of Ebenezer Scrooge! My name. Scrooge!

I pray. I fall on my knees. Oh forgive me! Forgive me! I swear before Jesus Christ I will change my ways to avoid this outcome. I beg. I implore. I cry.

The Lord did hear my prayer.

And I did change my ways.

When I awoke on Christmas Day I had joy and love in my heart. I spent the day with Fred’s family and anonymously sent a huge turkey to the Walter home for Christmas dinner. The following day, I tell Bob to go home as its Boxing Day and he is entitled to have it off with full pay. I’m giving him a huge pay increase and I became like another father to Tiny Tim and sent him to Health City and paid all his medical bills. He is a fine young man today and comes to church.

I am indeed a changed man, I now treat everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion, and now love Christmas. And I met a lady and fell in love and we got married. Although her name is spelt JOAN everyone calls her Joanne.

I hope you all have a wonderful happy and blessed Christmas.

The Cayman Christmas Scrooge is so much nicer don’t you think? And sadly don’t all of us have a little Scrooge in us, too?

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