The Spirit of Christmas – or Saturday Night after the Christmas Fair

Still boxed off by road barriers whilst two Council workers, yellow and flourescent, battled the rubbish. In the tinsel and cheap flickering light of Xmas the Main Street menaced. The familiarity of parked car and the comforting flow of traffic replaced by a desolation of discarded boxes and food detritus. A scavenging dog grazing on the oily effluence from the smoked kipper van. And the dark vennels and closes exhaling the fishy musk of stale piss, of booze and teenage perfume. 

As we approached the take-away the smells were replaced with meaty kebab, Curry, Chinese 5 spice, Fish and Chips. I had phoned the order. All I had to do was collect. It should only take 5 minutes.

A lad shot from the dank mouth of Bull’s Close. Colliding with Robert he flailed to re-balance and spun around to glare. A girl’s high laugh followed him. He slowed to a stand in the road, shouting on the girl, on his mates now emerging from the close. The group were laughing. Passing a bottle of Buckfast between them. One of them shouted “haw Sur! Sur! Mr Stewart. You pished tae.”  And Robert stared until he located a face he knew. A wain from school. 

I will speak to you on Monday morning Calum. Now get yourself home before you get into more trouble.

The group resolved into 14 year old kids. Suddenly chastened. And began to shuffle off up the street.

It was as we got to Chilli’s Curry House that the air around exploded. The door of the Port Vaults Bar banging open. A young man spilled backwards out onto the road. Another standing in the shattered doorway screaming…posturing…chin squared…shoulders back…chest out…

Come ahead ya wee fuckin pussy

Whit ur ye waitin oan ya fuckin prick


And he “came ahead”… unable to back down in the face of an unknown teenage audience…provoked by taunts of cowardice…

Fear slowed time, magnified the faces of anger, hate and violence. I saw a leaping St Nic reflected red and green in an arcing flash of hand. A violent flare, skull-bent. 

His left temple took the blow and he went down heavily in a hail of glittering shards. There was a brief silence. Shattered by a woman screaming. The glass-wielder bolted into the darkness, beyond the fairy lights and dancing Santas. The fourth of his friends put the final boot in, jumping on the felled man’s head.

And then, he too, ran.

Robert ran to the prone body but was beaten by the Council Workers. They rearranged limbs into the recovery position. A barmaid supplied a towel. The dark crimson spill from his head became an obscene halo, encrusted with glass splinters. He was breathing. But unconscious. A leg twitched. A hand clawed the air. Then nothing. He lay still but for the artery pulsing blood behind and above and around him. Barely breathing. They continued to check, thinking him dead. Were afraid to move him but knew he lay on the temple that had been smashed.

A worker called 999. 

There was nothing to do but wait. 

(to be continued)

8 thoughts on “The Spirit of Christmas – or Saturday Night after the Christmas Fair

  1. Took a big trip with The Boy yesterday that lasted late into the night…completely wiped out today.
    I fell asleep with the pad on my lap this afternoon…woke up long enough to see that you had posted something. I read it and then rolled back over to sleep…with a kinda of heaviness on my mind. The non-ironic irony of the scene (we are talking about human beings after all…Christmas be *****) made uneasy.

    Now that I'm awake…coffee at 6pm…the details of the telling are what stand out most.

    “A leaping St. Nick”…delightful.

    I'll wait patiently.

  2. Wonder what happen if the first year at school was spent teaching children nothing else except good manners, how to listen and how to concentrate, to respect other people and their property, and how to behave outside of school.

    That first year wouldn't be wasted academically, because once those are all in place, actually teaching them would be easier with less time being wasted.


  3. The casual response of the kids to the violence was what appalled me most to be honest. They had a shrug shoulder nonchalance. Though some were clearly buzzed on it – laughing and giggling.

    Thanks for the observations on my telling e.f.

    SP – yes, but I fear by 1st yr it is too late. The real work has to be when they are pre-schoolers. I have noticed (my primary work is child protection) that affluence etc is no predictor – but that parental influence/attention/inconsistency/failure to love/emphasis placed on material possessions etc – it is this which destroys a child and often condemns to thuggery.
    I feel guilty that the post is so bleak. There are many many children who are positive and wonderful and will go on to achieve – a socially valuable greatness in some cases…

  4. This is very powerful stuff Yvonne. And shocking that the fourth friend jumped “on the felled man's head”.

    Great writing. The contrast of the idea of Christmas and this…

    Bring on the next instalment but I am hoping for some redemption. Always want redemption!

  5. I wish there were Chloe…
    My son advises that the young man who suffered the assault is on life support with brain swelling etc – and apparently may have suffered brain damage.
    We gave a statement – not that night but yesterday. But we didn't recognise any of the attackers. There is better evidence from the barmaid and folk in the pub – so it is unlikely out testimonies will be required.
    This will be an attempted murder charge.
    I wish I could say otherwise.

  6. It's odd…the first time I read it I was half asleep and it disturbed me. The second time around I was reading to read…without really thinking about it.

    People get drunk and fight at jukes…somebody ends up deaf in one ear but everybody lives to fight another day.

    I don't think I realized how serious this was.

  7. Yeah e.f. – I've seen plenty street fights – they're generally violent flashes and people live to fight another day. I've even prosecuted some.
    But this was real bad. That stamping blow to his head probably did the most damage.
    There is a mindless thuggery sometimes that just depresses you – it seems to have no logic at all. Not even a vague sense of warped “justice”. But just for the hell of it.
    Certainly spoiled our Saturday night curry…

  8. Phew. As you know I've been away so have just read this post 6 days later than it was written. My lovely comfy day has been suddenly disturbed by an almost physical nearness to such violence and disregard for others. I shall go to the New Zealand Ballet this evening but somehow I have a feeling that Swan Lake will not entirely drown out the mindless thuggery which can so suddenly embroil us.

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