The Wind of Change

A New Year’s Eve Tale

by Kate

‘Ooh I’ll be glad to see the back of this year,’ said Auntie Brenda as she tossed the remains of the turkey carcass across the room and into the bin. It’s been a right stinker it has, a proper bloody stinker, same as the bloody one before they’re all the bloody same, bloody stinkers the lot of them.’

Neil, sitting hunched up in the corner by the fire, looked up from his book about trains and nodded. His aunt wasn’t wrong. It really had been a stinker. Literally.

Auntie Brenda kicked the dog away from the bin with a fluffy slippered foot and sighed. ‘Well I can’t see this new one being any different, what with all the bother.’

‘Mmm,’ said Neil, absorbed in a passage about Stephenson’s Rocket.

‘All the bother,’ repeated Auntie Brenda, eyeing Neil pointedly.

Neil, sensing defeat, put down his book. ‘Where IS grandad anyway?’

‘Still out back fixing that drain.’

‘He’s been a while hasn’t he?’

Auntie Brenda scratched her chin. ‘Well now you come to mention it, he has. Aye.’

‘How long has he been out there? If anything that drain smells even worse.’

‘Ooh now.’ Auntie Brenda rummaged in her apron pocket and produced a pair of spectacles. Let’s have a look at the calendar.’

‘I chucked it,’ said Neil. Sorry. I put the new one up ready for tomorrow.’

‘Right,’ said Auntie Brenda. Well. The king was getting… kinged, or something. We were planning some sandwiches, a picnic in the cabbage patch but... Yes, yes. That was it. Grandad went out to fix the drains because they stank, what with all the bother.’

‘But Auntie, the king got kinged months ago. That was back in June! You mean grandad’s been out unblocking the drains for… what now, nearly 7 months?’

‘Well it must be a big job,’ Auntie Brenda replied, taking off her glasses and popping them back in her pocket.’

‘I’m not sure I like the sound of th…’ began Neil, but before he could finish his sentence there was a loud banging on the door.

‘Who’s that?’ said Auntie Brenda. You’re not expecting anyone are you?’

‘No,’ said Neil. The two of them stood staring in the direction of the front door. Who could it be?’

The banging noise came again. Auntie Brenda picked a rolling pin up off the dresser and brandished it nervously. ‘Well answer it then,’ she said. It might be someone important.’

Neil approached the door, with Auntie Brenda behind him clutching the rolling pin. The banging came again, this time with a voice. ‘Hello? Hello is anyone in there? I need help. Can I use your phone?’

‘Who is it?’ shouted Auntie Brenda. What do you want here?’

‘My name’s Marjorie,’ replied the voice. I’ve broken down just up the road. Can I use your phone?’

Auntie Brenda looked at Neil, who looked back at Auntie Brenda.

‘What do you think?’ asked Auntie Brenda.

Neil shrugged and looked at the floor. ‘Well, I suppose we could ask her in, I don’t see what the harm would be. Sounds like she’s just broken down. We could let her use the phone.’

‘Do we even have a phone?’ asked auntie Brenda.

‘Well,’ said Neil. We must have. It’s nearly 2024, surely everybody’s got a phone now?’

Neil opened the door. ‘Hello Marjorie,’ he said. Won’t you come in?’

A strange wind blew through the house. ‘Marjorie?’ said Neil, sticking his head out of the door. There’s nobody there Auntie Brenda.’

‘Nobody there?’


‘Well shut the door then, there’s a proper chill coming in and those drains are definitely getting worse.’

Auntie Brenda and Neil went back to the kitchen. The sound of wind whistled loudly and inexplicably all around them. As Auntie Brenda started buttoning up her cardigan, the fire suddenly blew out. Neil’s book about trains flew up in the air and then landed with a thump on the hearth. Slowly, the sound of the wind changed from a billowing whistle to a breezy whisper. And then, to a voice.

‘It’s been a stinker of year,’ said the voice.

‘We were just saying that!’ said Auntie Brenda. Weren’t we, Neil?’

‘Aye,’ said Neil.

‘Well anyway, I am Marjorie, the wind of change,’ said the voice. I am here to grant you one wish. You may change one thing about 2023. Just one thing. Perhaps you wish you’d given more to the poor, or that you hadn’t stolen that sheep from up the hill.’

‘How… how does it know about that?’ whimpered Neil, cowering in the corner.

‘I know all!’ bellowed the voice. Now, what will it be?’

‘From 2023?’ said Auntie Brenda. Well I don’t know. It really has been a stinker. All of it really. I don’t know where I’d even start.’

The wind whipped up a frenzy and blew the bin across the room, sending it hurtling into the wall. ‘Hurry, Auntie Brenda’ said Neil. Think of something. Quick!’

The bin fell on its side, spilling its contents all over the floor. The dog picked up the turkey carcass and began to chew on it. The smell of rotting turkey flesh filled the room.

‘Well I…’ began Auntie Brenda.

‘Yes?’ said the wind, sending ornaments and plates smashing to the ground.

‘There is one thing…’


‘Could you bring back Len Goodman?’

Suddenly the wind stopped and the room fell silent.

‘Len Goodman, Auntie? That dancer? The fella who was a judge on Strictly Come Dancing? Why do you want to bring him back?’ asked Neil, scratching his head.

The door opened and closed with a slam as Marjorie the mysterious wind departed.

‘I… I just couldn’t think of anything else,’ said Auntie Brenda, sitting down at the table, her hair curlers blown into disarray.

Just then, from outside in the back yard, a Viennese waltz began to play. Neil and Auntie Brenda ran to the window and looked outside. There, dancing among the cabbages, was Len Goodman himself, looking as healthy as the day before he wasn’t dead.

‘Well I never,’ muttered Neil.

After a few moments, Len stopped dancing and stood still, wrinkled his nose and waved at the pair. ‘I say!’ he shouted. What is that appalling smell?’

Neil unbolted the back door and invited Len to join them in the kitchen. He did a little skipping dance in the middle of the floor as he surveyed the carnage. ‘Have you been burglarised?’ He asked.

‘No!’ said Auntie Brenda. It was just wind.’

‘Wind?’ asked Len Goodman. Well! There was me blaming the drains. Few too many festive sprouts I’ll wager!’

Auntie Brenda and Neil exchanged looks that said, ‘Oh, if only he knew.’

Auntie Brenda started sweeping away the remnants of plates and ornaments while Len joined Neil by the fire, which was blazing again like nothing had happened. ‘What’s that you’re reading?’ he asked, gesturing to the book about trains.

‘It’s a book about trains, Len,’ said Neil.

‘I like trains,’ said Len.

‘Len,’ said Neil. I don’t think grandad is coming back. Do you want to stay? You can have his room.’

‘Go on then,’ said Len.

Suddenly the clock in the hall started chiming. One… two… three… all the way up to twelve.

‘It’s midnight!’ said Auntie Brenda.

‘I forgot about that,’ said Neil. Happy New Year, Auntie Brenda! Happy New Year, Len Goodman!’

‘Happy New Year!’ said Len Goodman. Now what’s for tea?’

All was quiet for a moment as the three of them silently welcomed in 2024.

‘Dog,’ said Auntie Brenda.

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