Monday 27 April 2020

The Year’s Most Popular Christmas Toy

by Dawn Knox

mulled wine

 Previously, Eddie, Colin, Brian and Gideon’s new business venture is experiencing cash flow problems. Eddie thinks Father Christmas can help...

 “What d’you mean the Soup John Bee might be repossessed? That can’t be right!” Brian swung round, spilling cocoa over the ship’s galley floor.

“Yes, Eddie,” said Colin, “how can that be? You told us the business was going well.”

“It is, but we’ve got a slight cash flow problem. The weather’s freezing, the soup’s choppy most days and it’s nearly Christmas and no one’s interested in fishing expeditions at the moment. We’ve got more bookings than we can handle next year but they don’t start until February. So, it’s just a temporary problem.  If we can keep our heads above the soup over Christmas and during January, we’ll be fine.”

“Is there anything we can do, old thing?” asked Gideon, squirting a mound of cream on top of the hot chocolate in his mug.

“Well, I’ve made an executive decision and got us all Christmas jobs,” said Eddie, “Nothing too taxing and if we all work from now until Christmas Eve, we’ll be able to keep going financially until our first fishing trip next February.”

“So, you’ve got us jobs?” asked Brian mopping up the spilled cocoa.


There was silence for a few moments. 

“And you didn’t think to consult us?” asked Colin,

“Needs must, I’m afraid,” Eddie said vaguely.

“Well, are you going to give us details?” 

“Umm, yes…”

More silence.

“Oh no!” said Brian, “Please tell me you don’t expect us to go back to Leonora da Finchy’s studio as life models! My hair’s only just grown back after that waxing! And I’m sure it’s not as thick as it was.”
“No, nothing
 like that,” said Eddie. “If you must know, I’ve got us jobs in Honkin & Sniffet.”

“That fancy department store in town?” asked Gideon.


“Well why didn’t you say?” asked Colin, “I think we’ll all be happy to work in a shop until Christmas, won’t we fellas?”

Gideon and Brian nodded. 

“When do we start, old boy?”

“Tomorrow, bright and early,” said Eddie, “so we’d better finish our drinks and get a good night’s sleep. I’ll give you your co… err that is I’ll give you your uniforms, tomorrow morning. Night night.”

“Uniforms?” asked Brian, “The shop assistants wear suits…”

“Perhaps that’s what he means,” said Colin.

But Eddie had left the galley. 

“Why didn’t you give us our uniforms to change into, back on the boat, Eddie?” asked Colin.  “Wouldn’t it have been easier if we’d arrived dressed properly rather than have to change in the store?”

“Oh, you know…” said Eddie absently.

“No, we don’t,” said Brian “and your vagueness is beginning to worry me. Where is everyone? The shop doesn’t open for another hour. Why did we have to get here so early?” 

“Well, we need training,” said Eddie, “Mrs. Malone, the store manager, wants us to be in position when the doors open. Here, put these on,” He handed them each a bag. 

“I’ve never noticed the sales assistants wearing anything like this, old chap,” said Gideon peering into his bag.

“Ah, but we’re not sales assistants, we’re Father Christmas and his helpers,” said Eddie pulling his white beard into position beneath his beak. 

“Is this some kind of joke?” asked Brian, pulling a pink, ballet tutu out of his bag, “I’m not wearing that!”

“You have to,” said Eddie, putting on a large white-trimmed red coat, “and don’t crush your wings. They’re delicate.”

“C’mon fellas!” said Colin, “Don’t look so glum. It’s not long until Christmas and it might be fun.”

“Fun? Fun?” screeched Brian, “Where’s the fun in dressing up like a fairy?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Colin, “I think we’re going to look stunning, although I’m not so sure about…” he looked doubtfully at Gideon.

“Oh, don’t worry about me, old chap, I’m not a fairy, I’ve got an elf costume.”

“That’s not fair!” said Brian, “I don’t want to be a fairy, why can’t I be an elf?”

“Me, me, me! Honestly, it’s not always about you, Brian!” said Eddie stepping into long, black boots, “Anyway, they didn’t do elf costumes small enough for you and Colin.” 

“Size! It always comes down to size!” Brian grumbled. 

“Stop moaning and get dressed.”

“Is there a mirror?” asked Brian pulling on his pink tights.

“Brian! Stop messing about!” said Eddie.

“What? What? It’s not my fault! I can’t see if these things are on straight without a mirror.” 

“They don’t go on your head,” said Colin, “they go on your legs. Look, you roll each leg up like this and then put your foot in the hole.”

“Oh, I see. I thought they were a bit long, for ears,” said Brian, “anyway, how d’you know so much about tights?”

“Never you mind,” said Colin. 

“Can one of you chaps give me a hand doing this up, please? I think I could have done with a bigger outfit. I can hardly breathe and the jacket’s not buttoned up yet,” said Gideon. 

“That’s the biggest size they had,” said Eddie. 

“These tights are a bit… well, tight and rather lumpy,” said Brian.

“It’s all the hair on your legs,” said Colin, “Pity you didn’t get them waxed.”

“Never, never again!” said Brian “And what the heck’s this?” He held up a tiny bra. 

“I’ll give you a clue,” said Colin, holding it up to his chest, “and it’s got nothing to do with your ears.”

Mrs. Malone, a stern and forbidding ladybird, led Santa, one portly elf and two fairies – one of whom minced daintily while the other stomped with legs apart – to the back of the store. 

“The first rule in Santa’s Grotto is that the customer is always right. Do whatever is necessary to keep them satisfied. Do you understand?” she asked, looking doubtfully at Brian who was rearranging his knickers. 

“You, Fairy One, don’t do that. I expect you and the other fairy to stand still. Do not speak. Do not move. Do not play with your knickers. Is that clear?”

“Err, yes, Mrs. Malone,” said Colin, “we’ll do whatever you tell us.”

“Good, perhaps I should promote you to the position of Fairy One. You seem to know what you’re doing. Nice shade of lipstick, by the way.” She checked her watch.  “Two minutes to opening time.”

“What am I supposed to do?” asked Gideon.

“You pass a present to Santa to give to the child. The pile of parcels on the left are for boys and the other pile for girls. Now, positions everyone. Are you all ready?”

“Yes, Mrs. Malone,” they chorused as she bustled out.

Fairy One, indeed!” said Brian once she’d gone. 

“Oh, stop moaning, Brian. The lady just recognises quality when she sees it.”

“Buggy Malone wouldn’t recognise quality if it ̶ “

“Don’t call her that, she’ll hear you and we’ll all be in trouble.”

“Shhh!” said Eddie as the first family entered the grotto.

“Ooh, look, Ma!” said a tiny bear cub, “This is where Santa lives.” 

“Ho, ho, ho,” said Eddie “come and sit on my lap and tell me what you’d like for Christmas, ho, ho, ho!”

“Your lap’s very bony, Santa. Your legs are like sticks,” said the bear cub.

“Is it a boy or a girl? All bears look the same to me,” whispered Gideon. 

Eddie shrugged, “I’ll find out,” he said out of the corner of his beak.

“Ho, ho, ho, well what’s your name?” he asked, ruffling the cub’s hair.

“Don’t do that,” said the cub, “I don’t like it. My name’s Jo.”

“Ah! Jo, what a lovely name.”

Gideon looked at him blankly and shrugged.

“And what is Jo short for?”

The cub frowned, “It’s short for Joey. Hey, aren’t you going to ask me if I’ve been good this year?”

Gideon cleared his throat, Which pile? he mouthed.

“Ho, ho, ho, so Jo, have you been a good little… err… cub?”

“Yes. Now can I have my present? Sitting on your lap’s like sitting on a pile of twigs.”

Eddie looked at Gideon, “And what present do we have for Jo, my good elf?” he asked.

“I’m still making up my mind, Santa old chap,” said Gideon through gritted teeth, “but it would be helpful to have a bit more information before I decide.” 

“Ho, ho, ho, I nearly forgot to ask what you’d like for Christmas,” said Eddie. “We’ll work it out from the kid’s list of toys,” Eddie said out of the corner of his beak.

“Well, I’d like a Fuzwell Fommett, a Crafty Snubbler, Drimwatch and any of the characters from Lornsquit. I’m not fussy which though.” 

Eddie looked at Gideon. 

Gideon looked at Eddie.

“Oh, for goodness sake,” said Brian stepping forward, “d’you want a girl’s toy or a boy’s toy, Kid?” 

Jo gasped, “Oh, Pa, that’s what I want! It’s a talking monkey fairy doll! Please can I have it? Oh, please say yes!”

“Oh, ho, ho, ho, no!” said Eddie, “that’s one of Santa’s fairy helpers, he’s… err… she’s not for sale. Santa can’t manage without all his helpers.”

Pa Bear took his wallet out of his pocket and started peeling off ducat bills. 

“No, really,” said Eddie, his voice rising in panic, “the fairy’s not for sale.”

Jo began to snivel and Pa Bear pulled more notes out of his wallet.

“It’ll do everyone a favour if you just take the money and give me the fairy. Trust me. Jo can reach decibels you’ve never dreamed of.”

He tucked the large pile of notes in Eddie’s pocket. 

Jo began to wail.

“Err,” said Eddie. 

Pa Bear continued to peel notes off his wad.

Jo’s wail reached scream proportions.

“Okay!” said Eddie.

“What?” screeched Brian, as Pa Bear reached down and grabbed him round the middle. 

“Now, where do the batteries go?” he asked, holding Brian upside down, “In its bottom?” 

“Eddie!” screamed Brian, holding on to his knickers.

“Err,” said Eddie flapping his wings in panic.

Gideon stepped forward, “No need for batteries, my good man, the talking monkey fairy doll is solar-powered.”

Brian sagged with relief.

“Is it broken already?” asked Pa Bear, turning Brian up the right way and giving him a shake, “It’s gone all limp.”

“No, it’s just relieved you know it won’t need new batteries. It’ll be fine in a minute. Artificial Intelligence has come on leaps and bounds recently,” said Eddie.

“Isn’t it clever,” said Ma Bear peering at Brian, “and so cute!”

“Cute?” screeched Brian.

“Is there a volume control button?” asked Ma Bear, “Or an off switch?”

“Eddieeeeee!” screamed Brian as the Bear family left Santa’s Grotto.

“Ho, ho, ho and a Merry Christmas,” said Eddie, “Next!”

“That didn’t go according to plan, did it, old thing?” 

Gideon and Eddie walked up the Soup John Bee’s gangplank.

Eddie shook his head sadly “That Malone woman has a temper, doesn’t she? I mean, it wasn’t our fault the ghastly bear cub took a fancy to Brian and started a craze for talking monkey fairy dolls. Mind you, I did get more for Colin than I did for Brian. Let’s not tell Brian that when he gets back, though.”

There was silence for a few moments.

“You’re sure they’ll be able to get back to us, old thing?”

“Of course! And when they see the money we made they’ll agree it was worth it.” 

“D’you think?”

“Oh yes! And it’s not like you and I got off unscathed. We got the sack. Although it wasn’t our fault people started mobbing the grotto and the toy department, looking for talking monkey fairy dolls. But at least, we’ve got more than enough money to keep us until February.”

“What if Brian and Colin don’t make it back?”

“Oh, but they will,” said Eddie, “I bet they’ll be back before we’ve finished cooking dinner.” 

“It’s been ages since we err… lost Brian and Colin, old chap. It’s Christmas Eve. What can have happened to them? If they don’t get back by tomorrow, they’ll miss the big day. I’m going to hang their Christmas stockings up tonight anyway but…”

Eddie shook his head sadly, “I thought they’d be home by now. If they aren’t back by tomorrow, I think we ought to mount a search.”

“Perhaps they don’t want to be found, old chap. They might be happy where they are.”

“Well we won’t know until we ask them. So, if they’re not back in the morning, we’ll go out and find them.”

Silently, Eddie continued wrapping his gifts: a set of chocolate pens for Gideon, some platform boots for Brian and fuchsia pink tights and matching lipstick for Colin.

Links to previous stories in The Macaroon Chronicles series:
  1. The Macaroon Chronicles Prologue and the Three Wise Monkeys -
  2. #ChickenInCustard -
  3. The Fine Print -
  4. French for Cheese -
  5. Porkies and Espiggy-onage (Lies and Spies) –
  6.  Nearly Death by Chocolate -
  7. Waxing Lyrical -
  8. Seduced by Zeros -
  9. Soup-Legs -

About the author

Dawn’s latest book is ’The Basilwade Chronicles’ published by Chapeltown Books. She enjoys writing in different genres and has had romances, speculative fiction, sci-fi, humorous and women’s fiction published in magazines, anthologies and books. Dawn has also had two plays about World War One performed internationally. You can follow her here on, Facebook here DawnKnoxWriter or on Twitter here

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