Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas miracles

So that was Christmas. The lunch with friends passed without incident – the OH’s truffles were suitably admired (especially by an eight-year-old who managed to eat most of them while the adults were otherwise occupied with chitchat and coffee) and in the Secret Santa lottery we came away with a home-made shopping bag and a jar of salted lemons.

The bag has already been pressed into service at Sainsbury’s. The salted lemons are sitting in the fridge while the OH decides what to do with them.

It was lovely to see the latest grandchild and his parents later in the day. They stayed overnight and for lunch on Boxing Day.

I do sometimes wonder if my son is turning into Goldilocks – the bed was too soft, the room was too hot – but at least he had enough common sense to wait until his father was occupied in the kitchen before attempting the traditional parental Christmas task of assembling various items given to children by fond relations. 

Indeed, he managed to put together the push-along trike with only the advice of his wife and his mother and without losing his temper. Truly, a Christmas miracle. 

There were other wonders. The OH (who once bought me an iron for Christmas and has never been allowed to forget it) gave me a smart red handbag which was even smarter than the one I had been coveting in John Lewis. Thank you Google and cookies

And thanks, too, to Facebook and Instagram, whereby we could see that Father Christmas had managed to find our other grandchildren on an island in Thailand (even if it was rather hot for the reindeer).  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rocky Road

This year we are not having the Family Christmas Lunch. The children and grandchildren are variously in Wales, Thailand and another part of North London and, although a little sad not to see them all, part of me was secretly looking forward to a meal where we could eat what we fancied instead of having to remember who wouldn’t or couldn’t eat sprouts/chestnuts/Christmas pudding etc.

The OH, however, clearly felt differently. (He likes company, an audience for his jokes and his stories – I’ve heard them all before.)

So when one of his mates suggested we join him and his family, plus a famous actress friend and her family, plus some other friends the OH had known through his work a while ago, he jumped at the chance. 

‘Don’t bring anything,’ said the friend’s wife, another former colleague. ‘Just something for the Secret Santa. We just do a craft thing, something home made.’

As far as I know, the OH has never taken part in Secret Santa but, channelling his inner Heston, he came up with a plan. An elaborate foodie pun.

He would make some chocolate truffles, then present them on a half a wooden log with ‘earth’ made from crumbled chocolate biscuits. 

So far he has spent some time sourcing the right sort of biscuit. (I have refrained from pointing out that a true chef would have made his own.)

He has bought all the ingredients for the truffles but has abandoned his idea of presenting them on half a log as the log pile outside is too wet.

This morning he asked me if I had a small box he could use instead. When I found one he said he didn’t need the lid. Foolishly, I asked what would happen if we had to put our gifts into a Secret Santa sack.

He is now not talking to me. I am not sure if he will still go ahead with any part of his plan but luckily I have a secret supply of amaretti, marshmallows and glace cherries in the cupboard in case of emergencies.

Just right for a Christmas rocky road.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hear, hear

When the OH and I were both gainfully employed full-time we saw far less of each other in the course of 24 hours. 

So we talked less to each other. And we seemed to annoy each other less.

We clearly have a problem – but I’m beginning to think it’s less about character and more about communication. More specifically, about hearing.

Take this recent exchange for example.
Me: Your phone pinged.
Him (looking a little insulted): You’re a penguin? 

The OH insists I mumble. That I need to speak more clearly. That I DO NOT NEED TO SHOUT.

The other evening he came back from the pub where he had been having a pint with two of his mates. One of them has recently had very expensive hearing aids fitted because he has suddenly and inexplicably become very deaf. There seemed to have been a fair bit of discussion about wives and being able to hear them (or not).

Apparently, the OH said triumphantly, we ALL lose the ability to detect really high-pitched sounds as we get older – so the problem was not husbands getting deafer, but wives speaking in high-pitched voices. And clearly the answer was for me to speak more like Mrs Thatcher. And not to speak to him when he was in another room. Or with my back to him.

Today the OH thrust a newspaper under my nose.
‘This is what you’ve got,’ he said.

I skimmed the article which said that scientists had demonstrated that inattentional deafness is a genuine phenomenon. This explains why a person can be so absorbed in a book or a crossword they become deaf to normally audible sound.

The OH looked triumphant. I think he said something but unfortunately I was concentrating, so I didn’t hear him. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Testing, testing

The phrase ‘three little words’ used to mean ‘I love you’. These days they mean income draw down.

Flushed with excitement now that he is getting his hands on some money, my OH has decided to replace his much loved Jaguar - or as he put it: “What we need is a new family car.”

His original plan had been to keep his special edition Jaguar XJR until it became a modern classic and shot up in value. 

Now he is suggesting we sell both the Jag and my Ford Focus (the car used for essentials of family life such as collecting Christmas trees, making journeys to the tip and ferrying grandchildren around), then buy one car that we can share.

I am not entirely convinced that this is a good idea. Apart from one brief period in the past when mortgage rates were running at 12 per cent we have never had a ‘family car’. We had his and her cars.

His was the big shiny one that impressed clients and was taken to the car wash every week. Mine was the scruffy little one full of empty crisp packets, used baby wipes and CDs of Paddington Bear and Stig of the Dump. (Thanks to grandchildren, it still is.) 

Besides, his idea of a suitable family car and mine are completely different. We have already had a test drive in what he laughably refers to as the little Jaguar. And we have looked at a BMW 3 series 340 which is - apparently - superior to the BMW 3 series 320 (although not to the naked eye).

The test drives, it seemed to me, were all about 0-60 speeds, and the handling round corners and technical issues like that. The salesmen laughed when I observed that the real test would be whether I could manoeuvre the car into one of the miniscule spaces in Sainsbury’s car park. The OH was not at all amused.

He is now insisting that some of the cars he has his eye on are actually narrower than my Focus and only a few centimetres longer. I suspect we will never agree. 

  1. His earliest memories of family cars include his father's Ford Thunderbird. My Dad’s pride and joy was a Ford Anglia!