It's a curious phenomenon which I've now come to accept that whenever I'm moved to write verse - and I've absolutely no idea what it is that moves me to do so, or why - it always seems to start with something silly. Like this one, for example.

It happened that Dorothy was decorating the tree just before Christmas 1990, and from the traditional box of Christmas decorations took out the fairy which has crowned the annual tree for so many years that we can't remember how long. For some reason this fairy has never accepted the vertical posture that Dorothy desires, and always leans to starboard (or is it port ? - probably port, in view of what comes next).

This time, she stood back, looked at the fairy in her customary stance, and remarked, "Our fairy gets drunk every Christmas !" I said, "You know, that's anapaestic trimeter !" She said "Oh, you !"

But the line stuck in my head, and, two or three days later, when we were spending the night at the inn made famous by the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small", it began to take shape. And then, as usually happens, silly verse gave way to equally silly verse, which then led on to more serious verse in the shape of "Askrigg: Christmas 1990" .

As I said earlier, I've stopped asking myself why . . .


Our fairy gets drunk every Christmas;
She's a pitiful sight to behold;
Her silver wand's all over tarnish
And her hair's no longer pure gold.

We should have foreseen this would happen
The moment she took to the booze;
Her money went first, then her honour;
Mind, she hadn't much honour to lose.

Now she hangs on the tree in the window
Just burping and falling about;
The neighbours are starting to notice;
She puts us to shame, there's no doubt.

Still, the children would never forgive us
If we threw the old reprobate out,
'Cos they knew her when she was a lady
Before she became the Old Trout.

W, G. S.
Christmas 1990