A Christmas story for Wanstead

A Christmas story for Wanstead imagineered by Geo. C Parker Esq

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. George C Parker and he were partners for I don’t know how many years.

The door of Parker’s property agency was open that he might keep an eye on his clerk. “A Merry Christmas Uncle!” cried a cheerful voice from the street. It was Parker’s nephew, a do-gooding blogger with no prospects to speak of.

“Bah!” said Parker. “Humbug! This place would be best served with more hard working property developers and less fools like this!”

***

That night the first phantom visited Parker in his quarters. “I wear the chain I forged in life” said the ghoul. The mortified George C trembled more and more.

“Rise and walk with me!” impelled the spirit. “I am the ghost of Christmas past”. As the words were spoken they passed through the wall into an open High Street, with ever-green fields on either side.

“Good heaven!” said Parker. “This is long ago! I was a young property developer here! There are the nobly-spaced houses and villas we put up, over there the Hospital, and the Police Station! Look at all the happy and proud residents going about their business in the splendour, the proud chestnuts and wide arcades”.

“You remember?” asked the spirit. “Strange to have forgotten for so many years ..”

***

The clock on Parker’s bedroom wall struck, heralding a different apparition at his bedside. Tremulously the erstwhile tycoon asked, “What will you show me now?” The ghost raised a finger to his lips as they passed once more through the bricks and mortar.

As the haze cleared, Parker did not watch his step so walked straight into a sign advertising new parking restrictions. He said a bad word and then bumped into a builder’s skip outside yet another garden-grabbing development. Approaching the High Street he saw his nephew bustling out of the door of A.G. Dennis in great cheer having reserved the Christmas turkey, en route for a major sprout purchase at Harveys nearby. “Are there no Tesco Metros?” breathed Parker? “Are there no Sainsbury’s locals? And where are the extra parking meters? We’ll have need of them when new flats are built right next door to my imbecile nephew’s place. His words were lost as the scene dissolved into an ethereal mist.

***

The final Phantom slowly, gravely, descended. Parker implored his beady eyes to stop the deceit; his curdled breath formed a misty penance in the chill. No word was uttered as Parker was bade to follow. “Spirit!” cried Parker, looking around him and noting the bad developments, parking chaos, gaudy neon, the PVC window-frames, and Closed Down notices,  “What the flip are we doing in Ilford?” Still the ghost did not speak. A bony finger arched towards the listing and fading sign marked “Wanstead Village”. “Good spirit!” pursued Parker breathlessly. “Assure me I can yet change these shadows  you have shown me, by an altered life?”

***

Morning came. “I will live in the Past, Present and Future!” Parker repeated as he scrambled out of bed. He frisked into the High Street and sent the first urchin he met straight to the Orange Tree for fineries to deliver to his nephew. Passing Santa Fe and Coco, he collected a festive and fetching scarf and glove set for each of his neighbours children, and sent for bouquets from each of the florists. Skipping along the rest of the parade, he ordered all that was needed for a wonderful Christmas from his friendly local retailers, and then he returned to his garret to join the Wanstead Society and to write a long string of powerful representations to Redbridge about some of the more alarming recent developments in planning and parking matters. THE END?

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