TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
John Julius Norwich
My dearest darling,
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What an
enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you and thank
Your deeply loving Emily.
Mr dearest darling Edward,
The two turtle doves arrived this morning and are cooing
away in the pear tree as I write. I'm so touched and grateful.
With undying love, as always, Emily.
My darling Edward,
You do thinks of the most original presents: whoever thought
of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come
all the way from France? It's a pity that we have no chicken
coops, but I expect we'll find some. Thank you, anyway,
Your loving Emily.
What a surprise - four calling birds arrived this morning.
They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly
- they make telephoning impossible. But I expect they'll
calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway,
I'm very grateful - of course I am.
Love from Emily.
The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold
rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly. A
really lovely present - lovelier in a way than birds, which
do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived
yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I'm afraid
none of use got much sleep last night. Mummy says she wants
us to use the rings to 'wring' their necks - she's only
joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love
the rings. Bless you.
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door
this morning, it certainly wasn't six socking great geese
laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I rather hoped
you had stopped sending me birds - we have no room for them
and they have already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you
meant well, but - let's call a halt, shall we?
I thought I said no more birds; but this morning I woke
up to find no less than seven swans all trying to get into
our tiny goldfish pond. I'd rather not thinks what happened
to the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds
- to say nothing of what they leave behind them. Please,
Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with
eight milkmaids - AND their cows? Is this some kind of a
joke? If so, I'm afraid I don't find it very amusing.
Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you're
sending me nine ladies dancing; all I can say is that judging
from the way they dance, they're certainly not ladies. The
village just isn't accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless
hussies with nothing on but their lipstick cavorting round
the green - and it's Mummy and I who get blamed. If you
value our friendship - which I do less and less - kindly
stop this ridiculous behaviour at once.
As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing
abour all over what used to be the garden - before the geese
and the swans and the cows got at it; and several of them,
I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids.
Meanwhile the neighbours are trying to have us evicted.
I shall never speak to you again.
This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The
place has now become something between a menagerie and a
madhouse and a man from the Council has just declared it
unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this
last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in
an ambulance. I hope you're satisfied.
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform
you that with the arrival on her premises a half-past seven
this morning of the entire percussion section of the Liverpool
Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends she
has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction
to prevent your importuning her further. I am making arrangements
for the return of much assorted livestock.
I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,