Twelve Days of Christmas


A Correspondence

John Julius Norwich

25th December

My dearest darling
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What a
enchanting, romantic,poetic present! Bless you and thank you.
Your deeply loving Emily


26th December

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


27th December

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, they're lovely.
Your loving Emily


28th December

Dearest Edward

What a surprise - four calling birds arrived this morning.
They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly -
they make telephoning impossible. Bit 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

29th December

Dearest Edward

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
Love, Emily


30th December

Dear Edward

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?
Love, Emily


31st December

Edward

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, please
STOP
Your Emily


1st January

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.
Emily


2nd January

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.
Emily


3rd January

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.
Emily


4th January

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.


5th January

Sir
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,
G.CREEP
Solicitor-at-law