Wonka presents the story.., p.1
The Story of Joe’s Christmas
(Fully illustrated version)
Copyright 2014 Madeleine Masterson
The Story of Joe’s Christmas cont:
We left Neddy and little Joe with the Manager and the Old Administrator who has now, with a little prompting from all, restored himself to order!
‘I shall do the figure work this very minute and mark it URGENT,’ he said firmly, unlocking the ledger and picking up his best fountain pen which wrote in purple ink. ‘And I,’ said the Manager ‘will work some fast magic reserved for trouble-shooting occasions like this one!’ She smiled and gave Neddy a reassuring pat. ‘Oh and you will need another neckerchief - now I know I saw one somewhere, was it in the top drawer? No, maybe I made that up, perhaps it was in my desk or was it - .’ The Old Administrator, feeling quite restored and proud of himself quietly pulled open the second drawer down and picked out a yellow neckerchief with red spots.
‘I’m sure no one will notice it was the other way round’ he said ‘ and, I would very much like little Joe to have this.’ The old man tied the scarf round Neddy’s neck and put a tiny model sports car into Joe’s hand. Although Joe slept on, his small fingers closed over the car and thus the gift was accepted.
Now it really was time to go and in the true nature of dreams, one minute they were all together and the next, Neddy was racing homewards through a fading night sky towards a different light breaking over the land of Earth.
At No 11, Horace Poole Close, Joe’s mum turned over in her sleep the covers not quite over her head and a smile on her face. After a restless hour of laying and worrying she had seen the snow begin to fall, and had left the curtain open to watch it. It had a very calming effect and now she lay in a deep and contented sleep. In the other bedroom Joe was awake and examining his new car. It was bottle green with silver lamps and spokes on the wheel and very different from his toy car collection. The wheels spun round, even the black steering wheel moved and it had a tiny boot which opened. Altogether it was a special car and Joe couldn’t wait to show it to someone. Neddy, also awake now and rocking in time to the rendition of ‘Horsey Horsey DON’T YOU STOP!’ which Joe was singing from the cot, couldn’t help noticing a rather bigger noise coming from downstairs. A lot of feet trooping in and out of the hallway and men’s voices.
Risking a quick glance out of the window by moving his long nose against the green curtain, Neddy saw a very large van parked outside No 11, and people carrying furniture out of it. Out of the van and into the empty downstairs flat realised Neddy. And goodness, that tall distinguished looking gentleman, in the long overcoat and grey wool scarf didn’t half look like.....
Neddy pulled his head back just in time, for Joe’s mum walked into the bedroom and pulled back the curtain against a beautiful snowy scene outside. But it wasn’t the snow laying inches deep and transforming the houses into fairy tale palaces that caught her attention. No, it was the removal van with MOONLIGHTERS painted in large green letters on the side.
A man and a teenage boy were busy unloading furniture and boxes and most interesting of all, a large knee-hole desk with many drawers and inset at the top with leather.
‘Amazing,’ pondered Joe’s mum ‘someone finally moving into Flat 1 downstairs, and right on Christmas too.’
She then had to explain ‘right on Christmas’ to Joe, who remained at the window, on Neddy’s back, entranced by the big van, the snow and the many household items being carried into the house. When the old man in the long winter overcoat waved up to him, he immediately waved back. Neddy, who daren’t risk another glance outside to see who was waving, had to content himself with an extra rock of excitement. Was this it, had Joe’s Christmas started?
And so it was, that Edward Starz moved into Flat 1 that very morning with all the usual misgivings and anxieties that moving home brings. Even looking for a coat hook to pop his coat on made him feel exasperated. The little entrance hall to his flat was too small, the coathooks too high and there was no light bulb. Have I made an awful mistake he thought, standing there with his coat still on, and turning a postcard over and over in his pocket. It was from his dear friend Emily Bunting, and he hoped so much she would join him for Christmas as planned. He took out the card and read it again.
‘My Dear Edward,
Very busy as usual dealing with the Christmas rush. Everyone is demanding top notch service. Will try to make it for Christmas and I do hope you like this card - and Good Luck in your new Home!!’ Love Emily X
Edward had loved the card. It was of a Christmas tree with a beautiful golden star at the top all glowing green against a dark snowy night. He knew Emily loved her job, as Manager of the toy department in a large city store, and particularly at this time of year when so many children would have their wish come true. Neither of them had children, and for Emily this was always a regret. ‘What a lovely mother you would have been’ thought Edward, smiling as he put the card back in his pocket. Thinking about Emily cheered him up. ‘Of course it will be a good Christmas and I shall soon feel at home. First things first though, I must go and introduce myself to my neighbours upstairs.’
Edward, coat still on, knocked smartly on the frontdoor to Flat 2 and was most surprised when it was opened by a little boy. A little boy with ruffled dark blonde hair, a blue jumper and nothing on his bottom half.
‘I wonder if your mother is at home?’ Enquired Edward, ‘as I would very much like to introduce myself.’
Joe sat on the stairs and looked at this stranger in his long coat and scarf. It was the same man that had waved up to him. Deciding he had at last found someone to show his new car to, Joe held it up for Edward to see.
‘Well bless me, that’s a Morgan isn’t it? I should know because my late brother used to drive one. What a perfect little model it is’ and so engrossed were Edward and Joe with the sports car, opening the little boot and turning the steering wheel it took them ages to go upstairs for the promised introduction.
Neddy rocked impatiently back and forth as he could hear them on the stairs and was desperate to know who the new neighbour was. ‘Is this the beginning of the magic’ he thought, and rocked even harder in anticipation. Then the man and Joe did come upstairs and luckily for Neddy, with the bedroom door open, he could hear everything.
‘Edward STARS Mummy !’ Shouted Joe running into the living room and knocking into his toybox. ‘Actually,’ smiled Edward ‘It’s Starz, with a Z, and I’m very pleased to meet you - I’m your new downstairs neighbour.’ He shook hands with Joe’s mum and explained about his house being too big now and how he had found this flat just in time for Christmas - the Landlord happened to be an old school friend. ‘Such luck - there I was, all sold up and nowhere to go!’
Neddy listened and waited, he knew the Manager of the Returns Department must have worked some really special magic and he was so impatient to see what would happen next.
As Edward sat in the chair by the fire, with Joe bringing him his total car collection one by one, he suddenly noticed the snowstorm in its glass on top of the television. ‘Well I haven’t seen one of these for years - what a charming thing it is too.’ Picking it up to shake it, Edward disturbed the Christmas List underneath, which fluttered to the floor. Little Joe remembering Granny’s long talks on ‘tidying up’ handed the piece of paper back to Edward, who naturally began to read what was written there. ‘Well well,’ and here Edward glanced at little Joe ’I think t
Joe’s mum coming back into the room with a cup of tea for her guest (call me Edward, not Mr Starz he had said) was startled to find him with her Christmas List in one hand and the snowstorm in the other. ‘Just happened to pick it up and then I couldn’t help seeing the List, and little Joe, of course well he must have a proper Christmas -’ Edward kept going despite his embarrassment at reading the list - ‘and well, I think I can help you here.’
Edward searched in his outside pockets, and then to Joe’s delight a secret inside pocket, and finally brought out a small business card. ‘My friend Emily Bunting you know, she is the Manager of the Toy Department and adores children and will gladly see to your every need - and Joe’s of course. I shall telephone her right away - and, if it wouldn’t be presumptuous, I would be more than happy to escort you both!’ Presenting the card to Joe’s mum, Edward replaced the List under the snowstorm and smiled happily. The card read:
In the Bedroom, with ears standing on end, Neddy rocked forward so hard he nearly tipped himself over. Whoever this Edward Starz was, and he certainly reminded Neddy of someone he knew from the Returns Department, he was definitely part of the magic. ‘So Joe will have a good Christmas after all,’ thought Neddy, ‘ and all because of a wish on a star, or was it a star on a wish? Well it was to do with a star - a bright star, and just think of all the wishes out there in the night sky!’ and Neddy’s heart leapt as he imagined all those glittering pieces of light holding our deepest hopes and shining them back down on us. And he carried on rocking, a soothing rock now, as he remembered things about Christmas and the star which foretold the biggest return of them all.
Towards dusk on Christmas day, all was peaceful at No 11. Joe’s mum was asleep in the chair, snatching some time out from a very successful day. Having shared it all between Edward and Emily - such an elegant charming lady, who stayed that way despite Joe’s demands and chocolate hands, and her own mother, Joe’s Granny (who approved wholeheartedly of Edward and Emily), a break from the Christmas celebrations seemed a good idea. Grandma had cycled home after redecorating the real Christmas tree for the fifth time. ‘I’m just adjusting the lights and I’m sure if you leave those chocolates there Joe will pull the whole thing down.’
‘Leave it Mum!’ commanded her daughter, and ushered her off to her own home to see to her own tree. Little Joe was still downstairs in Flat 1 with Edward having stated quite clearly his wish to stay. ‘Ten minutes and you come straight back.’ Said his mum, thanking Edward for such a lovely day. Leaning back in the chair now, she smiled as she remembered the morning and how amongst all the lovely presents for Joe, Edward had even produced a new neckerchief for Neddy!
‘Found it in one of my desk drawers!’ said Edward laughing, ‘and it’s nearly the same as his old one, just the colours the other way round - red with yellow spots.’ Yes, smiling to herself, Joe’s mum found herself gazing at the little snowstorm and the tree inside.
The star on the top of the tree seemed to be shimmering and winking back at her, and with the full wonder of Christmas in her head, she closed her eyes for a few minutes and fell asleep.
Downstairs, little Joe had Edward’s full attention. Emily had left half an hour ago, ‘Before it gets too dark Edward’ and there they were, just the two of them.
It appeared that despite a wonderful, indeed magic Christmas, Joe was still left wanting one important item. It had been listed and it was the motorbike. Edward had made a start on this. ‘Sometimes Joe, however much you wish for something it still might not come true in the way you want it too. In fact,’ Edward paused, not wanting to confuse little Joe by talking about the zigzag effect, whereby things which seemed to go wrong at one point turn out later to be perfectly right - no this was too profound for a young person, and instead, Edward chose to talk about his brother Alfred, who, when very small like Joe was now, had wished for a train set.
‘That’s Alfred there in the photo on my desk.’ pointed Edward to a clever looking, impeccably dressed man sitting sideways at a large desk.
As brothers, they shared the same oval face and large, deep-set eyes, but whereas Alfred looked business-like and self-important, Edward looked modest and kind. ‘And yes!’ continued Edward, ‘It is the same desk. Alfred left it to me in his will - he was an Administrator you see, loved figures and all of that - now me, I love books and reading. Well anyway, Alfred did not have that train set for Christmas and he never ever forgot it.’
‘Never forgot it.’ ’ repeated Joe running the model sports car along the top of the desk. ‘And of course as soon as he was able, he saved up his money and bought one anyway.’ finished Edward. He wondered if any of it made sense. ‘You see Joe, it changed that little boy, my brother Alfred, and made him resentful, determined to have whatever he wanted and pleased when he could disappoint someone else.’
A terrible shame thought Edward, now talking to himself as Joe was completely preoccupied with moving things round on the desk, and standing on a fine antique chair in order to reach everything nicely. Edward hoped that Alfred had somehow overcome this bitterness. Perhaps he had.
‘You old Administrator you’ thought Edward fondly, as he looked at Alfred’s photo on the desk and went to help Joe put all the pens back into the pot.
Wonka looked up and patted the papers on the table. It was our longest story to-date and I wondered if our small audience would enjoy it as much as we just had. I had gone into another Christmas dream, brought on by hearing about Neddy and little Joe, the magic of the Returns Dept.and their journey through the night skies. Not to mention the majestic actions of Edward. I might, I pondered, do another story with all of them in it. But Wonka was gone, off chasing his latest toy, the cork out of my Christmas sherry.
Had I made my wish for Christmas? I had, and I had wished it on my favourite set of twinkling stars, the seven sisters. Ah! It is a secret though, but I will tell you if it comes true…..
Merry Christmas to you all, and may all your secret wishes come true!
Wonka Presents! The Story of Joe's Christmas - Part Three by Madeleine Masterson / Humor have rating 4.5 out of 5 / Based on18 votes