> A Neighbours Christmas Carol by
Earlier this year Paul Robinson had a transformation of character due to the removal of a brain tumour, but what if the scriptwriters had held back for five months and taken a different direction? With a little inspiration from Charles Dickens; maybe the spirit of Christmas and some ghostly intervention could have changed Paul Robinson’s evil ways…
Bess Robinson was dead. Her grandson Paul Robinson had flown out to her funeral in America and seen her buried in 1989. After the death of her husband James Robinson during the second world war, Bess had dedicated herself to her work. This had estranged her from her only son Jim and the rest of her family. Now eighteen years on , Paul had fallen into the same trap and was following in his grandmother’s footsteps. But Paul was more than just neglectful; he had become ruthless and greedy which in turn made him thoughtless for others and even cruel.
As Christmas Eve 2007 arrived, Paul saw little reason to celebrate. He’d been tricked out of his money by his daughter Elle and had had to start a new business from the bottom rung. Elle had hoped this would make him realise there was more to life than money, but it had only made him more bitter and greedy. Ned Parker had been coerced into working for Paul again as a general dogsbody, and was treated like dirt. He’d managed to get a few hours off for Christmas to spend with his son Mickey, but due to his pitiful wages, he had very little money to spend on food or presents.
Sat in their grim little office, Robinson and Parker busied themselves with their daily chores when Elle cheerfully burst in with a “Merry Christmas”. After months of trying to keep away from her father, Elle couldn’t bear to see him miserable anymore and wanted to spend Christmas with him. Sadly, Paul now saw the festive season as a waste of a day that could be spent making money. He rudely sent her away and ignored her invitation to dinner. As Elle left in tears, Harold and Lou came in looking for charitable donations to the Salvation Army and the Erinsborough Pups football team. Unsurprisingly, they too were told to leave - and with no more money than they came in with. As the day came to an end, Ned was forcefully reminded not to be late the next day.
Paul made his way back to his flat, ate a meal and tucked himself into bed for the night. While drifting off to sleep, Paul heard the sound of footsteps outside his door. “Who’s there?!” he shouted whilst attempting to attach his false leg. A whispery voice replied “Don’t you know your own grandmother?” - and there at the end of the bed appeared the ghostly apparition of Bess Robinson. Paul turned white with fear and hid his head beneath the bed sheets. “You have nothing to fear Paul,” Bess assured him “I am here to help you.” Paul nervously poked his eyes and nose over his sheets and asked what help she could offer him. Moving closer, the spirit looked into Paul’s eyes and solemnly warned of the mistakes she’d made in her life; putting work ahead of family. She went on to say that he would be visited by three more spirits, the first being the ghost of Christmas past. Paul protested that he didn’t believe in ghosts - she was merely a dream or hallucination. Bess shook her head and disappeared back through the wall.
Paul buried himself beneath the sheets but soon felt a hand on the shoulder. Not believing his eyes as he turned, he gasped as at his bedside sat his other gran, Helen Daniels who had passed on a decade ago. “Hello darling” she said in a soothing voice, “I am the Ghost Of Christmas Past, tonight I shall show you the events which made you who you are”. A series of festive visions flitted before Paul’s eyes; happy memories of time spent with his family and friends, and the saddest, when he burnt down half Lassiter’s for his own financial gain. Paul looked ashamed. Having seen how pleasant a time Christmas had been for him and those around him, he began to wonder how things changed so much.
Helen vanished as quickly as she’d arrived and the second spirit arrived. Paul was ready now, but once again was moved to see that the Ghost Of Christmas Present was his son Cameron who had died the year earlier. Cameron showed Paul the effects his actions took on other’s Christmas this year. Lou and Harold were unable to give much to their charities, Elle spent a tearful day alone, and the Parker family ate their meagre meal, speaking of Robinson as a monster. Mickey was given a second hand bike with faulty brakes. Further sobered by what he’d seen, Paul began to feel apprehensive about the third spirit.
The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come took Cameron’s place. This spectre wore a shroud of black - only it’s bony hand could be seen - it filled Paul with dread. And with good reason, as the visions of the future he was shown were not happy ones. First he was shown Ned’s grief at the loss of Mickey who’d died after his bike had failed to stop at a road junction. Then Paul was shown his own funeral, where only Elle turned up, and rather than looking sad, she looked relieved of a burden. Lou was seen commenting that the world was better off without him. The grim ghost disappeared with the final visions and Paul was left contemplating his fate for the duration of the night.
Christmas morning came and Paul bound out of his flat as fast as his leg could carry him. His first port of call was at Bishop & Carpenter’s General Store where he ordered an enormous hamper to be delivered to the Parker house. Lou and Harold both looked stunned, but were even more bowled over when he left a thousand dollar tip for a charity of their choosing. Shouting “Merry Christmas” he left the store and drove over to Eden Hills’ finest bike shop to buy the best set of wheels a nine year old could want. While delivering the bike outside the Parkers house Robinson also left a message saying Ned could take two weeks paid leave, plus he was going to get a raise in salary. Paul then walked over to Elle’s house, knocked on the door and asked if her invitation to dinner was still open. Wrapping her arms around him was all the answer Paul needed. He knew then, that this Christmas wasn’t just the end of another year, but for him, a new beginning.