Peter MacDuck was a happy chappie as he looked down as the master of all he surveyed. Quite an incredible achievement,he reckoned,to be solely in charge of this huge retail emporium,one which meant so much to so many people,it commanded a brand loyalty which the likes of Mark’s and Spencer could only dream of.
He gave a quick flick through the latest income streams,and smiled contentedly. All coming up roses. He had managed to get away with running last season’s fashion items again-no great surprise,he knew his customers,change things every three years or so and go with the tried and trusted.
Aye,of course it sometimes didn’t work,but sometimes neither did new models. A couple of Scandinavian blonds bombed,some cute Africans deserted ship for better wages. He’d even got some money in for some of them,a large sum to swop them to foreign shores where they would not be a nuisance in the future,wearing new apparel which might make his customers question why these things weren’t available to them
He took a wee moment to himself as he watched the latest sales figures filter through,and regretted one small part of modernity.
He couldn’t hear the sound that to him summed up Christmas.
Oh,how he longed for the good old days,The Jingle Bells,Jingle Bells of cash registers working overtime.
Of course,it was only due to modern technology that he could keep up to date with income as it happened,but well,you canny beat the real thing.
MacDuck did the next best thing. He turned his monitor to the tills in the store and played some piped music,the theme tune to Are You Being Served. On a loop. Ching Ching. And a nice wee thought or ten of Miss Brahms before she turned up in Eastenders.
Kicked off the shoes,nice music,nice thoughts,wonderful images in the store. He should have listened to his Chief Buyer in the summer,but he’d never listened to one before,and the customers were still there. Might have to get my finger out,he thought. Or maybe fire him.
But for all that the customers were still there,they didn’t seem to be buying as much,some were complaining about having only last year’s range to look at. He was concerned about maybe he’d been found out.
No matter. His boss was only interested in one thing. Not making a loss. Didn’t even bother if MacDuck contrived to award himself 3% of turnover and ten times that of profit in wages and bonus.
Actually,life is good,and he flipped off his shoes,leant back in his chair and listened to that Ching Ching. It meant so much to him,he was a happy and contented chap as he drifted off for a few minutes.
He was awoken with a start. An awful clanging noise and a chill wind. Startled,he looked up only to see a skeletal white haired figure before him.
“Blinkin’ flip”,said MacDuck. “Is that Boab Kelly?!!!”
“Listen,young man. Respect your elders. It’s Sir Robert to you.”
“I’m here to give you some advice,MacDuck A lesson,if you will. I know you never listen,but I suggest you do. I am only the first of three who will visit you tonight,but you can vow to change at any time,the others will stay away.”
“What advice can you give me,Boab? Great team and 27000 every week,same wi a crap team which was your norm. And aye I know you were creaming the takings,try £2.3m.”
Sir Robert took an eye as withering as his arm to MacDuck.
“See,son,I thought I knew it all. And I made bloody sure that no-one at Celtic could tell me any different. I micromanaged before the word had even been invented. I picked the team. Not the manager.”
MacDuck feebly responded that he really picked the team,if I don’t sign the players,what’s a man to do?
Sir Robert simply asked one question. Why do you think I got a knighthood? Wee clue,think of me as The Ghost of Lisbon Past.
“Well,because you won The European Cup,Boab.”
“Naw,ya prick.it was because someone pointed out to me that I was shite at running the team and it could be done better. I got a knighthood for listening to one big scary guy,and he gave me everything I could ever dream of. And I never once signed a player that he didn’t want,or refused to sign one that he targeted. Think about that.”
Oh,I have,Boab. I control things much more than you ever did.
Before MacDuck could react,Boab had disappeared. A quick shake of the head,and another wee nap before home time.
And then it happened again,another apparition. And this was worse. A wee fella wi a transatlantic accent,rubbing a thin dime between his thumb and forefinger.
And still with the chains.
“Aw,come on,you’re not even dead,you canny be a vision from hell”
It was Mack Tinney. He had saved the emporium from bankruptcy nearly 25 years ago,and walked away with a fortune. A fortune that most men could only dream of,but that MacDuck had every intention of beating.
Mack had always got on MacDuck’s nipples,that accent,always being right. But he wasn’t dead,so why was he seeing this guy in chains?
“Well,young man,you have to realise that I’m only a figment of your imagination,of course I’m not dead. I’m not a dream,like Sir Robert Kelly. I’m your worst nightmare.”
“No,young man. You say I’m not dead,and I’m not,yet you see me in the same shackles of the dead like Sir Robert. I’m a dream,and your worst nightmare,because these shackles are the same as those of Sir Robert. They are the shackles of our imagination. I didn’t have the imagination when I owned my club,our club. Maybe Sir Robert did,but neither of us had the money to let our imaginations run free.”
“No,you’re not”said MacDuck. “You’re history. No-one liked you and hardly anyone gives a monkey’s about what you did in 1994. You wrecked your legacy.”
“We were shackled,MacDuck. But we meant well,and we spent when we could. And we trusted our managers,hell,I even allowed one to bring in his old pal. And what a player Moravcik turned out to be. Because I trusted my managers,and you need to do that too. Because I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,even in your mind I am here to give you a warning about the future. And remember,I am only held in high regard because of you,and for that I am very grateful,young man.
You might not like The Ghost of Christmas To Come. But only you can decide whether that Christmas to Come becomes reality.”
MacDuck sat back in his chair and contemplated taking cheese off the menu in future. These apparitions were scary,he knew he was doing the right thing,but suppose deep down he knew he wasn’t. Ah,to hell with it,I’ll deal with it tomorrow,he thought. At that,he turned off the piped sound of the tills ringing and walked out of his office.
He got up from his desk,and aw blinkin flip those bloody clanking chains again. He was used to it by this time and nothing was gonna scare him. Certainly not The Ghost of Christmas to Come.
Fuck naw,Desmond White???!!!!! I promise I’ll change,I swear I’ll change!!!!!