The Christmas Experiment
Despite the local police's attempts to calm the situation, claiming that the disturbance was sparked by a local Sainsburys branch running out of egg nog, resulting in enraged shoppers turning over vehicles in the car park and setting them ablaze, rumours of a more sinister origin for the riot persist. "A bloke who works for the council told me that when they were excavating a hole to plant the municipal Christmas tree in, they uncovered a mysterious object," confides Hobwalt. "He reckoned it was some kind of ancient casket, possibly containing the remains of some Iron Age chief, or something. He thinks it could have set off some kind of pagan curse against the Christian hijacking of the mid-winter festival!" According to other reports, the object took the form of a giant Christmas present, wrapped in scarlet paper and tied up with gold ribbon. When opened, the Christmas paper-wrapped remains of several alien beings were discovered in the box. "The evolution of Christmas was clearly the result of alien intervention," opines Dan Friddles, a local window cleaner and president of the West Berkshire Flying Saucer Society. "When the box was opened, it triggered some kind of primal instinct in the true descendants of the aliens to purge society of all those not fully committed to the festival!" Others suspect that the riot was the result of an experiment by the retail industries to spark a consumer spending frenzy during the recession. "My mate who works for the water company says they put something in the local reservoir to create a shopping frenzy," says refuse collector John Spreckfold. "But the experimental drug they used was too powerful, and turned half the population into Christmas-obsessed homicidal maniacs!" The police continue to deny all such explanations for the riot, maintaining that it was fuelled by alcohol and seasonal stress, and insisting that the mysterious object discovered during the planting of the tree was merely an old sofa, whilst the giant Santa Hobwalt claimed to have seen was simply an inflatable Christmas decoration which had broken free and had floated over the town centre.