Day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas : 9 Ladies Dancing & Joanna

Day 9 ladies and lordsBy Day 9, Mr True Love has gone into the entertainment business. (It is a role he will continue for the rest of the holiday.)  He presents our heroine with nine ladies dancing.

You may think, as I do, that this is an odd choice. Frankly, it sounds more like a stag do than a gift to the beloved. Surely it would have been more alluring if he’d invited the object of his affections to dance with him?

Hasn’t he seen Strictly Come Dancing, for Heaven’s sake? (That’s Dancing With the Stars,  if you’re across the Pond.) Continue reading

Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas : 8 Maids a-Milking & Heyer

By Day 8, the True Love is getting more ambitious and, frankly, a bit cracked.

Today’s gift embraces both livestock and human trafficking. This is seriously dodgy territory now. He’s clearly into all things quaint, traditional and with just a hint of the Good Old Days. Maybe even Heritage.

I feel we’re beginning to detect some disturbing undercurrents in these so-called gifts. Are they not just another way of tying his Beloved to endless cleaning and animal husbandry? Only now she’ll have staff to placate as well. Not a good outlook. Continue reading

Day 7 of 12 Days of Christmas : 7 Swans a-Swimming & Company

swan and cygnets swimmingAt least our heroine’s True Love has shifted from domestic to wild birds with the Day 7 offering. And not just a wild bird but a truly beautiful one, with mythological and poetic pedigree to boot.

The swan is one of the creatures that mates for life, according to legend and, to some extent, ornithological observation. (Not 100%, apparently; but a significant percentage of couples stick together.)

Allegedly it also sings only once, at the point of death – hence the exquisitely mournful Orlando Gibbons motet 

So at last we have here a gift with real subtext: love, loyalty and death. Not that jolly maybe. But certainly romantic. Hmm. Possibly a bit late, given the bird shit that must be surrounding his lady love’s residence by now. Continue reading

Day 6 of 12 Days of Christmas : 6 Geese a-Laying & Paul Gallico

Day 6 goose stamp 1977Day 6 and that obsessive True Love is back in the poultry groove again. At least this time they are laying, so the eggs can be sold.

Though goose eggs are large and very rich and not to everyone’s taste. Possibly not an easy sell. Or even give away.

And they’re very noisy, geese. Better than guard dogs some people say. And they can be aggressive.

Sigh. Continue reading

Day 5 of 12 Days of Christmas : 5 Gold Rings & Tolkien

gold ringsAt last! Day 5. A present that a person might be glad to receive.

OK, five may seem a touch excessive. But this True Love is not a person of moderation, as all the fowl he has already bestowed upon his beloved bear witness.

But she doesn’t have to grit her teeth to thank him for these. She can show her appreciation by painting her nails to tone in with his gift. Continue reading

Day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas : 4 Calling Birds & Song

I never liked the idea of a calling bird. It smacked of the Judas Goat, even when I was a child. But I’m told that “calling” is a mondegreen in this context and the original was probably “colly birds”. Which apparently are blackbirds.

4 calling birds, Christmas Island stamp 1977Hmm. Bit of a cheapskate suitor there, then. I mean, blackbirds come free with the landscape. All he had to do was scatter a few breadcrumbs on the lawn and then point out the descending blackbirds as her present.

Mind you, the Easter Island stamp version is along the same lines. And gulls call all right. Anglo Saxon poets thought they were the souls of dead sailors. Give me a blackbird every time.

So I’m assuming that our Day 4 gift is of tuneful birds. Continue reading

Day 3 of 12 Days of Christmas : 3 French Hens & translations

Day 3 cover Little Red Hen French and EnglishDay 3 should be 3 French Hens but, since we couldn’t find said triplet chooks,
we decided to give you a singular hen —
red
— and appropriately, in French.

A peu près la même chose?
as our cross-Channel amis might say?

Which raises the tricky question of translation,
especially of beloved books like The Little Red Hen. Continue reading

Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas : 2 Turtle Doves & Jewellery

2 turtle doves vector for day 2Two turtle doves are, perhaps, the most understandable of the strange gifts the True Love sent to his beloved. They are the symbol of perfect romantic contentment, billing and cooing and utterly absorbed in each other.

Whether she needed ten more pairs after that first gift, of course, is debatable. Continue reading

Day 1 of 12 Days of Christmas : A Partridge in a Pear Tree & P D James

day 1 partridge in a pear tree UK stamp 1977“Ooo yes, let’s do a series of book recommendations for the Twelve Days of Christmas,” we said.

But those 12 days of presents were really pretty weird. I mean, if a  pear tree was small enough to give someone as a present, it  wouldn’t be big enough for a partridge to perch in. A problem faced by the designer of the 1977 UK postage stamp, I notice. A solid bird, the partridge.

So our list is going to be associative, rather than literal, if you see what I mean. There is a connection, in our minds at least. But not always necessarily obvious. Continue reading

Christmas Wishes and 12 Days of Goodies to come

curl up in front of fire for 12 days of Christmas

Goodies to Come for the 12 Days of Christmas…

Starting on Boxing Day, we’ll be posting a daily fun episode of the 12 Days of Christmas, but instead of suggesting a song to sing, we’ll be focusing on books we have read and a few of the ideas — sometimes silly or frivolous, sometimes serious — they’ve given rise to.
Please join in with your own suggestions. We’d love to hear what you think.

Don’t miss the First Day of Christmas, here on 26th December
pear tree at the ready…