Monday, 17 December 2012

A True Love's Lament

Dear Father,

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a partridge in a pear tree.

This, as you may surmise, came as something of a shock.  I have never expressed the slightest interest in horticulture, and whilst I may on occasion have complimented Lord Sunderland on the quality of his peacocks, I would have thought the intelligent observer would have recognised this as rote flattery, rather than a desire to possess any birds myself; particularly one as dowdy and overweight as a partridge.  You will forgive me, I know, for saying that if I wished an overweight frump to take up residence, I would respond to Aunt Jessica's constant unsubtle hints about joining us here for an extended visit.

No, this was not the gift I had in mind, dear father.  Indeed, I had dropped so many hints (which seemed to me at the time obvious to the point of being gauche) regarding my desire for a new necklace that the drawing-room clock would have known to head to the nearest jewellers, had it suddenly acquired legs and a generous nature.  I confess, you did warn me I was engaged to a perilous dunderhead, and for the first time I begin to see your point (perhaps the second, following this summer's incident with the cricket bat and the mayor's cucumber sandwiches).

In short, it is impossible for me to understand why I received either a partridge or a pear tree.  The fact that both were presented together would be beyond the comprehension of Aristotle himself.  I confess that my true love's pride upon revealing the combination was such that my curiosity stirred a little beneath the layered sediment of my crushing disappointment.  At the very least, had my true love chosen to train the partridge to remain amidst the branches of the pear tree (which, it being winter, is of course entirely without pears), it would demonstrate a certain industry on his part.

Alas, it became clear almost immediately that the only reason the partridge remained ensconced within its home of barren branches was that it had been chained there.  Clearly foolishness was not enough; my true love was determined to add cruelty to his list of failings this Yuletide.  When I demanded an explanation for the abominable treatment of this bird, which I had no intention of blaming for my true love's stupidity, he insisted the bird was a female, named Emily, and had chained itself to the tree as part of an ill-advised Suffragette protest in a nearby nursery.

As you know, father, I have no shame in admitting sympathy for the Suffragettes (I leave that particular response to my politics to yourself), and naturally assumed I was being mocked.  At this point, I confess I flew into a rage, said many things to my true love I have no intention of writing down in my own diary, let alone a letter to you, and took ill for the rest of the day.

What a wretched Christmas!  My true love has been knocking on my door every hour since, promising that he has secured presents which will be more to my liking, and which will be arriving tomorrow for my inspection.  My hopes, I must admit, are not particularly high.

I shall, of course, write more to you on the morrow, if only to let you know what the perilous dunderhead has acquired by way of apology.

Your doting daughter,


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