Twas the Night Before Christmas

If you find my stories of my new life in a strange land confusing, you might want to read the tale of Maurice Wilson from the beginning.

Cleckhuddersfax Carol ListenersChristmas Eve in Cleckhuddersfax and I believe we are finally beginning to settle into our new surroundings.

We had a visit from the Carol Listeners last night. This is the Yorkshire version of carolling in which groups of people knock on your door and you have to sing them a song and then pay them for listening. Or else they take your first born child or television, whichever is handiest.

Quite a few of the festive rituals are different here. For example, it is traditional to include a piece of coal in a child’s stocking as a symbol that all will be warm and well on Christmas Day.

But it has to be someone else’s coal, not your own, or it brings bad luck. There has been a steady procession of strangers wandering through the flat to help themselves to the rapidly diminishing pile in our bathtub. They thoughtfully bring their own sacks and shovels though.

We had planned a family outing to see the Christmas pantomime, an amateur production of Cinderella at the Alhambra. Sadly it was cancelled after some of the locals found out that the Ugly Sisters were played by men in drag and tried to burn the theatre down.

So it was another evening spent in the safe house and we’d just settled down to a game of ludo when Pc Barraclough came staggering through the door, smelling strongly of whisky and cigar smoke after the plain clothes police Christmas do.

He had maintained his undercover disguise throughout, viz his charity shop-bought frock, faux fox fur-collared housecoat and support stockings. (Be careful if you’re reading ‘faux fox fur’ out aloud.)

His lipstick was smudged and his blonde wig was slightly askew, but I was more concerned by the mistletoe dangling  from the glittery fascinator perched on his head and the lascivious look in his eye.

I needn’t have worried though because he just grinned inanely and collapsed in a heap in the dog’s basket.

We haven’t seen Pc Derek since yesterday. He had another drag act booking at a retired teacher’s bash in Sheffield which makes me wonder if the lad has some sort of death wish.

Ah well, the stockings are hung and I’m feeling maudlin, stuck as we are in a foreign land, but I must remember why we are in exile. It is for the likes of Maurice Wilson that I have made my stand.

And Pcs Derek and Barraclough and the other two Ugly Sisters.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

7 comments… Add yours
  • Jennyta 24th December 2011

    The piece of coal is for New Year. A dark haired man has to be the first over the threshold after midnight on New Year’s Eve, carrying a piece of coal. It’s to bring good luck for the coming year. Don’t tell me that Yorkshire lot have got it wrong!

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 24th December 2011

    That’s what I thought, at least that’s what my Scottish granddad used to tell me. I’m beginning to think I’ve been had.

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  • Mr Pudding 24th December 2011

    I assume you’ll be heading to “The Foaming Quart” for the traditional Christmas Eve bash. However, a warning – in Cleckhuddersfax, which is quite close to the charming hamlet of Royston Vaisey, the term “bash” is not used metaphorically so I suggest that you and Mrs Parrots wear matching motorcycle helmets. By the way, P.C. Derek didn’t make it into our retired teachers’ cultural evening. There must have been a booking mistake as we always reserve Hermione the erotic dancer from Grimesthorpe with Clegg her pet python. It was a great night – capped off of course with bread and dripping baps and a rousing communal rendition of “On Ilkley Moor Bah’Tat”. Magic.

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  • Mr Parrot 24th December 2011

    We will be having a quiet night in on police advice. I want to watch The Very Best of Les Dawson, especially the Cissie and Ada sketches.

    I’ll shall enquire after Pc Derek. Could there be two retired teacher’s groups in Sheffield?

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  • Elizabeth 24th December 2011

    Nah then, lad, wot ivver i’ t’ wold doest thoo think tha’s dooin’ bemoanin’ thi lot?

    Dun’t tha know it’s Christmas and thoo’s in t’ best spot to fettle it reet? Thoo’s getten cotton wool purr an t’ tree to leark like snaw and them decorations is meckin a seet as ivver tha did see. Timorro’, thoo’ll breakfast on t’ frumenty whilst opnin’ thi stockin’ and listnin’ to t’ lucky bods and then thoo’ll sit at table wiv a cracker pulled an’ a fancy ‘at purr on thi ‘ed. There’ll be t’ Yorkshire pudding course covered wi’ gravy, allus leet an’ crispy on t’ crust. Then think o’ that plate piled ‘igh wi apple sauce, rost pooahrk fer thi meyt an piled reet up wi’ vegetables an’ a bit o’ tripe on’t side. When thoo’s got that dahn thi, tha can undo a button or two but dearn’t gerr up cos there’s two mooahr courses ta di. A reet big ‘elpin o’ Christmas pud et’ll teaste ivver so good. Thoo might even find a farthin’ wrapped in greaseproof swimmin’ aboot i’ thi custard – tha’s maybe used ti sixpences but we Yorkshire fowk are tidy when it comes to owt to do wi money and thoo’ll appreciate oor thowtfulness as t’ economy topples over yonder. Think on, lad. Ti top it all off, wot could be neeser than a bit o’ Christmas cake wi’ a slice o’ Kit Calvert, whippets colled up on t’ ‘earth, thi mitt wrapped roond a jar o’ Black Sheep* an’ thi stockin’ feet stuck art in front o’ t’ fire piled ‘igh wi nutty slack and Quean spoutin’ festive thoowts i’ thi’ lug oiles. Eee…it sounds grand.

    Wishin’ all the Parrots a reet good do this Christmas and many more ti tek shape. May all thi Christmasses be tyke. xx

    *Might a been even better if Tetley’s were still brewed i’ t’ glorious county, but it’s a bit iffy now they’ve tecken it elsewhere – nivver know wat these foreigner’s might a slipped in t’ mix.

    Reply
  • rhymeswithplague 25th December 2011

    A happy Christmas and Boxing Day to every parrot in Cleckhuddersfax.
    I am torn between revulsion at the thought of what you fine folk are having to endure and, oddly, a strange attraction to be part of your new surroundings. It sounds horrible and marvelous all at the same time.

    By the way, Miss Elizabeth there above me has taken to talking in a strange tongue. One wonders whether she might be Pentecostal….

    Reply
  • Elizabeth 25th December 2011

    Bob, dear, Yorkshire dialect is a far more divine pronouncement than any glossolalic utterance, reserved only for those favoured few who have been ordained and sanctified from their mother’s wombs to inhabit the land of milk and honey that is Yorkshire. It is an elect priesthood of all that are elite in God’s sight. ;-D x

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