And so, after a very busy Christmas, where night and day and sleep and waking seemed to merge continuously into one long blur of chocolate, wine and turkeys, on 28th December we managed to get ourselves out early enough to drive over to Bedford for a 24 hour "family do" with one of my brothers and his family.
Bravely they had invited all nine of us. My parents not wanting to spoil their nice relaxed Christmas memories of the 2008 Christmas, decided not suffer the chaos that the Lomax family brings in its wake and escaped back to East Grinstead before we arrived...
Of course, "all of us" also means bringing the dog...So technically there were ten of us. She is however a reluctant traveller and so it took a while to gather her up and get her into the bus. Bus for once was the true definition of our mode of transport. Needing to transport nine of us, plus the dog, we had hired said bus from the local garage. They didn't have a 12 seat one available though, so the 15 seater it was. Much to the kids delight....Children never cease to amaze me when it comes to what is and isn't acceptable in the form of transport. Somehow, ordinary space buses that seat seven are loser cruisers. And yet to have us all rattling around and being shaken from here to Bedford is just fine... "Cool" in fact. "Although possibly it is a bit of a loser cruiser anyway, but a cool one all the same," said Sensible.
As we arrived, the bitches looked at each other. A faint growl escaped. Then, without further warning it was a full scale fight, collars, ears, fur and all. Lucy was put outside and both were seriously told off. This was not a good start to the day.
We had arrived with plenty of Christmas goodies, but we sort of have this arrangement in the family where we don't buy actual Christmas presents for the adult children. Or maybe we do. Or maybe we don't...... Needless to say, when ED opened her very nice present, and our two Afghan boys also opened theirs..... I realised that I should have bought an actual present for my niece and nephew who are now 18 and 20. I cringed with embarrassment. It had been a bit of a rush, as with two new residents arriving just before Christmas, present buying had happened very late. In fact it had really happened in earnest when we had a Father Christmas type delivery of money, in the form of some pay for the boys, just a few days before Christmas. We then found that we could actually buy things at normal prices with normal paying methods. This was a new experience for the Lomax family as previously, everything including barter with the dog biscuits was a normal form of tender. But sadly communication between my brother and me had failed somewhere....
We sat down to dinner. My sister in law had cooked a gorgeous Nigella style mutton stew. At least, it was gorgeous until her foot slipped as she was getting it out of the oven and the beautiful ceramic pot landed on the floor. We ate fantastically well non the less and we all pretended to those who had less command of the English language that the words that came from the kitchen were some sort of English pre new year ritual.... or something like that... Actually in true British style we all pretended that we hadn't heard anything.
All was forgotten however as we all tunelessly ploughed our way through their Karaoke DVD, Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast taking leading roles, and my niece actually singing in tune. Our Afghan boys looked on with what looked like a mixture of amusement and horror. Coming from an entirely different culture just a few weeks back, they must wonder about this very strange family that they have landed with.
I went to bed very late. It was imperative that my sister in law and I put the world to rights before heading upstairs. So we did, and went to bed feeling very pleased with ourselves, as you do on family Christmas get togethers.
It was a bit of a shame though to find on arriving downstairs the next morning, my brother, cleaning the carpet...... Mad Dog Lucy, traumatised by car journey, other mad dog and lack of any available adult on hand to let her into strange garden had disgraced herself. My poor brother, who recently lost his job, whose computer and telly had both broken in the course of the previous few weeks, and whose daughter had decided to leave her university course just before Christmas was wondering by now what it was that he done so badly in a previous life. Was there anything else that could go wrong for him?
We really were by this time the guests from Hell.
Our profuse apologies to bro were interrupted though by strains of a sort of singing. Karaoke is tricky of course....Even when you more or less know the tune... For those who have not been brought up with any exposure to Western music at all though, it is a very different experience. It was a bit like the bit in the second Bridget Jones movie where Like a Virgin is sung by the girls in the Bangkok prison........ This was Hey Jude... with a tune like you have never heard before.
My sister in law then went to turn up the heating. At that moment they realised that the boiler had gone wrong too....
Thankfully Hubby did manage to fix their flame lookalike fire for them. That having gone wrong just before we had arrived. So we did have some use as guests, but they did look as if they were smiling with quite some relief we drove our massive vehicle back down their drive.
And they really had made us all so welcome too.....
Dona Nobis Pacem
2 weeks ago