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Ken Fyne’s modern take on the story of Christmas

Mhairi and Josephine take the lead roles in Ken's version of the Christmas story.
Mhairi and Josephine take the lead roles in Ken's version of the Christmas story.

For generations of Scots of faith, the words contained in the Christian Gospels, especially in the King James VI version of the bible, were and still are the very essence of Christmas.

The iconic images of the baby in a manger, the star over the stable, the shepherds and the wise men are replicated at thousands of nativity plays and on millions of Christmas cards every year.

I wonder, though, what contemporary scribes would make of it were a similar story to be written in the rural north today? Well, here goes.

A classic nativity scene.

So it came to pass that in the days of Boris the would-be king, a decree was issued that everyone in the land should be boosted. Some troublesome twits objected to the declaration but many were sore afraid that having to travel miles to the nearest vaccination centre would be a big problem.

One such was Josephine who decided to make the arduous journey to the nearest centre with Mhairi, her fiancée. Things were somewhat complicated as Mhairi was pregnant but hadn’t revealed who the father was, and it certainly wasn’t Josephine.

From their secluded croft they headed over the frost-laden fields to the station but the train was cancelled due to Covid-related staff shortages and as there were no suitable bus services, they set out in their ancient Land Rover, bumping uncomfortably over pot-holed roads.

“I’d be better off on a donkey,“ Mhairi said, without a touch of irony.

“Fear not,” said Josephine, “we’ll get a meal at a local hostelry then stay there if the weather worsens”.

They were very late when they arrived but to their horror, there was no room for them at the inn. Social-distancing measures meant it was full. It was closing early anyway and its accommodation had been shut for the duration. It was the same everywhere else.

No room at the inn. 

Much distressed as the snow began to fall, they begged for shelter so the landlord put them up in a summerhouse in the garden. “It’s all I can do for fear of Omicron,” he explained.

During the night, Mhairi fell into labour but the lack of maternity services in the area meant a long, gruelling snowy trip to Inverness or Aberdeen and the prospect of the baby arriving in the back of an ambulance in a lay-by. So, she stayed put, giving birth in the summerhouse during the silent night.

Word got back to some neighbouring shepherds – probably Josephine texted them – who’d been on the hills in the bleak mid-winter tending their flocks by night while ruminating on whether post-Brexit export uncertainties about their prime lamb would put them out of business.

Immediately, however, they rejoiced at the glad tidings of great joy about the birth. Rumours suggested there were also numerous parties in Downing Street to celebrate the amazing story but this was continuously and fervently denied in the face of evidence to the contrary.

The shepherds decided to visit the new parents but weren’t exactly sure where they were. Then, a star emerged to guide them. It was the What Three Words app from Josephine’s iPhone which took them straight to the spot.

At the same time, three wise men suddenly appeared. It was Nicola Sturgeon, Jason Leitch and Gregor Smith on TV holding their latest pandemic press briefing. OK, so the first minister is female but some argue she’s worth three of her male colleagues.

Professor Jason Leitch as one of the three wise men.

As pre-war PM Stanley Baldwin opined: “I’d rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason”.

Anyhow, the three wise men came bearing cash gifts, albeit modest ones, aiming to ease the suffering for those crippled by coronavirus. It’s the same old story though. It never seems enough.

All babies born this week are arriving in turbulent times. The world has changed, but there’s much to be thankful about this Christmas, despite the stresses and strains of Omicron, economic woes and political uncertainties.

If we heed the advice of the “wise men”, look after ourselves and each other and behave kindly like sensible adults rather than spoilt brats, the future might yet be promising.

For now, have a very Merry Christmas. Remember, a little love goes a long way. That’s the Gospel truth.

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