It all started out as fun, these things always do. It all started in a pub near Tetbury when the landlord Andy Keep introduced a Christmas Jumper charity fundraiser. Everyone was invited to wear a festive sweater and they could donate a pound to the “save the badger” initiative. A range of colourful knitwear turned out that night wearing mostly hand crafted Father Christmas and Rudolphs.
Within a couple of years everyone was doing festive jumpers as “a thing”, shops and supermarkets made their staff spend the day dressed as elves to “celebrate” the season of gross commercialisation. Before long even the Royal family of television, Phil and Holly, were in on the act and a “Christmas Jumper Day”, was ushered into the universe by royal decree.
By the year 2025, with Chairman Corbyn celebrating his seventh year in power, you couldn’t cross the street in December without being bombarded with flashing jumpers, or even worse singing jumpers, Jingle Bells had never sounded so irritating. Glitter infested, shaggy knit monstrosities replete with dangling baubles threatened innocent passers-by on any given day.
Charlie Wheeler had always hated the Christmas work “do”. Not because he was miserable, but because he justifiably hated the idea of sitting in a room that looked like Father Christmas had vomited tinsel on, listening to Slade over and over again. He also hated the fact that all offices seemed almost contractually obliged to indulge in forced festivity. Even though no one really wanted to see Dirk the delivery guy photocopy his arse for the 10th consecutive year.
And then one Christmas someone bought him a Christmas Jumper. Not just any jumper, THE jumper that everyone was talking about. The must have seasonal gift.
The “Branson John Lewis Corp Moz the Monster Reindeer super cute, Singing, Light-Up, Glow in the Dark, Super Festive Christmas Jumper. *
Charlie refused to wear it. It made him very uncomfortable and not just for the usual scrooge-esque reasons. There was something sinister about the way Moz looked out from his reindeer sleigh, something about his smile, that in Charlie’s mind was more a malevolent grimace than a smile. Moz knew something he wasn’t telling.
“He’s evil, I’m telling you.”
“Charlie, come on, this whole hum-bug act is getting old.” Tyler taunted Charlie as he bought them another round of pumpkin spiced mulled cider.
“It’s something to do with the eyes and that self-satisfied grin on his stupid monster face.”
“Dude, it’s a jumper, wear it, don’t wear it, just chill with your anti-capitalist clap-trap. I would have thought having comrade Corbyn on the throne would have satisfied you. Some people are never happy.” He playfully punched him on the shoulder.
Charlie looked pacified for now but Moz kept looking at him from Tyler’s knitwear. And as he looked round the pub, he noticed that everyone, apart from Alice the barmaid was wearing the exact same jumper.
He shuddered he’d seen this film, it was called Stepford Wives or Invasion of the Triffids or something, he couldn’t remember. He wasn’t going to be bullied into some corporate cult, he was determined to stay firm and stand his ground.
He downed his spiced cider and mumbled that it was his round. He was torn between calling it a night or having one more drink. He glumly made his way to the bar.
Alice looked radiant, with her dark hair tied back and black nail polish. She gave off a zero fucks given attitude and he liked it. They’d been on the precipice of dating for a while but she was making him work. Emboldened by the cider and the fact they were the only jumper hold outs he went for it.
“Alice. You finish in 10 mins, I’m stuck in the work do from hell, and there’s a great new bar that plays indie music across town. Let me buy you a drink.”
She smiled at him and his heart leapt.
“Sounds good Romeo. Meet me out front in 5 mins.”
Twenty minutes later they were snuggled in a corner at the Goth’s Nipple, the hipsters bar of the moment.
They were several drinks in when a man approached their table.
“Evening, merry Christmas to you both. You look like a handsome couple, but you know what would make you even more attractive?”
Charlie eyed the man and sighed as he noted the man was wearing the seemingly ubiquitous Moz Christmas sweater.
“I’ve a feeling you’re going to tell us.”
Brushing past Charlie’s sarcasm the man ploughed on.
“We’re selling these fun jumpers to raise money for charity. 2 for £30. What do you say?”
Charlie was about to reply but his words stalled as he glanced around the room and noticed that everyone, absolutely everyone, was wearing the damned same Christmas jumper. This was starting to get weird.
“You know what, we’re fine, thanks friend.”
“But the money is going to charity. Do you dislike charity?”
“Look pal, I’m just trying to have a drink and everywhere I turn, I see the demented face of Moz the frickin monster, now do me a favour and do one.”
The man looked dumbfounded for a moment and Charlie noticed a crowd had now gathered around their table and the whole bar had gone silent, apart from the occasional muttered disapproval.
“That’s the problem with society these days no festive spirit.”
Alice grabbed Charlie’s hand.
“Let’s just go babe. We can go back to my flat and have a drink there.”
They went to stand up and the man slammed Charlie back into his seat.
“I’m afraid I have to insist you buy and most importantly wear a jumper. It’s the festive thing to do.”
Charlie stood up again and this time forced himself past the man. Another man tried to grab at them but Charlie was ready this time and shoved him roughly away. Alice too fended someone off and kicked a guy in the shins. They were being jostled from every direction. They heard someone shout.
“Grab ’em we’ll soon have them in jumpers and we can all have a nice glass of mulled wine.”
“Somebody Told Me” started blaring from the jukebox and it shattered the silence and in the distraction Charlie grabbed a nearby pool cue and whacked the insistent jumper seller between the legs.
“Well somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend.”
Whack, Charlie swung the cue, smashing a glass out of an assailants hand, just before they could crush it into Alice’s head. They made their way to the exit and found it barred by two more jumper wearing lunatics.
Holding the cue aloft Charlie screamed.
“Let us out or I swear I will break this over your head.”
They reluctantly stepped aside with a nod from the barman and they ran into the night.
They sprinted through the cold night air. Alice pulled Charlie’s hand to stop, and then she pulled him toward her and kissed him passionately. Then they were both laughing.
“That was so weird. What’s wrong with people.”
They spotted a little coffee shop that was still open. They grabbed a table in the window and noted with relief that the man behind the counter was wearing a stylish leather jacket and not a Christmas jumper.
He came over to them and smiled. It was a winning smile to go with his movie star good looks.
“And what can I get you lovely folks tonight?”
“Two espressos please?” Alice said before Charlie could form a reply.
“Coming right up.”
He went off whistling gaily and returned a few minutes later with their drinks.
“Nice to see some people in here who haven’t fallen for this bloody Christmas jumper lark.”
“Oh Mr. Could we tell you a story about the crazy night we’ve been having.” Laughed Alice.
“I’m sure you could. It’s a frenzy out there this time of year. In my mind it’s all part of the corporate buy out of our souls. Don’t you agree comrades.”
Charlie glanced anxiously at Alice and then nodded.
“That gets my vote.” Charlie said directly to the coffee guy.
The guy grinned his approval and went back to the counter. He continued his whistling and as he was cleaning the coffee machine, Charlie noticed something sticking out from the top of the his jacket. It looked suspiciously like tinsel to Charlie.
“What do you think of this new Christmas special starring Miranda and Rupert Murdoch on the BBCCC** scheduled for Christmas Day?” Charlie called to him.
“I think it’s wonderful…” The man stopped and grinned.
“You almost got me there. But you know you really should give festive things a chance.”
The man unzipped his jacket and to their horror he revealed a green jumper adorned with Moz the monster reindeer. The man started toward them now.
“This time of year is all about what we can buy. Why do you turn away..”
Charlie and Alice leapt from their seats and ran out to the street.
“They’re here. The non wearers are here..” The coffee guy chased them down the road. Other people, also wearing jumpers noticed the commotion and started chasing them.
They dashed down an alleyway and stopped to catch their breath. The jingle mob ran past the entrance of the alley.
Breathing a sigh of relief they turned back into the street and they bumped into Tyler.
“Hey Ty, thank goodness. You’ll never believe the night we’ve had.”
Tyler just looked at them. He then raised his arm and pointing at them a sound resonating deep within him sang out over and over again.
“Ding dong merrily on high, ding dong merrily on high.”
Now hoardes of jumper wearers appeared, from nearby streets, pubs and houses. They poured from every direction, surrounding Charlie and Alice. They stumbled and fell to the floor, the baying mob closed in on them and Coffee guy emerged from the crowd carrying two brand new festive pullovers.
“I think these will fit you both perfectly.”
Merry Christmas to you all. Much peace and love from The World Outside the Window HQ.
Copyright John de Gruyther 2017
*3 % of the money goes to charity, made by Albanian Orphans.
**British Broadcasting Chairman Corbyn Corporation.