Tuesday, 15 May 2007

A Christmas Carol

We're not American here, not yet. Despite Bonsai Johnny Bush wishing it. And we're by and large a Christian nation, we celebrate Christmas. We came up with thongs and tinnies on the Christmas tree, and if we didn't invent Carols By Candlelight well I reckon we were just the earliest adopters.

And we're great jokers, we are. Which is why a little memory that tonight's quiz show shook loose is a little bit piquant. And some of us followed American comics other than MAD magazine...

Were you ever stuck in a school choir? And do you remember how hard it was to sing "while shepherds watch their flocks by night" when the loudest most tuneless and most clueless kid in the school, whom you of course got stuck right next to in the choir, tunelessly caterwauled "while shepherds pie their locks alight"? It's hard to sing the right words when someone is belting out the wrong ones right beside you.

All those things and several more came together in a flawlessly executed practical prank one day, in the late 90's. A few of us had gotten slightly pissed (well okay, a lot pissed) at the beginning of the Christmas break, and decided a Carols By Candlelight prank was for us. We planned it meticulously, too. Practised for quite a few nights and nursed hangovers the next day, plotted our positions in the crowd, everything. All we'd need on the night was one cue.

Now picture the scene. A medium sized (maybe several hundred) sized group on some community land in Perth, a sea of candles and smiling faces, music. Spread through the mob, three guys who had just one mission in mind, one thing to achieve that night. Wait for the cue. Wait for that one song, one tune. One carol, that was all we asked for, one carol.

For the first few carols we sang along like angels. Our turn was coming soon! Our turn was coming soon! and we watched the candles burn down, and suddenly, there it was!!!

Three voices in the crowd started, just far enough apart that no-one would connect us as a prank commando unit, but close enough together to be heard singing the same well-rehearsed lyrics. And suddenly,voices around us faltered, as if not quite believing what they were hearing. Were they, after all these years, wrong? While these new words were right? After all, one person - well he's that loudest most tuneless and most clueless kid, right? And two, well they could have gone to the same school together. But three, that's a paradigm shift...

The circles of confusion spread outward from us like ripples from stones. Suddenly a voice somewhere in the outskirts, in a very American accent, whispered "well Ah'll be daimmed!" and started singing along as the whole area around us fell silent - except, of course, for the loudest most tuneless and most clueless kid in the crowd who kept blasting out the normal version at full volume.

We meanwhile got several verses in before someone stopped the music. It started out as a little lost strain among the crowd, got positively BELTED OUT as almost the entire rest of the park went quiet except for us four, and then trailed off into uncertainty when the organisers unceremoniously pulled the music on us.

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wow of folly,
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!!!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin'
on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name....uh zzzizzi zuhwoo

Find the rest of the words and some backstory here.

And yeah, some nice man came over to us and suggested we leave. No-one appreciates a prank when there are sacred cows involved apparently... And we three mates (never did find out who the fourth one was) had one more thing to tell the grandkids. Ah we're easily amused.

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