It's a funny time, the days after Christmas Day leading up to New Year's Day and beyond. I have no idea what day it is most of the time. I forget which days are holidays or weekends and which are 'working days' when one of us (Dougie) has to be up early and therefore would appreciate the heat and water coming on before he has to leave the house. Days merge into each other, we survive on a combination of Ferrero Rocher and Ritz Crackers. It's no wonder our brains are addled, prodded into use each evening with our regular diet of Celebrity University Challenge and darts.
At least the darts has finished, or, should I say, the PDC World Championships, which my boys watched every blummin' minute of the day for what seemed like weeks, probably because it was. I was so thankful for our trip to Newcastle the weekend before Christmas as my mum had decided to cancel her Sky Sports subscription. Hoorah! The raucous antics at the Ally Pally have now been replaced by the more subdued 'Can we have some order, please' BDO World Darts at the Lakeside which, I am reliably informed by my two experts, isn't as exciting to watch. Thank heavens for that.
To escape a life of cold meats and Pringles, we did leave the confines of the sitting room for a spur-of-the-moment trip to London for the sales. Whereas Rory and his girlfriend, Juliana, seemed to know exactly how this should be done (ok, Juliana was an expert. Rory held the bags like a good chap), Dougie and I were quite hopeless in our efforts to secure a bargain. We drifted in and out of stores, slid hangers along rails, occasionally held something up against ourselves and shrugged a lot. It was all a bit too busy, to the extent that, as we fought our way along Piccadilly, I actually said out loud, 'Oh it's so busy, it's like Piccadilly Circus'.
The only oasis of calm we found during our day was an unexpected left turn off Piccadilly into the Royal Academy of Arts. We wandered around the courtyard, soaking up the silence, then spotted a green neon sign, 'Keep me Safe', indicating the entrance to The Keeper's House. We went in. It turned out to be our best decision of the day. We sat in the Sir Hugh Casson Room, drank tea poured from cast iron tiny teapots and ate a fabulously creamy Swiss Roll concoction which soothed my frazzled shopper's nerves. How were we to know that this place has only been open a few months, the neon sign was designed by Tracey Emin and that public admission to the lounges is usually only after 4pm (they had extended the hours over Christmas). This was obviously quite the place to be and yet we had stumbled upon it. Made up for our lack of bargains.
My shopping mojo returned once we'd returned to the sticks. Dougie and I both bought trousers from local shops in Spalding, Rory was successful in Boston with shirts and jeans. But my bargain of the season was purchased in TKMaxx in Boston: a Stefanel pale pink cashmere cardigan, reduced from £180 to £25. Ya Beauty....as Dougie would say in traditional Scottish parlance, translated as 'My goodness, that is good fortune.'
NEW YEAR'S EVE
A Murder Mystery Party at a friend's house was a hoot. We only knew the theme and our characters a couple of days beforehand so it was quite disconcerting to realise that within our wardrobe we had the required garb to transform ourselves into Mary Jane Faithless and Oliver Steed for a 1967 weekend in Chelsea. Yes, Dougie really does possess a velvet jacket and loud shirt to become 'actor, raconteur, hell-raiser, larger than life' Oliver (typecast again) and I did have a long velvet skirt, waistcoat and blouse appropriate for top pop singer whose mother was a Russian countess and father a French fisherman. I have no need to tell you I went to town on the role. It may have been 'just a party' but no-one is going to accuse moi of giving a lacklustre performance.
GOING TO THE INLAWS
A roast dinner at Dougie's parents after New Year was a comfortable, happy evening with Dougie and I despairing of his parents and Rory despairing of us. That is as it should be. We thought it was time to go when Dougie's mum misheard a comment we made about a bloke on the TV. We said he looked like Churchill. She thought we said he owned a chip shop. Back home, as we sat in the car in the driveway, I momentarily forgot what sequence of actions are needed to allow us to open the car door while the engine is running so we can get out to open the garage door without the blasted car beeping at us. It's something to do with the seat belt and the parking brake. I glazed over. Dougie glazed over. Rory piped up from the back seat:
"Watching you pair is like waiting for a video to play on the computer. Buffering!"
Which really sums up our whole Christmas. Buffering. That whirring little circle going round and round, forgetting what day it is, what time it is, just happily waiting for someone to give us a reboot and tell us that the festive season is over and we have to return to normality.