Season’s Grue Things


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James Horner “Happy Who-lidays”


It’s almost that time again. If you’re under twelve then right now you’re probably salivating at the prospect of another Christmas trundling toward you, teenagers are probably like “whatever” at this juncture as that’s what adolescents do best, and for anyone who has already popped their final pimple I would imagine that the tense nervous headache has begun to draw close as you contemplate the dreaded pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. I wish it to be stated from the offset that Keeper is no Grinch; I have no intention of dampening the cheer or suggesting that yuletide doesn’t come with its own exclusive list of pleasures. However, in the interest of festive frolics, I have decided to take a closer look at some of the preposterous traditions which we all buy into and generally have a little fun at Santa’s expense. This will herald the start of Keeper’s Advent season which will include all manner of different treats from fiction to poetry, appraisals and a little introspective just to keep things varied.


Let’s start with the seasonal buzz shall we. Christmas is thoughtfully placed not too far from the commencement of winter for good reason; November is such an utterly depressing month. The nights draw in and our natural sunlight is extinguished earlier each day as the infamous Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in for us all. It is only natural that we will feel a little mealy-mouthed at this time of year as the temperature drops, automobiles give up the ghost, and we are required to rise from our beds a little earlier just to scrape our windscreens before setting off each morning. Thankfully someone far away in the North Pole has grand plans for us and the fog lifts as we embark on that festive run-in. Pretty much the entire free world celebrates this holy day and the rigmarole begins in earnest on the very first day of the calendar month. Traditionally this is signaled by advent calendars which represent the first of many attempts to prize the loose change from our pockets and give our children reason to drag their weary bones from bed each morning.


I find these extortionate chocolate abacuses something of a cheap shot if truth be known. They signify the countdown and offer themed confectionary as a sweetener for anyone who buys into them. Twenty four individually foiled segments; none of which taste the slightest bit like actual chocolate, each concealed behind a numeral, and double-daring you not to open the elusive final flap. It is the first of many cheap attempts to separate us from our hard-earned coinage and definitely one of the most shameful. Having said that, my four-year old will not be missing out on account of me feeling a little hard done-by as I have no intention of pissing on his tinsel. If you are a wide-eyed child and are reading this right now then firstly…what the fuck are you still doing up? Secondly…take Uncle Keeper’s words with a pinch of salt; I’m not looking to question the spirit of Christmas but I’m old and jaded, thus I am exercising my right to bitch and gripe. It’s one of two things that adults do best. I’ll reveal the other when you’re a little older.

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Next up on the agenda is pre-Christmas television and, in particular, those insipid commercials we all find ourselves humming reluctantly. Every year without fail we are introduced to another take on Jingle Bells and every toy on the market is pimped like a Vietcong call girl in the second shameless attempt at prising open our purses. Talent shows reach their crescendo as the dreaded Christmas single prepares for its annual domination and washed up pop stars clamor for the talk shows as they look to promote their new album of duets and cover versions. This begins, in earnest, way back in November and gathers momentum like the proverbial yellow snow ball as we roll towards December 25th. A vast percentage of this is absolute silage of the highest order and often appears insincere and, dare I say, a little forced if truth be known. For the record, the Christmas single which forces its way to the summit invariably sucks bau-balls.

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Already it is looking rather ominous for Mr Claus and his stunted minions so, in the interest of fair play, I shall halt the inevitable landslide momentarily at least. Christmas day television; you know, James Bond re-runs, national treasure sit-coms, and the Queen’s speech if, like Keeper, you live in the land of the Penny Farthing and buttered scones. Admittedly, most of it we have viewed a thousand times previously and will doubtless watch another few hundred regardless of what I say to dissuade you. However, we are forgetting one critical factor if we punt it with our steel toe-caps, as there comes a point during the day, historically around half an hour after we have consumed far too much turkey and cunningly named stuffing, that we can no longer function and paralysis begins to wash over us. Should the elderly be present then they will already be in a self-induced coma by this point and rhythmically snoring in the armchair to your left. Kids will finally be content as they line up their fresh regiment of overpriced action figures. This is the closest we will come to quietude so, I ask, what’s wrong with a little Goldfinger just to stop the brain rot from setting in?

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This is all getting rather exciting; this could be a close-run thing and, just when it appeared the competition could get no tighter, here comes the man with the sack to prey upon our desire to be a child once more. Does he exist? Is he all an elaborate hoax? Does he come down our chimney? If so, then why do we leave mince pies by the front door? Surely that’s just inviting vermin. If he drinks a tumbler of whiskey at every home he visits then is it responsible for him to be driving that sled? With technological advancements around every turn are reindeer at risk of unemployment? Is he a natural white? Where is Mrs Clause while he is out gallivanting globally? Does she put out? When did it become acceptable for a shady bearded vagrant to invade your home while you sleep and empty his sack in your stocking? What happens if, due to clerical error, he delivers to the wrong address? I mean, the dude is busy as shit; his pixies are overworked and probably suffer from small-man syndrome, and surely particularly naughty children deserve to be punished? What we don’t see occurring behind closed doors is little Bobby running around the lounge with mommy’s strap-on attached to his freckled forehead or whisking his Mr Frosty slush with her Rampant Rabbit. Regardless of all these questions, and I could go on all day believe me, he’s Santa Claus. I still want my little cherub to believe in Saint Nick. I may be a little cantankerous but I’m no bastard.

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Don’t call it a comeback…as here come Christmas crackers to piss on your yuletide roll. Of all the rip-offs this is perhaps the most heinous. Let’s dissect shall we? Actually, before we get started, let’s spare a thought for the hapless douche who pulls the shorter end. Five seconds silence should do it …..Right then, about those crackers. The contents consist of the following: A wafer thin colored party hat. This will have split before you have fastened it in place and, should you suffer from Elephantiasis or have had a spell cast on you by Beetlejuice, then you may as well just forget it. Next up is a hilarious joke; note the sarcasm in my tone as I believe that whoever is culpable for selecting these has a rather twisted sense of humor. If you’re fortunate it may raise a vague smile but, make no mistake, mine’s a grimace. Never fear as the real prize within is the cheap plastic toy. This ranges from a whistle you can’t blow, hair brush hardly large enough to groom your nasal hair, and a ridiculously bouncy ball which admittedly is rather amusing. Of course, should your cracker selection be slightly more exotically priced then you will be upgraded to alloy but, when you break it down to the cent, you’re still getting butt fucked.

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Then there’s turkey sandwiches. Considering the hefty size of the average bird; there was always going to be surplus come boxing day. By new year’s eve, however, we may be ever so faintly ready to wretch over the prospect of another one of these bad boys. Turkey is traditionally one of the less succulent of meats so why not liven with a dash of pepper or introduce the cheese board. We don’t HAVE to eat it habitually; especially if we have a family hound. I’m not mean enough to mark Claus down when it comes to cuisine. I may not find Christmas pudding and mince pies to my personal liking, but I do love me a peanut and After Eight mint. It’s ultimately horses for courses but, when push comes to shove, we pile on the pounds around this time of year for a rather good reason.

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I guess it’s only right we have a decider right? What good would it do sitting on the fence after all. I’m not suggesting I would rather be Hitler than Gandhi but this is Rivers of Grue after all. You all know me by now; I like my comedy black. Thus it is time to reveal my wispy green fingers and lay the final smackdown on Saint Nick. Decorations. Firstly, I must state that I buy into these as much as the next man-child. They look pretty and sparkly; what’s not to like? By the twelfth day it is time to pack them back up for another year and this is my bugbear with decorations. Down comes the tinsel, whichever tree lights haven’t already malfunctioned are packed away, and we are left with a rather sorry-looking living space. Around the start of January the banks begin to remind you how much you overspent and, for as much as S.A.D. kicks our ass cheeks in November, it has nothing on the January depression. So you see, it wouldn’t be immoral for us to request we keep our decorations up just a little longer would it? Yes actually it would as failure to adhere to the strict guidelines is likely to result in a twelve month curse. Who dreams up this shit? I mean, seriously.

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It’s an 11th hour victory for the Grinch and suddenly Scrooge is appearing financially astute as opposed to mean-spirited. I couldn’t resist twisting the knife a little in Santa’s lower abdomen although I can’t end on a low as that just wouldn’t be festive now would it? Thus the Advent Sequence will be filled to the brim with seasonal treats and I wish you all in advance a happy, healthy and prosperous Christmas. Just one last thing…watch the peanuts. Old people stop washing their hands after taking a whizz by a certain age and I’m sure I saw the old fella’s dentures drop into the nut bowl earlier. Speaking of which…




I hope that Santa gets here soon
it’s getting somewhat late
all year I’ve been on tenterhooks
that’s a helluva time to wait

I’ve played my part and towed the line
to show I’m deserving
I trust he will remember that
when it comes to my serving

A bicycle and three new toys
that’s quite the modest list
if he is who he claims to be
he’ll see I get my wish

If not I plan to stamp my feet
create a mighty scene
and let him know in no uncertain
terms that he’s so mean


He only works but once a year
can’t blame it on fatigue
there’s only a few billion kids
with rudimentary needs

I visited his grotto
and rattled off my terms
he nodded in agreement seemed
no cause to be concerned

Yet here I lay on Christmas eve
my stocking in plain sight
No sign of an intruder
and that stocking’s looking light

Worry not I’m sure all’s well
I think I hear him now
his sled broke down so he came through
on Scatman Crowthers’ plough


It seems he also grabbed the ax
from deep within his chest
I hear its sharp edge on the stairs
as it bumps every step

He’s getting close it’s time to feign
that I’m in fact asleep
I’ll keep my left eye open
so that I can take a peep

I don’t wish to be picky but
he’s not what I presumed
I guess I’ve learned a lesson
that it’s not wise to assume

It’s hard to see exactly
as his bulbous rump is blocking
sight of what untasty treats
he’s dropping in my stocking


That bloody ax looks ominous
leaned up against my wall
I’m banking on his work load
making sure that axe don’t fall

It seems he must have overheard
is short on Christmas cheer
I count my lucky stars
that Santa comes but once a year

There’s that axe it’s hoisted high
above this heathen’s head
decapitation quick escape
then back off to his sled

Block your chimneys bolt your doors
don’t let the rascal through
for once inside he’ll raise all hell
and he’s coming for you


Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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