The Comicon Advent Calendar 2022: Day 18 – Mrs Scrooge
by Richard Bruton
One more day of Advent goes by and something from the wonderful Posy Simmonds and Carol Ann Duffy…
Mrs Scrooge first appeared in the pages of The Guardian, Christmas 2008. I picked it in the magnificently small hardback edition, just perfect for Christmas stockings.
It’s a poem written by the ex-Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a very modern take on the classic tale, with Mrs Scrooge, whose husband Ebenezer is “doornail dead” and who happens to be a very different sort of anti-Christmas campaigner.
Duffy takes her start from an idea that old Scrooge, post his transformative night, found a soulmate in Mrs Scrooge, before he died, way too soon, and left her a lonely widow…
She remembered her first Christmas with Scrooge, the single stripey sweet he’d given her that year, and every year.
Mrs Scrooge has taken up environmental issues and animal rights issues and generally takes exception to the more consumerist nature of the season. And after Mr Scrooge’s death, she threw herself into it, cutting herself off, living an isolated, simple life that might make her righteous but has stripped her life of its joy.
So, she finds herself, on a freezing cold Chritsmas Eve, outside a supermarket, attempting the impossible, to sway the last-minute shopping hordes away from their lives of spend, spend, spend.
As with all Scrooge tales, there are ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, a trip through a life, a love story retold, and a lovely, warm, knowing tale of living, of giving and receiving at this and every other time.
It’s a wonderful poem from Duffy, brought to life through her gorgeous words and through the ever-so-perfect artwork of Posy Simmonds, who really does do both despair and gloom in a snowy cold London and the joys and warmth of a raging party so magnificently well.
Just to give you an idea, here’s just a dash of both…
Scrooge doornail-dead, his widow, Mrs Scrooge, lived by herself in London Town.
It was that time of year, the clocks long back, when shops were window-dressed with unsold tinsel, trinkets, toys, trivial pursuits,
with sequinned dresses and designer suits, with chocolates, glacé fruits and marzipan,
with Barbie, Action Man, with bubblebath and aftershave and showergel;
the words Noel and Season’s Greetings brightly mute in neon lights.
The city bells had only just chimed three, but it was dusk already.
It had not been light all day.
Mrs Scrooge sat googling at her desk, Catchit the cat curled at her feet;
snowflakes tumbling to the ground below the window, where a robin perched, pecking at seeds.
Most turkeys, bred for their meat, are kept in windowless barns, with some containing over 20,000 birds.
Turkeys are removed from their crates and hung from shackles by their legs in moving lines.
A small fire crackled in the grate.
Their heads are dragged under a water bath – electrically charged – before their necks are cut.
Mrs Scrooge pressed Print.
She planned to visit Marley’s Supermarket (Biggest Bargain Birds!) at four.
Outside, snowier yet, and cold! Piercing, searching, biting cold.
The cold gnawed noses just as dogs gnaw bones.
It iced the mobile phones pressed tight to ears.
The coldest Christmas Eve in years saw Mrs Scrooge at Marley’s, handing leaflets out.
The shoppers staggered past, weighed down with bags
or pushing trolleys crammed with breasts, legs, crowns, eggs, sausages, giant stalks of brussels sprouts, carrots, spuds, bouquets of broccoli, mangetout, courgettes, petit pois, foie gras; with salmon, stilton, pork pies, mince pies, christmas pudding, custard, port, gin, sherry, whisky, fizz and plonk,
all done on credit cards.
Most shook their head at Mrs Scrooge, irked by her cry “Find out how turkeys really die!'”
or shoved her leaflet in the pockets of their coats, unread,
or laughed and called back “Spoilsport! Ho! Ho! Ho!”
Three hours went by like this.
The snow began to ease as she walked home.
Go and read the rest at The Guardian and do look out the book, wonderful thing that it is and perfect for presents or your bookshelf.
And of course, Mrs Scrooge does have a point – there really doesn’t have to be a desperate need to spend a fortune on pointless presents this year. Just giving is the joy and it really is the thought that counts. It’s also good to remember those who are less well off than you, and this would be a very good year for you to do something for others.
With that in mind – here’s the details for a few organisations that will be grateful for your help or your donations this year…
UK – donate or volunteer – Shelter, Crisis, St Mungos.
USA – donate or volunteer – Covenant House, National Coalition for the Homeless.