Thursday, 20 December 2012

A True Love's Lament (Part IV)

Dear Father,

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: four "calling" birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I must confess, Father, to be rather confused and put out by your latest letter to me.  I assure you that long before you enrolled me in that ridiculous collection of ill-mannered old maids in training they call "The Young Ornithologists",  I was perfectly capable of counting to three (and now four).  All but one of the birds in question were shackled to adjacent trees, and even the partridge we temporarily freed (I had it's prison sentence reinstated yesterday, having grown tired of it getting underfoot whilst the gardener and I attempt to salvage what we can of my herb garden) was not a difficult animal to locate and add to the tally.  When I list three (now four) partridges, that is exactly what is meant.

In truth, I can only assume that your attempt to defend my true love stems from a desire to avoid taking any responsibility in recommending him as a match for me in the first place.  If so, it must come as quite a blow to your attempts to learn that today at breakfast (more omelettes) I was presented by ten new birds, and another fruit tree. Nor can it be helpful to your cause that my true love insists on referring to my new "calling" birds.  No amount of patient explanation (or as patient as I am willing to be under such awful circumstances) that he has fallen for an obvious corruption of "collie birds" can seem to enter the depths of his head, that now seem to me quite as dark and dirty as those of the mines with which the birds share their names.  "Yet note, Alice", he told me, with an exaggerated tone of oppression that quite made me want to hit him with a pear tree, with or without partridge attached, "How loudly these birds are calling to each other".

Alas, his logic may be faulty, but his ears did not deceive.  I have been complaining in ever more strident language regarding the events of the last three days, I realise, Father, but at least before today the house was quiet, at least in those areas beyond the range of the cooing of doves, the clucking of hens, or the occasional cry of impotent rage uttered by my gardener (who has now offered to shoot the offending creatures himself, though I hold out little hope his clouded eyes can find his shotgun).  Now the world seems full of the jaunty trilling of hungry blackbirds, who treat the concept of sensible waking hours with as much contempt as my true love does the idea of thoughtful purchases.  It would be quieter to sleep above a hostelry, Father, and at least there I could count on a more varied menu.

You will also note, of course, that I'm one day closer to Lord Sunderland's ball, and thanks to the dunderhead you have championed, my best chance for new accessories is to snap off twenty bird's beaks to be polished and strung into a necklace.  Doubtless you will be happy to foot the bill, as well as that for cleaning up the resultant mess.  That, I fear, is simply what backing a sponge-minded clod like my true love will get you.



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