Saturday, 30 October 2010

Talking To Salvador Dali While Watching A Leprechaun. Effectively.

God, Saturdays are thrilling. Whatever happened to the teenage excitement of getting ready for a big night out? (Admittedly I don't miss the bit where you had to drink half a bottle of sherry and burn your ears off with heated rollers, but that's beside the point.)

Now there's only X-Factor and Strictly* to look forward to. I'd completely forgotten how enormous Ann Widdecombe's bosoms are. I once got in to a lift at the same time as she did, and remember thinking she'd been given my share in the mammary stakes as well as her own. And maybe some other people's too.

Anyway, now I'm wittering, which is what leisure time does to my thought processes. Especially when combined with an encounter with Ellen. I'm sitting outside this afternoon when she appears in her garden - to hang more underwear on the line. (How do people afford matching sets?)

"Still smoking, then, Molly?" she says. (And why do people think it's necessary to state the bleeding obvious?)

"Um, yes," I say.

I want to add, "D'you want to make something of it?" but decide that would make me sound like a mad constituent, so I don't. I am a master of restraint. I'd say mistress but, in the presence of Annoying Ellen, this would provoke uncomfortable thoughts.

"You really should give up. It's a filthy habit," she says.

I have no idea why some people's filthy habits are deemed disgusting, while certain other people's are considered worth bragging about - mentioning no names beginning with E. I light another cigarette from the butt of the previous one, just to show Ellen who's the boss.

The effectiveness of this is somewhat undermined by an immediate coughing fit, but I think I manage to disguise it by pretending that I have choked.

"Want to pop round for another coffee?" she says. "Now that you've spilled that one?"

"No, thanks," I say. "I've got to go and organise Max's birthday party."

"Oh, I'll look forward to that," says Ellen.

Oh, shit! I wasn't going to invite Ellen, was I? Bloody, bloody hell. Why don't I ever think before I open my mouth when I'm not at work? I'm worse than The Boss at weekends. Though even I can't manage to botch the invitations for Max's party, which is proving surprisingly easy to arrange.

It's amazing being able to ask both his parents to come, for one thing. And all his siblings. This would never happen with my family. Any big celebration requires meticulous planning, detailed risk assessments and the intervention of the United Nations. All to ensure that there is never a full house of parents and step-parents in the same location at the same time.

Max has no idea how lucky he is. And nor do Josh and Connie, now I come to think of it. If Max and I ever split up, we'd have to take it in turns to attend family gatherings. I'd miss out on half of my (admittedly-putative) grandchildren's (equally-putative) Christenings, "big" birthdays and probably even Josh or Connie's wedding.

Mind you, it seems as if there's going to be one less parent for me to consider next time I have a birthday. Dinah phones in the evening.

"Bloody hell, Mol," she says. "You won't believe this!"

"Oh, I probably will," I say. "And, Dinah, don't you ever watch X-Factor?"

"Nah, I hate Louis Walsh. He'd put a potato through if it was Irish. Now listen, sis. He's done a runner."

"Who, Louis Walsh? He's on TV right now. That's what I was trying to watch."

Honestly, sometimes Dinah is the Salvador Dali of telephone conversation.

"Dad, you idiot. I've just been to visit him."

"Oh. And?"

"He's not there. I told you he was up to something again!"

"He's always up to something. " (Whatever is the matter with Cher's eyebrows?)

"Molly. Turn the sound down and pay attention, for once! There's a 'For Sale' sign outside Dad's house. And he's back in bloody Thailand - yet again. His neighbours told me."

Dinah rants uninterrupted for another five minutes, while I try to marshal my thoughts. Then she suddenly makes a funny choking sound. (It must be contagious.)

"You okay, Dinah?" I say.

"No-o-o," she says, hiccuping between each syllable. "We've lost him all over again, Mol. How many bloody times do we have to readjust to another sodding step-mother?"

I haven't heard Dinah cry since she was little. It's very disconcerting.

"Well, maybe it won't come to that," I say. "He may not marry Porn-Poon and, anyway, we're hardly likely to have to interact with her when she's in Thailand, are we?"

"Only when I go to bring back the body," says Dinah. "After I've had a holiday, of course. I'd forgotten about that. Thanks, Mol - you've cheered me up. Now you can get back to watching the Leprechaun."

Funnily enough, I don't much feel like it after that.

*Strictly - Strictly Come Dancing. I have such an enormously exciting social life.

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