The latest victim of crunchy credit conditions is Pebbleheadâ€™s Christmas Annual, due to be published tomorrow but now indefinitely postponed. The bestselling paperbackist has been issuing his annuals every Christmas Eve for as long as anybody can remember, so this is what is known, in the language of his potboilers, as a bitter blow. Indeed, one of the features of this yearâ€™s annual was to be an exciting tale of polar tragedy called â€œCaptain Jarvis And His Starving Huskies Are Pressed Flat Against A Glacier By The Bitter Blows Of An Antarctic Blizzardâ€. I am sorry I am not going to be able to read that to my grandchildren as a bedtime story, nor indeed to act it out in the community hub frolicking compound, if necessary using bags of flour as a snow substitute should the weather continue balmy.
As ever, the annual was to contain dozens of stories Pebblehead dashed off this past year in between writing his tremendous novels. According to the publisherâ€™s blurb, we were promised such gems as â€œVanessa Redgrave And The Revolutionary Space Cadetsâ€, â€œThe Six Million Dollar Goatâ€, and â€œOoh La La, As He Sinks Beneath The Waves, Captain Jarvis Recalls What Bliss Was It In That Dawn To Have A Mild Headacheâ€. It is something of a mystery why Pebblehead has yet to write an entire novel about this Captain Jarvis character, who gets into all sorts of exciting scrapes in all sorts of locations, exotic and otherwise. Last yearâ€™s story, â€œCaptain Jarvis Topples Out Of A Hot Air Balloon Piloted By Richard Bransonâ€ was particularly thrilling.
We could also have expected many pictures of bees, ducks, gaping chasms, weasels, kitchen utensils, frogpersons, eggs, Ludwig Wittgenstein, cardboard boxes, giraffe heads, and tweezers. Pebblehead has been criticised for retaining the same picture categories year after year, every single annual containing three cack-handed pencil drawings of each subject, all crammed into the endpapers, but I think this says a good deal about the man. He is reliable, he is consistent, he is a bestselling paperbackist, and he canâ€™t draw for toffee.
This yearâ€™s factual articles were to include a potted history of potted fishpastes, an analysis of sulphurous woozy barbershop quartet demons, an annotated diagram of Christâ€™s wounds, and a reprint of Pebbleheadâ€™s classic pig paragraph.
Add to that the quiz and the cut-out board game and the coating of scum upon the dust jacket, and it is clear we shall all be bereft at this time of otherwise unbridled jollity.