At some point in the days ahead the entire nation will be reduced to a simpering, lachrymose mess as this year’s John Lewis advert drops. Grown men you admire for their healthy cynicism will claim to have dust in their eyes while your co-worker Cheryl will buy the cuddly toy version of whichever cute creature is CGIed to look really, really sad until everything turns out swell in the closing scene.
At least one person you know will be more inclined to buy a bedspread or electrical device for loads more than they could get it for at Argos simply because the advert – complete with a pared down version of a classic song – made them forget for a full minute that Donald Trump is about to blow up the world.
That’s how powerful the John Lewis ads have become – they make us feel all smushy and sentimental in the shadow of an apocalypse.
While that is indeed commendable we still think they’re missing a trick this yuletide, though. Frankly, we’re growing bored of the trampolining dogs and blatant rip-offs of Calvin and Hobbes. What about a football version instead to tug at the heartstrings and make Cheryl go through an entire box of Kleenex at her desk whenever it’s brought up in conversation?
EXT. The Emirates Stadium on match day.
An old man is standing on the touchline wearing a ridiculously over-sized coat. His expression is inscrutable. In the centre-circle an Arsenal midfielder scythes down an opponent with the ball barely an after-thought. The player leaves a trailing leg there for good measure. A stamp.
CUT TO: A highly charged post-match press conference. Old-fashioned camera bulbs flash maniacally and journalists jostle for attention. One calls out louder than the rest. “Arsene…Arsene, what did you make of the Xhaka booking? Surely that was a straight red?”
CLOSE UP: Wenger pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. We now see the horrendous foul in flashback from his perspective. It is blurry with just random flashes of colour.
“I didn’t see the incident,” the old man states with a weary sigh. Alongside him his assistant Steve Bould grimaces.
Cue gales of laughter erupting from the press pack.
DISSOLVE TO: A montage of the old man. He is walking across a training pitch. He is trying to watch television from across the room but soon gives up and clicks the remote in frustration. He is standing on another touchline, this time in heavy rain, in every shot he looks very sad.
CUT TO: London Colney, Arsenal’s training ground. Jack Wilshere rushes up to his despondent manager with childish excitement.
“Boss, it’s time for secret Santa!”
The news is greeted with a heavy sigh.
CUT TO: The dressing room. Alexis Sanchez rips open his present and high-fives Ozil with clear joy when it’s revealed to be a Manchester City mug. Now it’s the turn of Wenger.
Slowly and methodically he unwraps his gift and stares down at a pair of binoculars. His smile could warm the stoniest of hearts.
Across the dressing room Steve Bould is smiling too. In his hand he crumples up the receipt. He won’t be needing that.
Song: X-Ray Vision (covered by Rag’n’Bone Man)
EXT: Santa Kane trudges through the crunching snow to a large barn. Behind him stands a small cosy family home with a light shining from the kitchen. Mrs Kane can be seen from the window. She is waving with tears in her eyes.
CUT TO: From on high we see a figure in red with shiny black boots hauling a large sack of presents across the Lapland wasteland of clear white snow. His tracks can be seen for miles.
CLOSE UP: Though he has just begun his arduous annual trek, Kane is already beat. He is breathing heavily from his mouth, though that probably doesn’t signify much. His haunting stare however tells us everything.
A montage follows, showing Kane struggling down chimneys, dragging his sack through the icy streets of the capital, eating a mince pie in a decorated living room more to have a breather than enjoy it.
FADE TO BLACK. ‘Christmas 2018’ appears on the screen.
EXT: Santa Kane races down the stairs in his traditional costume. His wife is swept off her feet as he kisses her passionately, like in a fifties movie. He bids her a cheery farewell and pimp-walks across the snowy yard to his barn.
He opens the barn door and the screen is flooded with bright colours. Inside is a gleaming sleigh with his sack stuffed with the world’s presents tied down with rope. Ahead of the sleigh impatiently wait eight reindeer, their hooves scuffing in excitement. They are bedecked in Real Madrid shirts.
CUT TO: The sleigh zooming into the night sky with the fading boom of Kane shouting ‘Ho ho ho’.
Song: With a Little Help From My Friends (covered by London Grammar)
EXT. A bustling East End street on Christmas Eve.
Walking hurriedly along, scowling at the joyous festivities occurring all around him Ebenezer Moyes is momentarily distracted by a freestyler entertaining a small crowd with his football skills.
“Humbug,” he mutters under his breath, drawing tighter his raggedy scarf around his neck. He enters his ramshackle home.
INT. Moyes’ bedroom
In his nightgown and nightcap Ebenezer is terrified at the appearance of three ghosts who hover at the foot of his bed. They are supporters who expired through the absence of hope with one wearing the red of Manchester United, another the blue and white of Real Sociedad, the third the red and white of Sunderland. They rattle their rattles to grab his full attention before each pointing to the picture-less blank wall with bony fingers.
Flickering as if from an old projector images appear showing Manchester City blasting four past his hapless Reds, Rayo Vallecano celebrating a 1-0 victory, and Mackems players inconsolable in relegation. A banner on the Kop declaring him a ‘football genius’ sears onto the wall until the screen turns sharp white.
CUT TO: Morning. A close up of Moyes’ reptile eyes as they snap ajar. He jumps from the bed and tears apart the threadbare curtains.
EXT. A typical London street. The Bow Bells chime loudly.
A very large boy with a ponytail that went out of vogue in the mid-eighties is walking dopily down the pavement.
“You there!” The boy as big as a turkey. “What day is this?”
“Today gaffer? Why today is May 9th 2013 and you have just agreed to take over at West Ham.”
“They did it all in one night. The ghosts did it all in one night!”
“You will play me won’t you gaffer?”
“Of course I will son. Maybe in midfield though. You can be my Fellaini.”
Song: If I Could Turn Back Time (covered by Olly Murs)