Once upon a time, in a town called Nazareth, there lived a young woman named Mary. She was betrothed to Joseph, who was a joiner for the local council. One day, as she was watching Jeremy Kyle, the Angel Gabriel appeared before her, and told her that she was to give birth to a son, Jesus.
“How can this be?” replied Mary, for she was still chaste.
“Details, details”, replied the angel, “all you need to know is that the child will be the son of God”.
“Fair enough” said Mary, returning to Kyle, for Mary was meek.
Nine months later, Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to fill in the national census. Normally, they would have returned the documents by post, but by this time the Post Office had been privatised and it now cost a month’s salary to post a large letter, so they were forced to make the long journey south. Initially, the couple had planned to take the Virgin Pendolino service, but due to delayed engineering works and signal failure at Jerusalem Parkway they were forced to travel by donkey.
Arriving at Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph found it very difficult to find accommodation. As they sat, shivering on the pavement, the mayor passed by in his carriage.
“Why are there no rooms left in the city centre?” they cried.
“Well”, snorted the burly leader, “we can’t have the feeble poor wasting money through housing benefits. Get thee to the outskirts at once”. They started to protest, but the mayor performed a U-turn in his carriage, and left them in a cloud of dust.
Eventually, the heavily pregnant couple and their donkey were placed in a detention centre miles from anywhere. Shortly afterwards, Mary gave birth to Jesus, and joy was unconfined. At the same time, some shepherds were shepherding, as was their wont. Suddenly, a bright angel appeared in the night sky and they were seized with terror.
“Calm down” said the angel, “I have come to inform you of the birth of Jesus, Son of God. You will find him in the big house outside Bethlehem.”
“Jesus Christ”, blasphemed one of the shepherds, “That was terrifying. Verily, this is the last time I mix mephedrone with blue WKD”. They took their two favourite sheep, named Cable and Alexander, and travelled to see the child, and they too were filled with joy.
Far away in the East, there were three powerful rulers: King Nicholas, King Gideon and King Dave. They too saw a bright light in the night sky and were transfixed. After studying the scrolls they were convinced that this was a sign from The Ghost of King Margaret, one of the most horrid and most merciless of all the kings. They too were implored to visit the Christ-child, and arrived twelve days later, having smashed up only a few restaurants along the way.
As they arrived, Mary was filled with happiness as she saw the fine jewels and precious metals that adorned the three kings.
“Hallelujah!” she proclaimed, “What fine gifts have you brought the boy?”
Alas, Mary’s hopes were soon dashed. King Gideon declared that he had not brought anything, and intended to remove the baby Jesus’ Educational Maintenance Allowance at the earliest opportunity.
“But how will he afford to go to college?” pleaded Mary.
“Silence!” shrieked King Gideon. “I have to find a way of allowing Vodafone to avoid their tax payments, and if I don’t, they’ll stop paying for my junkets to India”, and so Mary was silenced. King Nicholas had more bad news. “For my gift, I will demand 9,000 shekels a year for Jesus’ university fees.” Joseph looked angry upon hearing these words.
“I thought thy messengers had told us to expect a free university education, why have you done this to us?” King Nicholas looked abashed, but merely cranked up the Shakira track on his iPod, sparked a Silk Cut and cantered away on his ministerial ass. Livid, Joseph fled into the city, and got trapped in a kettle.
“I agree with King Nick”, said King Dave. “For my gift, I will stop NHS hospitals providing IVF for desperate couples”.
Mary was aghast: “Joseph has been firing blanks. We had to get God in to help me get pregnant – how will I provide siblings for Jesus?”
“Desist!” bellowed King Dave. “Jesus shall have no brothers or sisters, and it will be the fault of the doctors, as I have forced the running of the NHS upon them”.
Soon, it was time to return to Nazareth. The holy family had recovered their Christmas cheer after the meanness of the Three Kings. Unfortunately, as they entered the town gates, Sheikh Pickles was boarding up the joiners’ workshop where Joseph had previously toiled.
“I have given thy council enough shekels this year” harrumphed the Sheikh. “I will only continue to give shekels to the councils that voted for me in May”. Joseph begged for mercy, but Sheikh Pickles was in no mood to relent.
Chomping on a full roast turkey, he spat incomprehensible insults at Joseph and stomped away to his harem.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, at least for the next five years.