The Journey

The snow cascaded through the night sky, caressing the branches as it fell to carpet the earth in lace.

‘Do you mind?’ trilled a voice from below. Joe Roberts looked down to see a frosty looking Wendy Nathan tugging at the hem of her dress.

‘Your camel’s stood on my bl***dy foot!’

‘Oh, ‘scuse me!’ tittered the Monkey Sheik rider and heaved the sturdy beast back onto the grass, leaving his victim scowling and rubbing her swollen foot.

‘Alright there Wendy?’ hailed John Collins, emerging from the darkness into the warm glow of the sodium light. ‘I told the Chairman this was a stupid idea. Why he couldn’t lay on a coach, I’ve no idea.’

‘Something about fluffy snow freezing up the engines,’ replied Wendy, exasperated, ‘but camels and snow shoes are no substitute are they. Really. It’s taken six hours to herd these sheep down the M11, it’s a wonder nobody’s got killed’.

‘In any case, didn’t you and Steve McHugh get correct scores for the Arsenal and Everton matches like Joe? I don’t know why you didn’t get a camel when they’re perfectly capable of walking’, John complained.

Jill Taylor joined the other shepherds looking red and flustered.

‘And Jill, for the Blackburn and Wolves games’ he continued.

‘Well so did you John, and you were the only one to predict a Portsmouth win against Liverpool. Stroke of genius if you ask me’, replied Jill. ‘I think we should seriously consider replacing David if he doesn’t start sorting things out soon. Those boys on the camels are getting out of hand. And the smell! That big hairy one’s just breathed all over me. Nearly knocked me out.’

‘Something to do with getting 8 points this week.’ interrupted Wendy who had been listening quietly to the conversation. ‘Joe Roberts, Nigel BirelI and Maziar Sattari all got 8 points. I did ask.’

‘Wise guys eh?’ John shook his head and kicked a mound of snow in the direction of the hairy camel. ‘I heard Maziar Sattari got Predictor of the Week for the Chelsea v West Ham draw too. Sounds like favouritism to me.’ he grumbled.

‘What sort of competition is this anyway?’ Jill fumbled in her pocket for the GPS as they arrived in Church Langley to track the last section of their route.

‘The Xmas Factor, Matt said.’ shouted Maziar from the hairy beast which had just belched rather unattractively over one of the sheep.

‘Can’t you keep control of that blasted thing for just one minute, mate?’ John raged guiding the ladies down the narrow path Jill’s screen had lead them to.

‘And look out for a bright shining ‘P’ on the roof’ chimed in Nigel helpfully. ‘We should be nearly there now!’

Just as the wise man had predicted, the familiar logo, iridescent in the lamp light shone up ahead and the Predictors quickened their pace.

‘Hey, Mark. It’s us!’ Wendy shouted happily bounding through the snow to the open door. ‘When did you get here? Oh, and by the way, congrats on your predictions for Arsenal and Blackburn. Bet the Moonerazzi’s mad at you for that one!’

Mark Young held his arms open to welcome the shepherdess’ embrace, carefully holding the Brasso at arms length to avoid staining her cloak.

‘Arrived yesterday doll. Like I’ve never been away!’ he unwrapped his arms and looked her up and down approvingly.

‘Gonna be a great evening. Hey, but just let me finish polishing the handle on this big front door for the main event. S’really gonna be something special.’ he drawled.

‘I can’t wait to have a hot shower and something to eat.’ joined in Jill, a large smile engulfing her face. I bet David’s done us proud eh?

‘Ah, well.’ Mark looked at his feet and shuffled about. Actually he’s pretty full, what with Chris Butters here already.’ On cue Chris appeared from the hallway, her golden hair displaying the faintest of gold twinkles and a smile that shone out illuminating the dark night.’

And, well. Me, of course.’ He fidgeted about some more and flicked the polishing cloth against the paint work.

‘There’s always the garage of course.’ continued Mark helpfully. ‘Loads of old tarpaulins from the car and a couple of picnic rugs I dug out earlier. I’m sure you’ll be fine!’

‘It’s such an honour to be here.’ Gushed Chris to the crowd huddled around the door. Playing my joker on this special week and with a top score of 10 points is amazing. Of course, I gave it 150% and it’s been an incredible journey, and I’m sure you can’t wait to join me in the celebrations.’

And so it was on that cold December night. The Predictors huddled together in a garage in Church Langley, but it was a magical evening and singing and laughter could be heard drifting across the rooftops as a man in a sleigh visited all the houses that night.