What the Dickens is going on this Christmas?

Ebenezer Dawson walks the streets of Sheffield on that fateful Christmas Eve
Ebenezer Dawson walks the streets of Sheffield on that fateful Christmas Eve

The Clue picture shows a rather interesting lintel over a doorway on Clarke Dell; it was put there because of a former resident’s experience one Christmas Eve.

Notice Father Christmas’s face on the centre of the lintel. The experience is something I wouldn’t like to go through, but it changed its resident owner Mr Ebenezer Dawson – a money lender of the town and a Parkin Baron. The following is a brief report of that Christmas Eve that changed Ebenezer Dawson for life.

The house on Clarke Dell

The house on Clarke Dell

His story opens on a bleak, cold Christmas Eve in Sheffield, seven years after the death of Ebenezer Dawson’s business partner, Jacob Sorsby; a pleasant chap by all accounts but could never pick a winning horse. Ebenezer, an ageing miser, dislikes Christmas and refuses a dinner invitation from his nephew Jordan, who is the son of Fan, Ebenezer’s dead sister. Jordan had just qualified as a chartered accountant and was an up-and-coming star of the Dawson family. On his way to his cold dark workplace on Christmas Eve, two business men of the town seek a donation from him to provide food and heating for the poor. Ebenezer sends them away with a flea in their ear, the only thing he’s ever given away I might add, and tells them that he’s just had to fork out for a season ticket for ‘The Lane,’ so he’s skint.

His only employee, Bob Scratchit, has to beg for Christmas Day off and only after a lecture from Ebenezer on the merits of wasting money does he then grudgingly allows his overworked, underpaid clerk Christmas Day off with pay.

At the stroke of seven, Ebenezer locks up his place of business in the town and walks the couple of miles to his magnificent pile on Clarke Dell, a home left to him by his only friend and business partner Jacob Sorsby. Later that night Scrooge was visited in his cold bedroom by Jacob Sorsby`s ghost, forced to  wander the Earth entwined by heavy chains, money boxes and football trophies forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Jacob tells Ebenezer that he has just one single chance to avoid the same fate he suffers and he will be visited by three spirits in the night.

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Ebenezer to a Christmas scene of his boyhood, reminding him of a time when he was more innocent and trusting. The scene opens up to reveal Ebenezer’s  lonely childhood as a boy scout when he was whipped on the legs by the other boys with a bull-rope of all things. He is shown the loving relationship with his beloved sister Fan, before being whisked away to a Christmas party hosted by his first employer, Mr Fezziwig. Old Fezziwig knew how to celebrate Christmas well. Next he visits Ebenezer’s  neglected fiancée Fanny who has finally seen that Ebenezer's greatest loves are biscuits and Sheffield United, and ends their relationship. The Ghost of Christmas past finally visits a now-married Fanny with her large happy family on the very same Christmas Eve that Jacob Sorsby died. Ebenezer is upset on hearing Fanny’s description of the man that he has become and he demands  that the ghost remove him from the house but not before he’s pocketed a handful of sweetmeats.

The clue picture of the lintel with a vague resemblance of Father Christmas - but with horns

The clue picture of the lintel with a vague resemblance of Father Christmas - but with horns

The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Ebenezer to a joyous market with people buying the makings of Christmas dinner, mainly a Mrs Miggins Christmas Pie, and to celebrations of Christmas in a miner's cottage and in a lighthouse where the two lighthouse keepers are arguing on who’s turn it is to blow out the light. Dawson and the ghost also visit Jordan’s Christmas party where they merriment is just extraordinary, setting each other impossible tasks like naming one winning horse Jacob Sorsby has picked, or imitating Dawson as he tap danced on the sink before falling and breaking his leg. Ebenezer is then taken to visit Bob Scratchit's family feast of a rather large sausage with a feather stuck in it, the ghost introduces Bob’s youngest son, Tiny Tim, to Ebenezer, a happy boy who has one leg shorter than the other and is only happy when walking on a slanted pavement. The spirit informs Ebenezer that Tiny Tim’s leg will never be right until either one leg is made longer or the other shorter, that’s unless the course of events change. Before disappearing, the spirit shows Ebenezer two hideous, emaciated children, named want and ignorance. He tells Ebenezer to beware these two children and mocks his lack of concern for their welfare.

The last spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, shows Ebenezer a Christmas Day in the future. The silent ghost reveals scenes involving the death of a disliked man whose funeral is attended by the United players of past and present, but they attended only on condition that lunch is provided. His chairwoman, and laundress Lynn and the local undertaker steal his possessions to sell. When he asks the spirit to show a single person who feels emotion over his death, he is only given the pleasure of a poor couple who rejoice that his death gives them more time to put their finances in order. When Ebenezer asks to see tenderness connected with any death, the ghost shows him Bob Scratchit while he and his family mourn  the death of Tiny Tim as they sit round a triple XXX mint for warmth. The ghost then allows Ebenezer to see a neglected grave, it bears Ebenezer’s name. He falls to the floor and pledges to change his ways.

Ebenezer awakens on Christmas morning a changed man. He spends the afternoon with Jordan’s family and anonymously sends a large turkey to the Scratchit home for Christmas dinner. The following day he gives Scratchit an increase in pay and becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim, after paying for his legs to be fixed and providing a walking stick with a wheel on the end so he can walk faster when necessary. From then on, Ebenezer begins to treat everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas, he even buys Tiny Tim a box for down at ‘The Lane.’