The Ghost of Christmas Pissed

Today The Pensive Quill carries a short story by guest writer Thomas "Dixie" Elliott

It was Christmas Eve morning, about quarter to one or thereabouts, when Jamesy made his usual journey back to his flat. I can’t say that the snow was deep and crisp and even because it was actually raining and all sensible carol singers were tucked up in bed, leaving only the strains of drunken revellers to fill the air with song as they roamed the streets in search of taxis.

Jamesy was one of those drunken revellers only he happened to be in a state of drunken revelry all year round. He had staggered out the door of the bar, where he held the proud title of regular, just a few minutes before and hadn’t far to go because he lived only a few streets away. His coat collar was turned up to keep out the chilling rain and he grasped the lapels tightly to his neck because the top buttons were missing. He clutched the blue bag he carried just as tightly, perhaps for fear of being mugged for a few measly cans of stout or perhaps for fear of dropping them on the ground, because in his drunken state it might be dangerous even bending over to lift them up again.

He eventually got to his front door and fumbled with the key for a minute or two before pushing the door open with his shoulder. Managing to keep upright he staggered inside and shut it behind him with a clatter of canned stout. He found the light switch and lit up what passed for a living room. A sofa that would have graced any skip took up most of the room, a few tatty blankets lay across it, for this was also Jamesy‘s bed. A battered old armchair was close to a fireplace where a fire rarely burned. The other side of the fireplace was taken up by a TV which hadn’t been viewed since it broke down during the summer. Jamesy watched all his favourite programmes like racing in the pub anyway. The rest of the room consisted of rubbish and a coating of dust. Jeeze, I’ll have to clean this place up a bit one of these days, thought Jamesy as he placed his precious bag of stout by the armchair. But right now I need a pee.

And off he staggered to the toilet, to pee away the last few pints of the night, hanging his damp coat on a hook behind the hall door as he went.

As he stood swaying over the toilet he took a quick look at himself in the cracked mirror hanging on the wall. He was in his mid-fifties but the face of a much older man looked back at him. An unshaven wrinkled face with sunken cheekbones and red-rimmed eyes belied the fact that Jamesy was once a good looking young man.

“Ah would you look at the state of you standing there peeing more over the floor than in the toilet bowl,” stated his reflection in the mirror, much to Jamesy’s horror because he hadn’t opened his mouth to say a word. Or at least he thought he hadn’t; maybe it was the drink talking he decided. Pulling his zip up he hurried back into the living room but as he entered the light went out leaving him standing in darkness. Cursing the lack of replacement light bulbs he noticed that the temperature had dropped alarmingly and he began to shiver uncontrollably. As his eyes grew accustomed to the dark much to his horror he noticed that someone was sitting in his armchair. He heard a sound like a beer can being opened and a voice he thought he recognised said, “Sit down and have a can of stout with me.”

“Who in hell are you?” demanded Jamesy. “And how did you get in here anyway?”

“Ach sure, Jamesy, you know me better than you know yourself,” said Whoever It Was.

“I know that voice from somewhere!” said Jamesy. “Damned if I do!”

Just then the light went back on and Jamesy’s legs nearly went from under him. For seated in his armchair was he himself looking back at himself. And if that wasn’t bad enough he was drinking one of his own cans of stout.

“Naw!” uttered Jamesy. “It can’t be me, you must be some twin brother my Ma had adopted years ago and didn’t tell me about.”

“Not a bit of it, my Ma had the eight of us and two died young, the ole drink, if you remember?” said Whoever It Was. “And not one of us was put up for adoption.”

“Sure grab one of those stout and sit yourself down so we can talk about the old times,” he continued, before adding rather cruelly, “Jeeze, Jamesy, you haven’t gone and peed yourself, have you?”

Jamesy looked down at the stain on his trousers, the outcome of a hurried exit from the toilet and visibly reddened.

“Don’t worry about it,” chuckled Whoever It Was, “Sure it happens to the best of us.”

Jamesy slumped down on the sofa and pulled the nearest blanket over him. It was still freezing cold in the room, so much so he could see his breath every time he exhaled. Whoever It Was reached down to the blue bag, took out a can of stout and flung it to Jamesy. It landed on his lap and he managed to catch it before it rolled off onto the floor. He took one long look at the person in the armchair. He had indeed every feature on his own face even the small scar above his right eye. Jamesy without thinking touched his scar and Whoever It Was said, “Aye I got that fighting after school one day. Do you remember?”

“Big Micky, he was a year or two older than me, a right bully,” replied Jamesy.

“The very boy!” Interrupted Whoever It Was.

“Ah no you can’t be me!" uttered Jamesy. “Can you?”

Whoever It Was nodded knowingly and took another drink from his can.

Without taking his eyes from himself across the room Jamesy opened his can and took a long slug of stout.

“I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking to myself,” he muttered. “It has to be the bloody drink.” He took another mouthful of stout as if that would help answer his question.

“As the boyo said to Georgie Best, where did it all go wrong?” said Whoever It Was. “I was a great joiner in me day and everyone was looking for me to do jobs.”

Jamesy seemed to be lost in thoughts of times long gone as he replied. “Aye, I started out working with me Da on the building sites, he got me an apprenticeship after I left school.”

“And I met Maggie at the disco that night in 75, a right looker she was too!” added Whoever It Was.

“I had plenty of money in me pockets in those days, working all hours,” continued Jamesy.

“And we got married and had five wains.” Whoever It Was wiped a tear from his eye as he said it.

Jamesy took another drink of stout, draining the can which he flung into the fireplace. “Give us another one of those cans.” His eyes were filling up as he said it.

Whoever It Was tossed him a can and took another one himself. The two ring pulls hissed as one.

“I started calling into the bar for a few pints after work,” Jamesy said. He sat his can down, got up and staggered over to the door to where his coat was hanging.

“And before I knew it I never left the place, except to sleep,” Added Whoever It Was.

“Have you a fag on you?”

“Roll-ups?” asked Jamesy, retrieving the tobacco pouch and plastic lighter from his coat pocket.

“Aye, the under the counter stuff, it would blow the head of a cabbage, but so what, it’s cheap, isn‘t it?” said Whoever It Was.

Jamesy returned to the sofa and rolled two pencil thin cigarettes. “I must be going fecking mad,” he said as he lit the roll-up belonging to Whoever It Was.

“Well if you are, you won‘t mind if I tag along?”

Jamesy took a drag from his own roll-up. “Now what in hell were we talking about?”

“I started going to the bar more often than I was going home,” said Whoever It Was.

“That’s right, and I eventually left work to take up drinking full time,” added Jamesy.

Whoever It Was coughed and spluttered after a drag of his roll-up and added, “Then Maggie kicked me out.”

Jamesy dragged on his roll-up until it burnt his fingers then tossed it into the fireplace. “Now only our Johnny wants to know me; if it wasn’t for him and his good wife, I’d not be having a Christmas dinner at all this year.”

They both looked at each other through tear-filled eyes, then took a another good drink.

“Mores the pity that I’ll not be here to enjoy the Christmas dinner,” Added Whoever It Was.

Jamesy looked worried. “And why would that be if you don’t mind me asking?”

“A massive heart attack will take me this very night,” said Whoever It Was. “And by the time Christmas morning comes I’ll be dead a full day.”

Jamesy put the can to his mouth and emptied it in one go. “You’re pulling my leg... Aren’t you?” He asked.

“Now why would I be joking over a matter like that, you silly ole eejit?”

The drink must’ve gotten the better of Jamesy because the next thing he knew he was wakened by the sound of someone battering his front door. It was still freezing cold in the living room, Whoever It Was lay slumped in the armchair and he didn’t look at all well. In fact, thought Jamesy, he had the look of death about him.

“Break the door in!”

Hearing this brought Jamesy to his senses and he called out, “Hold on a minute and I’ll open it!”

But it was too late. His front door burst open with a crash and in they came almost tripping over each other. His son Johnny led the way followed closely by Jim the bar manager and the rest of his regulars. Jamesy went to meet them with a curse on his lips.

“Have yous no patience at all? Sure I was on my way out to let yous in.”

It was as if he wasn’t there. They all headed in the direction of Whoever It Was in the armchair.

“I think he’s dead,” uttered Jamesy, but they paid not a blind bit of heed to him as they bent over the body searching for signs of life.

“Ah I’m sorry, Johnny,” said Jim. “He’s dead.”

“Sure isn’t that what I just told yous?” Jamesy couldn’t believe that they were totally ignoring him.

“I think he’s been dead a fair while, Johnny, by the looks of him.” This was Big Dan, a regular from the bar speaking. “He hasn’t been in all day yesterday and that’s not like Jamesy, so he must’ve kicked the bucket on Christmas Eve sometime.”

“Passed away, not kicked the bucket,” said Jim the Manager sternly. “Have a bit of respect.”

Jamesy heard his name and kicked the bucket all in one sentence and it finally dawned on him that it was himself who was dead in the armchair.

The realisation that he was a ghost looking at himself dead suddenly took hold of Jamesy and he slumped back on the sofa horrified and dismayed that his departure from this life was with empty cans laying about him.

He was even more annoyed at what Johnny, his son said next.

“The selfish old git, imagine dying on Christmas morning, sure he could have waited until after the New Year at least.”

He heard them making arrangements to call the undertaker and a sense of guilt swept over him because he had ruined his family’s Christmas by dying.

He saw the light coming towards him and felt peaceful. Then the light went out.

Jamesy woke with a start he was in total darkness.

“I’ve gone to hell on Christmas Day!” he shouted.

Then he realised that he hadn’t gone to hell, he was still in his living room on the sofa and the light had blown. He got up and pulled the curtains, daylight streamed in. No one was laying dead on the armchair and Jamesy was glad to be alive.

He staggered out to the bathroom and threw water over his face to bring himself round.

“That was one hell of a weird nightmare. I could murder a pint,” he said as he dried himself with a grubby towel.

“Have you not learned your lesson,you eejit? The drink will be the death of you!”

Whoever It Was peeing in the toilet gave an exasperated shake of his head as he said it.

No one believed Jamesy when he turned up for his Christmas dinner at Johnny’s house and told them he was off the drink for good. And sure enough he never touched a drop again.

Any resemblance to actual persons living and dead drunk is purely coincidental.



  1. Enjoyed this, it was sort of like a modern Charles Dickens tale.
    The ghost of Christmas future, glad to see Jamesy lived to enjoy another xmas.
    This would have served as a warning to Marty, think it might be too late though.

  2. Dixie,

    great piece of writing. Thanks for throwing it our way

  3. I can only tell you how excellent this is by cursing so you you'll have to use your imagination. A bit of humour, the old doppelganger harbinger of death, twists and turns. ****ing great!!! I really enjoyed this!! Thanks.

  4. Maith thú Dixie, think we all know a few ones like Jamesy

  5. Yip right now I,m outside the mental hospital,watching the staff trying to free fifty tounges from the window, must have been a psf meeting and I,m sure I heard Mickeyboys name called,as a family we are trying to keep up with technology so I bought my son an ipod,my daughter an iphone,and myself an ipad.I felt bad for the wife so I bought her an iRon....thats when it all kicked of..I got the christmas decorations out of the loft last night,and I came across a present I forgot to give the kids last year..its a shame really because they would haved f\\kin loved that kitten...Gerry Itwasntme and Bob do Brains were at the races,Gerry whispers to Bob "do you want the winner of the next race"Bob rplies "Doh no thanks boss I,ve only got a small garden"..I tried to join a Tourettes support group,but they told me to f\\k of...little old Asian lady at the currency exchange a little irritated"why it change?yesterday I get two hunnat dolla for yen,today Iget one hunnat eighty??why if change?,cashier shrugged and said "fluctuations"the little old Asian lady replied"fluc you white people to"....Heather Mills parents have bought her a new leg for christmas ...its not the main present ...its just a stocking filler......a group of primary school children go on a trip to Ascot races to learn about horses,when its time to take the children to the toilet,its decided the girls will go with one teacher and the boys with the other,the teacher assigned to the boys is waiting outside when one of the boys comes out to tell her that none of them can reach the urinals,having no choice she goes inside and helps the boys with their pants and begings hoisting them up one by one holding their willies to direct the she lifts one boy she cant help notice that he is unusually well endowed,trying not to stare she says"you must be in year four" "no love"he replies "I,m riding Silver Shadow in the 2.15"

  6. ...the co-opran out of milk because of the bad weather.....thankfully Doreen my elderly neighbour has loads of it piled up at her front door....a little girl asks her mum if she can take the dog out for a walk,mum replies "no because shes on heat" "what does that mean"asked the girl mum says"go ask your father I think he is in the garage"she goes out to the garage and asks her dad" dad can I take Lulu out for a walk around the block?,mum said no because she,s on heat and to come and ask you" dad grabs a rag soaks it in petrol and scrubbed the dogs ass to disguise the scent and said"ok you can go but keep her on the leash and only go round once"the little girl goes of and a little while later she returns with no dog on a leash,dad asks "wheres Lulu?.......the little girl said .."she ran out of petrol half way round the block and now theres another wee dog pushing her back home.......dwarf with a lisp goes to buy a horse"I want a female horth"he said to the dealer,who shows him a mare"nithe horth can I see her eythe?"dealer picks him up and shows him its eyes,nithe eyeth,can I thee her teeth?"he lifts dwarf up and shows him her teeth "nithe teethcan I see her twot?"he lifts him up shoves his head up the mares fanny and pulls his head out a few seconds later" "I,ll reefaze that can I thee her wun awound

  7. ...a lot of talk about a mosque at ground zero New York?I say we should allow it.then open a strip club next door called \\\You mecca me horney,a gay bar on the other side called Turban cowboy,across the road a pork diner called Iraq of ribs,and a brothel called Allah women u want....then we.ll see if TOLERANCE works both ways.....Bob do Brains takes the family around Belfasts continental market,he buys an unusual burger which just happened to be deer but he doesnt tell the kids what it is,he gives them one clue "its what your mother calls me!"the kids yell "dont eat it ..its a f\\kin ballbag",,,,how do you change your dishwasher into a snowplough"...give her a shovel..the correct insurance companies of with your wife ..Legal and General, with your future wife ....Mutual with your secretary..Employers with a prostitute,,,,Commercial on the telephone Direct with your biographer....Quote me in a hurry ...Insure and with your boyfriend...Standard with a transvestite....confused .com with someone different ...go team do they support in Coronation street TRAM NEAR ROVERS...........,,,, ...... ,,,,......... ,,,,,. .... ....merry christmas from Stevie letter sent to christmas this year "Dear Santa please bring me lots and lots of clothes to give to the poor women on Dads computer"....sin e I,ve borrowed this puter for a while so I would like to say A peacefull christmas to all and lots of luck in the new year Marty

  8. I dont have a prob with drink Nuala hon first I drink ,then I get drunk, then I fall down, easy no probs Nollaig shona duit! loved this Dixie, puter is f\\ked so have been lucky to borrow one,looks like I may have to move in with Larry or Mickeyboy it wont be Robert he walks in his sleep I heard Bob doh Brains on his wedding night saw his wife lying naked spreadeagled on the bed ...she said "you know what I want".....Bob replied "Doh all the fuckin bed by the look of it"..hopefully see ya soon.Anthony Mary st hedgehog Larry, Mick H.Mickeyboy, Robert,Tain Bo Marty down under et al have a good one...

  9. Marty they're crackers mo chara, I'll borrow a few of them if you don't mind!
    Off touring round rural Victoria over the holidays, weather permitting, visiting the old stomping grounds of that great Irish scallywag Ned Kelly and his gang. Should be good craic.
    All the best to all over there...

  10. Dixie-

    I liked the pissed ghost- a good yarn it shows that family and friends help but it takes a good ghost to kick us up the arse

    Is jamesy short for jameson whiskey
    something i will not be short of over the holidays-

    At heathrow airport people waited
    with baited breath for a plane- then 4 came at once- just like Martys comments

    It would be remiss of me not to wish everyone at TPQ a merry christmas [ hate x mas ] and a happy new year- all the best for the arguments in the future,
    Peace to all men and women -
    [ except the brits in afganistan ]

  11. Dixie

    Go raibh maith agat as an scéal it was great craic to read. I got slightly paranoid as I have a slight scar above my right eye and of course the drink was involved.
    I enjoyed the twist at the end as I expected Jamesy to be dead. Using the ghost metaphor is a wise bit of advice as how often do we follow our own advice.

  12. To all the readers and posters here thank you for the entertainment.
    A merry Christmas and season’s greetings best wishes to all and your families.

    Thank you Anthony and Carrie for keeping the PQ running.

  13. Thanks for the comments cairde. I worked as a commercial artist for about 20 years after I got out of jail. During this time I came across many Jamesys in various bars I worked in. Guys who were there no matter when you went in. I was certain it was a Derry thing when one week myself and my mate Paddy [a shinner] were doing murals in Mulholland's bar in Castlewellan. We stayed in the local hotel and met a gentleman who was sitting in the bar every night. When we got talking to him it turned out he was a Derry man, born and bred who had moved to Castlewellan a few years before.

    It must be something in the Derry Air...

    Happy Christmas to Mackers, Carrie and the kids and all the Quill regulars.


  14. Marty, back with a vengeance.
    You have a rival and quite a formidable one.

  15. Nuala hon I,m on a borrowed puter,I think the monkey which powered mine has fallen of its bike.hope you ,Albert,and Kevin have a grand holiday and Al has the pleasure of enjoying all the out of date selection boxes, I dont have a wife!!!!!! nollaig shona duit

  16. Marty,

    you were missed. Great to see you back.

  17. Nuala I meant to say I dont have a rival how could I when I have a fork n knife thanks Anthony agus Tain Bo as they all sing in the vd clinic we wish you a merry syphllis and a happy gonorrhoea !

  18. Marty,

    that reminds me of the Christmas song they sing in German asylums. 'God Bless ye Gerry Mental men'. Sorry John McGirr if that makes me a racist!!!

  19. Dixie,

    merry Christmas to you and yours. You provided us with some entertainment at the end of the year and powerful political critique throughout it.

  20. Why are we subjected to all this hassle every year , the faithful followers of St Nicholas going around like headless chickens panic buying , maybe this is reason behind the Romans throwing them to the Lions to get them out of the shops so we non believers can get on with our normal way of life . Christmas to me symbolises another wrong in Christian/catholic way of preserving the cult lets create another big believable lie , hey kids there is a big pot bellied man coming down our chimney tonight with toys so you better sleep soundly , these same words I am sure echo around a lot of orphanages of the world , but it wasn’t toys but more dangerous men dressed in black . When I do sit and think about Christmas I always wonder how the people who were abused by the self same followers of St Nicholas can sit down to the turkey and ham and then say we thank you lord for etc etc
    To the all the non believers and people that have felt wrath of the followers of Christmas have a nice holiday

  21. Marty, you haven't borrowed it from the New Lodge by any chance?
    Wish yourself and Marie a really lovely time. The old selection boxes don't last in this house I'm sort of a chocoholic? Well it's lesser of two evils I think.

  22. Interested,
    Never had you down as a 'feed them to the lions type'
    more a 'let someone else feed them to the lions and i'll sit and watch type'
    How you can hold Christians per se responsible for mass consumerism and child abuse?
    Anyway hope you and the non-believers whatever that means? have a truly nice xmas time.

  23. Marty,

    How like a winter hath my absence been
    From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
    What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
    What old December's bareness everywhere!
    ~William Shakespeare, "Sonnet XCVII

    Good to see you back - all manner of rumour had abounded about your absence. Happy Christmas.

  24. Robert,

    Merry Christmas to you. Enjoy

  25. Nuala,

    Merry Christmas to you and Albert

  26. Robert

    Thank you! I wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas and my sincere best wishes for the coming year.
    Always enjoy your posts.

  27. Tain Bo,

    merry Christmas. I hope it is much less icy where you are than it is here.


    Enjoy yours too. Without the peace process we would never have had any Christmases!!! Hope all is well with you and yours. Yes, I do enjoy it but find it stressful.

    Mise Eire,

    First time I heard that ‘swappie’! Merry Christmas


    ‘Nuala hon I,m on a borrowed puter,I think the monkey which powered mine
    has fallen of its bike.’

    It has turned up. After falling off the bike it started work in Alex Maskey’s office.

  28. Thanks, Robert. Happy Christmas to you too and to everyone on the Quill.

  29. Robert...The best portions of a good mans life,his little,nameless,unrembered acts of kindness and love,-William Wordsworth, Nollaig Shonsa Duit do an clan agus tusa, happy christmas to you and your family,,,,