Bring us the figgy pudding (caution; may contain nuts)

It’s a minefield. The Christmas Carol police have vetted my playlist and it seems I have to delete a number of entries for legal reasons...

Here were my suggestions together with ensuing correspondence:

While shepherds watched their flocks by night

All seated on the ground

The Angel of the Lord came down

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And glory shone around.

Dear Miss Mortimer

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Thank you for submitting While Shepherds Watched for our consideration.

We are concerned that sitting on the ground whilst watching flocks can cause a number of lower-back conditions including sciatica and also, at this time of year, piles. We would advise the employer to provide foldaway garden chairs or similar for his workers. Additionally, glory shining around can affect eyesight. We would recommend the issue of UV filtered sun visors to offset the sudden bright light.

We further note that the second verse finds the shepherds initially in a state of “mighty dread”.

We trust the requisite risk assessments were carried out before subjecting both men and sheep to this unsettling experience.

Yours ...

We three kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we travel afar

Field and fountain, moor and mountain

Following yonder star.

Dear Miss Mortimer

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has raised a number of concerns about the journey of the so-called “kings”.

They have, it seems, entered the country “bearing gifts” which were at no point declared, having bypassed border controls by trekking over farmlands, through forests, wetlands and across mountain ranges.

They allege they were “following yonder star”, claiming it led them westward. We have spoken to Penzance and they are not expected. There are no hotel bookings in the names of Caspar, Melchior or Balthazar.

We are also given to understand one of the three is smuggling gold bullion into the country, while the other two are bringing in components of pot pourri which is a lesser offence.

Further, it is an offence to bring camels over national boundaries without documentation.

We would urge that if you are aware of their whereabouts you should inform the authorities (but not King Herod).

Good King Wenceslas looked out,

On the feast of Stephen

When the snow lay round about,

Deep and crisp and even.

Brightly shone the moon that night,

Though the frost was cruel

When a poor man came in sight,

Gath’ring winter fue-ew-ell.

Dear Miss Mortimer

Where to start.

We have been e-mailed by the Department for Employment and Learning which is, frankly, astonished and appalled by the working conditions of the child engaged as King Wenceslas’s page.

It is established the frost is cruel and it is night-time. So, King Wenceslas, spotting this poor man who has inexplicably failed to claim his winter fuel allowance, immediately summons a young lad and takes him out into the icy night.

The boy is freezing and says so.

Miraculously, by walking in his master’s footsteps, the boy gets warm but this does not alter the fact he was being made to work in temperatures lower than the legal minimum and for longer hours than are permissible under the child working hours directive.

Deck the halls with wreaths of holly

Fa la la la la la la la la

‘Tis the season to be jolly

Fa la la la la la la la la

Dear Miss Mortimer

In principle, we have no objection to the first verse of this carol, always assuming that the decking is carried out safely with the decker on a properly-positioned stepladder, and that the “fa la las” are not the result of a schooner of sweet sherry.

If the decker, however, is completely fa la la-ed, he or she should be immediately relieved of their duties.

You mentioned you have some misgivings about the second verse (Don we now our gay apparel...Troll the ancient Yule tide carol) but we think it is acceptable as long as there is not too much trolling in gay apparel.

Once in Royal David’s city

Stood a lowly cattle-shed

Where a mother laid her baby

In a manger for his bed

Dear Miss Mortimer

We have been asked to seek assurances that the scenario described is not the case as it is in serious breach of planning controls governing the use of agricultural land. Outhouses and barns for the use of livestock are not to be used for human habitation and even if, as you explain in your covering letter, the hostelry was full it does not excuse a blatant disregard for regulations.

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Dear Miss Mortimer

The Michael Gove Literacy Project has been in touch with us regarding your proposal to include the above carol and Ding Dong Merrily in your selection. We must object to what we can only describe as the Jedi English used in the second line. “Let nothing you dismay” is at best clumsy sentence construction and, at worst, the meanderings of Yoda.

We also wish to alert you to the use of “sungen” in the second verse of Ding Dong. It may rhyme with “swungen” but we can find no such participle of the verb: to sing.

Here we come a-wassailing

Among the leaves so green

Dear Miss Mortimer

The Countryside Commission is not in favour of unsupervised wassailing among the leaves so green. With the threat of ash dieback hanging over our forests and woodlands, ardent wassailers might find themselves without foliage.

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