Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not so Secret, Secrets!!

For my Gasbaggy review I have chosen 'The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets' by Eva Rice.
It is an 'amiable' read set in the 1950's and centres on the life of Penelope who lives in a crumbling old ancestral home named Milton Magna.
Basically she meets Charlotte, who becomes her best friend, whilst standing at a bus stop. Charlotte invites her round for tea, so she goes, (who wouldn't follow up an invitation to tea by a complete stranger), at tea she meets Aunt Clare and Harry.
Before I go any further here is a list of characters:
Penelope - a teenager madly in love with Johnny Ray and she has big hands
Charlotte - another teenager madly in love with Johnny Ray, somewhat scatty but very intelligent
Harry - odd eyes training to be a magician, what a catch
Aunt Clare - she has scaly hands... it says so in the book, 'Aunt Clares tiny hand was as delicate as a budgies claw in my great paw' Penelope on greeting Aunt Clare for the first time.
Talitha Orr - Penelope's mother, very beautiful but has a pole up her rear desperately trying to hold it all together and figure out how to save crumbly Milton Magna
Inigo - Penelope's younger brother who wants to be like Elvis
Rocky - he's American, very rich and an agent in the music and movie business... wow what a coincidence maybe he could help Inigo out..yawn!
Marina Hamilton - another American portrayed as rather vulgar who it transpires is Harry's love interest and an alcoholic to boot
So do I need to go on, have you figured out the plot yet. Oh for heavens sake it's obvious, so obvious in fact that the writing talent of Ms Rice is actually wasted. She might as well have written a recipe book!
Here goes then, deep breath;
Penelope falls for Harry, Harry is in love with Marina, Charlotte and Aunt Clare put their heads together to get him together with Penelope, which he ends up doing after a bit of a chase. Talitha gets the pole extracted from her rear and falls for Rocky who is passionately in love with her, he arranges for Milton Magna to be burnt to the ground thereby setting her free of all the debt. And Inigo gets a recording contract in the States. Oh and Marina marries a sop called George and Aunt Clare drops dead in France leaving Harry her son a nice wedge of inheritance. Didn't see any of that coming? Well if you had read the book you would have by the second chapter.
I'm not entirely sure that in light of the transparent plot that the title is very apt. Hey ho, it passed a few soggy mornings travelling to work on the bus!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Yes this blog is one year old today... yipee!

You are all invited to the party,

yes JT that includes you and the Captain, see I promised I would.

I've organised party games,

I thought we could start with a game of musical chairs

Just remember it's my party I might cry if I loose!!! By the way Atilla is that you 'hogging' the show, yes I can see you dear waving at the camera, it's ok you're my oldest blogging chum I forgive you... but just this once.

Ooh, ooh look it's time to light the candles on the cake

altogether now,

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear St Ju-ude
Happy birthday to you

Did you get me a pressie, did you, did you... something sparkly, exotic, did you, eh, eh.

It's ok there are enough party bags for everyone, yes JT that includes you big Sis xx

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Daughter, the 'Treehugger'.

One day a couple of weeks ago her Ladyship had to take an exam for one of her college courses. She studied hard in the days leading up to the exam and burnt the midnight oil making every effort to ensure that she was ready. The night before I tested her and 'teased' the answers from her tiring brain. Now at this point I should say that it does help if you have a smidgen of understanding of the subject that you are testing on. Psychology was never one of my preferred subjects and sadly I have to say that more of it probably remained in the text books than in my brain. However I did my best, and when all else failed I valiantly filled in the 'blanks' with my own theories!

The morning of the exam arrived and her Ladyship seemed remarkably relaxed and calm. Confident in her abilities I headed off to work. At 11.30 she called to say that she had finished her exam and although not altogether happy about how it had gone she did remember some of the theories that I had filled in for her, and she was most grateful, eek! In particular she favoured my theory that Pavlov's' experiments were by their nature flawed and that he did not in actual fact create a trigger to make the dogs salivate on command, dogs drool constantly and his time and effort would have been far better utilised in trying to find a trigger to stop them drooling, especially on furniture and work clothes.

This said she informed me that a bunch of her college friends were heading to the pub to get a bite to eat and a drink to celebrate and that she would see me at home in a couple of hours. I gave her the usual 'Motherly' advice, make sure you eat something, don't drink too much at lunchtime, check your rear view before leaving the Ladies, etc. So I went back to my work. When it was time to leave I called her to see if she would like to meet up and we would go home together. A slightly tipsy daughter answered,

"Hello Mum," she answered.

"Hello Sweetie, I've finished work and I just wondered if you wanted to travel home together?"

"Oh Mum, I'm having a great time, everyone is such a laugh. I'll be home in a little while."

Hmm, "Ok Sweetie, just don't drink too much will you," Famous last words spring to mind.

During the course of a very long and somewhat fraught afternoon awaiting the homecoming of her Ladyship and several increasingly drunken phone calls ranging from "Hi, Mum, we're heading to another pub I'll call you in a bit" to "Hello mummy, you're the besht, you reeally, reeally are, aren't you,"

"Hello Sweetie, yes I know I'm the bees knees, now do you think I should come and pick you up?"

"Ok, what time?"

"NOW, would be good for me dear,"

"Hic, urrm, achewally, I'm not entirely shure, hic, where we are, hic!"

"Try asking somebody Sweetie," I could feel my halo tightening.

Eventually I managed to establish where she was and I headed off to pick her up. After twenty minutes I was at our meeting point and as I pulled the car up I was relieved to see that she was on her way out of the pub. On seeing the car she broke into a jog, unfortunately at that very same moment a nearby tree also decided to go jogging and ran directly into her path. Whallop!! She hit it 'head on', I watched helplessly as she staggered backwards arms clawing at the air, then just in the nick of time she managed to regain her composure. She is her mother's daughter. Courteously she turned to her 'fellow jogger' and apologised for not seeing him, then she happily skipped over to the car and 'slipped' into the passenger seat beside me grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"Hello dear, how's your head?" I asked trying to mask the impending fit of giggles.

"Whow! You musht, hic, musht be p-shy, p-shck, p-shy, hic, a mind reader," she said turning to me in awe, "how did you know my head hurt?"

"I'm you're Mother Sweetie, I know everything,"

As we drove home a large bruise began to develop on the side of her face, several times she queried it's creation and several times I recounted her 'treehugging' encounter. Finally we were home and being the kind Mother that I am I tucked her into bed. At 2.15am I was woken by a rather pathetic little voice issuing from the door,

"Mum, I don't feel well, I don't feel well at all, I think I have concussion,"

"Really darling. So what are the symptoms?"

"I've got a banging headache and I've been sick," she pleaded woefully,

Hmm, nothing to do with the copious amount of alcohol then! So once again I tucked her back into bed, cold flannels pressed to her aching head and bruised face... and of course the obligatory bucket. Then I headed back to my own bed, I'm a saint I know, but there are limits.

I left her the following morning tucked up on the sofa with a bruised face, fractured dignity and a hangover, sorry concussion. As I walked out of the door she was deep in conversation with her cousin, who it appears she had called the night before telling her that she had been attacked by a mad duck named George!! The duck in question resides next to our telephone, he's never shown any signs of aggression before.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Sunday Trumpet

It's Sunday so it's time for another review. Check this one out, it's Tom's first review. It's the book Nemesis, by Bill Napier if you're having trouble sleeping then this is definitely one for you.
If you would like to join the Gasbags then go here you can also catch up with the previous seasons posts and an explanation of how it all began.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Catalogue of Errors.

A few days ago I returned home from work to find two very large catalogues on the doorstep. So I picked them up and took them inside. On the doormat were two letters from the catalogue company addressed to the lady who lived here before us. She had obviously forgotten to inform them that she had moved.

So being the nice bod that I am I thought that I would call the catalogue company and inform them that she no longer lives here. One minor point, I don't have a forwarding address or telephone number for her. Oh well, at least they can have their catalogues back, from the size of them there must be at least half a tree in each one. So I called the company;

The disembodied voice on the other end of the line kicked in on the third ring, "Thank you for calling Big Fat Catalogues, if you are calling to order a cataloge please press one on your telephone pad? If you are calling to place an order from your catalogue please press two on your keypad" and so it went on. Why is there never an option that simply asks do you want to talk to a real person? After several attempts to actually speak to someone and bypass the automaton, I finally got through.

"Good evening, may I take your account number please?"

"Oh I don't have an account with your company," I replied

"Please dial again and press button one on your telephone keypad to set up a new account, thank you," Click...

Excuse me! She had hung up on me. Alrighty, let's try again.

After navigating through the myriad of options once more I was through to a 'real' person.

"Good evening, may I take your account number please?"

"Oh I don't, (no don't do it), actually I'm calling to let you know that I have recieved a catalogue, but it isn't mine, the person you sent it to has moved."

"What's the account number?" I reeled off the account number on the letter they had sent. "Ok Mrs B, what's your new address?"

"I'm not Mrs B, I've already told you that I am calling to let you know that Mrs B has moved. I'm sorry but I don't have her new address,"

"We will need proof," she demanded.

"Proof!" I asked

"We'll need proof that you are not Mrs B and that she has moved."

"No you don't, I am telling you that I am not Mrs B that should be enough, I'm merely calling to let you know that your catalogue is here, it's not mine, and if you want it you can come and collect it, ok!"

"Yes Madam, but we will need proof that you not Mrs B and that she has moved," she repeated

"Hello, hello, is there an echo in here. Look I don't want to get into an argument about this dear, but I am happy to keep them until someone collects them, ok."

"I'm sorry but we don't collect. You need to take it to your post office and send it back to us."

"I don't think so, there's half a tree each in those tomes do you know how much it is going to cost to post them?"

"I'm sorry but you do need to return it. The catalogue does not belong to you it is still our property, which you must return,"

"I didn't ask you to leave them on MY doorstep, and I am certainly NOT going to pay the costs of returning them to you." I said calmly in my most assertive of voices. "If you would like to collect them then I will keep them for five days, however if you have not collected them by then, I will put them into the recycling bin."

"You can't do that, it's not your property," there was a distinct note of panic in her voice.

"Then make sure that they are collected within the next five days." Click...

So the catalogues have sat in my hallway waiting for their 'owner' to collect them. They waited and waited but alas no one came. So as promised the two half trees were deposited into my recycling bin. Who should turn up this morning? Yes you've guessed it, the catalogue delivery / collection bod. I did feel a slight tinge of guilt as she rooted through my recycling bin, but hey ho, it wasn't a full on pang, don't be ridiculous!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Little Adventure into an Unknown World.

For longer than I can remember people have been telling me that I should get my 'work' published. My normal reaction to this is to smile sweetly and reply "hmm, maybe I'll give it a try". But to be honest I never have. There are I think probably two reasons for this, firstly I have never really thought that I had anything 'special', I never had faith in the things that I wrote, not that I wasn't personally happy or on occasions proud of my writing, but I just never really thought of any of it as being that special, or something that anyone would particularly want to read. The second reason and probably more pertinent is that I had no idea how to get published! Silly I know, but on reflection I think being honest if I had been that driven I would have found a way. Actually there is probably a third reason, more important than the other two, I didn't have a 'voice', you can only write convincingly if you know your own 'voice'.

When I was younger, quite a bit younger as it goes, my dream was to write a novel, get published... I'm sure that there are many of you out there who know exactly what I am talking about. However that would never have happened when I was younger, quite simply I didn't have the life experience to be able to write convincingly. As I have grown older I have as happens to us all faced many situations, (some good, some bad), that have affected my life and provided me with the 'seasoning' to be able to give life to situations and characters that I write about.

I suppose what I trying to say is that I am a late developer, I have as I always do come late to this particular party. Having spent time preparing to the 'enth' degree, I am now buffed and polished and ready to enjoy myself. Perhaps it is time to dip my toe into the whirling waters of the publishing world. Who knows what could happen, maybe just soggy feet! You never know unless you give it a try.. here's to a new adventure!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mrs Beeton goes to Bingo.

Yes the man upstairs has obviously decided to get his own back on me. Last night I had to take Mrs Beeton to bingo. Actually it was her ladyship's suggestion and I will give her, her due, she came along too. Now this is not I have to say something that we, (by we I mean her Ladyship and I), are used to, neither of us have ever set foot inside a Bingo hall before. We have only heard the rumours!!!!

We pulled up outside I queued behind the other drivers depositing their elderly passengers at the door to the 'Hall of Dreams'. Her Ladyship duly wrestled Mrs Beeton from the car and escorted her inside as I went to park. As I entered the foyer I searched for them amid the jostling crowd all desperately trying to get to the desk so that they could get their hands on the 'dream ticket'. A selection of geriatric blond man eaters still hopeful that they might pull even though they outnumbered the men ten to one, the men in question all either being attached to a formidable other half or having dubious parentage denoted by the odd arrangement of their facial features, (three ears and a nose an ant eater would have been proud of are not a good starting point).

Before we were allowed to enter the hallowed hall, we had to join. For this we needed to head to the membership desk. We ushered Mrs Beeton over to it and took our place in the line. After what seemed like an eternity, the several elderly 'virgins' ahead of us in the queue had a hard time filling out their forms, hindered by the lack of reading glasses, arthritis, and several senior moments forgetting names, (their own), addresses and one actually forgot where she was. Joy, her Ladyship smiled benignly as her elders giggled at their predicament and chatted to one another oblivious to the impending countdown to the start of the bingo fest. It was our turn and so we stepped up to the counter.

The rather surly young woman pushed the forms towards us and a pen, hmm. So with only one pen I was delegated as the chief form filler. Her Ladyship's form was first to complete so as I was completing the others I passed hers back to the aforementioned surly young woman. It was at this point that Mrs Beeton tugged at my coat,

"I need to go," she whispered softly.

"But we've only just got here, you haven't actually played yet!" I replied.

"No I need a wee,"

"Oh, can you hang on for a couple of minutes?" What was I thinking, of course she couldn't.

So as I continued with the form filling her Ladyship offered to escort her Gran to the toilet. Slight problem, the toilets are inside the hall and as we were not technically members they could not get inside. After several desperate minutes of frantic form filling and the agony of gauging the moment when the now dancing Mrs Beeton would have an 'accident' on the floor we had our membership cards and as her Ladyship and her dancing Gran headed for the toilets I entered unknown territory and procured the bingo tickets. Fortunately there was an old 'pro' ahead of me so I just followed her lead and took what seemed like a small forest of paper through to the now relieved Mrs Beeton and her even more relieved Granddaughter.

We managed to find a table towards the back that offered us a view of the big screen but that also allowed easy access to the 'facilities' should Mrs Beeton be taken short again. I now had the opportunity to take a look at the forest I had purchased. There were books of tickets, flyers, showbirds, earlybirds, and the 'dream' ticket. I glanced at her Ladyship who was also perusing the small pile of paperwork in front of her. Mrs Beeton was busily emptying her handbag onto the table.

"Have you lost something?" I enquired

"I'm just looking for my glasses,"

"You did put them in didn't you?" Panic was only a heartbeat away.

"Yes... oh!"


"No it's alright, I did put them in my bag, but I remember now I decided not to bring that one. Never mind you can help me out can't you."

With that statement her Ladyship confiscated Mrs Beeton's bag and after a mad rummage discovered the back up pair. Calm once more restored she set about putting the contents back whilst I set about putting the tickets into the order that they were to be played. Having done this I handed Mrs Beeton her stack. Without time to explain the caller announced that we were about to start the first game. Fortunately I had remembered to purchase three 'dabbers' when I got the tickets. We sat dabbers at the ready hovering over our first ticket, then the caller started. My giddy aunt, I wasn't prepared for the speed at which they went, neither was Mrs Beeton. It quickly became apparent that she was not up to the task and was by now several numbers behind, amid a flurry of dabbing, her Ladyship and I managed to get her back on track until thankfully someone called and we could take a breather.

After a couple of games more where it was discovered that Mrs Beeton was playing on the wrong ticket I decided to take charge of her tickets and pass them to her when needed. She appeared to be getting into the swing of it now and was managing to keep up. We were onto the earlybird now whipping through the games at breakneck speed. The caller announced the next number and Mrs Beeton in most uncharacteristic fashion jumped to her feet shouting. Stunned her Ladyship and I looked on as the assistant took her ticket for checking. The hall fell back into the quiet buzz of expectation. Mrs Beeton sat amid the admiring gaze of those about her as her ticket was flashed up onto the giant screen. As I stared up at it an awful realisation swallowed me up, I wish the floor had! Mrs Beeton had indeed got a line no argument about that, sadly the line had gone, and we were playing for the full house.

It took several minutes to convince Mrs Beeton that she had not won. I think it was to the relief of those around us and the staff that Mrs Beeton announced after the next game that she had, had enough and it was approaching her bedtime. After much whispered conversation during the next game and some frustrated sshing from her once admiring fans, we made our way out of the 'hall of dreams' heads bowed and for once we were all in agreement. Never again!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another Big Fat Wedding - Only Gaelic!!

This weekend we have been in Ireland, Northern Ireland to be exact, attending the wedding of his Lordships' nephew. He is the Bravehearts son, a Scot, he married a beautiful Irish girl. As you can imagine it was a wild weekend, with kilts, whisky, and lots of dancing.

The weekend started at 4am on Friday morning... yes I did say 4am!! We had decided to get an early start so that we could make the most of our time and do some exploring before the wedding. It seemed like a good idea at the time, however it was a rather grumpy St Jude heading off to the airport that morning. I think I finally woke up somewhere over the the Irish Sea. Forty minutes after the flight took off we were heading into the baggage hall and twenty minutes after that we were heading for the east coast and a lovely morning exploring. All I can say is that if you ever have the chance to visit Northern Ireland go for it.

After lunch at the Giants Causeway we decided to head to the hotel. This was also the venue for the wedding so we were going to meet up with the family. We were also going to be meeting up with a strong contingent from the Scottish rugby team, as our nephew had played rugby for Scotland. After checking in and a little snooze later, we headed to the bar for a little light refreshment. It would appear that the rest of our side of the wedding party had, had the same idea! So after half an hour of introductions to a variety of Gregs, Duncans, Iains, Ians, Judys, Maggies and all manner of people in between we finally managed to make it to the bar. After a couple of small snifters we decided to head back to the room as we were all meeting for a meal later in the evening. Well we're not getting any younger and we need to pace ourselves. The meal passed without any difficult moments, this was possibly down the fact that several of the 'rugby' team had been given strict instructions to behave nicely.

After a good night's sleep it was the wedding day, it was also my birthday :0) An Ulster fry for breakfast, (make that two Ulster frys for the rugby boys), and we were set for the day ahead. Some last minute finishing touches to the outfit courtesy of his Lordship, were completed with nail polish and a tooth pick. One of the stones fell out of the clasp of my jacket and in the absence of glue I can highly recommend nail polish... just make sure that it is the clear stuff!

We headed off down to the wedding room and took our places. I was excited to see not only the bride's outfit but also what 'party games' we would be playing at this wedding. Never fear I didn't have to wait too long, glancing about the rows of chairs it became obvious with all of those kilts, yes! it was a knobbly knees contest. Little did I know that this would later metamorphosis into something entirely different!!! Sadly the wedding was over all too quickly the vows recited and the readings performed then out into the garden and the now glorious sunlight for the photo shoot. I have to say however that it was somewhat cold. Talk about 'chapel hat pegs', I hope they can be airbrushed out of the final photographs otherwise they won't know whether they were attending a wedding or a sex worker's conference.

The photos taken we headed inside to the wedding room once more, this time the party game was musical chairs. It would appear that there is a limited stock of chairs in the hotel so they have to move them around, they were now on their way to the reception room. So with that we headed through to the next room where they were serving mulled wine and pink champagne. Neither I have to say are particular favourites of mine, but you have to join in don't you. After some amiable chatter to an already inebriated Irish chap with an accent so thick you needed a dictionary, it was time to move onto the reception and the speeches.

It had been decided that they would 'do' the speeches first, I think this was to enable those doing the speeches to a) remember them, and b) not slur their way through them. The Brides Father gave a glowing eulogy about marriage and it's charms, under the omnipotent gaze of his wife. Then the Groom said his piece, thanking all manner of people and presenting the usual flowers to his new Mother In Law, however when it came to his own Mother he was as caring as ever, merely pointing her in their direction. It fell to a gallant young Scots man on our table to rescue her and present them on bended knee. Then came the best man... the entire room fell silent, the Groom head in hands trembled slightly in anticipation. All was going smoothly until the final moment when the groom recounted the story he had heard of how the young couple had met. It would appear that they had met whilst on a trip with a number of friends to London. The 'now' Groom had decided that he would like to take a trip to Soho, he was in his youth, and so after perusing the delights on offer decided to head for the nearest bar to ponder, whereupon he got into conversation with 'one of the girls', now his Wife. Wrong!! Accompanied by much stuttering and stammering the Groom blushing furiously stood up and attempted to explain that this was not the truth. Much to the amusement of the gathered Rugby contingent, who were actually in on the joke with the Bride. Shame nobody thought to let her Father know beforehand.

Needless to say after some posturing and a little pushing the Rugby contingent and the Bride owned up and all was well again. That part of the entertainment over and the meal complete there was nothing left but to play musical chairs again as they slowly made their way to the ballroom with the rest of us following on. As we seated ourselves the band struck up, and all at once there appeared to be what can only be described as a 'scrum' on the dance floor, kilts swinging violently this way and that and not the lightest of steps thundering around the room, and with that the dancing had started. With only a moment to catch our breath his Lordship and I were catapulted into the fray and twirled, whirled, jigged and reeled to within an inch of our lives. I have to say that if you have ever had a go at Scottish dancing you will know that there is no escape once you are up there, and if in doubt just hook the nearest arm that comes your way, it worked everytime.

By the end of the evening we were exhausted, it was just as we were leaving that the Rugby contingent decided to get into full swing, and I mean that literally... what on earth is it with men in kilts, everytime I turned around there was yet another grinning mischievously as his kilt headed skyward. There was more 'tackle' on display than at a fishing contest! As the raucous revelry continued into the night a very saintly St Jude headed for her bed.

Beta Blogging

I mistakenly changed my blog to the new beta version of blogger and since then I have had real problems trying to comment on other peoples blogs. I can't even sign in half of the time. Has anyone else had any similar problems?

That is partly the reason I haven't been blogging since New Year. The other reason is that I have been in Ireland for another big fat wedding. It was great fun, lots of men in kilts, pickle juice and dancing. I'll give you the full low down in my next entry.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Warm Fuzzy Day...

Today has been lovely. We have had another family get together, it is so good to be able to have our family around to visit.

For those of you who have your families living nearby this is perhaps not a luxury you are aware of. But having spent a decade living apart from them with a four to five hour journey, (and that is a good journey, sometimes it could take upto seven hours), this is heaven for us. Virtually every weekend has been booked with family and friends visiting.

The packing fairies came for a long weekend with our grandchildren... I can't say anything more than it was heaven, I miss them terribly. Then his Lordships siblings came over for dinner and to stay for the night, the bravehearts from Scotland his sister and her husband, the international chefs his eldest brother and his wife, and the 'chuckle' brother his middle brother, (for those not familiar with the chuckle brothers they are slapstick children's performers who always botch everything they do, I'll say no more). We had a night of good food, wine and an hilarious pool tournament with the 'girls' against the 'boys'. Our team won thanks to her Ladyship being something of a pool demon. We didn't tell them that she had won trophies... oh come on I'm not that saintly!

On Christmas day I actually got to spend time with the beloved Captain something I haven't done for ten years. Being able to take his present over on the day and watch him open it was wonderful. Then the international chefs arrived with Mrs Beeton, (re-christened 'Humbug' especially for the Christmas season, don't ask), and the chuckle brother. Now this was something of a canny move on his Lordship's part. You see he invited them around on the proviso that they do the cooking. No that is not a comment on my abilities, but I have been doing the whole Christmas dinner thing for the last twenty five years and bless him he thought that after the year we've had I deserved some time off. Well almost, I cooked the turkey and the stuffing, damn fine stuffing even if I do say so myself, chestnut and cranberry, even the international chefs were impressed. So we sat down to a lovely dinner together even Humbug couldn't find anything to whinge about.. well almost, she didn't like the smoked salmon starter, the fact that she had never tasted it before wasn't going to put her off saying that she didn't like it. Oh and the stuffing wasn't Paxo, and the cabbage was off, it was red and not green!!!! Ho hum.

Last night we spent at home, I personally don't do the whole New Year thing, for me Christmas is the time that I love. New Year is a time for reflecting on past mistakes and 'if onlys' and plans for the future that never quite turn out as you would have wanted or expected. I have to say that I am a bit of a party pooper with the whole New Year thing, and tend to be in bed before the clock strikes midnight. But I do understand that it is a celebration for many and I am happy to ensure that they enjoy themselves. However this year I did see in the New Year more through endurance than entertainment. Humbug was in full swing, numerous phone calls to tell us how depressed she was, numerous phone calls to everyone in the family to tell them how depressed she was. We spent the night on the phone explaining to all of her grandchildren that she was not about to 'cut her wrists' and that we are looking after her. IT WAS HER CHOICE TO SPEND NEW YEAR ALONE. This did not prevent her from doing the usual and spoiling the fun for everyone, chiefly her grandchildren.

Today however, as I said at the beginning has been lovely. I cooked dinner for my family, initially it was only going to be seven, but at the last minute an extra, very welcome three turned up. So ten it was. I knew there was a reason that we bought a huge dining table. The Captain came, along with the international playboy and Cruella, (his Moscovite playmate, who I have to say is actually a lovely person), JT and her husband the legal eagle, their son my nephew and my neice and her husband. I have to be honest, JT has got me nailed to rights, shortly before they were due to arrive she called to say that she had sorted out the dessert. She knows that whilst I love cooking I never if rarely do dessert. You see I don't have a sweet tooth, I hate chocolate, I don't eat cake or sweet things. Thankfully she knows me well enough to be prepared. I have to be honest and own up to the fact that dinner at my house is also a bit of a DIY affair. Whilst I love to cook, I tend not to do the detail ie; setting the table is often when the guests have the opportunity to chat over the cutlery and napkins. Thankfully my family are the sort who just dive in and enjoy each others company. Something my beautiful mum was very proud of.. and now I fully understand why. They say that you can't choose your family but you can choose your friends. Well I can only say that I have obviously been very lucky and even if I could have chosen differently, I would not. Oh and that includes his Lordships' siblings and their families.

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