Twelve Days… an epistolary epic for modern times

by | December 11, 2017 | Editing Corner | 16 comments

I think I was about six when I first learnt the whole ‘twelve days of Christmas’ song. Even at that age, the gifts on offer struck me as rather unmanageable in terms of frequency, quantity and accommodation. What sort of man, after all, sends their partner ten leaping lords?

And how does one convey one’s varying levels of gratitude for the continuous influx of peculiar gifts? By email, of course! The finely crafted email is the handwritten letter of yesteryear, and the means through which I intend to convey poor Donna’s yuletide saga…

Is there a learning point in this exercise?  Hmmm… yes, and no.

Yes, in that telling a story in the epistolary form is a good way of making the reader imagine all the chaos happening ‘off-screen’, so to speak.

No, in that it’s December, there’s shopping to do and nativity plays to attend, and I just wanted to write something fun rather than ‘educational’.

Have a great winter break folks, however you choose to celebrate.



On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… a wanker with a spare key.


Dear Darling

I hope you landed safely in Riyadh and that you got a decent night’s sleep after the rough journey.

I found the sweet little note you left on the kitchen table—you have twenty-four gifts organised for me? Wow! One day at a time, eh? It’s a good thing I work from home; I can catch all those delivery men. 

However, as grateful as I am for the imminent arrival of lovely pressies, I would’ve really appreciated it if you could’ve warned me about ‘Spud’ (what’s his real name?)

I realise that you’ve served together and that he needs a place to stay for a couple of weeks, but he gave me a bloody great shock by arriving while I was in the shower. Literally! He apologised for needing the loo in an emergency, but he didn’t show much sense of urgency while washing his hands and face. That man cleans himself at the speed of a sloth giving himself a pedicure. Thank goodness for frosted shower glass! Let’s hope this has just been a case of first-day teething problems. I’m sure he’ll settle in.

Right – I’ve got dinner to make, so I’ll email tomorrow.



* * *

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… two dirty gloves

Hi love, quick text to say thanks for the first pressie. I love the pre-loved gauntlets. They’re very robust. I’m sure that if I ever need to handle a batch of thermite cacti then I’ll stay very safe, lol. Are we getting a stove? I’d love a stove. Some of our neighbours have applied to have one installed and they keep going on about not having to pay for heating anymore. Warm nights by the fire sound ideal to me—especially with that dodgy door leading out to the roof terrace.

Spud made an effort to apologise for springing in on me yesterday by bringing home burger and chips from Tony’s Takeaway. It was a nice thought but—alas, like the gloves—the chips had clearly been ‘pre-loved’ between Tony’s place and my front door.

Hope you’re getting through your first day okay. I know it’s always rough when you go back on tour. xxxx


* * *

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… three French hens!

Evening Dan

I hope you had a good day setting up and that you won’t get sent out to some grim fox hole straight away.

I now understand the gloves! The three French hens arrived in the early afternoon, and I needed the gloves to round them up and get them out of the kitchen. Damn their claws are sharp! They also move surprisingly fast once released from a cage. For the time being, they’re hanging out on the roof terrace. I had to nip out this afternoon to buy them a hutch (no idea what you call an enclosure for hens), and spent a good couple of hours trying to build it.

Spud isn’t hugely fond of the hens, I’ve noticed. He complains (without a hint of irony) that they’re ‘messy.’ Hmm. Sorry. I WILL try to stop complaining about my sudden house guest. If he could replace some of the red wine he’s been working his way through, then that would be grand.

Are the hens safe with pizza, by the way? I’ve noticed that pizza certainly isn’t safe around THEM.

Much love. I’ll try to call tomorrow.

Donna xxxx

* * *

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… four calling birds

Hi love

Just a quick note to say thanks for the calling birds. I’m afraid they turned out to be quite temporary presents. Spud left the door of the roof terrace open when he went for a smoke and the birds made a swift exit, stage left. The hens didn’t follow them, you’ll be glad to hear. Mind you, it’s probably a good thing that we don’t have seven birds roaming around the apartment. My neighbours slipped a passive-aggressive little note under my door this evening, asking me if the ban on pets had been relaxed.

You have the greatest imagination for gifts but I’m not sure our flat is really designed to accommodate quite so much wildlife 😉 (gentle hint).

Right, I’m behind on my work so I’d better spend a few hours catching up. Love you lots

D xxxx


* * *

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… five gold rings!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… Six geese a-laying


I know things got heated on the phone, and I’m sorry we argued. But I did try hinting that I couldn’t take on any more animals. Goose eggs might be great for Christmas, but the bloody geese aren’t. They’re like miniature forces of destruction. I’ve already had to sell two of the five gold rings to cover the cost of repairing my furniture and getting the carpet professionally cleaned.

It’s all very well telling me to put the geese on the roof with the hens, but these geese:

  1. a) are unexpectedly murderous – we only have two French hens now
  2. b) aren’t having any of this sit-in-the-cold rubbish. They like being warm, it seems.

We managed to get all six of them outside, but after their streetfight-showdown with the hens, they lined up by the doors, giving us death stares through the glass. Even Spud was freaked out in the end. Sorry love, but tomorrow morning, those geese (and the hens) are going straight to the park on Millbank, where they can squawk, cluck and screech to their hearts’ content.


* * *

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me… seven swans-a-swimming




Attn: Captain Daniel Forrester


Stop it with the bloody birds STOP 

Swans are fucking evil STOP

Send me one more bird (or creature) and we’re finished STOP


* * *

On the eighth day of Christmas, my weirdo sent to me… eight maids a milking


I’m tempted to email your CO and ask him to send you for a psych-eval.

What in the name of the fat noodly fuck am I supposed to do with these maids? WE DON’T HAVE ANY COWS! We don’t even have any room for them to sit anywhere, let alone stay here. They’re just wandering around the flat, clenching and unclenching their fists, looking lost, libidinous and weird.

Spud’s cheered up for the first time in a couple of days. He’s convinced he can get at least four of them to ‘milk’ him. He’s an annoying git, but I’ve seen the ‘goods’ and can understand why he thinks he’s a two-maid job.

I’ve spent the money from gold ring #3 on minibus hire so Spud can drop the maids off at various railway stations tomorrow.

I missed my publishing deadline, by the way. Thanks a bunch for keeping me so busy.


Ps: please, please tell me that there aren’t any cows coming? That should be a stupid question, but I wouldn’t put anything past you anymore.


* * *

On the ninth day of Christmas, my dickhead sent to me… nine ladies dancing

Dan, allow me to summarise. Nine ‘ladies’ dancing in the corridor = eight morally offended neighbours = 7 formal complaints to building management = six rude messages left on my voicemail = five equally irate messages left on their voicemail (I’ve blamed you, by the way) = four dancing ladies being arrested = three arrested ladies demanding I pay their bail = 2 hours sleep last night, and one furious EX-FIANCÉE.


* * *

On the tenth day of Christmas, my ex-dick sent to me…  ten lords a-leaping

You immature tosspot! The last thing I need while I’m packing is a bunch of drunken peers flinging themselves around the flat. I don’t know WHY I even answered the door.

I’ll be as glad to leave Westminster as I am to leave you. Spud was my hero today. Using a cattle prod, he persuaded all ten lords to make themselves useful by carrying all my boxes down to the moving van. It seems that Spud doesn’t like being leapt upon any more than I do.


* * *

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… eleven pipers piping

Joke’s on you, buster. When you get home, you’re homeless. We’ve been evicted. Spud has found a two-bed apartment in Lambeth. I’m moving in with him.

Have fun sweet-talking the bailiffs and reclaiming your worldly goods from


* * * 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, your ex-girlf sent to thee… twelve drummers coming

Hi Dan!

Thanks for your call. I couldn’t make out much of what you were saying—you really ought to shout more slowly when calling overseas—but I gather that you objected to the early-morning bukkake shower.  Spud and I both felt that, after so many angry messages, we ought to try showering you with love and affection. I’m only sorry we weren’t there to see you receive your unexpected bounty. And in answer to your question, yes, the drummers will follow you around, alternately drumming and coming for the rest of the day.

I trust there will be no more Xmas gifts from you.

Be well

Your ex, Donna xxxx

Sam Thorne

Sam Thorne is an editor, ghost-writer and semi-successful feller of trees from West Sussex, England. After years of enjoying everyone else's steamy stories, albeit with red pen in hand, Sam was finally bullied into overcoming writer's stage fright by a bossy friend, releasing Single-Syllable Steve in May 2015. Sam also has stories in the anthologies Mad about the Boys (House of Erotica) and His Seed (Lethe press) pending release later this year. Sam has a soft spot for historical fiction, everything ever written by Bill Bryson, and the intricate first-world farces of PG Wodehouse. Favourite hobbies other than writing include cooking and unfair-rules football.


  1. Belinda LaPage

    Lucky she didn’t get any turtledoves or partridges then.

    I fine, seasonal giggle. I thank thee. The imp inside would have enjoyed a hybrid of geese and lords, thereby giving the maids something to celebrate for Christmas

    • Sam Thorne

      Those maids could probably do with a peerless Christmas though, to be honest. (bwhahhaa! I kill myself…)

      I’m glad you enjoyed the seasonal giggle 🙂 Cheers!

  2. Pia Manning

    The best ever yuletide post

    • Sam Thorne

      Thank you 🙂 It’s very kind of you to say so!

  3. Alun

    I’m sitting here in the office with a huge shit-eating grin on my face. I love your sense of humour. I can just picture those geese.:) Reminds me of Mr Popper’s Penguins.

    • Sam Thorne

      I have to admit – I don’t think even these geese were QUITE as sinister as Mr Popper’s penguins. Heh. Thanks for the lovely feedback. I’m glad you got a giggle reading it because I definitely enjoyed writing it!

  4. Alun

    I’d love to read Dan’s reaction to his wake up call. hahaha

    • Sam Thorne

      Now, that’s a whole new story! tee hee!

  5. Lisabet Sarai

    Bloody amazing!

    You are a comic genius, Tig.

    I can’t imagine that was any easier to write than some advice-for-the-struggling-author column.

    It was a lot more fun, though.

    • Sam Thorne

      Admittedly, this went through about 12 edits before I finally posted, so it wasn’t, as you say, any easier than pulling a constructive article together. But you’re also right in thinking that I had a damn good giggle while putting this together. Thanks for enjoying it, and for making a point of saying that you’d enjoyed it. I really appreciate that 🙂

  6. Daddy X

    Friggin’ hilarious, Sam.

    • Sam Thorne

      Coming from a die-hard, respected comedian of the erotic arts, that means a lot to me. Thank you!

  7. Thomas

    Bloody brilliant well done Sam, very funny.

    • Sam Thorne

      Thanks, Tom! I’m really glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  8. Mairead Devereux

    Very funny, Tig! Thanks for the “seasonal” laugh!!! Mairead

    • Sam Thorne

      Thanks, Mairead! I’m glad you liked it 🙂

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