On the first day of Christmas my ‘true love’, that’s what I called her, sent me a partridge in a pear tree.
It was our first Christmas together as a couple.
Christmas morning, there’s a knock at the door and a courier is standing there with a pear tree and a partridge. (Who works Christmas morning?)
As you might expect, you have to sign for a partridge and a pear tree. They won’t just leave it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I love giving and receiving and, let’s be honest, a partridge in a pear tree is something special. It’s not a present bought at a convenience store on the way over, or a voucher.
So, on the one hand I felt pretty chuffed – we hadn’t been going out all that long – but on the other hand, all I had gotten for her was skin cream.
Then, on the second day of Christmas there’s a knock at the door, same courier with another parcel.
He says: ‘sign here’ and hands over two turtle doves.
Day three he’s there again. This time he’s carrying French Hens.
I was renting.
Day four and the ‘true love’ bit is starting to wear thin.
The courier is there again with calling birds. I’d never even heard of a ‘calling bird’ but now I was the proud owner of four of them. Not to mention the turtle doves, French Hens, pear tree and a damn partridge.
Day five. Gold rings. Day six, geese-a-laying. Day seven it’s swans-a–swimming!
Did I mention I live on the second floor?
Day eight things take an unexpected turn; maids-a-milking, which, to be honest, I was okay with. The cows I could have done without.
Next day, ladies dancing.
At this point I am seriously running out of room and the French hens have gotten into the pear tree.
I’m fairly certain I’m not going to get my bond back.
Day ten she sends me ten lords-a-leaping! I sign for them. I mean, what else are you going to do, right?
I manage to get them inside but not without a few odd looks from the neighbours.
Don’t forget, these lords were leaping. They didn’t just stand around. They had to leap.
I asked one of them “Would you mind not leaping?’ and he said ‘We leap. It’s what we do’. And he went back to leaping. I’m sure when their ancestors started leaping there was an abundance of room to leap in. But I live in a two bedroom apartment. So I spent pretty much the rest of the day moving livestock and trees into the front room.
On day eleven, I get a delivery of eleven, count them, eleven pipers-piping.
Turns out the pipers and the lords do not get along. It appears to be a long standing feud.
Day twelve all hell breaks loose. A dozen drummers turn up and it’s on for young and old.
The neighbours call the police.
I’m taken in for questioning and subsequently charged with numerous offences under various acts.
To make a long story short, some of the drummers left (apparently it was only ever a temporary gig and they went to tour with Coldplay). A couple of the drummers and pipers got together and formed a improv jazz ensemble and worked the clubs for a while before breaking up. They released one album.
The RSPCA took the livestock. The pear tree turned out to be a tangerine tree! The dancing girls ended up working on a cruise ship that was taken over by Philipino pirates.
I ended up dating one of milk maids for a while.
The ten lords-a-leaping I put in a hessian sack and threw off a bridge. I know, I know, lords-a-leaping are not just for Christmas, but you try and find homes for ten peers of the realm who won’t stand still.
I don’t know what ever happened to the courier.
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*Peter Berner is a stand up comic, TV host (ABC TV BackBerner, The Einstein Factor and You Have been Watching for Foxtel), broadcaster, cartoonist and artist. He has told jokes around the world and made drawings and painted pictures. He was also in a Medibank Private advert 20 years ago. There is currently an exhibition of his work at Cyclone Gallery in Melbourne – cyclonegallery.net.au You can follow him on Twitter: @peter_berner.