Terry Pratchett

“In front of the group was a legless man on a small wheeled trolley, who was singing at the top of his voice and banging two saucepans together. His name was Arnold Sideways. Pushing him along was Coffin Henry, whose croaking progress through an entirely different song was punctuated by bouts of off-the-beat coughing. He was accompanied by a perfectly ordinary-looking manin torn, dirty and yet expensive looking clothing, whose pleasant tenor voice was drowned out by the quaking of a duck on his head. He answered to the name of Duck Man, although he never seemed to understand why, or why he was always surrounded by people who seemed to see ducks where no ducks could be. And finally, being towed along by a small grey dog on a string, was Foul Ole Ron, generally regarded in Ankh-Morpork as the deranged beggars' deranged beggar.
He was probably incapable of singing, but at least he was attempting to swear in time to the beat, or beats.

The wassailers stopped and watched them in horror.

People have always had the urge to sing and clang things at the dark stub of the year, when all sorts of psychic nastiness has taken advantage of the long grey days and the deep shadows to lurk and breed. Lately people had taken to singing harmoniously, which rather lost the affect. Those who really understood just clanged something and shouted.

The beggars were not in fact this well versed in folkloric practice. They were just making a din in the well-founded hope that people would give them money to stop.

It was just possible to make out consensus song in there somewhere.

"Hogswatch is coming,

The pig is getting fat,

Please put a dollar in the old man's hat

If you ain't got a dollar a penny will do-"

"And if you ain't got a penny," Foul Ole Ron yodeled, solo, 'Then- fghfgh yffg mfmfmf..." The Duck man had, with great Presence of mind, clamped a hand over Ron's mouth.”


Terry Pratchett, Hogfather
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Hogfather (Discworld, #20; Death, #4) Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
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