It was the night before Christmas and Shirley ‘Scrooge’ Porter was awoken by the terrifiying sound of metal objects crashing around her luxurious Mayfair penthouse.
“Who’s there?,” she croaked, “What do you want with me?”
Just then a ghostly apparition came into view, weighed down with heavy chains and blocks of iron.
“It is I, Simon ‘Marley’ Milton,” roared the ghost ” your partner in crime at Westminster Council. Don’t you remember me?”
“Of course I do ” quivered Porter who was by now whiter than a money-laundered banknote. ” You’re fettered Milton, why?”
” I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “Is its pattern strange to you Shirl?”
Porter trembled more and more.
“Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this when you ran WC. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”
” Simon”, she implored. “Old Simon Marley Milton, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Simon!”
“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied ” You will be haunted this night by three spirits, from Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come.” He then faded away.
Shirl was, by now, a quivering wreck and tried to sleep but was awoken by a bright light in her room. There before her stood a huge shadow that closely resembled Kit Malthouse.
“I am the spirit of Christmas past” he bellowed ” You will come with me and see the misery you wreaked on people all those years ago with your heartless housing policies”.
“No” crawed Porter. But it was too late, the oversized spirit grabbed her hand and they flew back in time to a large grey asbestos-ridden block of flats.
” Remember this?” asked the spirit ” You forced 122 families to move here so you wouldn’t lose an election, despite knowing of the health risks to them, you even had the chutzpah to say ‘good riddance’ to them.”
” I had no choice ” said Porter ” There wasn’t a hope in hell I was going to let a Labour majority take WC.”
“And what about the graveyards?” asked the spirit ” you sold them for 5 pence, little caring for the families of those buried in them”.
” But you supported my actions ” Porter replied ” we were all in it together Maltie”. The spirit was silent and slowly faded away. Shirl found herself back in bed, unable to decide if she had been dreaming or not, and petrified at the thought of meeting another blast from her unsavoury past.
Just then she saw a blood-curdling presence beside her, and shrieked in horror, ” Ye Gad’s! Who or what in Dickens name are you?”.
“I am the spirit of Christmas present” trilled the apparition ” Yes, it is I, Ghastly Glanz“.
“I am here to show you that we are still as horrible to the homeless as you urged us to be, and we live by your example”.
The floor of Shirl’s penthouse opened and the streets of London became visible below.
” What is that awful God -forsaken building?” asked Shirl.
” That is Housing Options” replied Ghastly “See how they turn the homeless and needy away? See how they crack heartless jokes at the expense of the dying and disposessed?”
“Yes I see” said Shirl” and it’s a beautiful sight to behold… er… I mean how despicable of them”
“Keep looking” said Ghastly ” can you see the shabby bed and breakfast hostels where we illegally house families for months at a time? Can you see the children ripped away from their schools and communities and sent to Great Yarmouth and beyond?”
“Well that isn’t my fault” said Shirl “even I never stooped as low as the Norfolk coast”.
“Your legacy lives on at WC and you will bear the blame for these people’s misery”, and with that Ghastly disappeared and Porter was left a trembling heap on the floor.
In the corner of the room she saw a tall terrifying cloaked figure, vaguely resembling a cross between Councillor Robert Davis and the Grim Reaper.
“Are you the spirit of Christmas yet to come?” whispered Shirl, now so frightened she was barely able to talk.
The horrifying figure nodded and pointed it’s long scrawney finger towards the wall. An image of a graveyard filled the room and as Shirl looked down she saw her name etched onto a stone.
“Here lies Shirley Porter. Hater of the homeless. Gerrymanderer to the end. Cause of untold misery”
“But what’s this?” quivered Shirl “Please spirit tell me that this grave is not mine. Please tell me there is still time to make amends for my wickedness”.
The spirit waved it’s hand and hellfire appeared below Shirl’s feet.
“Aaaaagh! ” she screamed as she started to lose her footing and fell towards the fiery abyss.
“No spirit, no. Give me one more chance and I promise to set right all my wrongs. Spirit I beseech you”
As she tumbled downwards, Shirl was confronted by the images of all the people’s lives she had ruined at Westminster and those that were still being ruined because of her legacy.
It was too much to bear.
Then suddenly, as if by magic, she found herself back in her luxurious bed, in her luxurious flat.
” I’m alive!” she cried “I’m alive! It must have been a dream after all”.
She threw open her window and called to a boy below
” Young fellow. What day is it?”
“It’s Christmas day missus”.
“Then I’m not too late! I can still make up for my past misdemeanors”.
At that, Shirl got herself dressed, went into her cupboard and found a tin of almost out-of-date beans.
She summoned her chauffeur and instructed him to take her to Victoria as fast as he could.
When they arrived, Shirl found a homeless chap, lying on an old blanket.
“Get up man, it’s Christmas and I come bearing gifts!”