In Celebration of the Birth of The Saviour
A Yuletide Mummery !
In Three Acts.
Performed in the English Tradition
* * *
Grande Finale with Father Christmas and His Reindeer
In which Mr Ayres persuades Mr Bananas to hold an office party.
It was a quiet time in practice, and our household equilibrium was upset with the expensive preparations of the season. Mrs Maroon had gone so far as to employ the services of a local department store who that very morning had sent round a fine strapping lad recently arrived from Poland called Stanislav, with a basket of decorations and half a pit prop festooned with fir cones. If I would leave them to it she said, they would start decorating the tree. Stan could get his magnificent balls out and she would show him where to put his firry log. And so, at a loose end, I found myself once more in Baker Street at the door of my friends, the celebrated investigator, Mr Gorilla Bananas, and his assistant Ayres.
Even here in the Great Metropolis, I mused, the Spirit of Christmas had touched all in his eternal message of hope. The cheerful beggars, (God bless yer, Guv’nor!), the barefoot urchins playing hopscotch in the snow, all rosy cheeks and wrapped up warm in coal sacks, and the red mail coach rumbling by with a fat coachman blowing his bugle on top. What a picture, I thought with a smile; perfect! I pulled the brass knob for 221 and heard the first fourteen notes of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” ring out inside the house.
Mrs Hudson was clearing away the remains of a fulsome breakfast.
“Ye’ll be coming to the soiree doctor, will ye no’? I’ve two plum puddings yonder in my pantry, soaking in brandy the noo. Dr Watson always says my duff is the sweetest he’s ever…”
The last words were lost as the kind-hearted Scottish housekeeper closed the door.
“Ah, Maroon! Thank goodness.” said the marvellous ape in welcome, “Perhaps now we’ll have a little sanity round here.”
I heard a snort, and on turning round, there was Ayres, in his corner making adjustments on a curious machine, the like of which I had never seen before.
“What’s this?” I asked.
Ayres paused, staring at me, then explained:
“It is a device for replicating documents in facsimile form using cutting edge photographic techniques.” he all but sneered. “It is for important documents. You put the document face down on this glass plate here, shut the lid, then turn this handle six times and a replica document comes out this slot here…”
“What does this do?” I asked, pointing to a short lever painted green
“Don’t touch that Maroon!” exclaimed Ayres in his worried way, but it was too late, I’d already pulled it.
There was a loud flash of magnesium followed by a theatrical puff of white smoke which poor Ayres inhaled.
“Idiot!” he coughed, and trailing wisps of vapour, he stumbled over to the sideboard for a sherry and two mince pies, to steady his nerves.
I turned the handle six times, and sure enough a sheet of paper emerged bearing the remarkable image of a human hand!
“Where’s the document?” I asked.
Gorilla Bananas, who had witnessed these proceedings from his favourite seat by the fire, slapped his knee with a chuckle and said:
“By Jove Ayres, you’ve convinced me. We shall have that party after all and Maroon, you must come. It will be like old times.”
Ayres for his part, made no comment.
Because he was eating.