Festive greetings Sour Wee Readers. I could have written a lovely post about the congenial nature of a family Christmas, but that’s not really what you expect so I’ll stay true to form and share this rant instead. I wrote it on the 23rd, in the midst of a shopping frenzy. I’m still recovering, if I’m speaking frankly.
In the interests of public safety, do not, for fuck’s sake, venture anywhere near Forestside on the run up to Christmas. Same goes for the retail park opposite, or actually anywhere this side of town because proper, full on madness is afoot. I trotted down on Monday, clutching my ‘bags for life’ at 8-15. Now, in fairness, I survived Sainsbury’s without incident: people still afforded me the common courtesy of not ramming trolleys into the back of my heels, which I always find a bonus.
M&S, on the other hand, was more chaotic than my large intestine after a feed of sprouts. It was even worse than last year, when it was totally nuts too, but I went down at 10am so I suppose was asking for it. (‘Will we just go home Mummy?’ the Older Child asked, as she sensed my rage escalating).
At 8-25, I was at least two hours too late. The store was almost at a standstill, since the executive decision had been taken to park those big feck-off green carts full of carrots and potatoes in the middle of the aisles. About a million people were trying to squeeze past, peering over the teetering truckloads of turkey and biscuits and booze. The ones who most pissed me off though, were the dithering eejits ON THEIR PHONES. Really, would this be the time of day to enquire whether your son’s new vegan girlfriend prefers oat to soya milk for breakfast? Yes, we get it, you’re awfully middle class, now move your cashmere clad ass along.
However, I’m not really one to be calling anyone else middle class, since I was on the hunt for lychees for Christmas breakfast. I have a fondness for lychees, because when I lived on Reunion Island, 20 years ago, now December was ‘lychee season.’ It was considered rude to show up to anyone’s door without a plastic bag full of them, and many people had lychees trees in their gardens. (We didn’t, but we still the happy recipients of many a bag). Here you can buy a small punnet with no more than 7 in it for £2-50, but I buy them anyway to remind me of when I was young and carefree. I’ve been feeding them to the girls ever since they were old enough to chew, and they are their absolute favourite fruit. They’ve requested extra lychees this year ‘From Santa.’ Anyway, I couldn’t get near the fucking lychees, because M&S employee of the year Valerie was pushing a cart full of festive fruits which blocked access to mangoes, pineapples and papayas, (anyone else think papayas have the taste and texture of soggy cotton wool soaked in piss?) and she met her old friend Tricia, who said she had forgotten Valerie still worked in M&S. But she did!! Fancy that!
Valerie had been up from 2am, to be in work for 4. ‘You must be very tired,’ said Tricia, who with such powers of deduction should clearly be working for MI5.
‘Is there any fucking chance?’ I thought to myself, while these banalities were exchanged. I met a few people I knew myself, but there was no lingering for us, just the briefest of salutations in a ‘may the force be with you’ sort of way. I came over all a-quiver and had to leave and have a restorative coffee in General Merchants. I would have just gone home, except I was on a mission to buy a replacement llama from Dunnes, which had still to open. I’ll explain. LSB had purchased the children ‘heat up cuddly llamas’ on Saturday, because he likes to buy them things, to curry favour. It doesn’t make them any more biddable, I can tell you that. He’s a lot to learn, my husband. They have, as I may have mentioned, a multitude of cuddly toys, and have no need of a llama, heat up or otherwise.
Anyway, on Saturday evening we were cordially invited for dinner at our neighbours’ house. It had been a fraught sort of a day and so glad was I to see my friends that I took to the drink with gusto. I disgraced myself really, not a bit of need for it, at 40 years of age.
The Small Child had her llama clutched under her wee arm and wanted it heated up, to show it off in all it toasty glory. My poor friend, who was simultaneously refilling wine glasses and slicing up Christmas cake, popped it in the microwave. I think she hit minutes rather than seconds because the next thing we knew an acrid stench emanated from the kitchen.
‘Oh shite,’ she yelped, ‘I’ve cooked the llama!’ racing in to rescue it. A terrible sight awaited us.
The glue was all melted and the microwavable bag had exploded. The beans had stuck to the glue which created the unfortunate effect of a llama with a bowel disfunction, with little grey beans stuck to its undercarriage, like a bad dose of the runs.
My friend felt very bad. She felt it was all her fault, but I said really it was the child’s fault for omitting to remove the heatable innards. ‘Melted llama anyone?’ said my friend’s husband, who’s a witty sort of a chap.
We set the llama outside on the window sill, so we weren’t overcome with fumes while we sipped our coffee and ate chocolate. It looked in at us with a baleful expression. It was amazing, opined my pal Brenda, just how bad a polyester cuddly toy could make one feel.
Hence there I was, on the morning of the 23rd, on the hunt for a llama that my child most definitely didn’t need but felt strongly that she deserved. The queues in Dunnes were long and I didn’t feel like asking the stony faced assistants for help. Home I came, llama-less.
Still, despite this episode we’ve had a rather lovely Christmas. LSB forked out for a Nintendo Switch, an idea to which I was was thoroughly opposed, and I’m thrilled to say that the present the kids have so far enjoyed the most is a ‘colouring-in fairy house’ which has kept them busy all yesterday evening and they’re still at it now. Happy Saint Stephen’s day, everyone, and FFS don’t be running down to the Next Sale. We’ll have none of that nonsense please.