The Christmas Party That’s Never Won


Episode 5:



Song: What a Show

It’s a mighty fine Christmas shindig
And it’s packed with party bigwigs
The message the Leader bellows:
“Give more dough, give more dough, give more dough”

And there’s lots of festive sniping
At the parties they’ve been imbibing
Snooty laughter begins to flow:
“Ho ho ho, ho ho ho, ho ho ho!”

And they drank long into the night
Till the beer it ran dangerously low
As two councillors started a fight
It really should have been time to go
With workers all backbiting
And violence still igniting
The drinking it did not slow
They’re a glow, they’re a glow, they’re a glow

And they drank long into the night
Till the beer it ran dangerously low
As the Leader lost powers of sight
It really was the time to go.

Oh, it doesn’t show signs of stopping
Champagne corks keep on popping
The Leader’s dancing like a pro
What a show, what a show, what a show

As the remnants of the party skulked their way out of an array of hiding places and shuffled street-wards in search of carriages, Chris grimaced, stepped over a mystery liquid and headed for the stairs. Avoiding the disapproving glances of bar stewards, the last remaining policeman and a very angry manager, the young advisor hurriedly climbed the two flights up to the historic old drawing room.

Inside, slumped on a red leather sofa in front of an eight-foot high painting of the Duke of Wellington, lay Sam. The dishevelled PR Manager did not look well. With bottom sticking firmly in the air and head tucked gracefully into a cushion, Chris paused to contemplate the most dignified way of getting the last remaining United Liberation Party member out of a now very hostile environment. The evening had started with such promise too…

“Illustrious friends, party members, Lords, Ladies and Gentleman… welcome to our humble Christmas shindig,” began Harry Ra’Basche as he addressed the 250 or so guests in front of him, before, with a swish of arms and a flash of his trademark grin, the leader called for “Cocktails!”

In a snap, the towering double doors flew open behind him and a fleet of smartly dressed waiters peeled in carrying loaded trays of enticing Champagne cocktails. The hoard of servers elegantly zigzagged through the high-ceilinged room distributing brightly coloured refreshments to the crowd… some of whom had travelled from all over Europe to attend this exclusive bash at the famous City of London Club.

As the first of the drinks began to flow, Chris nestled himself next to the north facing fireplace and casually leaned against a garishly painted yellow wall to survey the evening. The throng were milling, some taking up positions on the many luxurious red leather sofas that surrounded the room, others treading the expansive floor space taken up by the ancient Ziegler carpet.

Joining Chris, and making him look a tad underdressed, was Sam, who had traded her PR pencil skirt for a little black cocktail dress. Chris was wearing his regular Friday suit. “Drink,” offered Sam, waving a highball glass filled with a bright purple liquid in his direction.

“What is that?”

“No idea,” she replied, “but it smells exciting.”

“After the Party Conference, at least one of us needs to keep an eye on him.”

With a look intended to convey that: one, it was a Christmas party, and two, there were no press anywhere about, Sam tipped her purple concoction back in one and offered the other to Chris.

“You know what happens at these events… and it’s getting worse. We don’t want to get tarnished by any of the more worrying elements…” he refused, with the heavy indignation of a man who knows he’s in for a thoroughly awful evening.

With a shrug of her delicately covered shoulders, Sam upended the other glass and turned tail in search of more drinks, preferably one of the giant green things she had seen making their way around the room.

“Bring me a Coke please,” he called after her, before slumping into a sofa and settling his gaze on Ra’Basche, who was now holding court underneath one of the dazzling chandeliers in the middle of the room.

The problem with a hooch peddler, Chris had recently discovered, was four-fold:

1.       When you push drinks onto people, you end up having to match each pushed drink with one of your own.
2.       When you’re a hooch peddler – and the leader of a political party – many people want to get in quickly and buy you a drink first… and being a ‘gracious leader’ you will drink all of them.
3.       When you’re well known for liking and distributing drink, you end up getting challenged to upmarket displays of competitive imbibement by fellow hooch peddlers.
4.       When an excessive quantity of hooch is peddled, the more unsavoury elements of people’s characters emerge.

After two hours on the sofa, and feeling very much like a wallflowered pariah, the self-designated Ra’Basche spotter was feeling decidedly bored and parched. The Leader appeared to be on fine form, and had not yet moved from his meet and greet spot in the centre of the room. His right arm, however, had moved a lot. A flowing procession of cocktails, whiskies and long drinks had been forced upon him – all of which had been deftly dealt with. He was now supping a frothy looking cask ale, which Chris thought looked jolly appealing.

Making his way to the bar at the opposite end of the room, Chris eschewed the assembly of specially selected beer barrels and ordered a much needed glass of brown sugar water. Suitably refreshed, he then crossed the floor and joined Ra’Basche’s appreciative gaggle.

“Chris!” the Leader exclaimed, “join us all for a drink. The pints are exceptional this evening.”

“I’m alright with Cokes at the moment,” said Chris giving his glass a rather effeminate rattle. “And Daniel asked me to remind you that he’ll be coming straight to the office from the airport for your meeting tomorrow morning.”

Before the Leader could respond to what he later described as a “ham-fisted attempt at nannying,” he was overrun by a collection of ULP councillors from Kent. As the sober policy advisor melted into the background, he flinched at the obnoxious estuary accented calls for serving wenches and grog. As members of the all-male refreshment team advanced with drinks, Chris gave them an apologetic nod and made for his empty red sofa.

With the party slowly spiralling its way around the spacious drawing room, an ever increasing flurry of inappropriateness was making its way to Chris’ ears. It’s not that he was intentionally eavesdropping from his inconspicuous vantage point, some folks were just being jolly indiscreet. It was the kind of chat he hated to see associated with his party… and the kind of chat that he’d been trying to stamp out for nearly two years. Rising to his feet, he went in search of an ally.

“Where’s your young muffin, Chris?” crowed the Party Chairman as Chris approached, “or are you one of those?” Squeezed into the oversized armchair beside him – no mean feat considering his Nero Wolfe like appearance – was a sheepish looking Sam.

“Just need to quickly borrow yours, I’m afraid!”

“You’re meant to muzzle that mega-rich lunatic… not nuzzle him,” exploded Chris as he dragged the PR professional away.

“That’s not fair. It’s not my fault he’s worth more than the Queen. I had to dress up like a German strumpet the other month. This is much more pleasant public relation work.”

“PR? We need some. It’s like the ghosts of Enoch Powell and Lord Londonderry have come home for Christmas. So far this evening I’ve overheard a donor offer to marry our only non-white councillor so she can stay in the country; the treasurer suggest that it’s a shame only 60 poor people died as a result of benefit cuts; and more members than I could count, bragging that they’ve joined the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamification of the West in support of all those marching in Dresden and Munich the other day.”

“Aren’t that German lot just a bit pro Christmas?” said Sam, attempting to lighten the mood. “There’s a few wrong-uns in every party, you knew that coming in. We have lefties, righties and richies – and we really need the richies. We’ve already expelled umpteen people this year.”

“We’re meant to be righteous libertarians Sam, against state interference and unworkable European policies… but for everyone who lives here and wants to live here. A party of inclusi… ”

“Chris…” she interrupted, noticeably slurring his name, “Harry’s about to do it again.”

In the centre of the room, carefully balanced on two high-backed antique chairs, stood the Leader. For a man who must have been reasonably refreshed, he was straight as a bayonet, graceful and carefully poised for the show. Stuffed up his shirt was an enormous sofa cushion, on his face he had fashioned a makeshift beard from tinsel, and in his hands were five of the peach-liquored chicken wings that were doing the rounds earlier.

“I’m Henry the VIII I am,
Henry the VIII I am, I am.”

Then the juggling started… and the party piece really began.

“She got married to the widow next door.”
“She’s been married seven times before.”

After each line Ra’Basche took a bite out of one of the chicken wings he was juggling. After three bites, the wing was deemed done and thrown high over his shoulder to raucous applause.

“I’m Henry the VIII I am,”
“Henry the VIII I am, I am.”
“She got married to the widow next door.”

As Chris fought his way through the enchanted crowd to try and stop the Leader from either choking on a chicken bone, falling and breaking his neck… or worse, being filmed by a camera phone, things quickly began to unravel.

The second thrown bone flew straight and true, sprayed a jet stream of peachy chicken particles in its wake and struck a party councillor for Birmingham square on the back of the head. Oblivious to his Leaders’ display 20 metres away, the member spun round and quite reasonably punched a Dorset councillor flush on the nose. Slightly taken aback by this, the former policeman-turned-politician launched a vicious head-butt and began to strangle his opponent.

Seeing the melee to his left, Chris abruptly changed direction and made for the fist fight… arriving just in time to see two bar stewards take a thump in the face each as they pulled the two brawlers apart. As seconds dragged their fighters to opposite ends of the room, a rather angry night manager approached the far-too-sober-for-this-kind-of-thing policy advisor and stated, “The police have been called Sir,” before whisking his bleeding employees off for some much needed first aid.

As he hotfooted it back towards the Leader, the unmistakable stench of acrid cigar smoke began to fill the room. Gazing quickly around to try and find the source, the now flapping advisor caught sight of Sam slumped against a wall and doing her best not to drool. Making a swift detour, Chris painstakingly manoeuvred her onto the sofa that sat beneath the humungous oil painting of Field Marshal Wellesley – who would have heartily approved of the rooms’ debauchery – then resumed his charge Leader-wards.

“Henry the VIII I am, I am,”
“Henry the VIII I am,”

“It’s time to go,” yelled Chris, pulling the Leader down from his perch and whipping away the makeshift beard and belly. “The police are on the way and you need to leave.”

“Come on Chris, we haven’t had a drink together yet. It’s Christmas.”

“The police are literally on their way Harry, we have to go.”

“Come on Chris,” he said, steering his young advisor towards the now untended bar, “just the one for the road…”


Song: Hooch Peddler

Hooch Peddler
He’s the man, the man who will mess you up
‘Cos you must sup
With the Hooch Peddler
Frothy pints, vodka and a touch of gin
Your head will spin

His moonshine will flow from the heavens
You’ll be on your tenth drink by seven
Don’t try to keep up when invited to sup
With the man who’s known as…

Master Hooch Peddler
Fear the words: “Another? I’ll get them in!”
Beware his grin

Firewater will flow from the heavens
You’ll be onto the shots by eleven
Don’t try to keep up when invited to sup
With the man who’s known as…

Master Hooch Peddler
Fear the words: “Another? I’ll get them in!”
Beware his grin

He’s getting them in
In with a grin
Pints and gin
He’s getting them in
The room will spin
Evil grin

First published on Searchlight Magazine Arts…

Speak Your Mind