By Chris Blenkarn

Lines written in praise of The Christmas Carol at the Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, on the fourteenth day of December, 1998. Michael Keating was playing Scrouge.

By William McGonagall, Poet and Tragedian

'Twas in the year of 1998 and on the 14th day of December
Which admirers of Dickens' blessed tale The Christmas Carol long will remember
Who gaily journeyed from near and far unto the fair city of Ipswich
Conveyed by minibus or cheap rail ticket, because none of them were rich.

Beautiful Ipswich! You have a theatre of high renown, as I have heard tell
It is to be found on Civic Drive near the banks of the beautiful Orwell
The Wolsey is its name, I ween, and most comfortable its seating
Whereon we gathered to view the play with the celebrated Mr Michael Keating.

The house of Scrooge and Marley was most dismal to behold
Three clerks toiled on, their hearts were warm though it was very cold
Then 'midst the gloom sweet voices sang but Scrooge bade the choir, begone!
Bah Humbug was his Christmas cheer which made them feel forlorn.

Two gentlemen entreated Scrooge a trifle to bestow
Upon the poor at Christmastide, but he filled their hearts with woe
Are there no workhouses, he cried, may not they go to prison?
Then let them starve and so decrease the surplus population.

Seven years hence this very night did Jacob Marley die
So when at the door his face peered out Scrooge gave a dreadful cry
His face grew pale, his blood ran cold, it was a shock most cruel
Then the face grew dim, he locked the door and supped a bowl of gruel.

Bu lo, 'ere long the unhappy ghost returned, his blood to freeze!
You're some undigested beef, cried Scrooge, or else a piece of cheese
The apparition shook his chains and wailed most piteously
If Scrooge would shun this path he trod, three spirits must he see.

These words he uttered, then said he, oh look to see me no more
Unto the Heavens he departed though he did not use the door
The affrighted Scrooge gazed out upon many ghostly lamentations
Then with fearful heart he retired to bed to await the visitations.

The clock strikes one, upon the hour an unearthly spirit appears
A lustrous robe of shimmering light and roller skates he wears
I am the ghost of Christmas Past, arise and walk with me
In dread Scrooge clasps his robe and finds himself a-rambling in the country.

'Twas the place where he spent his childhood years a very long time ago
Scrooge shed a tear for he who read the tale of honest Ali Baba, and also of Robinson Crusoe
When his sister came to bring him home, Scrooge danced a little jig
Then the spirit led him to his old master's house, whose name was Fezziwig.

Scrooge gazed as they made merry, and danced the Roger De Coverley
Next came his dear sweetheart who sadly spake thus "another idol has replaced me
May you be happy in the life you have chosen" she sorrowfully did declare
Then he saw her with all her children dear which made him tear his hair.

Spirit, begged Scrooge with broken voice, remove me from this place, I pray"
For he did not wish to see any more such sights for many a long day
"Haunt me no longer" was his cry as he wrestled with the spectre
Then with anguished heart he found himself once more in his own bedchamber.

Again the bell tolled one o'clock, and a blaze of light there grew
'Twas a jovial spirit, I do declare, inquiring if Scrooge his brothers knew?
They walked abroad 'midst honest folk whose hearts were full of glee
Where poulterers, butchers, bakers and grocers shops were very fine for to see

Then to Bob Cratchit's humble dwelling the ghost did quickly haste, without delay
Mrs Cratchit had a goose and mashed potatoes cooked, who in ribbons was very gay
Bob came from church with Tiny Tim a-hobbling on his crutch
Then they all sat down to enjoy their meal though there wasn't very much.

"God bless us, everyone" the child this Christmas toast did give
"Oh tell me, Spirit" Scrooge implored, "is Tiny Tim to live?"
He answered thus, "I behold an empty seat in the chimney corner
The child is like to die." These words did Scrooge's cold heart stir

Next came they to where miners laboured long, it was a gloomy waste
Yet the miners' hearts felt very light, they were not at all downcast
Then they saw a lighthouse keeper who sang without dismay
And also a ship upon the sea, mayhap bound for the silvery Tay.

Now Scrooge was come to his nephew's house where the company was very fine
But the ghost held up his hand as Scrooge watched this sight sublime
"My life upon this globe is very brief and ends tonight"
Then Scrooge espied beneath his robe a very horrid sight.

Two children, pinched and twisted, and of very low degree
"Their names are Ignorance and Want," the Spirit said most sternly
Scrooge started back, a bell struck twelve, he lifted up his eyes
To where another phantom did approach, which was not a very great surprise.

This Spirit, shrouded in a robe, spake not but raised a spectral hand
Scrooge feared him much, but clung to him and they came to the Stock Exchange so grand
Some gentlemen spoke of one who had died, but they ne'er did shed a tear
Old Scratch, they said, had got his own, which to Scrooge was not very clear

A wretched den they now approached, where a thief she brought her plunder
Some bed curtains from a dying man's bed, she had rent asunder
His body now lay beneath a sheet, all cold was every limb
To his debtors all, his death brought cheer, there was no man for to mourn him

To the Cratchit household they did wend, Scrooge felt his heart turn wild
Scrooge saw Bob Cratchit as he wept "Oh my little, little child!"
Thence to a wretched graveyard, of all mortals the last refuge
Oh woe! The man's name upon the gravestone carved was Ebenezer Scrooge.

"Spirit," cried Scrooge upon his knees, "No, Spirit, Oh no, no!
I am not the man I was, and will change my life, say it can be so."
In his agony he entreated him, that sober, unspeaking ghost
When all at once he found himself addressing his own bedpost.

Scrooge started from his slough of despond and he flung his window wide
The bells rang forth, he laughed for joy and did not feel at all tired
To bestow a turkey on Bob's good wife he sent forth to the poulterer
'Twas twice the size of Tiny Tim and to receive it that morn would surely delight her.

The very next day Bob Scratchit crept to the house of Scrooge and Marley
He was sore amazed to hear Scrooge declare he would straightway raise his salary
Then to Tiny Tim Scrooge became a second father, I have heard tell.
And from that day forth 'twas said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well.

Now in that theatre packed to the ceiling in every corner, both left and right
The happy audience clapped and cheered for the play did all delight
So a Happy and Prosperous New Year be all our festive greeting
To the cast of The Christmas Carol grand, and especially to Mr Keating.

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Last updated on 05th of May 2001.