Sunday, 1 December 2013

The return of the prodigal wife, mother, daughter  – and senior caseworker. Metaphorical tail between her legs.

Well, I'm finally back, though for God's sake don't talk to me about oil barons – or MPs.

I'm probably not worth talking to at all, now I come to think of it, seeing as I haven't got anything of interest to add to a conversation. Life seems to have gone completely back to normal, except that it's almost time for Christmas, and nothing about Christmas could ever be described as that.

Before you know it, the whole thing will be over, though – which would be great, if Christmas wasn't immediately followed by New Year's Eve, when you're supposed to review your successes and failures over the past twelve months, and then work out how to have rather more of the former than the latter in the coming year.

That shouldn't be too difficult, given my total lack of anything even approaching an achievement during 2013. Or 2012. Or...I'm bored with this now, so I'm not going to think about New Year's Eve any more, or Christmas, either, if I can help it – which I can't, as forgetting about Christmas seems to be prohibited.

When did the shops start banging on about the so-called festive season this year? I'm sure it was even earlier than usual, which is totally counter-productive, if the effect on me is anything to go by. I haven't bought a single card or present yet, and I still haven't developed a sense of urgency either – precisely because I'm so aware that the fuss about Christmas starts too early. It makes me feel I've got forever to prepare for it.

I didn't even react when Mum mentioned the C-word when she phoned last night, to say that she's already fed up with it – until she added that this lack of enthusiasm meant that she and Ted wanted to come to our house for Christmas Day, instead of us going to theirs, as we usually do. I nearly had a heart attack at that point, and so did Max. He's still worrying about it when we get up this morning.

"What the hell are we supposed to cook for their Christmas dinner?" he says, as I'm struggling to pull my thermal leggings over fleece-lined tights. "There can't be anything left that your mother's still willing to eat, what with all the health-scare stuff she reads."

"She said they'll bring things with them, to go with whatever we're all having," I say. "She suggested what she called a healthy combination of quiche, pizza, avocados and cottage cheese. I'm not quite sure how the first two made the cut."

"Well, they'll go brilliantly with turkey and all the trimmings," says Max, rolling his eyes. "Though at least I won't have to make vegetarian gravy, I suppose. I doubt even your Mum eats that with quiche."

I consider not responding to this, in an effort to avoid annoying Max further, but then decide I probably should. Respond, I mean, not make him more annoyed. (I'm working on the principle that honesty's the best policy from now on – the "from now on" part being the crucial factor, as that means that I don't have to mention Johnny.)

"Um, I think you will, Max," I say, wincing. "Ted's given up dairy, so he doesn't want the same as Mum. He wants vegetarian sausages...with gravy. He hasn't read that article she keeps quoting about soya and its effect on thyroid function yet."

"Well, obviously neither he nor your mum give a toss about the effect cooking their Christmas dinner will have on my health," says Max, demonstrating even less festive cheer than that with which Mum is currently endowed. "I can feel my blood pressure rising, at the thought of it."

His spirits look as if they're plunging in the opposite direction as he stalks off downstairs, turning the thermostat down as he passes it, and then flicking off all the light switches that Josh has left turned on – so I'd better think of something to cheer him up.

It's a bit of a challenge, in the middle of a recession, and with energy companies doing their best to bankrupt everyone bar themselves. Especially everyone blessed with a teenager whose only contribution to the cost of energy bills is to add to them – not that I can blame Josh for the latest rise in the price of gas and electricity. I'm pretty sure we've got Ed Miliband to thank for that.

If he'd had the sense to keep quiet about his plan to freeze the cost of energy, and waited to surprise the companies with it if he gets elected – I mean when he gets elected (must try much harder to sound as if I think that's likely) – then it wouldn't have occurred to them to raise their prices in anticipation, would it?

You'd think Ed and his "special" advisors would have thought of that, seeing as I have – and I'm only a lowly MPs' caseworker. (I put the apostrophe in MPs' after the P to start with, which resulted in "a lowly MP's caseworker", which was probably equally accurate.)

Anyway, I can't sit here tinkering with apostrophes when I'm supposed to be coming up with ways to cheer Max up...and there's no point me trying to do Ed Miliband's thinking for him, either. According to Mr Beales, the unions are already in charge of that.

I join Max in the kitchen, where he's staring hopelessly at a vegetarian cookbook I bought some time in the early 1980s, when all non-meat dishes were apparently brown and mushy-looking, according to the photographs. Max doesn't seem to find those at all inspiring.

"It could be worse," I say, rather too brightly, as Max looks distinctly optimistic for all of a second. "At least Dad's in Thailand this year, so you won't have to fight him for the remote control on Christmas Day."

Max doesn't even bother to pretend to be impressed.

"Is that really the best you could do, Mol?" he says. "I thought you were supposed to have political skills."

That's number one on my New Year's resolutions list, then, isn't it? Improve my political skills. Let's hope it's on Ed Miliband's, too. Oh, and The Boss's.


  1. You're back and what happened, what happened, WHAT HAPPENED?
    Really missed your musings so it was a happy surprise to see that a post had appeared after all this time.

    Does "from now on" mean that no precis will be forthcoming of events since the (Reichenbach Falls) sorry, Gazebo moment?

  2. Hate to display even more ignorance than usual but what are the Reichenbach Falls? Glad you've missed me, though - is nice to know that someone has! (Just don't talk to me about Dubai...)

  3. Conan Doyle killed off Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls supposedly and after a period of (in fiction terms) about 3 years, he reappeared to a shocked Dr Watson.

    I saw a parallel in your sudden and abrupt disappearance/reappearance.

    Happily, Conan Doyle explained the absence....... and return!

    Did you get a tan?

  4. I NEVER get a tan - but thanks for the Conan Doyle explanation, which I really should have known...

  5. Very glad you're back. Life challenging enough without unexplained disappearances - fictional or otherwise.

    1. Thank you very much - and sorry for delay in saying so. Went down with flu the day after the book was published and am still not fully-functional (if I can EVER be said to be that!)