The Carrot of Doom Presents...
Away In A Farmyard Animal Fodder Receptacle
A Nativity story for our politically-correct times by Andy Simpkins
The man raised his eyes once skyward and then shielded his eyes from the uncommonly bright star hanging in the night-time sky over the small stable adjoining the guest house, situated in a dirty back street in a Middle-Eastern town. He was in his late thirties, with a long face and sporting an unkempt and unevenly trimmed beard and moustache and long hair tied back in a scruffy pony-tail. On his nose were a pair of ill-fitting thick-rimmed glasses and he had a pinched, sour expression on his face, like someone had told him a joke and he had taken exception to it. He was wearing a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. A CND badge was pinned to the left lapel and he carried what looked like a questionnaire form attached to a clipboard. Straightening his jacket and adjusting the thin tie around his neck, he entered the stable.
Treading his way around the assorted sheep, goats and occasional cow that had bedded down for the night, he approached the man and the woman who had taken up residence for the night in the barn.
He harrumphed loudly and said in officious tones to the man:
"Excuse me Sir, are you or are you not Joseph?" The man in question, stoutly built, with receding greying hair, a thick beard and clad in a simple home-spun smock answered:
"Yes, I am He..." he said, his thick brows knitting in puzzlement at the stranger.
Ticking a box on the form on the clipboard, he turned to the woman, tired of expression (understandable seeing she had only given birth a few hours ago...) and looked like she was barely out of her teens.
"And you must be Mary?" He enquired.
"I am She..." the young woman said, swelling with barely disguised pride.
"Ah, splendid..."said the bearded man, as he licked the tip of his pencil and straightened the papers on his clipboard in a very bureaucratic manner and continued...
"As a duly elected representative of the Peoples Borough of Bethlehem (Nuclear-Free Zone), I am officially charged with asking you some questions with regards to you and your child's parentage and racial heritage and any ensuing questions regards to your new arrival. These will be then entered in the Peoples Borough of Bethlehem (Nuclear-Free Zone) records for retrieval should any questions arise and whether you are eligible for any claims...."
The new parents looked at each other in bewilderment but hesitantly agreed.
"Right, first question. What is your sons name?"
Joseph promptly answered:"Why? He is Jesus, Son of God and Saviour Of All Mankind...."
"Son Of God? So you are claiming that you are not the child's natural father then?...." the bearded man said, his eyebrows arching primly."...Hmmm, I see... Okay, I will just put 'father unknown' down on the paperwork." he said as he scribbled on the form.
"I see many step-parents on my rounds and I must warn you, you are no exception. However, if you were a co-habiting same-sex couple, things would be a lot better. I have a colleague over in our Nineveh office and I am sure he could pull a few strings as regards to extra benefits..." he said, waggling his pencil in their general direction." Besides, I have come to think of the concept of the two-parent family as somewhat out-moded now...." he added archly.
"Alright then, next question. What is your sons racial heritage?"
Mary quickly said in an exasperated tone: "Why, He is Judaeo-Christian like ourselves! Why, did you think he was a Zoroastrian priest from Persia!!?"
"Pity he wasn't..." the bearded man said with a touch of regret in his voice. "As a duly elected council official of the Peoples Borough of Bethlehem (Nuclear-Free Zone), it is my official duty to make sure that different racial types are promoted equally and that no minorities are offended...."
"...but we are a bloody minority!!!" exploded Joseph angrily. "First of all, we are persecuted and enslaved by the Egyptians for Goodness knows how many years. It was only down to Moses and him being a dab hand with a staff and making sure we go for a paddle across the Red Sea. We then end up in the Promised Land which is then promptly occupied by the Romans, with all their bloody education, sanitation and aqueducts and are turned into second class citizens. The only reason me and the missus ended up here, amongst all these dumb animals..."
"...mute animal comrades..." the bearded man interjected smoothly...
"...is because Augustus Caesar decreed this stupid census of all the known world!! Known world, I ask you!!? A few flea-bitten outposts in Gaul and that rain-swept island to the northwest of them. I'll give 'im "De Bello Bleedin' Gallico" when I see him... We had to leave our home to come over to this neck of the woods so we could stand up and be counted, so to speak. Tell me, have you ever tried getting your wife on the back of a donkey when she is groaning her head off in pain and threatening to drop at any moment? And that poncey inn-keeper? The smarmy git managed to con us out of most of the money we had saved for the trip and said there was a 'highly desirable ground floor conversion' out the back that we could use at some extra cost and this is what we are lumbered with..."
Joseph sat down heavily. His ranting tirade over and his pent-up anger spent.
"A minority, you say?" the bearded man asked. His thin beard prickling with eager and barely concealed anticipation. "Well, seeing there are only two of you Christians..."
"Three!" said Mary curtly as she held the infant Jesus closely to her.
"...I will send a message over to my colleague in our Damascus (Working for a non-ethnocentric Palestine) office. I am sure she will be able to help you when you hand back the appropriate forms, when you send them back fully filled in... All the usual stuff really.... Housing and child benefits, unemployment benefits..."
"And milk tokens, of course..." he casually added as he was presented with the sight of Mary holding a suckling infant to her breast.
He adjusted his glasses and continued: "Now as to the next question: Is your child of a gay, bisexual or lesbian orientation?"
Joseph literally exploded as he said: "What do you mean?? Gay, Bi-sexual or Lesbian?? This is first century Palestine and the authorities can still arrest you, bury you up to your waist and have you stoned for that sort of behaviour!!"
"Stoned, you say??" said the bearded man, misinterpreting what he had just heard. "Well, when you put it like that, our drug rehabilitation, advisory and counsellings service is only a few streets from here. If you want information on kicking opiates or you just want to pop in there for some help and advice, I will gladly give you some leaflets about it..."
Joseph slumped back on his haunches with his head in his hands as the bearded man continued on remorselessly...
"Moving on, can either of you tell me what the purpose of that bright star directly overhead is?"
Mary spoke up as she wrapped the infant Jesus up in swaddling cloths and placed in him a nearby manger, looking at him with loving maternal eyes.
"Why, that star is a sign from Lord God Himself, declaring unto all that a son is born unto him. It is a sign that His one and only son has been given flesh so he might spread the word of God and bring light into our darkened lives. It is a sign that we may all be delivered from evil. It is a sign that we will praise him with endless hosanna's. It is a......."
"....danger to public health...." the bearded man said. "Can you imagine? All those people out there looking upwards and running the risk of bumping into each other, tripping over a loose paving slab or being run over by an ox cart! The insurance and injury compensations department of the Peoples Borough of Bethlehem (Nuclear-Free Zone) would be overrun within a few days by people wishing to make a claim!"
He made a few scribbled notes on the forms and continued with a cautionary note in his voice.
"Besides, we cannot run the risk of offending any minorities by having Christmas lights up. We simply cannot be branded ethnocentric and that star must be removed without delay and be replaced with something non-sexist, non-racist and ethnically pleasing..."
Growling deeply in his throat, Joseph suddenly stood up and grabbed the man by the collar of his jacket and the belt of this corduroy trousers, hauled him bodily off of his feet and carried him to the stable door way and the street beyond, scattering some startled hens and a bemused sheep which sat there, blinking sleepily while chewing idly on its cud.
"I can see that you are upset by some of the questions that I have been asking. I find your tone most belligerent. May I suggest an anger management course? It is very cheap and cheaper still to single parents and unemployed people and only lasts a few weeks...?" the bearded man said as he struggled feebly in Josephs iron grip, all the time trying to fumble around in his jacket pockets for the appropriate leaflets...
He was then dumped unceremoniously on the kerb still complaining to himself. Joseph disappeared back into the stable briefly and came back a moment later, carrying the bearded mans clipboard.
"Here..." said Joseph angrily: "...take this and clear off. I am sure you will be telling me next, that when He is older, he should stay away from the money-lenders in the temple and the exorbitant rates of interest they charge..."
"We provide a debt-management scheme at the town hall. Extra help for gay or lesbian couples..." came the faint reply as the man scuttled off down the street...
As a postscript, numerous years later, Mary joined a Wimmins refuge and spent her days making placards for various protest groups when she was not commiserating with the other residents of the refuge saying what oppressive bastards all men were and Joseph later found gainful employment as a Racial Sensitivities Coordinator over in Galilee (salary £31,000 a year plus benefits) through a vacancy posted in the Classified section of The Guardian...