“Jesus-bloody-Christ, I’ve had enough of this Christmas nonsense”
The irony of his near silent blaspheme was lost as he pushed his way through the crowded pedestrian precinct of Buchanan Street, occasionally bumping against some other shopper with his handful of bags, occasionally bumping someone deliberately just to nudge them out of his way..
He stopped for a few moments to listen to “Hark The Herald”, he always enjoyed listening to the Salvation Army play their Christmas Carols and this was his favourite. It brought back memories of his happy childhood and those warm nights sitting around the fire with his mother, so excited for the day ahead and then sent to bed early because his she insisted they went to Church at least once per year.
The next few hours seemed to last forever as he tried to stay awake, hoping that he would catch a glimpse of Santa and dreaming of the presents he hoped he would receive. He’d told Santa that he wanted Scaletrix and a brand new bike when his mum had taken him to see him at the grotto at Lewis’s, but even then queuing up with his mum, even although she seemed more excited than him, he knew in his heart that it was all fake.
His father never went to Church, not even at Christmas. He would still be hung-over from the night before and waiting on them to arrive home and for mum to make breakfast.
Then they would open their presents, he never did get a brand new bike, the closest was nearly new, just a few scratches on the paintwork, but he liked it.
Well he liked it for a few hours until he took it out proudly to show it off, Tommy, an older kid from Langlands Street laughed and told everyone that his dad had came to their house to collect it after a few days ago after their fathers were at the club together.
He hated Tommy for causing him so much embarrassment, hated him for making him feel like a second class citizen, he swore that some day he would get him for this.
He never rode the bike again.
He looked around the crowd, standing around the band, wrapped up for the winter cold, scarves, gloves and smiling faces as they dropped their coins or an occasional note into the collection tins.
It’s all bollocks he thought, good natured bollocks for the fools in the world, allowing them to think that the world was a better place and their paltry donations could actually make some difference.
As for the immigrants and the people waving buckets for Charity, he already paid his taxes for that.
But when the pretty young woman arrived, he put a pound coin in her tin, he always believed that effort should be rewarded and he was after all a man of principle.
Charles was not a nice man.
His arrogance was palpable even in the festive season, this was his world, everyone else just happened to be there, bit parts to be looked down upon. If they were occasionally useful, like the office staff or waiters then he’d smile and turn on the charm. He liked to be liked by the minions, but he couldn’t really give a toss about them.
But yes, dear reader, I know you’re already thinking that this is an updated version of Ebenezeer Scrooge.
I know that you’re now waiting for a punch-line, were the bad guy has a moment of revelation and becomes good, unfortunately life isn’t like that.
Today he was rushed, he had plans for later, but first he had to get to the shops and pick up the few gifts he had for his long suffering wife Michelle.
Michelle, small, kind-hearted, and far too generous with his money, buying gifts for all her family even the relatives that she only saw a few times per year..
She did all of their Christmas shopping, well actually it was all for her friends and family so it wasn’t as if he should be doing it.
But he knew that she expected some gifts from him, he knew that she expected these to be personal, to show some thoughtfulness.
“Yeah whatever makes you happy” he thought and he had become used to managing her expectations.
Earlier that year she had expected him to go to her graduation. For an HND, its not even a degree he had scoffed, belittling her achievements and the three years she had spent working on her course in the evenings after her day job.
She was a devoted wife, not the brightest, but she seemed happy and if a few small trinkets kept it that way then that was fine by him.
He had already looked online, House Of Fraser, a one stop-shop for all of the goodies that she expected. Some jewellery, a dress and some lingerie, maybe a bag and of course perfume and chocolates.
Never forget the chocolates!
He knew her sizes but always made sure that he bought gift receipts because he wasn’t sure if he knew her taste, she never seemed sexy, not like the girls in his office.
Not like Monica, the new girl, slim, dark and so attractive.
They had already met for lunch, he had told her that her proposal would go ahead if she got the right nod.
This was lies, he could give the approval himself and her proposal was good, even although she had only been with the company a matter of weeks, she seemed to have a firm grasp of the business and their desire to become nationwide.
But he wanted Monica to think that he needed persuading, he wanted her to convince him. He wanted to see how far she would go.
They had flirted in the restaurant and kissed in the car, she had even allowed him to touch her breasts, but that was as far as she was prepared to go in the car-park.
He had promised to get a hotel room for their next meeting and booked it for later this evening at the Hotel Indigo around the corner from his office.
Monica was going to meet him there, she said that she had a few surprises and she wanted to be ready for him.
Oh yes, ready for him, he could barely contain his excitement.
Charles clicked the boxes, made the payment and arranged too pickup at their collection point. It was all simple and minimum hassle apart from getting through the crowds.
He hated the commercialism of Christmas, not that he was in any religious, far from it, he couldn’t stand al that falseness, all these smiling faced fakes, singing their carols and pretending that they have some sense of community.
Fuck that, its every man for himself in his world his father had told him and he had been right.
He’d never asked for anyone’s help and never expected it, he’d make it on his own way in this world.
That’s why he married Michelle, she wasn’t the best looking, actually quite frumpy and well below his usual standards, but she kind and generous and her parents owned the largest independent insurance agency on the west coast.
Her father treated him like his own son, welcomed him to the family and the business and privately told him that he was pleased that he had someone to take over the running of the company as he really didn’t think that Michelle was up to the job.
Poor Michelle he thought, but she seemed happy, she waited on him hand and foot, even when she did begin to take more of an interest in the business, she always seemed content to take a secondary role, managing the office whilst he met corporate clients.
Charles, dumped the bags in the boot of his car as soon as he got back to the office. Then he sent Michelle a text as she had already left to look after the kids, it was nearly Christmas and they would be expecting lots of her time as well as the presents she had bought them.
“I’ll be home a little later this evening, going to meet a few of the guys for a Christmas drink. X”
“That’s fine, I’ll see you when I see you. X”
Charles smiled, it was nearly playtime and everything was coming together nicely.
He closed his eyes and imagined Monica dressed in one of those sexy Santa uniforms.
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