And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Gordianus that all the world should be taxed, but especially Britannia.  For as Gordianus said unto the Senate:

"Things are going really well.  We have doubled the number of slaves in the Imperial Household, and for the first time since 345 BC it is easier for a rich man to enter the House of Lords than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.  I need funds to pay for the legions which Antoninus hath sent to do battle in Babylonia – but more importantly I need xxx pieces of silver to give to the Vulcan Institute, who are the only people prepared to employ Sphericus, my useless centurion."

But while Joseph thought on these things, behold Gabriel the Accountant appeared unto him saying "Joseph, I have good news, bad news and very bad news."  And Joseph replied "Tell me even these things."  And Gabriel saith "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for around the end of December she will become eligible for Working Family Tax Credit by the operation of the Holy Spirit.  But unfortunately, you shall have to go to register into Judaea, unto the City of David which is called Bethlehem; because the schools in Nazareth are all in special measures."  And Joseph asked what the very bad news was, and thereto Gabriel presented his bill for calculating the annual tax return of Joseph.  And Joseph called on the name of JESUS.

So it came to pass that Joseph and Mary went unto Bethlehem for the child to be born.  And they travelled on a donkey, because, what with all the green taxes and everything they could in no wise afford any other form of transport.  And Mary brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, for with the council taxes they could not afford anything better on the property ladder.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying:

"We seek asylum.  And we will present unto you gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  But first you must drop the police investigation of Britannicus Aerospace.” 

Then Herod, when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the People’s Party together, said that it was really nothing to do with him at all, it being in the independent arm’s length hands of Caiaphas the Attorney-General.  And Caiaphas said:

"No problem.  How high wouldst thou likest me to jump?"  And then Caiaphas added "By the way, Herod, Lord Hutton has just cleared you of any involvement in the massacre of the first born.  Apparently it was all the fault of the children."

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over what was left of their flock by night.  And, lo, the Rural Payments Angel came upon them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them "Fear not: for behold, I am from the Government and I am here to help you."  At which the shepherds said one to another "Let us make haste and go even now unto Bethlehem and maybe this time we can save some of our flock from utter obliteration at the hands of this idiot."  And they did even that, fleeing for their very lives, and that of their flock also, and the Angel did follow them crying out "No, really, I bring you good tidings of great joy.  Press the red button now!"  And as the Angel followed them, lo, he was caught by a speed camera and fined xxix denarii.


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