In the spirit of the season this week’s sentence was taken from Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'.
The sentence was:
'Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.'
The Fourth Ghost
That next summer a fourth Ghost appeared to Scrooge.
Awakened and irritable, he glared at it.
“Ebenezer, you have been slipping back into your old ways so I have been sent to reform you. I am the Ghost of Modern Christmas.”
“Christmas? It's August, you cretin!”
“Ah, but the Modern Christmas begins in August when festive goods start appearing in the shops.”
The Spectre beckoned.
A moment's confusion as his own familiar chambers dissolved and the Ghost led him through a maze of tiny boxes. To Scrooge's amazement he saw that each contained a worker toiling in far less space than his own clerk, Cratchit. With a grin of delight he resolved to move the man into a cupboard the next morning.
The scene changed and now those same workers assembled in morbid little groups, bitching about one another, drinking cheap, nasty wine and devouring revoltingly greasy, gristly things that Scrooge could not identify as containing any foodstuff that he had ever known.
In darkened cubicles, in party hats, sordid and ill-advised liaisons were reaching their ghastly, alcohol-fuelled nadir, but before Scrooge could express his horror the scene faded, resolving itself anew into a whole town of shopping streets piled on top of one another, and indoors!
Scrooge and the Spirit swept unseen down miles of aisles, their passage through the corporeal world marked only by the mysterious opening and closing of automatic doors. Scrooge screwed up his eyes against the assault of garishly lit and hideously festooned shop displays, asparkle with shimmering tat, piled high with acres of Christmas-themed goods that nobody could possibly want and books with no literary merit whatsoever.
All around him in the bustling throng, family groups veering from potential divorce to mutual homicide screamed obscenities about one another's relatives and argued over money.
Teenaged girls with bottle-blonde hair scraped back from faces livid orange with fake-tan, yelled and swore into mobile phones while trailing caravans of fat shrieking brats in their wake.
The central altar of this obscene temple of Mammon and Misery was not the Nativity but a monstrous plastic abomination, a grotto from beyond Dante's nightmares.
All around it, parents queued - and paid - to place their frightened children in the lap of an obese and elderly man wearing a patently false beard and a garish red suit who cuddled them inappropriately and whispered things into their ears as they cried.
Scrooge reeled back, revolted.
A succession of similar tableaux passed before his ever-widening eyes, spiralling to a crescendo of tinsel-draped horror.
“Are you telling me that by returning to my grasping and curmudgeonly ways I risk losing all of this? Bah! Humbug!”
The Spirit seemed puzzled by his respeonse.
“But Mr. Scrooge! This is the very Spirit of Modern Christmas!”
Scrooge couldn't help himself. It started as a giggle and then got serious.
Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.