An Irish Christmas Carol featuring Endanezer Scrooge
He was visited by a terrifying apparition: the ghost of Joan Burton, wailing like a banshee
“I’ve seen the error of my ways,” said Endanezer. “Release me from this nightmare so I can set about becoming a benevolent leader”
A Christmas satire, with thanks (and apologies) to Charles Dickens ...
The economy was dead, to begin with. Dead as a doornail.
But, in recent years, it had miraculously come back to life, and Endanezer Scrooge was only too happy to take credit for the recovery.
After all, it was his party that cleaned up the mess made by those spendthrifts and scallywags in the previous government, and steered the economy back on an even keel. At last there was some fiscal space in which to manoeuvre.
You could see the signs of the new prosperity on the cobbled streets as Christmas approached: people could now afford an extra lump of coal for the fire – although when you asked them to pay their water charges, they still put on the poor mouth.
Heading a minority government wasn’t ideal, thought Endanezer, but at least he didn’t have that Labour crowd hanging on his coattails, although those damned Independents were unwelcome baggage, always demanding frivolous things like repeal of the eighth amendment, a second catheterisation unit at Waterford Hospital, or an inquiry into the Nama sale of the Project Eagle loan portfolio.
“Whingers!” he cried.
His clerk, “Cratchit” Noonan, peered up from his account books.
“Get back to work!” snapped Endanezer. “We need to figure out how we’re going to make back the money from that blasted reduction in the Universal Social Charge.”
A loud knock
There was a loud knock on the door. It was his young nephew Leo.
“Merry Christmas, uncle Enda!” smiled Leo.
“Bah, humbug!” said Scrooge. “Out upon Merry Christmas. What’s so good about it?”
“Well, for one thing, we’re still here 10 months after the election, despite all the predictions,” said Leo. “So I’ve brought you some good cheer.”
Leo held out a Domino’s pizza and a six-pack of Budweiser.
“I know your game, young Varadkar – handing out pizza and beer to bribe the other TDs into backing you for the party leadership – but it won’t work, I tell you! I’ve got my mojo back and I’m here for the long haul!”
“Suit yourself, uncle,” smiled Leo. “I’m off to the Dáil bar to recruit more supporters – I mean, buy a few Christmas drinks for the lads.”
There was another knock at the door. It was that meddling woman from the European Commission, Lady Margrethe something-or-other, and she looked like she meant business.
“Merry Christmas, Mr Scrooge,” she said. “You know that apple merchant you rent a warehouse to? Well, you’re going to have to collect back taxes off the chap. What will we put you down for – say, €13 billion?”
Endanezer was horrified. He couldn’t take this money. That would completely undermine Ireland’s position as an attractive base for foreign companies to set up.
He couldn’t afford to scare any of them off, especially with this accursed Brexit business going on and that damnable oaf Mr Trump stirring up unrest in the New World.
“Bah, humbug!” he cried, shooing the pair out the door.
“How dare you interfere with our sovereign tax affairs! We have every right to allow multinationals to funnel their global profits through their Irish subsidiaries and thus pay only 0.05 per cent tax. Begone and take your dratted €13 billion with you!”
He ushered her out the door, sending a bunch of carol-singers scurrying away too. Now he was really in a foul mood. So he grabbed his hat and greatcoat, headed out into the foggy streets of Dublin and went home.
That night, in his bedroom, he was visited by a most terrifying apparition.
It shuffled towards him, emitting a banshee-like wail. It was the ghost of Joan Burton.
“Sorry, Enda, I know I look a fright. I’ve just been trapped in Hell for three hours by a mob of condemned souls protesting against heating charges. They say they’re already paying for it through eternal damnation, so why should they pay for it again?”
Endanezer trembled with fear at the sight of his former government partner in his bedroom.
“What do you want with me?” he asked, hoping she didn’t want to kiss and make up.
“You will be haunted by three spirits,” Burton’s ghost informed him. “Heed their words well, Taoiseach; you don’t want to end up like me – up a cul-de-sac without a driver.”
And with that, she was gone.
Suddenly, a shape appeared at the end of his bed. It was portly, with a wide face and jolly red cheeks.
“Are you . . . Santa Claus?”
“No,” said the apparition in a thick Offaly accent. “Just call me Biffo. I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. Now come with me and I’ll show ya something.”
Peals of laughter
They were inside a bank’s counting-house, where several rich gentlemen in velvet greatcoats and stovepipe hats were sitting around a large oaken conference table.
“What we do is get them to write a big cheque,” said one. “Of course, we don’t pay it back – the peasants can pay it back. Send ’em to the workhouse for the next 20 years.”
The room collapsed in peals of laughter.
“You might want to look away now,” said the ghost. “One of them is about to produce a princely sum from his posterior region.”
“He’s going to pull €7 billion out of his a**e.”
Then the scene changed, to another group of gentlemen, sitting solemnly around a smaller conference table as one of them took up his quill and signed an official-looking piece of parchment.
“That’s the bank guarantee – a pact with the devil if ever there was one.”
Then they were outside a large, imposing building with a golden ball in front, under which three eerie-looking phantoms stood with briefcases in their claw-like hands.
“That’s the troika,” said the spirit.
Endanezer was almost doubled over with terror. “No more! No more! I can’t look!” cried Scrooge. But the spirit had another vision to show him.
They were outside Government Buildings, and Endanezer saw a younger, more dapper version of himself, being borne triumphantly aloft by his party after winning the 2011 general election.
“I was a handsome devil, then,” said Endanezer wistfully. “Full of promise.”
“Full of sh**e, more like,” replied the ghost. “You said you’d eliminate cronyism, sort out the health system and fix the housing and homeless crisis.”
“I’ll do it now! Just release me from this nightmare!”
But the ghost was gone, and Endanezer was back in his bedroom, the solitary candle flickering in the gloom. Then a light came on in the adjoining room, and he carefully opened the door to reveal a phantasmagorical place of wonder.
Fooled by appearances
It was like his office, but the musty oaken furniture had been replaced by designer workstations. There was a basketball hoop on the wall, and a giant LCD TV screen showing the latest Netflix series.
The place was teeming with young hipsters wearing Bluetooth headphones and brandishing iPads.
A tall fellow with a carefully-coiffed beard and a suit about two sizes too small for him put out his hand and said, “Welcome to our Irish HQ. I am the ghost of Christmas present, and I’ll be your guide for this vision.”
The present looked very prosperous indeed, Endanezer noted.
“Don’t be fooled by appearances,” said the ghost. “We’re not here for the craic or the well-educated workforce. We’re only here for the tax breaks.”
Then the scene changed again – a vast swathe of luxury offices, residential property and development land.
A large gate bore the legend: Project Eagle. It was guarded by a fierce-looking three-headed dog.
“It’s okay, Cerberus, he’s a friend. But if you see Mick Wallace snooping about – sick ’im!”
Next they were standing inside a dank, Gothic structure, damp streaming down the walls and over the cold flagstones.
A large sign above the door said: “The Barack Obama Direct Provision Hostel for Homeless Families – formerly Clerys.”
A group of shabbily dressed people were sitting around a formica table, tucking into a frugal Christmas dinner from Lidl.
“A toast on this season of goodwill!” said the man at the head of the table. “Let us give thanks for this meal, and count our blessings – at least we’re not the squeezed middle!”
“Enough!” said Endanezer. “I’ve seen the error of my ways! Now release me from this nightmare so I can set about becoming a benevolent leader who puts the interests of the people before those of the multinationals.”
But there was one final, terrible apparition to come. A tall, thin figure, dressed in black, loomed in the doorway. Endanezer felt a creeping sense of doom.
“Are are you the ghost of Christmas future?” he asked the wraith. “No, Enda, boy, I AM the future,” said Micheál Martin with an evil grin.
Endanezer’s mojo flew out the window, never to be seen again.