Thursday, 27 December 2012

Outdoing Outnumbered

This is a tale of my Christmas Day. It is often said that my life should be a soap opera, and it is equally often said that if it were, everyone would think it was too far-fetched. Christmas Day was one of those times.

I was doing dinner for my older sister Sue, my nieces Kim and Nicky, Nicky's boyfriend Paul, my son, and my mother. Oh, and their two dogs, Perry (medium sized dog, does agility, well-behaved) and Mini (tiny dog, does what she likes, very badly behaved). My sister and the rest were picking Mum up on their way here, and she was getting a taxi home, because we all knew that once dinner was over, she would want to go home, saying she felt ill. She always does this.

Well, they all rocked up about 11.30 - but Kim was feeling severely ill after being up til 5am drinking, refusing to go to bed, and apparently yelling, 'I'm gonna ruin Christmas!' Little did she know....

So the usual shenanigans of opening presents set off. My younger sister Mandy had sent Mum over a cushion that cost nigh on £50, because it was personalised with photos of Dad. We were all expecting her to love it, but when she opened it she said, 'what the hell is that?', like it was shit on a stick or something. Nicky managed to talk her around into liking it, but I am almost certain that she didn't recognise Dad at first. Which means she's getting even worse.

There were also the usual dog shenanigans. Mini got through Oscar's cat flap and out into the garden - and then through the hole in the hedge and into next door's garden before Nicky could stop her. The neighbour tempted her near to him with a dog biscuit, but she was growling and barking at him and wouldn't let him pick her up, so Nicky went around and got her. We blocked the cat flap with the bin, and thought no more of it.

Eventually dinner was served. Kim was saying how hungry she was, and she and Sue had been trying to eat the chestnuts before they were in with the sprouts even, so everyone had an appetite. There was a bit of a palaver where Sue wanted Mum sat at the head of the table, which involved her climbing into position half way behind the end of a bookcase, but soon we were all sat down, dinner on plates, gravy being passed around. When suddenly Sue asked, 'Are you ok Mum?'

'No, I feel a bit sick,' said Mum.

Feel a bit sick my arse, she was boaking right then and there! Luckily I was Olympic speed with the sick bucket, and got it in front of her just as she began to heave. But not before Nicky and Paul, whilst trying to move the table so she could get out, had caused it to partially collapse where the extra leaf had obviously not been secured properly. Champagne and pomegranate bucks fizz all in my dinner - and in the parsnips.

Meanwhile, Sue had moved away from Patient X to the middle of the room, and was yelling, 'get out! get out!' at Mum, as Mum was trying to say, 'I can't!' in between chucks. Kim, whose stomach couldn't have been feeling great anyway, was sat next to mum, looking decidedly queasy, until I got a fit of hysterics at the ludicrousness of it all and then Kim joined in. So there we are, Nicky holding up the table, me and Kim cackling like two Essex witches, Mum throwing up, Sue yelling 'get out, get out!', Paul wondering about the etiquette of continuing to eat when someone is vomiting in a bucket at the dining table - when my Son yelled, 'MINI'S ESCAPED!' For she had managed to move the bin and was off. Cue Nicky not knowing what to do - should she run to get Mini and risk the table collapsing, or should she leave Mini who could easily get out onto the road?

Luckily, through my tears of laughter, I managed to get the table together again, and Nicky managed to retrieve Mini before she left the garden. Mum got out from her seat and Sue ushered her into the bathroom.

'So,' said Paul, 'who had their money on Nanny at 1.30?' And then, 'I've gotta say, I can usually read these things, but my money was on Kimmy at noon.'

No-one really had much of an appetite after that, except for Paul. 'I did stop eating for a moment there, cos when Sue kept on yelling 'get out', I was scared she might turn on me next.' We did our best to eat, although Nicky has a vomit-phobia, and it wasn't made any better by me and Kim keeping on falling about laughing, and reliving it. It didn't help me and her much either, cos we kept on replaying it in our heads.

I went to check on Mum, and she was ok. I took the bucket and cleaned it and put it back. She was sitting in the living room watching the Corrie repeat (it's all new to her anyway) while we finished our meal. At one point there was a lull in the hilarity (we had lost the plot big time by then) and we heard a strange bump from the living room. I ran to see what had happened, but it was nothing, just a present falling off a chair.

'You thought that was Mum, didn't you?' said Sue

'I DID! I thought the only way this could get worse would be if she'd carked it before we even reached the pudding!'

There was a lot of food wasted that day.

'There was a moment,' said Nicky later, 'when I had picked up Mini, but didn't want to come back into the vomit-session, when I could hear next door through their open window. Quiet conversation, and the occasional gentle laughter... and I had a vision of how normal people's lives are.'

Strangely, when I'd watched the Xmas Special of Outnumbered on Christmas Eve, I'd found the storyline (involving vomiting and diarrhoea) a little far-fetched - 'that would never happen' I thought. If only.....

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