Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas – and how a gift horse feels when it's looked smack bang in the mouth.

I am never buying Mum a Christmas present – ever again. Talk about ingratitude!

I'm trying to tart myself up, ready for this evening's festivities, when my straighteners decide to give up the ghost.

This is a disaster, because I am a victim of the manufacturers' conspiracy to ensure that, once we start straightening our hair, we will never, ever be able to stop. Not unless we want to spend the rest of our lives looking as if we've had a nasty shock – which we will, every time we look in a mirror.

Max doesn't try to shut me up by claiming I look "fine", either, so the situation's obviously worse than I thought.

I dive into the car and race round to Mum's.

"Can I borrow the straighteners I bought you last Christmas?" I say, at which Mum looks a bit confused.

She also looks extremely peculiar, as she's wearing snowflake-patterned knee socks and a tinsel hairband, so she must have got over her earlier lack of enthusiasm for the festive season. I haven't, mainly due to the state of my hair, which it'll take far more than tinsel to resolve.

"Straighteners?" says Mum eventually, after what feels like half an hour. Then, seeing my expression, she tries again: "Ah, yes, dear. Those straighteners. I'm not entirely sure where I've put them, at the moment. Your hair looks very nice, anyway, so I shouldn't worry about it."

This is an outrageous lie, which I treat with the contempt it deserves, so Mum looks half-heartedly behind the sofa cushions and in a couple of kitchen cupboards, before saying, "Maybe they're in my special drawer upstairs. You put your feet up, Molly, while I have a look."

I haven't got time for sitting down, so I ignore that instruction and instead follow Mum upstairs into the spare bedroom, where I watch as she pulls out an enormous drawer built into the base of the bed. I had no idea it existed until now, though it's far from obvious why it's so special.

I try to look inside as Mum pulls it open, but she moves in front of me, and tries to nudge me out of the way. When that doesn't work, she nudges a bit harder – and then a bit harder, as I resist – until we're almost pushing and shoving. I'm good at that, thanks to all the years I've spent watching Connie and Josh in action, and so eventually, experience pays off and I'm the winner  – which leaves me staring into the drawer in disbelief.

It seems to contain every single present I've bought Mum for at least the last five years, along with loads of other gifts from unknown donors, some still partially covered in wrapping paper.

Well, actually, I should have said every single present I've bought Mum, apart from the bloody straighteners. There's absolutely no sign of those, anywhere.

"Oh," says Mum, closing the drawer so fast that she shuts the hem of her skirt in it, and has to pull it open again. "I think I may have given them to Robin's new girlfriend, now I come to think of it. She's such a nice girl, isn't she?"

"No," I say, not because she isn't, but because if Mum didn't want the damned straighteners, she shouldn't have put them on her Christmas list, and then I wouldn't have had to spend a fortune on them – all so that idiot brother Robin's girlfriend will have lovely sleek, shiny hair when she arrives at my house in less than an hour. While I most certainly will not.

Mum tuts at my ungraciousness , and then helpfully suggests that I try a tinsel hairband like hers – which proves such a bad idea that now I'm going home, to borrow one of Josh's baseball caps. That's if any of those will fit over an atomic mushroom-style cloud of frizzy hair that makes me look as if I've been electrocuted. It's no wonder I have no sex life, is it, even during so-called celebrations?

Merry Christmas to those of you who do, anyway – unless you also manufacture straighteners. I'm going to suggest the Government deals with your irresponsible lack of product warnings, as soon as I return to work.

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