Twelve Gifts of Christmas by Jean Hill

Jean Hill, a local  poet, writer and member of Wokingham Library Poetry Group  has written her own version of a seasonal favourite!


Thank you for the partridge
And the egg that it’s just laid
And thank-you for the pear-tree
And the fancy gift-wrapped spade
I’ve only got a council flat
But I’ll put it in a pot
It simply is delightful
And I like it – quite a lot

How kind and generous you are
Two turtle-doves arrived
They had a bust-up with the partridge
But, thankfully, it survived
They’ve settled down quite nicely
In the branches of the tree
How very thoughtful of you
To send such gifts to me

I can’t believe it – three French-hens
My flat is full of birds
And I don’t want to sound ungrateful
Or hurt your feelings with my words
But the pear-tree’s buckling under
And I’m feeling quite unwell
I’m knee deep in bird droppings
And there’s a really awful smell

Oh No, please not four calling-birds
I don’t know what to do
The vet’s condemned my council flat
And I’ve got avian ’flu
There’re vicious little blighters
One gave me a nasty peck
And if I weren’t humanitarian
I’d have wrung its scrawny neck

Now I want to end this friendship
I don’t think that we’re matched
Because as I write this letter
The blooming partridge egg has hatched
I’ve had a letter from the council
And the neighbour’s in a rage
Why couldn’t you just send me
A canary in a cage

I think I’ve been too hasty
Five gold rings – all eighteen carat
And I had an awful feeling
In the box there lurked a parrot
This gift’s more to my liking
The inset diamonds played a part
To return you to my favour
And pave a pathway to my heart

I don’t believe this morning’s gift
I’m retracting what I said
I’ve six honking geese a-laying
On the duvet on my bed
Now the council’s here to fumigate
There’s been a signed petition
And a local deputation
Headed by a politician

You prat, you loon, you imbecile
What do you think you’re doing
Seven swans a-swimming
Boy, have you got trouble brewing
They’re paddling in the bath-tub
And one’s nesting in the sink
I’ve swallowed lots of tablets
But it’s driving me to drink

The partridge hates the turtle doves
And in a beak and feather brawl
The French hens met their Waterloo
In the carnage up the hall
The calling birds stopped calling
And the geese no longer lay
I’ve drowned the swans a-swimming
I’ll make sure you rue this day

Eight maids arrived a-milking
Jersey cows – a dairy herd
I’ve had to hire Clapham Common
Have you not heard a word
I’ve developed brucellosis
Drinking milk unpasteurised
And the sanitary inspector’s
Been called round to sanitize

My nerves are all in tatters
Nine ladies dancing round a pole
My flat’s reverberating
To the sound of rock and roll
The milk-maids hate the ladies
They’re shocked and scandalized
I’ve had to call the doctor in
To have them tranquilized

Bad enough this manic dancing
Ten lords a-leaping in the throng
It’s like a knocking-shop in Soho
With their wicked goings on
I’ve had the vice squad round here
My home’s a flat of ill repute
You’ll be hearing from my lawyer
As I intend to prosecute

Eleven pipers piping
With tartan kilts and swords
Have ravished all the ladies
And the flaming leaping lords
The council’s called the social
The situation is absurd
They say they’re going to put me
In a home for the disturbed

And now twelve drummers drumming
Can be heard from Bethnal Green
And they’ve brought along a plonker
Banging on a tambourine
But I’ll get you, you rat-face
Somehow I’ll make you pay
The ambulance has just arrived
And taken me away

By Jean Hilll


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