A Christmas Carol: Brought to you by Trackcastic

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London was the scene for the magnificent 2017 World Champs, so it is only fitting that it also provide the backdrop for Trackcastic’s Christmas Special: an athletico version of “A Christmas Carol”. Cry “What the Fezziwig?!” as the ghosts of Rosa Mota, Concertina Dita and Said Aouita take you on a tour of the highlights of 2017, and enjoy Scrooge’s distribution of the 2017 Trackcastic Awards.

We hope our listeners have a wonderful Christmas and New Years.

Plis accept our best wishes

Athleticos x

Scene 1: Scrooge in His Shop

The sky was grey, and the snow came down. It was Christmas Eve, and through the deserted streets of London, a cold wind blew.  Two small red-haired boys darted across the street, dragging a large inflatable hedgehog behind them.  They stopped by a series of frozen puddles and, taking a few steps back, they ran and leapt on the hedgehog, squealing in delight as they skidded along the slippery ice.

A lonely figure emerged from an alleyway, and held up a snowy twig, to which were attached some long dark locks of hair.

“Clowns!” he grunted at the boys. “Wind from the north, 2.5 metres per second, as I see”, he muttered to himself, before disappearing back into the greyness of the alley.

“Do you want to come play with us, Mister?” piped up one of the small boys. “Keep count as we play hopscotch.” The little boy bounded across the puddles with a neat hop, skip and a jump.

“Bah, humbug! Things aren’t like they used to be. In my day my business partner Mr Powell and I could leap entire pavements at a time. We were humble when we were introduced, even though we went on to be highly successful. What’s your name child? “

“Greg, sir, but my friends call me Ginger. This here is Iwan, but his friends call him Dragon”

“Why must you change your name – how is one supposed to follow all of these transfers of allegiance! And why must you both wear such drab coloured vests? I can’t tell you apart! BAH, Humbug”

“Mr Scrooge, is that you? Come in from the cold, so I can give you a hug and share my Christmas cheer!”

The lonely figure sighed, and reluctantly headed towards the muted light of a doorway from where the hearty voice had come.

“Bob Kendricks, in all my days, I will never understand why you must be so jolly, and why I have the great misfortune to have employed you.”

“Come now Mr Scrooge”, beamed Bob Kendricks “don’t be such a poopey-pants. Let me make you a warm cup of cocoa, and then we can snuggle by the fire and share stories of our favourite Christmases together.”

“Away with you!! Get back to your abacus. Those Diamond League rules will not design themselves.”

Bob Kendricks, Scrooge’s trusty employee, gave Scrooge a little chuck on the cheek and a sneaky squeeze, and returned to his desk. Silence descended on the cold, damp office.

The quiet was broken by a bell tinkling, and the door opened to reveal two large, beaming gentlemen.

“Hello, my good fellas!” beamed Bob Kendricks. “Welcome to the offices of Scrooge and Marley! Would you like a hug to warm up? Can I play with you?”

“What a warm welcome, “ declared the older of the two gentlemen. “Are we speaking to Mr Scrooge or Mr Marley?”

“Scrooge”, grunted Scrooge. “What do you want?”

“We are Diack and Diack, and we are seeking donations to our “special” fund for poor athletics administrators. I’m sure you will want to support such a worthy cause, and in return, we can offer you the hosting rights to the next 3 World Championships.”

Scrooge rose from his desk, and shuffled across the room nearer to his visitors.

“You may put me down for nothing”.

“Ah, an anonymous donor. We’re familiar with those, aren’t we my dear Papa? Here’s a brown envelope and the details of an offshore account, if the gentleman would prefer.”

“You may put me down for nothing, since I will give you nothing! To the workhouse! To the prison with you!”

And with that Scrooge hauled open the door, and despatched his visitors into the street with a firm boot up the backside.

“Oh Mr Scrooge, you ARE grumpy today”, giggled Bob Kendricks. “I’m going home now, since ‘tis Christmas Eve and I must visit all my neighbours and bring them good cheer. Merry Christmas to you Mr Scrooge!”

“Bah, humbug”, and with that, Scrooge returned to his creaking desk, and his 2018 Diamond League predictions.

2. Scrooge goes home

The clock struck nine. Scrooge looked up at the wall, and grunted.  He blew out the candle on his desk, stamped out the few remaining embers in the fire, and left the office, locking the door behind him.  He trudged down the street, passing a number of shops that had long closed for the night, but still had Christmas lights twinkling within.

He looked up at the signs
• Rosa’s Motors.
• Adam’s Kzshop
• English’s Gardeners
• Fajdek and Vadlejch

The last shop in the row was Richard’s Kilts. Scrooge paused, thinking he had seen a ghostly reflection out of the corner of his eye. But he saw only himself, peering at a broken window.  For someone had broken into Richard’s Kilts, and stolen his wares.

“Fools” Scrooge muttered to himself. “No good ever came from celebrating Christmas.”

He turned into a dark street, with tall foreboding buildings and intimidating shadows. The ground underfoot was uneven, with loose cobbles, and Scrooge stumbled as he reached his doorway.

“Careful now, sir” came a voice from the shadows. “Danny’s the name, checking you arrived home safely’s my game. Merry Christmas, sir”

“Idiot”, grunted Scrooge, as the young man disappeared into the darkness.

Scrooge climbed up the stairs and unlocked his dark, rotting door. The damp air inside struck him, and he begrudgingly lit a candle.  He went to his kitchen, and made a sad pot of gruel. Changing into his threadbare pyjamas, he made his way to bed.  He dozed off, grumpily thinking of the money he would lose because of Bob Kendrick’s insistence that he closed his business for the holiday..

Suddenly, Scrooge heard a clanking noise, like chains being pulled over stones. He sat up straight in bed. Where was the noise coming from?  The clanking continued. Scrooge went to his window, thrust it upon, and stuck his head out into the street. The clanking grew louder.

“Who is making that racket?” shouted Scrooge. “Show yourself!”

A figure in green and gold emerged from the shadows, with a large gold chain between his teeth and “Fabrice” written in gold across his chest. As he jogged up and down, the clanking got louder.

“Sorry about that, mate! Was just getting a last few jumps in before my rest day tomorrow. Gotta make that Aussie Commonwealth Team!”

“Bah, Humbug!” Scrooge pulled his head back in through the window, and slammed it shut.

He turned round and gasped in horror.

Hovering in the centre of his bedroom was a large, cadaverous white form, looking mildly confused and slightly sad.

“Whhoooooo are, whaaaaat are you!” gasped Scrooge.

“I have been sent by your partner, Jacob Marley” said the shimmering apparition. “My name is Brendan, and tonight is my last night as an apparition before I retire. I am here to show you the error of your ways, and help you lead a true-run life. Tonight is the perfect conditions for spirit running.”

“You will be visited by 3 spirits. The first will arrive at midnight, the second at one, the third on the stroke of two.”

“All 3 visits must be completed by the time Eliud Kipchoge finishes his Christmas Marathon, or he will be banished to a lifetime of cleaning out Brit Bear’s lair.”

“You will be visited by the ghost of Rosa Mota, the ghost of Constantina Dita and the ghost of Said Aouita.”

“What I have I done to deserve this horror?” whispered Scrooge.  “All I have ever done is try to lead an honest and frugal life.”

“Sorry, Ebenezer,” replied the Brendan ghost. “Blame the host broadcaster.”

And the apparition slowly disappeared into the dark.

3. Christmas Past

“What nonsense”, breathed Scrooge. “That fool Kendricks has ruined my mind with his talk of Christmas cheer, and I am clearly imagining things. To bed!” And Scrooge returned to his slumber, albeit peering nervously over the thin covers. The candle on his bedside slowly burned out.

A few hours passed and outside, a clock struck midnight. Scrooge had not slept, and he peered nervously around his bedroom. Suddenly, a small dark-haired woman appeared in a Portuguese running kit and tiny pants.  Silently, she spun round, faster and faster and faster, and before Scrooge’s eyes, with a puff of smoke she turned into a slim young man with strawberry blonde hair, walking rapidly around the bedroom, pumping his arms.

“Don’t be aghast,
Your fear won’t last!.
I’m Tom Walks Fast,
The Ghost of Christmas Past!”

“What do you want with me?” cried Scrooge. “And why are you walking funny?”

“Come with me”, said Tom. He grabbed Scrooge’s arm, and with another puff of smoke, the pair disappeared from the bedroom.

Scrooge blinked, and looked around him. He was in the foyer of a large inn, with the sound of lively music coming from within.  He peered through a door, and saw lots of people dancing merrily.

A girl with dark hair was leaping, with a pole, over a high bar and the crowd cried in delight, throwing plates, linking arms and stomping to lively Greek Music.

At the other end of the room, a lithe man was leaping over tables, running wide, and stopping to gyrate his hips at the crowd. “Ezekiel! Ezekiel” the crowds cried in delight.

Suddenly, Scrooge saw a young man laughing and drinking a goblet of wine.
“Why, is that me?” Scrooge gasped to himself.

“Ebenezer!” said a young couple, dancing over to Scrooge’s younger self.

“Ashton Fezziwig!” said the young Scrooge. “I always wondered what you would do when we parted ways! What a fun establishment! And Brianne! So delighted to see you here too”

“Yes”, replied Ashton, “Brianne and I have set up a retirement inn for hardworking multitaskers, to relax and enjoy themselves. Would you like to try Brianne’s mayonnaise-free mayonnaise? That’s Good Eaton!”

“Erm…” replied Scrooge, before he stopped suddenly, saved from answering the awkward question.

Appearing before him, through the crowd, was the love of his life.  With shining blond hair and a gold medal round her neck, she lightly stepped over the chairs that had fallen into her path.  She glowed, like all of sunshine and heaven and the stars had laid down before her.

“Oh Emma….” sighed Scrooge…

But the room turned dark and Scrooge was back in his bedroom!

“Sorry mate”, said Tom. “That’s all Brendan told me to give you.  I’m off for a quick 20k around the park before breakfast. See you!”

And with another puff, Tom was gone. “What is this?” cried Scrooge. “What is this?!”

4. Christmas present

“What is this? What is this dream!” cried Scrooge, on his knees on the hard floor.  The clock outside chimed one. A haunting melody drifted into Scrooge’s bedroom from the hallway.  A woman walked in slowly, playing a small accordion. “I am Concertina Dita, and I bring you the ghost of Christmas present.”

She squeezed the accordion, and with a squeak she disappeared and in her place appeared a small blond girl.

“Who are you?” asked Scrooge. “You remind me of someone.”

The girl stared at Scrooge, wordlessly. She beckoned to him, and he followed her into the hallway.  The damp walls melted away and they found themselves on a pretty path leading up to a crumbling, but otherwise well-tended cottage.  Scrooge continued up to the large, brightly painted door. He realised that the girl was no longer with him.

He turned, and saw her squatting in the bushes. “Ah, I know who you are now. You’re a young Paula Radcliffe!”

The girl glared at him, and gesticulated that he should open the door. Strains of lively piano music emerged as he pushed open the door, and peered into the living room.  A dark-haired woman dressed in a ragged, but festive red dress sat by a piano.  She had in one hand a Capstan cigarette and a pint of ale, and with her other hand she was banging out a happy chorus on the slightly out-of-tune piano keys.

“Bob!” she called, in an accent Scrooge could not place.

“Ask Maria to turn the piglet on the fire. It needs more roasting. Karsten! Thorky! Tiny! Pornstache! The other one! Get down here! Dinner’s almost ready!

A cluster of children clattered down the stone stairs of the cottage and past Scrooge into the living room. The smallest one lingered behind, singing to himself:

“On Dasher, on Dancer, on Donner, on Blitzen. Hey Father Christmas, I’m Tiny Ingebrigtsen!” Bob Kendricks appeared from the kitchen, and swept up Tiny Ingebrigtsen into his arms.

“Daaaaaaaaad, you’re squashing me!” Tiny squawked.

“It’s only because I love you so much and I could squish you and squeeze you for ever and ever!!” He put the boy down, who now looked pale and drawn.

“What is wrong with the boy?” Scrooge whispered to the young Paula Radcliffe.

“He has a delicate constitution”, young Paula Radcliffe replied. “He suffered a bout of the Makwalas in his early years, from which he recovered, but his father is slowly crushing him to death with his endless, over-enthusiastic, suffocating hugs.”

“This smells delicious, Ruthie!” declared Bob Kendricks, picking up his wife and squeezing her so hard he spilled cigarette ash down her dress and into her pint. “You’ve worked miracles with this scrawny little piglet. Maria has roasted it to perfection. And what’s this delicious plate on the side?”

“Quorn turkey tapas, chico” Ruth replied out of the side of her mouth not occupied by the last inch of her Capstan.

“We truly are blessed, father” said Tiny Ingebrigtsen, nibbling on a piece of Quorn. “ Mr Scrooge is so kind to let you work for him, Father, that we may enjoy such riches.”  Scrooge could not hear further discussion, but only a stream of angry Spanish.

He felt himself being pulled backwards, and the scene dissipated in front of him.  “Wait, wait” he cried. “Why are these wretched people so happy? What do they have to be so happy about?”  The young Paula Radcliffe glared at him again. She faded, from view.

5: Christmas yet to come

Back in his room again, Scrooge stumbled across the floor to a set of wooden drawers.  He opened the middle one, and pulled out a dusty pocket watch. It was still ticking, and showed a few minutes before two o’clock.  He looked around, waiting. “Make haste” he said into the darkness. “Let us get this damned night over with.”

On cue, the image of Said Aouita appeared slowly into the room.  The figure had a number of large bandages on his arms and legs. In the dim light, the bandages appeared to move around, one minute on an ankle, the next on a thigh.  The image morphed into a sullen Russian woman, wearing a pink towel on her head.

“My future has been taken from me. My human rights have been violated.”
“No-one will watch the pole vault without me. Your future is equally bleak.”
“You may call me Yelena. I am the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.”
“Hurry up. We have important things to do.”

Scrooge followed her, without a word, into the hallway.  They emerged in an idyllic, snowy scene, with mountains in the background.  They had clearly travelled some way, and Scrooge glanced at his pocket watch, fearful they would not make it back in time to avoid a dreadful consequence for Mr Kipchoge.

“Do not worry” said the sullen Yelena. “This is La Chaux de Fonds. Time means nothing here.”

She led Scrooge along a snowy path and around some lovely bends. A row of gravestones stood along the side of the road.  He looked at the first one.

“Here lies Blessing’s wig. It served her well”

He moved onto the next. “Here lies the unaired BBC footage of Lorraine Ugen’s jumps.”

The third said “Here lies Mo Farah’s track career – in brackets – we think”.

The next gravestone was festooned with fresh flowers, and had a quiet ticking noise. “Here lies the Boltdown clock”.

The next headstone simply said “Hashtag represent”.

 

Ahead, there lay two final graves, freshly dug, with headstones still blank.

“Sullen Yelena, tell me, for whom are these two graves?”

Sullen Yelena pointed at the first grave. It was small, with a tiny Norwegian flag.

“Oh, do not tell me that Tiny Ingebritsen has been crushed by Bob Kendricks’ hugs! No, it is too much! The boy is too precious!”

She shrugged, looking around, bored. Scrooge felt a sense of dread as he moved to the final grave.

It pulled him towards it, and suddenly thoughts rushed through his head.

• The beautiful Emma, whom he had rejected to sit at his desk and grumble.
• His vibrant friends Ashton and Brianne, who had stopped sending him granola cookies.
• And poor Bob Kendricks, so starved of care and companionship at work that he gave all his love to his little boy, squeezing his little breath out of him as he did so.

“STOP!” cried Scrooge. “Tell me it’s not too late to change my ways! Take me back to London and let me make amends!”

Sullen Yelena shrugged her shoulders, went and sat on a bench, and put a towel over her head.

“Help me please!” Scrooge begged.

And then, a light came from above and the towel started to glow. It slowly lifted, and sullen Yelena had gone, and in her place was the broad smile of Maria, whom Scrooge had seen roasting the piglet back at Bob Kendricks house.

“I am the true Snow Queen. Your moaning is tiring me. I will take you back and give you the opportunity to worship me.”

“The only condition of this, is that you change your ways, and learn how to spell my name”

“Oh yes, thank you thank you, kind queen, please take me home!”

All of a sudden, the snow lifted from the ground, and whirled round Scrooge and Maria and lifted them into the air.

Scene 6: Scrooge’s revelation

“BONG!!! BONG!!!”

Scrooge woke up. He was lying face down on his bedroom floor. He picked himself up onto his knees. “Oh, what a dreadful dream, “ he thought. He realised he was holding something in his right hand. It was an IAAF flag.

“It wasn’t a dream”, he whispered. “It was real. And I have work to do!”

He leapt to his feet, and threw back the curtains. Above, he could see stars twinkling in the sky.  Scrooge rushed downstairs, lit a fire in every room, and with a broom he began to cast the cobwebs from the stove and from all the furniture in the unloved and uncared for house.  He continued until dawn broke. As the light started to stream through his now clean windows, he rushed to the front door and thrust it open.

“You boy! Greg! Ginger! Ali Kaya! Yasmin Can/Chan/Jan! Whatever you call yourself, I don’t care!”

It was the small red-headed boy at whom Scrooge had growled the previous evening. “Here, take this bag of gold, and go and find me the best and biggest bird that you can!”

“You want Nandos, Mister. You want peri-peri sauce with that?”

“Oh, my dear boy, how you make me smile. Yes, yes, get everything!”

Scrooge threw a leather bag down to the boy, who caught it with a leap, and ran off on his errand. Scrooge opened his wardrobe door, and threw aside the moth-eaten work clothes.  Towards the back was a jaunty green velvet jacket, unworn since he had last danced with the Fezziwigs. He put it on – it still fitted! Years of penny pinching and gruel meant Scrooge still had the wiry physique of Yifter the Shifter.

He took the stairs 3 at a time, and dashed out onto the street. “Merry Christmas to you!” he declared to the bemused passers by.

“Merry Christmas, Renata!” Scrooge cried to a small blonde woman.
“Joyeux Noel, Jimmy!” he said to a man carrying a large pallet of baked goods.

“Buon Natale, Babs!” He cried to a tall woman carrying a long stick.

“Feliz Navidad, Fred! Fred, dear nephew, is that you!” Scrooge embraced a young man who was dressed smartly, and carrying some curly fries and a Belgian waffle.“Fred Kerley-Borlee, in all my days I have never been so glad to see my own flesh and blood. Come, come with me, while I visit a dear friend”

Fred was mystified at his uncle’s strange behaviour but nevertheless followed him, along with his 2 half-brothers and a fourth person who seemed to be tagging along with no real purpose other than to make up the numbers.

Scrooge arrived at the Kendricks’ cottage, with the small boys Greg, Iwan, and their friend Colin each carrying an armful of hot chicken. The door opened, and Scrooge had to look down to see who had opened it.

“Tiny Ingebrigtsen! You are alive!”

Tiny reached his arms up to embrace this strange visitor, but Scrooge kicked him out of the way.

“Where’s Bob? Bob Kendricks?!”

Bob’s wife Ruth appeared, wearing a flat cap and a ferret around her neck. Behind her, stood Bob Kendricks, in his best jammies. “Bob!!” declared Scrooge, shoving Ruth out of the way, making the ferret choke on her Capstan.

“I regret very much that I have shunned your affection, and ignored your man-hugs. Let us forever be brothers!”

The two men embraced, and Scrooge squeaked as Bob Kendricks squeezed him with all the repressed force of 10 years’ rejected cuddles.

In the meantime, the Kendricks’ living room had filled up with the rest of the children, the celestial Maria, the three Kerley-Borlees and the other guy they brought with them.

“Friends!” declared Scrooge. “Let me share with you my magnificent peri-peri chicken, and announce my new awards of the year!”

“What a day, ” declared Tiny Ingebritsen.

“Merry Christmas, and President Sven bless us, every one.”

THE END