A Christmas Tale
General Despair’s Mission to Save Christmas — Part 2
7am, December 24th, 2020. Still eating breakfast and only top-half dressed, the elite team convened on zoom to devise their plan to save Christmas.
According to official records, it was Private Parts’ turn to take notes. No one knows if this actually happened, and his computer is in such a mess that we probably never will.
What matters is that an idea was born. Somehow, without anyone really proposing or believing in it, they settled on a vision.
The best way to save Christmas was to hand deliver Christmas stockings to everyone in England. It was an elaborate, world beating plan, that was almost sure to go wrong.
7.17am. The General called the Secretary of Defence and suggested the idea. The Secretary was on his was way to be interviewed by Piers Morgan, so could not really concentrate. Luckily for the team, the idea was quickly approved and prioritised under national emergency protocols.
But the Secretary of Defence did say one thing. Given the State’s existing public infrastructure, with decentralised offices and regional distribution networks, he thought it best to make use of the private sector instead. So they put the project out to tender.
This, by chance, was a stroke of genius for the elite team.
9.02am. With a click of her heels and a tap of her wand, Major Itty registered the local independent museum as an ad hoc Christmas stocking delivery factory. It was as if a miracle had visited upon them.
The team then decided to make the most of their key worker status and meet in person to devise the rest of their plan.
10.14am. They congregated around small table in Major Itty’s museum. It was raining outside. Not thunderously, just seemingly eternal drizzle. Most of their socks and trouser bottoms were damp and there was an indoor puddle where they had left their umbrellas. It was the sort of weather to really get Private Parts going…
He got up to explore the kitchen. While the museum itself was dark, the kitchen was uncomfortably bright. Everything in it was white, except for a red emergency fire blanket and a green emergency exit sign. There was a kettle, a dripping tap, some instant coffee, half a pint of milk, a box of PG Tips and plate of triangle sandwiches with their crusts cut off, as though for fussy five-year-old children. He picked out two cheese and ham and two tuna mayo and returned to the others.
The Corporal took out some watermelon she had brought from home.
“You know we have refreshments and snacks here,” said the Private, nodding towards the kitchen. “You don’t like our exquisite food?”
10.30am. Major Itty got to her feet and took authority of the situation.
“First things first, if we are going to win this government contract to supply the nation with Christmas stockings, we need to make this business look legit. We need advisors. Major General History, I’m hiring you as our associate consultant. Corporal Punishment, you can be our international expert. Private Parts, you can be our principal analyst.”
Major General History and Private Parts were very happy with their new and lucrative contracts. Corporal Punishment thought the whole idea was mad but sensed there may be a route home for her in it somewhere, so took the job.
Delivering a Christmas stocking to everyone in England was going to be a major task. Given the extortionate cost of bus and rail travel, they quickly realised their network railcard would be useless, and none of them liked to drive. How on earth were they going to deliver the perfect stocking to everyone this Christmas eve? Had anyone ever attempted such a feat before?
10.45am. Then it dawned on them. They knew the stories. They themselves had indulged in the fantasies. There was one person. Somewhere, far away, was a magical man who had shown year in year out that that he could do this impossible Christmas task. A man who could hand deliver a package to absolutely everyone in a single day … Jeff Bezos.
“That’s it!” Exclaimed Major General History, “with my Amazon Prime account, we’ll order everyone their Christmas stocking tonight. While it seems impossible, it is in fact mind-blowingly reliable. Everyone will wake up to the true commercial joy of Christmas tomorrow morning. It’s perfect!”
“Yes yes, you are right!” shouted the Private, “thank God for Mr Bezos. He’s saved us!”
“Erm, that was definitely someone else!” Said the Corporal, shocked. “Have you seriously all forgotten the meaning of Christmas?”
“No no no,” responded Major General History. “We haven’t forgotten anything. We do the nativity play in school you know.”
There was one problem with the elite team’s otherwise fool-proof plan. Mr Bezos had sorted the sourcing, packaging and delivery of the stockings (so, 99.9% of the task done). But he loved money and was famous for making a profit on absolutely everything he did. Where would the elite team of idiots find Mr Bezos’ profit?
Here is where their true genius shone. Their cunning was so elaborate, so confusing and so intricate that accountants, lawyers, bankers and politicians will be fighting over what happened (and who will pay for it) for decades to come.
11.47am. General Despair spoke to the Secretary of Defence, who spoke to Chancellor of the Exchequer. The overall budget, which they would naturally go over, was promptly signed off.
12.22pm. Major General History, Private Parts and Corporal Punishment used the newly repurposed museum to apply for the new government backed business support loans. By a happy twist of light touch due diligence, they were each able to apply separately at every high street bank and, after an hour’s online shopping, had 54 different loans on the same small, struggling, independent museum.
12.35pm. Meanwhile, using her old City Counselling connections, Major Itty called in a favour from Lord Almighty. As a peer in the House of Lords, he placed the newly repurposed, insanely liquid, small, independent museum on the government’s secret ‘V.I.P’ list. And just like that, the museum became a trusted supplier for the Government’s most important, high tech and complex tasks. It had entered Westminster’s coveted inner-circle.
As night follows day, the elite team and the museum won the Ministry of Defence contract to distribute Christmas stockings.
1.30pm. Finally, as employees of the newly repurposed museum, Private Parts and Corporal Punishment were furloughed, but pressured to come in to work anyway.
Then they all went out to lunch to celebrate, and the government paid for half of that too.
The whole thing was so successful that the team raised £210 billion!
It could have been more but, as Corporal Punishment was an immigrant, it turned out she had no recourse to public funds. Ba Humbug! I suppose it would be mad to let immigrants tap into such generous systems of waste and inefficiency too?
Nonetheless, £210 billion was more than enough to implement the plan to save Christmas, stop our economy from crumbling and prevent our nation’s minds from melting into a pit of depression, such that we never be the same again.
2.32pm. That afternoon they got to work. It was a race against time as Amazon’s holy next day delivery deadline marched closer. Even with their tantalising one click interface, the whole team developed repetitive strain injuries by evening.
7pm. With 60 million items in the basket, General Despair proceeded to check out. And with one more click, the task was complete.
Find out how delivery went in General Despair’s Mission to Save Christmas — Part 3.