WORKINGTON Man found himself back in his armchair. He turned on the TV and saw Shelvey was about to take the penalty. A gust of wind blew the ball off the spot and as Shelvey went to replace it, the screen went blank.
Another phantom appeared in the room, emitting a pungent pong of Capstan Full Strength and Old Admiral Behemoth’s XXX Best Bitter.
‘You’ll be the third ghost then?’ said Workington Man wearily. ‘Look, can we just get on with it so I can get back to watching the match?’
‘Right-o, old man,’ came the reply from the dapper, blazer-clad figure with a grin like a sliced watermelon. ‘I’m the Ghost of Brexit Yet to Come. Let’s whizz off and have a look at what Blighty will be like in 2022, once I’ve taken over and delivered a no-deal Brexit.’
Soon Workington Man was standing on a village green. Nearby, rosy-cheeked children sang and danced round a maypole. ‘There you have it,’ said the phantom. ‘Our golden youth playing carefree on the broad, sunlit uplands of Merrie England, liberated at last from the sclerotic shackles of Europe.’
‘Very nice,’ said Workington Man. ‘But why are the kids all wearing bin bags?’
– ‘Ah, yes, good question. It seems their school uniform supplier is a company in India and I haven’t quite got round to a new trade deal with them yet. Never mind – let’s have a look how industry’s doing.’
They materialised in a car factory. ‘As you can see, the cars are rolling off the production line,’ said the ghost.
– ‘Yes. But why are the workers pushing them into the car park instead of driving them?’
‘Another good question. Well, it seems the engines come from South Korea, but I haven’t concluded a new trade deal there yet either.’
– ‘There’s a bit of a pattern developing here.’
‘Not to worry. Let’s away to tartan territory.’
They landed near Gretna Green, next to a gigantic flashing neon sign which said: Welcome to DonaldWorld ® Golf Resort and Spa (formerly Scotland).
‘You mean you’ve given the whole of Scotland to Donald Trump?’ said Workington Man.
– ‘Well, I had to help my old Stateside mucker out somehow, especially after he was impeached in 2020.’
‘What about the Scottish Nationalists? I bet they weren’t too happy.’
– ‘There was a bit of a fuss. But Nicola Sturgeon’s settled in now as a chambermaid in the 200-storey Trump Tower Hotel on the site of the redundant Scots parliament building in Edinburgh. Anyhow, old chap, all this gadding about the heavens is thirsty work . . . let’s go to the pub.’
Next second, they were seated in the lounge of the Slug & Sceptic in Kent. ‘Welcome to my local,’ said the spectre. ‘Harry! Two pints of best with Glenlivet chasers please.’
The barman brought the drinks over, saying: ‘That’ll be £200, please.’
‘£200!’ gasped Workington Man.
– ‘Yes, well, there’s been a bit of inflation since I took over,’ said the phantom.
‘I know you didn’t produce a manifesto, but surely you had a few workable ideas,’ said Workington Man.
– ‘Well, I did sketch out some policies on a beer mat here in the Slug & Sceptic. One was for a pints-based immigration system, where those who could down the most ale would be allowed into Britain.’
The ghost fumbled in his pocket and produced a piece of crumpled cardboard. ‘I jotted down some other thoughts on this fag packet . . . I think.’
– ‘But it just says Smoking Can Damage Your Health.’
‘Maybe it should say Brexit Can Damage Your Wealth,’ quipped the phantom, giving a crackly laugh. ‘Who cares? Policies are for wimps. We’ll be okay! We’ll improvise – we’re British! Harry! Another round!’
He dissolved in a cloud of cigarette smoke.
Returned once more to his armchair, Workington Man switched on the TV. Shelvey took the penalty; the ball ricocheted off the post, straight to the feet of Palace striker Wilfried Zaha. He dashed upfield and banged the ball into the Newcastle net. A second later, the final whistle blew.
‘Aarrrgh!’ yelled Workington Man. ‘We’ve lost! As if being pestered by pontificating political poltergeists and bored rigid about Brexit all night wasn’t enough, that puts the tin lid on it!’
He stumbled outside and realised it was Christmas morning. A spotty youth named Moggsy was scrunching through the snow, listening on his headphones to the BBC’s ‘progressive’ December 25 broadcast: Heavy Metal Hits from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
‘Oi! Moggsy!’ shouted Workington Man. ‘Will you go and get me something from the Mini Mart?’
– ‘If you mean that huge prize turkey that’s been hanging in the window for the past five weeks, you can’t have it. The public health people confiscated it yesterday – it was full of salmonella.’
‘No, Moggsy, not a turkey. Get me a bottle of whisky. After the night I’ve had, I need a drink.’
He went back inside, sat down, and switched on the TV, hoping to see Sky’s soccer highlights programme. But it had been cancelled and all channels were showing a documentary entitled Brexit: The Story So Far.
Workington Man stood up and, taking careful aim, put his boot through the screen. Then, with a cry so loud it brought snow tumbling off the roof, he yelled: ‘Politicians? Bah! Humbug!’
God bless us, every one!