Following two successive years of major earthquakes on December 26th, world leaders at the G8 summit have agreed that Boxing Day is to be cancelled for at least the next two years.
Apparently a hitherto unknown religeous sect in Ohio who call themselves the Normens has found absolute proof amongst their sacred relics and hitherto-undisclosed parchments and stone tablets that the Bham (2003) and Sumatran (2004) earthquakes are the manifestations of the first two horsemen of the Apocalypse.
By cancelling December 26th it is hoped to avoid the next two, and thereby delay the end of the world.
[Spoof readers unfamilar with this biblical prophecy are referred to the book of Revelation of St John the Divine, the final book of the Bible].
Whilst many Catholic and Protestant figureheads are sceptical of these rather tenuous acclamations, they dare not dissent. "If the Church of England were to insist on having December 26th in 2005 and there was another horrendous loss of life in, perhaps, Yellowstone or the Canary Islands, the Anglian Church would have to carry the guilt for the world," sobbed the arch-person of Canterbury. Likewise the head of the Catholic movement, His Holy Fatherness of somewhere in Italy, agreed: "Good Lord" he said in a feeble voice translated here from the Polish Latin, "we dare not take the risk - otherwise if Java were to blow up this coming Christmas the wrath of the world's moslems would descend on Christians everywhere".
The president elect of the G8 wealthy nations, Mr Tony Blair - also president of the UK - was adamant: "Look, we must do everything in our power. And it is in our power to cancel Boxing Day, and that is what I have done." Calendar makers and diary publishers take note!
Accordingly, the calendar will roll from December 25th to the 27th at midnight on Christmas day. To compensate, December is to be lengthened to include December 32nd for the years 2005 and 2006 until the crisis passes.
So for the time being, the Christmas carol goes:
"Good King Wenceslas looked out,
On what would have been the feast of Stephen".
This clearly does not scan very well and will give carol singers and organists alike a headache in the run up to next Christmas.
Neither the Normens nor the World Churches, nor for that matter Mr Blair, would comment on the other portents in Revelation such as the Seven Angels pouring out their bowls and the sea turning red. "I've just returned from the Red Sea" said Mr Blair, "and it wasn't red at all. I took my family all that way to see it. And it was blue!"