I first heard this in the car radio from the local classical music station. It was one of those recordings I had to hear the end of. Mrs. T was giving me the "are you coming in" look yet still I sat. The recording became so popular that to stop the phone calls, those remembering pre FM rock and roll may recall their stations doing this, the station would announce when they would replaying the broadcast.
My station changed owners and formats so I have missed my fix, and have been unable to source the original. The recording of course is The 12 Days of Christmas, Correspondence". I have a copy of what may be the original essays by JJ Norwich, but frankly I have found so many variations, I am unsure of the original author, so for now I'll go with Norwich.
The story is thus:
My dearest darling Edward, Dec 25
What a wonderful surprise has just greeted me! That sweet
partridge, in that lovely little pear-tree; what an enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you, and thank
Your deeply loving Emily.
Beloved Edward, Dec 26
The two turtle-doves arrived this morning, and are cooing
away in the pear-tree as I write. I'm so touched and
With undying love, as always, Emily.
My darling Edward, Dec 27
You do think of the most original presents! Who ever thought
of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all
the way from France? It's a pity we have no chicken coops,
but I expect we'll find some. Anyway, thank you so much;
Your devoted Emily.
Dearest Edward, Dec 28
What a surprise! Four calling birds arrived this morning.
They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly --
they make telephoning almost impossible -- but I expect
they'll calm down when they get used to their new home.
Anyway, I'm very grateful, of course I am.
Love from Emily.
Dearest Edward, Dec 29
The mailman has just delivered five most beautiful gold
rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly! A
really lovely present! Lovelier, in a way, than birds, which
do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived
yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I'm afraid
none of us got much sleep last night. Mother says she wants
to use the rings to "wring" their necks. Mother has such a
sense of humor. This time she's only joking, I think, but I
do know what she means. Still, I love the rings.
Bless you, Emily.
Dear Edward, Dec 30
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door
this morning, it certainly wasn't six socking great geese
laying eggs all over the porch. Frankly, I rather hoped that
you had stopped sending me birds. We have no room for them,
and they've already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant
well, but let's call a halt, shall we?
Edward, Dec 31
I thought I said NO MORE BIRDS. This morning I woke up to
find no more than seven swans, all trying to get into our
tiny goldfish pond. I'd rather not think what's happened to
the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds, to
say nothing of what they leave behind them, so please,
Frankly, I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight
milkmaids? And their cows! Is this some kind of a joke? If
so, I'm afraid I don't find it very amusing.
Look here, Edward,
This has gone far enough. You say you're sending me nine
ladies dancing. All I can say is, judging from the way they
dance, they're certainly not ladies. The village just isn't
accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless viragos, with
nothing on but their lipstick, cavorting round the green, and
it's Mother and I who get the blame. If you value our
friendship, which I do (less and less), kindly stop this
ridiculous behavior at once!
As I write this letter, 10 disgusting old men are prancing
up and down all over what used to be the garden, before the
geese and the swans and the cows got at it. And several of
them, I have just noticed, are taking inexcusable liberties
with the milkmaids. Meanwhile, the neighbors are trying to
have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.
This is the last straw! You know I detest bagpipes! The
place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse, and a man from the council has just declared it
unfit for habitation. At least Mother has been spared this
last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an
ambulance. I hope you're satisfied.
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you
that with the arrival on her premises at 7:30 this morning of
the entire percussion section of the Boston Symphony
Orchestra, and several of their friends, she has no course
left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent you
importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the
return of much assorted livestock.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
G. Creep Attorney at law.
Another variation was penned by Irish essayist Hugh Leonard and is read by celebrated Irish actor Frank Kelly. This is for #1 Son. I think he will prefer the Irish version. I'm coming to believe that I do.