It’s Christmas Eve, 1990. The last Duran Duran album, Liberty, limped out of the charts months ago. As winter bites, Simon Le Bon-ezer faces a cold, miserable Christmas with no joy in his heart or hope for the future.
Now read on…
Music was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt about that. As Simon Le Bon-ezer trudged his way home through the sleet, he passed by the local music store. Where once there would have been a large display of his latest record, now there was one forlorn copy of Liberty, flopped on to its side, unsold since its release in August.
“A merry Christmas, Simon! God save you!” called a faithful Italian Duran fan, Roberta Cratchetta.
Simon hunched deeper into his coat as the icy London winter chilled him to the bone. What did she know, what did she care?
“Bah. I’ve had enough of being in this band. Christmas? Humbug!” he declared and slunk away. Roberta turned, saddened by his harshness, alone in the cold.
“Hello Daddy!” called Amber as he arrived home. Her eager smile would once have charmed him, but now she felt like a burden. She clattered around the house, excited by the thought of the 'morrow.
“Get out of my way! What’s so special about Christmas anyway?” growled Simon.
“Oh, Simon,” said Yasmin who comforted the tiny girl. “It's the spare room for you tonight!”
Simon stomped off up the stairs. As he went, the lights dimmed around him.
“What's that, who's there?” snarled Simon.
“Beware Simon,” came a voice. “Beware your anger. For at the hour of midnight, three ghosts will creep in. You will put your hand into the flame. The ghosts will speak your name and show you how you are choosing a life of chains...”
“Bah!” said Simon. “Humbug!”
Simon found the spare room cold, and eventually fell asleep. In the midst of his slumber he awoke to find a spirit above him.
“Who are you and what do you want?” he demanded.
“Simon, I am the ghost of Christmas past,” said the spirit. “Your past.”
“What of it?” snapped Simon. “What's done is done and I have no need of it.”
With a wave of her hand, the spirit summoned Simon from his bed and he found himself floating out the window and across the snowy rooftops, far away.
“Now what?” said Simon. “What is this silliness?”
They alighted outside a window. “Look inside,” said the spirit.
He looked and saw a Christmas party. “Why that's me!” said Simon. He could see a young Simon inside with a group of people. He recognised them as John, Andy, Roger and Nick. They were excited by the new music they were making.
“I remember this!” said Simon. “We were making the Rio album. Look! I'm writing the words. And Nick is arranging the chords. What fun we had.”
“Yes, yes,” said the spirit. “You were happy, and enjoying the season. See how you are planning brightly for the future. But we must leave here now.”
“Oh, no,” said Simon. “Let me stay...” But he was already being whisked away back to his cold spare room.
Suddenly there was a clatter, and a large bulk of a man was before him. “Oh ho,” he said, “Come, Simon and know me better, man!”
“Oh, still I can’t escape the ghosts of you,” said Simon. “Where are you taking me?”
“Why to Christmas present,” said the spirit. “We must see what you have made of your life.”
Simon was taken to a dingy music studio on the edge of town. “Oh, I don't want to go in there,” said Simon. “It's a lonely place.”
Inside he saw it was the day of the band's recent Christmas meal. Warren was arranging a new song by himself. Nick was trying to get a new keyboard to work. John seemed to be arguing with a woman over the phone. The drum set lay unused at the back of the room. He saw himself alone in a corner with a paper hat on his head. It was a room full of sorrowed talk.
With a swirl of its hand, Simon saw the spirit vanish and darkness fell on him. He opened his eyes to find himself not back home back, but in a desolate place. He heard angry sea waves crashing on a shore. Through the gloom he saw some huts and a smattering of red and blue lights that flashed intermittently. He wiped the snow from a hand-written sign which said “Xmas Day Disco 3pm – all new Duran Duran act. Will play RIO AND MORE!!!!”
Simon turned to find a spirit without a face standing before him.
“What is this awful place, spirit, and who are you?” asked Simon.
“I am the ghost of Christmas future,” said the spirit. “And this is what will become of your legacy.”
The spirit beckoned Simon on with a bony finger. “Come and look closer….”
Simon wandered towards the lights. He made out the holiday chalets and echoing sound of fruit machines and bingo callers. Closer he went into the holiday park's canteen. Beyond the feasting diners he saw a band on the stage, barely noticed by those still eating. He saw Roberta sobbing in the corner at the awfulness of it all. There was Nick, playing along to a backing track. There was Warren, wearing a threadbare Santa costume. Of John, there was no sign. And who was that singing… someone larger, sounding awful. The bulky figure had his back to the audience. As the figure turned, Simon realised to his horror that he had been replaced and there was Tony Hadley crooning through Save A Prayer.
“Oh, spirit remove me from this place,” he groaned. “What has happened to it all? Where is the life that I recognise? It's all gone away.”
“Will you now not cry for yesterday?” asked the spirit. “If these shadows remain unaltered, this is what will pass. After all, have you not had enough of being in the band?”
“Nooooo,” sobbed Simon. “Make it stop, how can you torment me so. I promise I will appreciate my life, my band, and the fans. I will learn to survive...”
“If the courses be departed from, the ends will change,” said the spirit, disappearing from view. “Though,” the voice echoed from the darkness, “I fear I may need to repeat this lesson in 10 years’ time.”
Simon awoke to find that morning had come. He rushed to the window. The snow had settled and it was a new day – Christmas Day. The future was not written. Simon knew that, however difficult, there was a world he had to find. He opened the window and saw Roberta – who was not sobbing or frozen - outside. She waved happily to him.
“Merry Christmas to you!” he called. “Thank you, thank you for everything!” he blew kisses to her and her heart leapt in joy.
“Daddy, Daddy! Look! Father Christmas has come!” called Amber, rushing in to his room with Yasmin. He turned and gave them both a big hug.
“Merry Christmas, my darlings,” he said. “God bless you, and God bless us, every one!”
And this is a Christmas message to you, dear reader.
Thank you for welcoming Cherry Lipstick back in to the Duraning world in 2017.
Thank you for your support, contributions, and making this a lot of fun.
Here’s to a great 2018 together,
Cherry Lipstick Editor