Wednesday, 19 December 2007

THE HUMBUG OF OZ

I've always enjoyed literary pastiches and especially those based on one of my favourite books, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

I was delighted, therefore, when Australian author KEL RICHARDS sent me a copy of his new book, An Aussie Christmas Carol: the story of mean and curmudgeonly old stock and station agent, Ted Scrooge, who one hot and dusty Christmas Eve is haunted by four ghosts who teach him the true spirit of Christmas.

I've only just started reading the saga of Ted Scrooge (it arrived a matter of hours ago), but it opens so well that I'm clearly going to enjoy this Aussie bush yarn and am delighted to be able to add it to my extensive Carol library...

Jack Marley was dead. He was dead and buried in the little cemetery at the end of the main street in the small outback town of Dandaloo. The town doctor had signed the death certificate. The town carpenter had nailed Jack Marley into a plain, wooden coffin - and old Jack hadn't once hammered on the lid and yelled to be let out. So there could be no doubt about it: Jack Marley was dead.

He was as dead as the hopes of a punter when the favourite runs last in the Melbourne Cup. He was as dead as Dandaloo Creek in the middle of summer, when it's nothing but a dried-up gully. He was as dead as the big blue-black blowflies stuck to the flypaper in the Dandaloo pub. He was as dead as the brown snake Bluey Grimnes chopped in half with his mattock when he was digging Marley's grave. There was no doubt about it: Jack Marley was dead.

Brilliant! Kel Richards' An Aussie Christmas Carol can be ordered here.

It is, of course, testimony to Dickens' genius that it has inspired - and continues to inspire - so many successful variations on a theme.

By the same post as brought me the Carol from Oz, came a Christmas stocking from my friend BOLL WEAVIL (thanks, Boll!) which included one of the most economical versions of Dickens' story I have come across. Here it is: A Christmas Carol in ninety words (like Marley) DEAD...
Ebenezer Scrooge was a mean and stingy man. He had no friends. So, he was all alone on Christmas Eve.

That night he was visited by The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and The Ghost of Christmases To Come who told him to be kind to others or he would die a lonely and forgotten man.


The Spirits frightened Scrooge. When he woke up Christmas morning, he ran to the window and shouted, "Merry Christmas!"

From that day on, Scrooge was kind and generous to everyone.
I'm particularly pleased to note that whatever else he was, Scrooge had at least hung on to his teddy bear!

David suggested I ought to take it with me to the theatre tonight and give it to the cast so that everyone could go home early for once!

Meanwhile my dramatisation of the original (and somewhat longer) A Christmas Carol is now almost halfway through it's run at the Greenwich Playhouse and continues to play to delighted audiences. There's still time to book tickets and I've updated the fairly ecstatic reviews we have received - just in case you want to see what you're in for or, if you can't get there, in order to at least be able to enjoy it vicariously!

David Millard and Lucia McAnespie as Mr and Mrs Fezziwig

Image: Fezziwigs by Greg Hale, © 2007

2 comments:

Eudora said...

About the Crhistmas Carol I can say that Scrooge is a universal character... Years ago, I friend, in response to my moan for the season of the hapinness and joy (That days I was a little depress)said to me : "Be careful! or the ghosts of the Christmas will appear you..."

Boll Weavil said...

Nice to see Jake Marley popping up again (he is in 'Ebbie' as the updated business partner whose boss is constantly ringing him on the mobile). The Aussie CC looks like a good adaptation ! Glad you enjoyed the other, more concise, version.I only wish I had picked up that one I saw fifteen years ago that was even shorter. Nice also to see Dave Millard reprising his appearence in your Greenwich CC and it doing so well.