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    Mancunian
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The Boot - Three Years On - 27. Chapter 27

JJ had in idea which he shared with Max and Stacy, it's been simmering away in the background in secret, tonight his secret idea is made public as Christmas eve continues at The Boot. Can Christmas ever be happy for you if you're homeless? At The Boot they do their best to bring a little bit of joy to their guests. If you want to join in then read on and join the party.

When Andy entered The Boot he was greeted by a hive of activity, the supermarket had delivered the results of the trolley, everything was being wrapped by volunteers who couldn't be there Christmas Day, except for the women's sanitary products, they would be handed out separately and discreetly. More volunteers were preparing vegetables for tomorrow's dinner and preparing a buffet for guests to eat later that night. The decorations and Christmas tree had been up for a couple of weeks and gave The Boot a festive atmosphere. The wrapped gifts were being stacked according to type, later they would have names added to them.

Jenny saw Andy as he came in and waved him over. “Hi Andy how's your day been?”

“Apart from a nap this afternoon it's been busy, what do you think of the haul from the dash?”

“It's great, I've never seen so much and a good variety of stuff too. My guess is there will be enough for everyone to have more than one gift for a change and I love the idea of wrapping the gifts although it is taking up a lot of our time, but we've been coping.” Jenny glanced around, “It looks like it will be the best Christmas we've ever had, it's a shame its going to be our last.”

“Yeah it is. But let's remember that hopefully next year we will be helping them to celebrate in their own homes, well some of them anyway.” Andy was trying to pull Jenny out of her melancholy mood.

“Anyway as you know I've got to get off early I'm due at my mother-in-laws later and my hubby is waiting. Will you be okay till the others arrive?”

“No problem, you get going. You're covering New Year aren't you?”

“For my sins yes, see you soon.” Jenny got her bag and coat then left wishing everyone a happy Christmas.

In Didsbury Liam was humming his favourite songs as he helped Kate pack the sausage rolls, cheese and onion rolls and mince pies that she had baked for the evening buffet.

Steve had taken Danny and JJ with him to collect costumes from the fancy dress shop. It had been JJ's idea and he convinced everyone to go along with it.

A few streets away from The Barton household Max and Stacy were loading up the car with Stacy's working wardrobe, as one of the leading drag artists in the North West he was always in demand and tonight was no exception. Tonight he/she 'Miss Daisy Chain' was the compere and had a few short spots in the show. They just hoped that the van with the lighting and equipment wasn't late.

******

Later that evening Miss Daisy Chain was applying another coat of make up when there was a knock on the dressing room door. Max entered and placed his hands on Stacy's shoulders, feeling the tension he gently started the usual knead and massage routine that was so familiar.

“How are you feeling?” Max, as always, was calm.

“How do you think, I'm nervous as bloody hell. But don't stop, that feels so good.” Stacy could feel the calm transferring to him.

Then there was another knock on the door and a voice called out, “Your on in five minutes.”

“I just hope everyone else is ready for this and doesn't miss their cue.” Stacy pulled on a bright yellow glittery wig and the transformation was complete. Miss Daisy Chain dressed in stiletto's and a bright green, yellow and white flowery dress rose and left the dressing room.

******

Jeff and Steve, accompanied by Danny and JJ, arrived at The Boot in time to help the volunteers arrange the seating in the lounge the same as they had in previous years, the seats were arranged theatre style, in rows facing a curtain. The Christmas film show was popular and had included, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, It's A Wonderful Life and Home Alone. Unsurprisingly most preferred Christmas comedy like Home Alone to the sentimental films. Christian was taking a detour to pick up Beccy, Jim and the twins and would be dropping them back home later.

When the guests started drifting in the main topic of conversation was what the films would be this year, there was always a sentimental film followed by a comedy. There were those that got sentimental knowing that this was the last Christmas there, some were hopeful that they would qualify for housing in the new project. Ian, Kevin and The Major served them to a choice of home made soup, pea and ham or tomato and basil, and a bread roll. After they ate and warmed up they went to the lounge picking their seats ready for the evenings entertainment.

When Jeff stood in front of the curtain everything went quiet, nobody had noticed the microphone in his hand. “Happy Christmas everyone and welcome to The Boot at Christmas.” Jeff paused as they got a bit noisy, when he raised a hand everyone went quiet again.

Before Jeff could continue there was a latecomer who came in crying. Joe was a big burley man who used to be a bricklayer until drink got a hold of him, because of his alcoholism he lost his job and his family. With the help and support of The Boot in the last six months he had cleaned himself up and been alcohol free, he was now a recovering alcoholic.

Jeff approached him not knowing what had caused the man to be so upset, “Joe what's wrong can I help you in anyway?”

“I don't know if anyone can help, I had such hopes, but today I saw something that crushed me. Since I saw it I've been struggling to stay away from the booze, but I've been good, god knows I've been good, but I don't know if I can resist it much longer.” The big man cried on Jeff's shoulder. “Th... th... the building that you was going to buy, a sold sign has been put on it and they've put up security fencing round it.”

“Hush Joe, come with me to the front I was about to make a very important announcement, now I want you with me when I make it.” Jeff led Joe to the front as the whispers and murmurs got louder.

Jeff held up his hand hoping to quiet everyone but it had no effect, remembering the microphone he switched it on and spoke, “Ladies and gentlemen, friends, can I have your attention please.” He paused as quiet descended. “Thank you, I know that what you have just heard is distressing for many of you but I have an announcement to make which I believe will restore your hopes. What Joe has said is true the building has been bought and surrounded by security fencing.” The whispering started again. “Please hear me out. By securing funds from The Church and a grant from the local council's homeless fund, two anonymous benefactors and Christian the building has been purchased and donated to The Boot. The funds that we have raised and continue to raise separately will be used to fund the work that needs to be completed. Ian, Kevin and their business partner and others will be continuing to add to those funds. The only thing we need to do now is be patient and give a name to the new project.”

For a split second there was absolute silence as the news sank in. Then the deafening noise of clapping, whistling and cheering was heard through out the building. Joe was hugging Jeff crying again, this time with tears of happiness. When the noise died down Joe took a seat with his friends.

“I do have another announcement, one of good news and not so good news. First the not so good news, unfortunately this year we don't have any films to show you.” There were groans and a few went to get up. “Please, remain in your seats. We don't have any films but we do have alternative entertainment for you.” That got everyones attention and all bums were on seats. “I now hand you over to our host for the evening.”

Jeff took a seat as the curtains opened revealing the host. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen and those who are not so sure, well if your anything like me you're a cock in frock.” A beam lit up a stained glass window of Jesus looking down. The host turned to look. “I'm sorry JC but I have to say it as I see it and I am a cock in a frock, what else do you call a Drag Queen.” The host turned back to the audience head down, crossing himself whispering in to the mic. “Follicles, testicles, wallet and watch.” With head raised. “Good evening I am Miss Daisy Chain.” For the second time that night there was a split second of silence, then there was a roar of laughter with clapping, whistling and cheering.

Miss Daisy Chain treated them to five minutes of stand-up comedy that had everyone laughing, then. “Now ladies and gentlemen please welcome on stage the first act of the night, The Choirboys.”

The lights went down, Liam held a candle in his hands, JJ had a candle in his right hand and Liam's wheelchair in the other, Danny had a candle in his left hand, pushing Liam with his right hand. They took centre stage under a spot light, wearing full choirboy outfits and sang, “Oh little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie...” The only sound that could heard was three angelic voices singing. They followed it with a beautiful rendition of Oh Come All Ye Faithful, they followed that with The Holly and The Ivy and brought the house down when after the first two lines Danny and JJ ripped off their costumes followed by Liam's costume revealing sequinned outfits as they hyped it up and performed their own 'dance version' of the song, occasionally spinning Liam in his wheelchair.

Miss Daisy rushed on stage declaring them 'stars in the making', planting a kiss on their cheeks leaving big red lip marks.

And so the evening continued Miss Daisy Chain supplied the comedy and introduced 'The Acts'. Half way through the evening there was an intermission for everyone to help themselves to the buffet.

All of the staff performed for the guests enjoyment. Songs included some of the oldies like Little Drummer Boy, performed by The Major backed by 'The Choirboys' and Christmas pop songs like I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and Merry Christmas Everybody performed by Andy and Christian. The highlight for everyone came near the end when all of performers came on stage singing White Christmas, everyone was called on by name to collect a small sack of gifts from Max dressed as Father Christmas that all had their names written on them.

The last performance was watched in silence through tears, Father Christmas and 'The Choirboys' sang Silent Night acapela as the lights faded.

That was the start of the last, but best, Christmas at The Boot.

This is one chapter that I had a lot of fun writing, so much so that I wish it was real. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

There is more to come but we are so close to the end of the story that unfortunately the next chapter will be the last for The Boot Three Years On and The Boot.

I am struggling with one thing and that the name of the new project, have you got any ideas?

I appreciate all reactions left and welcome comments from readers, as always I promise to read and acknowledge all comments left.

Copyright © 2019 Mancunian; All Rights Reserved.
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Thank you @Freddie1 for your thoughts, who knows what will happen in the future? There are many possibilities for The Boot, its staff and volunteers, not to mention the guests. decisions are yet to be made.

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4 hours ago, Mancunian said:

Thank you @Freddie1 for your thoughts, who knows what will happen in the future? There are many possibilities for The Boot, its staff and volunteers, not to mention the guests. decisions are yet to be made.

The old shoe factory also has a nice ring to it. Great story. 

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Thank you @Freddie1 for the encouraging comments. I am not sure if there will be any further follow-ups or spin offs from The Boot, but I have intentionally given myself a lot of options should I decide to write any further after this story comes to it's end. If I do decide to add to the series/world I will let everyone know either in a status update or make an announcement via one or more of my existing stories.

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