A Christmas Carol - or A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, to give it its full title - was published by Charles Dickens in 1843 and was an instant hit. In each of the following four years Dickens tried to repeat its success by publishing a Christmas novella, culminating with The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain in 1848 ... The year 1848 also saw Joseph Jenkins Roberts become the first president of Liberia, a colony-turned-nation in West Africa established for freed American slaves. The country had come into being the year before, creating a new ethnic group: Americo-Liberians ... One hundred years later came the birth of the most infamous Americo-Liberian of recent times. He is currently in detention in the Hague, the Netherlands, and being tried for crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He was Liberia's president between 1997 and 2003 and his name is Charles Taylor ... It has been alleged that Taylor had extensive business dealings with American televangelist Pat Robertson. In 1999, Robertson's Freedom Gold began looking for the precious metal in the Liberian countryside. The Southern Baptist was heavily criticised for working with such an unsavoury character. He was helping Liberians get a better life, countered Robertson ... Also in 1999, Robertson entered into a joint venture with the Bank of Scotland to provide financial services in the United States. However, the move was met with criticism in Britain due to Robertson's views on homosexuality and the bank cancelled the venture after Robertson commented, 'In Scotland, you can't believe how strong the homosexuals are ... [Scotland] could go right back to the darkness very easily' ... One of those 'strong homosexuals' lives on the Orkney island of Sanday. Manchester-born composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is Master of the Queen's Music and, as such, has a specific task each year: to write for the British royal family a Christmas carol.