Perhaps you know that Colin the Carp is an extremely grumpy fish. He is so grumpy that he doesn't even like Christmas. In fact, he says it's a total misery.
And so when Tim the Tadpole asked Colin what he would like for Christmas he said, "I want to be alone." It just so happened that the Christmas fairy overheard Colin make his wish, and when Santa came down to the pond, he scooped up Colin and took him over to another pond where he could be all alone.
At first Colin is happy with his present, but then he starts to have second thoughts...
Read by Natasha. Proofread by Claire Deakin. Story by Bertie.
It was getting around to that time of year, and all the little tadpoles who live in the pond were very, very, very excited. “Yippeee!" They were saying. “We’re going to have lots and lots and lots of green slime for lunch; and presents, and games, and wrapping paper.”
“Oh hark the little tadpoles," said Colin, from beneath a stone. “No, they’re going to have wrapping paper in a pond! That’s really intelligent. It’s not as if paper is going to get at all soggy in the water.”
Prince Bertie the Frog was sitting on a stone watching all the tadpoles swimming in somersaults and circles, and he was starting to feel quite Christmassy. At this time of year, he always remembers the lovely princess Beatrice; how, when he was still a prince, they used to walk hand in hand over the frosty lawns and around the palace ponds, and she would ask him,
“Bertie darling, dearest, do you think that fish get cold in winter? I'm quite sure that I saw that big ugly carp shiver. Poor thing. No wonder his face looks so grumpy. Can’t we get the water heated for the pondlife?”
And Bertie would say, “My precious petal. You are truly the sweetest princess in the whole wide world. But don’t worry yourself on account of the frogs and fishes. They aren’t like humans. They don’t mind the cold at all.”
But now that poor Prince Bertie has been turned into a frog, he knows differently. “Brrr,” he said. “If only I could have a nice hot bath."
Colin overheard Bertie saying this and said, “Ah! At long last, a voice of reason! Bertie, you and I are the only sensible creatures in this pond. Doesn’t all this merry Christmas stuff drive you crazy? It’s the coldest, darkest, most boring time of the year, and everyone keeps telling you to be happy! UUUUGH!"
“Well actually, I’m afraid I can’t agree with you there,” said Bertie. “Christmas is cold in this part of the world, but it is merry!"
“No it’s not," said Colin. “It’s a pain."
“Yes it is merry,” said Bertie. “It’s a time of a goodwill to all creatures on earth.”
“Rubbish!" Said Colin.
Just then, Tim, who is a tiny tadpole, swam up to Colin’s left nostril and said, “Oh Mr. Carp. What do you want for Christmas?”
“That’s easy,” said Colin glumly. “I want to be alone.”
Now, as Bertie always says, you should never wish for something unless you truly want it in your heart – for you never know, your wish might come true, and then you will be sorry. It just so happened that the Christmas Fairy was swimming past when Colin asked to be alone, and she heard this wish, and reported it back to Santa.
On Christmas night, when santa came down to the pond with a sackfull of fresh green slime for all the pondlife, he scooped up the sleeping Colin into a bucket of water, and took him over to another pond at the other end of the garden. A pond where nobody lived, except a gold statue of a cherub, and the cherub didn’t really live at all - he just spouted water out of his mouth.
“Ho Ho Ho,” said Santa. “There you are, carp. Santa always delivers. This Christmas you shall be all alone!”
In the morning, Colin opened his sleepy eyes and said to himself, “Oh no. It’s the worst day of the year. Those tadpoles will soon be singing christmas carols. I think I’ll just hide under a stone until it’s all over.”
But after a while, he couldn’t help noticing that the pond was strangely quiet. He swam around a bit, and found that it was wonderfully free of stilly tadpoles, quacking ducks, stuck up swans, and deluded frogs who think that they are princes.
“This is fabulous!" Said Colin. “Just listen to that peace and quiet. Santa must have heard my wish and given me my own pond for christmas! That’s because I’ve been such a good carp all year round. Thank you Santa! I’m truly grateful. The only problem is… it’s just perfect! What am going to grump about? Oh never mind that. I’m…. I’m…. I’m happy!”
He even did a little dance in the water, because nobody was looking, and he really was happy to be alone for once.
In the royal palace, all the children who live there were very excited about all the presents waiting to be opened under the Christmas tree. But the wicked queen was in a furious mood, because she simply hates Christmas, even more than Colin does.
She went into the kitchen where the cook and her helpers were all working hard making lunch. The queen screeched, “Not turkey! I hate turkey! It’s the stupidest bird that was ever eaten!”
“Oh madam," said the cook. “I ordered the turkey weeks ago. There’s nothing else for lunch.”
“Well let everyone else stuff themselves silly with turkey and roast potatoes. A queen has to mind her figure. I want something healthy. I want, I want… er fish! In fact, I want poached carp with a little sprig of parsley.”
And with those words, the wicked queen sweeped out of the kitchen and went up stairs to shout at the children.
Princess Beatrice loved Christmas day more than any other day in the whole year. She was just coming back from church when she decided to take a little walk around the ponds and remember her long lost Prince Bertie. Her happiness was tinged with a sadness as she thought about her handsome prince, whom she hadn’t seen for quite a while, but she was sure that he would return one day from a brave quest and they would be married and live happily ever after.
At the edge of the garden, she stopped at the pond where Colin was enjoying his solitude. Even though he was happy, his face still looked grumpy; It was just made that way.
“Poor fish,” said Beatrice. “He’s all on his own on Christmas Day. I'm sure he’s the same one I’ve seen many times before on the other side of the garden, in that slimy pond where they funny looking frog lives. I know, I’ll go and get a net and a bucket, and I’ll take him back to the other pond so he can have some company. That will be a lovely Christmas present for him.”
Colin heard this and he said, “Oh no, Your Royal Highness. That’s not what I want at all.” But Beatrice couldn’t understand what Colin was saying, because he’s just a fish, and besides, he was speaking under water.
Instead, she turned around and hurried back to the palace to look for a bucket and a net.
At the same time, the cook was wondering where she was going to find a carp to poach for the wicked queen’s lunch. As it was Christmas day, all the shops were shut – even the special shops that work by royal appointment. Then she remembered that she had seen a fat carp swimming around one of the ponds in the garden, and she went out to look for him.
In his pond, Colin was feeling his usual grumpy self again. “Oh well,” he said to himself. “Soon that air-headed princess will be fishing me out of here and taking me back to Bertie’s pond. That’s what I hate about Christmas. If people laid off doing good deeds and minded their own business, we would all be a lot happier.”
Then he heard a voice, but it wasn’t princess Beatrice’s. It was the cook, and she was saying, “There he is. He’s an ugly brute, but he’ll look a lot better when he’s on a plate with a spring of parsley in his mouth. I’ll tell the kitchen boy to come down here with a net and fish him out.”
“What’s this?" Said Colin. “On a plate with a spring of parsley in my mouth? Oh no! Christmas truly is the worst day of the year – and it looks like it’s going to be my last day ever!"
He started to swim around in a panic, looking for somewhere to hide, but the pond was not like the one where Bertie lived. There was no slime, no muddy bottom, no big rocks. It was just full of pure, clean water. In fact, it was the worst place in the entire world for a fish to hide in.
Soon Colin felt himself being lifted up through the air. He was wriggling and fighting and gasping for breath, but he just got his fins tangled in the net. Then plop! He was dropped, not even into a bucket, but a plastic shopping bag full of water.
“The indignity of it,” said Colin. “Carried to my own funeral in a shopping bag. Merry Christmas!”
It was very dark inside the bag, and he couldn’t see where he was going. Then the motion stopped. They had arrived. He got ready to whack the cook around the face with his tail.
“At least they will say that Colin the Carp went down fighting,” he said himself.
The bag turned upside down, and all the water and Colin with it went slopping out
“That’s it!” Thought Colin. “Straight into the cooking pot!”
All his scales tingled with lovely cold water.
“Oh look,” said a squeaky little voice. “There’s Colin. He’s come out of hiding.”
All the little tadpoles were swimming around him singing, “We wish you a merry Christmas, We wish you a merry Christmas."
And Princess Beatrice said, “Merry Christmas pondlife!”
The cook didn’t make poached carp for the wicked queen’s lunch, because when she went back to the pond, Colin had mysteriously disappeared. But it didn’t matter, because the queen decided to skip Christmas altogether, and she went up to her room to read up on wicked spells.
As for Colin, for the first time in his long, grumpy life, he has a very, very, very, merry Christmas because he was so glad to be alive and with his friends.