David Lewis Paget
A Christmas Tale - Poem by David Lewis Paget
We moved on into this neighborhood,
When we couldn't afford the rent,
So my pessimistic Uncle Jim said,
‘Next step down's a tent! '
The house is set in the meanest streets
And the locals here are rough,
They'd steal the pleats from your mother's skirts
If they weren't nailed down, that's tough!
So we put a chain on the old front door
We put a lock on the back,
We nailed all the lower windows down
In case of a night attack,
We put ‘hedgehogs' in the garden beds
So intruders would step on the nails,
And stay away from the window ledge
Like Peeping Tom in the tales.
‘It's best we're prepared, ' said Uncle Jim,
‘The locals are all on drugs,
They break into houses on a whim,
Thinking we're all just mugs.'
He kept a cricket bat by the door
And a baseball bat in reserve,
‘If anyone comes in here at night,
By God, we'll give ‘em a serve! '
I'd stand my watch on the upper floor
If anything moved in the street,
And write it down for my Uncle Jim
On a crumpled, beer stained sheet.
I'd note the time by my digital watch
That had cost five bucks in the Strand,
‘It's better for you, my lad, ' said he,
You can't tell the time with hands.'
We crept on out in the dark one night,
He said it was Christmas Eve,
And took a saw and a flashlight out
Looking for Christmas trees,
We stole a tree from a neighbour's yard
He'd planted the year before,
‘He'll never know, ' said my Uncle, low,
He'll never get through our door.'
We dragged it back to our house, and left
An obvious trail of green,
I pointed it out to Uncle Jim,
‘What if that trail is seen? '
He shrugged, and put on his thinking cap,
‘I'll say someone stole our tree,
They dragged it along our garden path,
It's nothing to do with me! '
We stuck the tree in a bucket inside
Then dangled some paper chains,
And some ancient pieces of glitter, that
Were worse for the winter rains,
He found a little fat fairy, who
Looked like she was six months gone,
And stuck her up on the top of the tree
With a Goblin called ‘Bon Bon'.
Lying in bed that very night
Something moved on the roof,
One of the rats from the neighborhood
No doubt, on forty proof,
I went and I woke my Uncle Jim
And we clattered on down the stairs,
Just as a pair of big, black boots
Came ‘Crash' on the hearth out there.
I rushed and I grabbed the cricket bat
My Uncle Jim had a shoe,
This geezer dressed in a funny hat
Popped down, and out of the flue,
His suit of red was covered in soot
And he started to dust it off,
When I whacked him one on his big black boot
And he yelled, ‘Hey! That's enough.'
But Uncle Jim had pummelled his waist
And belted him with the shoe,
I whacked him once on his fat behind,
What else was a boy to do?
Then Uncle Jim had grabbed at his beard
All wispy white, like floss,
Swung him twice all around the room
Then said, ‘It didn't come off! '
We let him go, then we stood and stared
While he cursed and swore at last,
Then clambered back up the chimney piece
My Uncle said, ‘What a blast!
I don't know what he was hoping to steal,
There's nothing in this old house.'
But looking out in the yard, I said,
‘The garden is full of cows! '
They were funny cows with great big horns
Like I'd seen in countless books,
Tethered fast to a loaded sledge
Piled up with frozen chooks.
‘I think we've made a mistake, ' he said,
My poor old Uncle Jim,
And true, I've not seen the man in red
Since we almost did him in!
5 December 2014
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