Back in the depths of the Little Ice Age, lived a cruel, cold-hearted man called Professor Ebenezer Lapworth. Ebenezer owned a geotechnical engineering firm called ‘Scrooge’s Slope Stabilisation’ and employed a significant workforce. However, his employees worked for pittance; they had no holidays for fossiling and defiantly NO coal in their stockings! The Black Country Geological Society once approached Ebenezer to assist with a graduate training scheme, but were immediately told on no uncertain terms to “Rock Off!” and take their graduates with them.
It was approaching Christmas, a boom time for Ebenezer’s business as vegetation was thin and access to rock faces was at its easiest. For this reason his employees worked tirelessly throughout the holiday, but Christmas 2012 was one which Head Geoscientist, Dr Bob Fossil was determined to spend with his family. It was Christmas Eve and after much encouragement from his colleagues, Dr Fossil built up the courage to ask for the Christmas week off, to which Ebenezer dismissed in a fluster of mutterings and abuse. However, Dr Fossil held a trump card, who else who be open for business? Ebenezer had no reply, and finally relented. Ebenezer Lapworth offered the consolation prize of 1 day’s unpaid holiday on Christmas Day, which allowed Bob Fossil to spend the last Christmas with his very ill son.
That evening on the eve of Christmas, the freezing air felt like a million ice daggers pounding Ebenezer’s wicked face as he stumbled home from the local real ale pub. Reaching his dark, mysterious house he flung open the door to reveal a personal museum of rare, sparkling and very pretty rocks and fossils. That evening Ebenezer sat in a single room eating rock cakes, with only a small lava lamp and a glowing specimen of Uraninite for illumination (to save money on lighting the whole house!). Suddenly, the lava lamp stopped convecting and the Geiger counter stopped crackling. Out of the gloom appeared a ghostly vision. “Who are you?” Ebenezer muttered under his breath. “I am your old business partner…..Jacob Murchison” groaned the transparent figure. Murchison warned Ebenezer of his impending doom upon his death, constricted by the chains forged in life (and in the Black Country) for all eternity. Forgivingly, there was a chance to save his damned soul. Squirming for some sort of comfort Ebenezer was primed for the visit of three ghosts during the night. In a flash, the room returned to normal, convection resumed and the mineral glowed once more.
Ebenezer blamed his hallucinations on the real ale, but went cautiously to bed carrying his Uraninite with him. As his struggled to sleep he counted trilobites jumping over coral until his heavy eyes shut tight. The next thing he remembered was a bright light illuminating the room, a rough, primitive voice grunted “I am the ghost of Christmas past”. Ebenezer peered from beneath the duvet to see a big nosed, hairy Neanderthal pointing a spear at him. With a jab of the flint spearhead they were transported to Ebenezer Lapworth’s childhood. Ebenezer looked helplessly at his days as a young geology student, throwing rocks at the teacher and making smaller children lick the halite samples. He gazed on as he mixed up the sequence of metamorphic samples laid on the table, baffling the class. “No more!” he yelled like a little girl. The Neanderthal lead him away to his first Christmas party in a geotechnical company, during the vision has saw himself as a graduate, complaining to his manager about how much the party has cost and that the money would be better spent on drill heads. In a pulse of light the ghost strolled off into the distance and Ebenezer was back in his bedroom gasping for breath.
Minutes following the exit of the first ghost a second phantom ascended from the floor, which was tiled in Rapakivi Granite. “I am the ghost of Christmas present” snorted a deep, muffled voice. To Ebenezer’s horror, towering over him was a giant talking Pleistocene ground sloth known as Megatherium. Ebenezer frowned as the sloth guided him into a white mist with his enormous claws, “Come, we have little time as I grow older every second” claimed the sloth. They reappeared amongst the excitement of Christmas day in the market, seeing the hustle and bustle of people buying Christmas dinner. They then viewed Christmas in a miner’s cottage, where they were short of coal and not a fossil display in sight, yet they were full of joy and happiness on this day. Finally, the sloth took Ebenezer to observe the scene at Bob Fossil’s house. There, he gazed on to see a happy, vibrant scene of Bob Fossil with his family and very ill son, Trilobite Tim. He continued to observe as Bob’s wife began complaining about Ebenezer, his greed and his cruelty to everyone who crosses his path. Ebenezer was shocked when Bob stuck up for him, explaining how he was responsible for providing their Christmas dinner as Bob’s employer to the answer of “Huh….This measly meal….As he feasts in luxury!” from Bob’s wife. “Enough spirit, I have seen enough” blubbered Ebenezer before reopening his eyes to see the sloth, now looking very old walking away from him in a spooky old graveyard.
Moments later, a dark spectre materialised in the fog, “I am the ghost of Christmas’ yet to be” whispered a quiet, yet deep voice. Shuddering vigorously, Ebenezer stepped closer to see the Woolly Mammoth eyeing him up. The mammoth pointed with his trunk to a gravestone made from blue Lavikite Granite, Ebenezer stumbled over like a drunken fool and reluctantly wiped away the grime to reveal his own name. Falling backwards in horror, he grasped for comforting words “The future can be changed…a man can break his chains” wept Ebenezer. In a heart stopping second, they emerged into a grotty backstreet, looking on at a grubby street trader. “Get your rocks here….Fossils for a fiver” the trader yelled, “Who did this collection belong to?” whispered Ebenezer. The mammoth stood and pointed his trunk, a group of women were discussing the collection “I’m sorry the owners dead….sorry he didn’t die sooner”. A second woman replied “That Ebenezer Lapworth was an evil geologist, who didn’t document his collection properly and now it’s worthless”. Now a whimpering wreck, Ebenezer had one final call….back to Bob Fossil’s house. Inside, the mood was solemn, near the fire sat an empty chair with a rock hammer and hard hat laid on the seat. Ebenezer immediately realized that it was Trilobite Tim’s chair. “A man can change his future!” Ebenezer screamed with fear and with that, the phantom mammoth faded away.
Upon opening his eyes Ebenezer Lapworth was in his own warm bed, like a whippet he flung himself free of the sheets and hung out of the window. A child carrying a lump of Schist hurried past until Ebenezer shouted “Good Sir, What day is it?” a high pitched, nervous reply came “Why…. it’s C…C…C…Christmas Day”. A giant grin grew on his face, the spirits came all in one night and he had not missed the big day. Ebenezer called the boy again to ask “You know the large Titanites ammonite in the shop window? Go and buy it for me boy”. The boy was swamped by the Titanites, as he followed Ebenezer towards Bob Fossil’s house. On the way Ebenezer donated his prized fossils to the poor and invited graduates to train in his company. When they finally reached Bob’s house he was greeted with anger from Bob’s wife, until she saw the size of the ammonite being delivered for them. She stood motionless with shock as Ebenezer offered a very large pay rise for Dr Bob Fossil and his fellow geoscientists. From that day forward Ebenezer became like an uncle to Trilobite Tim (who did not die) and was much loved as a generous member of the Black Country Geological Society.