Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The artist:
Unknown, although said to be French in origin. For the purposes of this blog, we will be listening to this novelty mash-up a cappella version from Indiana University’s Straight No Chaser, recorded in 1998. 



Mainly because it invokes Toto’s Africa in such a way that gives Geldof a pretty comprehensive slap down, their recollection of having “Christmas down in Africa” putting the mockers on the myth that the continent isn’t even aware of the festive period. You’d bloody remember it if these jokers racked up in town. 

The vibe:
That loving combination of repetitive and festive: Repeti-festive. See also: Feliz Navidad 

Lyrics & annotation:
Today I will be analysing lyrics in diary form, starting on the day before it all kicks off.

[24 December]
Dear Diary

One sleep to go til Christmas. Gonna be a quiet one this year with just the kids, what with my one true love, Margaret, working in Dubai or something. I hope she sends me something good this year – last year’s shaving kit was a bit of a disappointment and I told her as such in our latest Skype chat. I’ve sent her some shampoo and a new potato peeling set (2 x potato peelers, 1 x bag of potatoes), I’ll be a little embarrassed if she upstages me in some way. 

[25 December]
On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me
A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Well she’s certainly blown the shaving kit out the water, although I’d call it a score draw with the potato peeling set. At around 9am I opened the door to the surprising sight of a Yodel delivery man unstrapping a tree from the roof of his van. We had a bit of banter about the impractical nature of Marge’s gift, and I helped him carry it to the back garden where I’ve just rested it on the ground for now, I wouldn’t know how to replant a tree anyway. I noticed there was this colourful bird among the branches, I think a pheasant or something. Anyway it’s probably not a bad call as the garden definitely needed livening up, but I can’t help but think it would have been more satisfying to be given the seeds so I could plant the tree myself – I don’t mind waiting a little longer for it to grow, particularly as I don’t really like pears anyway.

The delivery man, Carl, stayed for Christmas lunch, turns out we were his only job for the day. We joked about eating the pheasant but in the end just got stuck into the turkey I got from Lidl. Was tempted to use the pears from the tree in a crumble but I don’t know how to bake, and neither does Carl.   

[26 December]
On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Bloody love Boxing Day. Footy on the box, Lidl turkey sandwiches, kids are amusing themselves or whatever. Carl stayed the night in the end, I think he’s a bit lonely. He’s a nice guy but says some right odd things at times. 

Anyway strangely there was a second part of Margaret’s present which apparently didn’t make it yesterday, and even more strangely it’s another bloody pheasant & pear tree combo. There must have been an offer on I guess. This time however, the delivery man – who Carl definitely recognised but avoided speaking to – also brought out a coop with two doves in it. They don’t look as meaty as the pheasant, and I don’t know if you can eat dove, but I can’t see why Marge would send them to us if I wasn’t supposed to eat them? I don’t really like birds either. 

[27 December]
On the Third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Diary, this is getting ridiculous. I sent Carl out to get beers as we’re running low, and by the time he’d returned we’d acquired a third tree and six more wild bloody birds. It’s bad enough having a lonely delivery driver with bad breath and questionable views on the Asians, but now we’ve got three hens, four doves and three pheasants knocking about… I’m definitely going to eat some of them, but I’m a bit queasy about cutting them up and stuff so I think I’m going to tell Carl that if he wants to stay any longer, he has to kill and cook at least one of the birds roaming about in our garden. 

I would ask the kids but they’re only 4 and 2 years old, so I instead I sent them out to gather pears. We must be able to make a soup or a curry or an omelette or something with them? 

[28 December]
On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Neighbour knocked on the door today. “Your doves are eating the seeds we’ve been planting in our garden mate,” he said. “And the branches of that second pear tree are clearly encroaching over our fence. Mind keeping handle on your back yard please boss?” 

Yeah well it’s going to get worse, pal, because that dozy wife of mine has sent four really noisy twats this time, on top of a repeat of yesterday’s six birds + pear tree. Three weeks ago she flies to Dubai, and in the time since she’s apparently a) gone mental and b) forgotten the size of our garden. Carl spent a bit of time chasing one of the French hens but he couldn’t catch it for shit, kept tripping over the Christmas decorations.   

[29 December]
On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Dear Diary, good news today! I’m no mug, I can detect the mathematical pattern that’s going on with Margaret’s ‘presents’, and so when I woke up I was quietly hoping that it was all over and that she’d stopped the game on number 4. So I was naturally disappointed to hear the familiar murmur of the Yodel van, peeling back the curtains to take in the equally familiar sight of a pear tree strapped to its fucking roof. 

This time, however, get in! There wasn’t five of any kind of bird to go with the 10 other bastards in the van – no ducks, no ostrich, no pelican orgy for me today. Instead the driver handed me a small jewellery box, which contained inside five rings of real gold. Suddenly everything began to click – it’s a little joke of hers whereby she sends me loads of impractical things I don’t really like (pears, birds), and then follows it up with a whole host of shit that I can fit in a drawer and sell for cash. “Can I have one?” asks Carl, invading my personal space as he leans over my shoulder to check out the rings. I laughed and tried not to suppress my increasing contempt for this guy. “Make me French hen pie, then maybe we’ll talk,” I lied. 

Suddenly, I no longer dread the Yodel van. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?! Six Faberg√© eggs? Six iPads-a-charging? Six days in the Bahamas? 

[30 December]
On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Six Geese-a-Laying, 
Five Gold Rings, 
Four Calling Birds, 
Three French Hens, 
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Not fucking funny. 

[31 December]
On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Seven Swans-a-Swimming,
Six Geese-a-Laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

New Year’s Eve, 7pm, most of the world is already pissed and getting ready for cracking night out, and I’m digging the old paddling pool out the shed so these twatty swans can float around instead of breaking my arm or my neck or whatever it is they can break. And there’s massive fucking goose eggs and bird shit everywhere. I want to go out on the lash but I’ve got to look after the kids - I would get Carl to look after them, but I don’t think I can trust him not to steal the gold rings or get one of my kids eaten by a swan. So instead it’s the four of us having a night in with Jools Holland, plus the RSPB jamboree outside. To make matters worse, the neighbour’s having people round his. I reckon he would have invited us, but our relationship is a bit weird now, his cat tried to attack one of our calling birds but one of the swans came to his rescue and twisted the cat’s ankle. I tried trimming the branches off the pear trees but the pheasants started going mental and the branches just fell down into his garden anyway, which just pissed him off more. 

[1 January]
On the Eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eight Maids-a-Milking,
Seven Swans-a-Swimming,
Six Geese-a-Laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Last night was alright, all things considered. Kids popped off to bed early, although the older one threw a shit fit when she found 15 turtle doves in her room. Get used to it kid, I thought, we’ve nearly 100 birds in the house now and no doubt more on the way. Me and Carl got smashed on Lidl vodka and played FIFA, which is difficult when you’ve got all manner of wild birds pecking at your face and flying in front of the screen and what not.

Anyway today I was making a nice goose egg and bacon sarnie, to help with the hangover, when the bell goes. It’s later than the normal Yodel delivery, and up until then I thought I’d got away with it, with it being a bank holiday. Well, this one’s a little tough to explain. The van with the usual delivery was there, but alongside them was an unusual sight. Up until this point I don’t think  I’d ever seen an actual milk maid, I wasn’t really sure if they really existed, but here in front of me were eight of them, and more than that, all at work milking things – cows, goats, almost anything you can imagine a maid milking. 

Tried Skypeing the wife to find out wtf was going on but the screen had been pecked to the point of destruction.

[2 January]
On the Ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Nine Ladies Dancing,
Eight Maids-a-Milking,
Seven Swans-a-Swimming,
Six Geese-a-Laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Back at work today which would normally be shit but quite frankly it’s good to get out the house. All a bit mad here now, Carl’s trying to get one of the maids help him catch a goose for us to have for tea, but the dozy cow caught one and tried to milk it. Came home to what has to be classed as a result, certainly in relative terms. There were these nine girls all dancing with Carl around the Christmas tree in the lounge, one of them doing some nice samba stuff, another doing the robot, I think one of them was doing some solo line dancing. There was twerking, even a morris dancer, it was mad. Carl, who by now has been in my room and helped himself to a gold ring for each finger, was loving it. 

Been thinking of getting an extension to the house. The goose eggs have started hatching all over the shop, and I’m not really comfortable with Carl staying in my bed, even if we are also sharing with two ladies, five maids, one lost pheasant and six or seven turtle doves. 

[3 January]
On the Tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Ten Lords-a-Leaping,
Nine Ladies Dancing,
Eight Maids-a-Milking,
Seven Swans-a-Swimming,
Six Geese-a-Laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Well Carl did it. He caught a bird, wrung its neck and fixed us up a cracking roast with apple and sage stuffing, cider gravy and assortment of carrots, parsnip and roast tatties. It was genuinely delicious, even if we struggled to get some to everyone, what with there being 50 people in the gaff. But size of portions aside, the only real issue was that Carl had mistakenly cooked a swan, thinking it a goose, and had done all of this right in front of an apoplectic member of the aristocracy – he was hoppin’ mad, I tell you. Tell the truth, his nine mates were all a bit mental, jumping around all over the shop, exacerbating what was already a charged atmosphere. 




The Queen’s Guard came round and took Carl away for Crimes against Swans. I miss him, in a way. One of the Lords smashed a wine glass and a maid broke my Playstation.   

[4 January]
On the Eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eleven Pipers Piping,
Ten Lords-a-Leaping,
Nine Ladies Dancing,
Eight Maids-a-Milking,
Seven Swans-a-Swimming,
Six Geese-a-Laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Alright well Dave from nextdoor’s been round again, and to be fair to him I can hardly blame him. Not only are these Lords proper Bullingdon bellends, smashing up the gaff and throwing pears and goose eggs at his house while calling him an ‘oik’, I’ve just let in eleven even noisier bastards. In the end we had a bit of a row, shouted it out, calmed down a bit, and after some negotiation he’s agreed to take eight ladies and one piper to stay at his. 

[5 January]
On the Twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Twelve Drummers Drumming,
Eleven Pipers Piping, 
Ten Lords-a-Leaping,
Nine Ladies Dancing,
Eight Maids-a-Milking,
Seven Swans-a-Swimming,
Six Geese-a-Laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

So Margaret hasn’t been in touch for a few days, I can only conclude that she totally lost her shit while in Dubai and is curled up in a ball in an institute somewhere, naming species of bird. In any case, I tried to explain to the kids, but they don’t really know what’s going on at all anymore, what with all the noise and the mess and the squalor – and, today, the media coverage that’s cropped up since Lord Carrington of Buckingham put a call into Sky News and got them to come down and do a piece on poor people. “In this house live two children yet in the bathroom alone I counted 15 French hens and 27 swans,” the reporter shouts earnestly to camera over the sound of two heavy metal drummers engaged in a duel. “The garden is practically a forest of pear trees, one piper told me that he hasn’t eaten since he arrived yesterday, and the maids have milked every species in the house dry. And yet when I open this cupboard, here stored away, 30 gold rings, each and every one 24-carat gold.”


The authorities put the kids into social services for the next 12 days of Christmas, while I had to do a course on ethical cleanliness and general hygiene in the household. I received my BA (Hons) but it didn’t make up for the hate campaign the Daily Mail led against me for the next six months and Nigel Farage’s promise to deport me if he won. He didn’t win, but it’s still annoying. 

Conclusion:
Christmas gifts needn’t always be serious or mainstream. They can be light-hearted or amusing, left-field or alternative. But if you are thinking of playing a joke or doing something ‘random’ or ‘wacky’, then consider the consequences for the recipient of the gift. 

Even if we were to presume that the actual protagonist in this tale is a possessor of large plots of land, with ponds aplenty and plentiful living quarters, it remains impolite to burden upon someone such a large number of animal and human guests without prior warning. 

That is without even considering the implications from an animal welfare perspective. Keeping 224 wild birds in a domestic environment is nothing if not irresponsible, and probably illegal.

Overall one can presume that the 'one true love' in this instance meant well, but in the end has inadvertently caused stress and disorder for their other half at presumably considerable expense.



The Stats

12 x Partridges in a Pear Tree
22 x Turtle Doves
30 x French Hens
36 x Calling Birds
40 x Gold Rings 
42 x Geese-a-Laying [unspecific number of chicks born]
42 x Swans-a-Swimming
40 x Maids-a-Milking
36 x Ladies Dancing
30 x Lords-a-Leaping
22 x Pipers Pipping
12 x Drummers Drumming 

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