Wednesday, 19 December 2012
I keep eating the Christmas snacks.
Then replacing them.
Then eating them again.
Ritz, Dry Roasted, Matchmakers. Working up the echelons of a festive Rocher pyramid, to the ultimate party favourite - Pringles.
It’s been going on since November.
“That’s Christmas sorted,” I crowed, scoffing at all the suckers who would be running around on December 24.
The Christmas shop heralds great excitement in our household, as I come bearing lavish goodies.
Our cupboards are usually sparse and the kids think it's a treat when we splurge on a multipack of Quavers or Chocolate Animals. So imagine their delight when not one, but two pipes, of Pringles arrive?
It’s like Christmas.
Their little faces pressed up against the supplies in the Coshida emblazoned cardboard box from Lidl, as I steer them away from the precious things.
“Why don’t you have one of those wafer thin own brand Rich Tea biscuits, Poor Cuppa, instead?” I suggest.
But it’s double standards. As they sleep, I delve in for just a bite or a nibble.
Soon it’s woman vs. food. A foot long Yorkie, a plastic Christmas tree filled with Twiglets, a keg of mulled wine. Can she do it?
My fatted calves are slumped beside an empty box, with chocolate smeared around my mouth, like a contestant on The Biggest Loser.
I’m like Dan Aykroyd’s bad Santa in Trading Places, gorging on party food and booze and shoving a whole salmon down his suit. Only I’m a vegetarian and I don‘t have any facial hair, yet.
Nothing is sacred. I move on to presents.
Nan’s biscuits, the home-made Christmas cake, my aunt gave us, kid’s selection boxes, all ripped open.
Sorry teacher, but your pressie is a now a tin full of wrappers and strawberry creams. Thank-you very much.
Not only is it expensive, but it‘s greedy. It’s also playing havoc with my waistline. I’ll have to buy some of those trousers/lounge pants that look like pyjamas. Sod it, I will simply wear my PJS and hope I don‘t get barred from Tesco.
Replenishing supplies is like Groundhog day.
While Bill Murray may have mastered the piano, I’ve barely learnt to operate the self service checkout, without either being asked if I am old enough to buy booze, or triggering a repetitive alarm that alerts the whole store that there is an unexpected item in the bagging area.
Yeh, it’s called a re-usable shopper, as I reassure a spotty security guard that I haven‘t got a load of Semtex stashed underneath the After Eights.
I need to buy some cartoon style combination locks or hide the food in garage, on top of the ancient exercise bike that measures in hectares.
Or go last minute shopping at midnight on Christmas Eve. Emptying shelves of catering sized portions, like I‘m preparing for a nuclear winter.
As a child, I thought that Where the Wind Blows was the sequel to The Snowman.
"Look how Briggs captures the magic, with those snow flakes," I thought, as the radioactive cinders danced bleakly across the screen.
I’ll stick to the Polar Express this year.
Christmas is coming and I am getting fat. My wallet is getting thinner and the supermarkets are getting richer. People are starving, and we are feasting like kings.
Hopefully, I’ll be all Pringled out by next week. But I can’t stop, because I will actually pop.
Dammit, who’s scoffed all the purple Quality Streets?
Friday, 14 December 2012
Today was the school Christmas play.
I had a warm, fuzzy glow of love and pride as my beaming angels sang their hearts out and recited well rehearsed lines about sweet baby Jesus.
And as I waved at my boy at the front and my boy at the back of 180 youngsters, I knew it was worth the sweat it had taken to reach that stage of blissful contentment.
The truth is, that I find attending school performances - especially the golden gift of the Christmas play - a stressful experience.
“Mommy, can you sit in the front row?” the boys ask.
No pressure then.
“We’ll do our best,” I say, diplomatically.
In reception, I naively rolled up at the gates about ten minutes before curtains up, behind scores of frozen Christmas play goers in a queue longer than the post office on payment day.
While I bagged an acceptable second row left seat, behind a Peter Crouch impersonator in a comedy Santa hat, I won‘t make that mistake again.
What a performance
I’ve joined the competitive parents vying for a front row view.
So we arrive ridiculously early. I had considered camping out Wimbledon style, in a waterproof onesie and an umbrella hat.
Whatever the extreme weather conditions - from arctic blizzards to two by two style rain - you will endure the pain of frost bite and bad hair to guarantee a prime position.
Doors open. Pulse raising, heart thumping, perspiration. The goal is in site, and the Olympic stampede to the hall makes the Next sale look like a group of pensioners wandering around the set of Midsomer Murders.
But just incase you find that front row already filled by a visiting convent, your backup plan includes a child’s booster seat, binoculars and a final failsafe: announcing your inability to shake Norovirus. It can clear a row in seconds flat.
Sharpen your elbows in preparation to oust anyone who gets in your way on your quest to the front. Sorry Mother Mary, these sisters are doing it for themselves.
It’s a survival of the fittest as civilised grown women wrestle like something out of a Ken Russell film, for that last coveted spot.
Summed up in Ben Elton’s ‘double seat’ gag: Ben Elton’s ‘Gotta get a double seat’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPUjjhO_DpU
Never attempt to reserve seats for others - who will invariably turn up late, huffing and puffing their way through Jingle Bells - or you will feel the full wrath of scary Mom in row three.
The performance is nigh. You’re forced into banal chit chat, but couldn’t give a rats that little Maggie is halfway through the works of Tolkien; because you haven’t gone through all of the above to miss the sight of your children performing all the actions to Little Donkey.
Hush! Could somebody please escort that wayward toddler off the stage? I mean premises? Teething or no teething, he’s really distracting me.
The clicking of smart phones as rebellious parents ‘secretly’ sneak a blurry picture of their offspring. It’s a covert operation that flouts the rules. I bet Sister Bernadette has a secret camera hidden in her Habit.
Finally, the opening act. I can relax fully and “Ahhhh” and clap as my cute boys remind me about the true spirit of Christmas.
Talking of which, I really need a whiskey chaser after all of that.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
The last time I played Twister I was in a compromising position with a space cowboy named Tristan.
“See that blue circle? That’s your Mother that is,”(see URL link) he jibed, just before I barfed up two pints of Mad Dog over his kickers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nCKYEM8qRc
Thankfully, the mat’s wipeable.
Do collect £200 for passing out
I‘ve always loved board games.
Especially the glam and mysterious Cluedo.
But that harlot Miss Scarlet needs to back off my guy - Prof. Plum - even if does have a man’s face on a moulded, plastic body.
As a child, I played them all.
From the legendary Monopoly and Hangman, to the new kids on the block like Mousetrap and Kerplunk! to the almost rans of Mike Reid’s Pop Quiz and Baywatch the Board Game.
Non pretentious. Not like those Yahtzee and Jenga loving Yuppie neighbours.
Then there were my parents’ swinging - I mean, Trivial Pursuit - parties. http://thenews-on.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/not-going-out_19.html
Compelling board games brought the whole family together.
And defined personalities.
Me, the sore loser. My brother’s competitive streak. Nan’s gullibility, as our ad hoc rules relating to money laundering, secured her a life stretch in Monopoly Jail, forfeiting any future rights to pass Go.
It’s only a game
“Where’s the controller?” my children ask when I present them with the non Nintendo product.
“This is a board game. It’s fun,” I say.
“You can pit your sibling rivalry, explore your sharing issues and test your fortitude.”
I’d seen a Supernanny where siblings played Pop up Pirate harmoniously.
Eight hours of uncontrollable sobbing and tantrums later, it ended in stalemate as I futilely searched for plastic swords wedged down the radiator.
We moved onto bigger challenges. From charity shops.
Buckaroo - with a lame mule that couldn’t give a buck.
Connect 3 - it didn’t have enough discs to warrant a ‘4’, but we improvised with some Mini Cheddars.
So we took advantage of Argos’ 3 for 2 offer before the limited 365 day deal expired.
I couldn’t wait to just roll and go with the old favourites.
Until I discovered the rules had changed.
You can’t simply flip out the board and start.
Now games have a modern twist; an updated funky cyber edge for the instant generation.
When the boys were toddlers we bought 3D Snakes and Ladders. Not with real life Black Mambas, but raised plastic ladders and balls - which invariably disappeared. Usually down a pre schooler’s gullet.
No longer can you fracture your wrist by whacking the plastic dome encased dice.
Now there are health and safety paddles, to flip the two dice, and a complicated genie system.
And Battleships Torpedo, with so many components that Gorbachev and Reagan would have happily ended the Cold War to avoid playing this confusing game.
While many games are available in traditional format, there are more special editions than a Hollyoaks spin- off.
Monopoly Junior Party (toddlers get hyper on Haribos and dance around to One Direction)
Monopoly Millionaire (presumably, the banker awards himself a bonus after letting the silver dog eat all your money)
Monopoly Regional (with an optional hoody counter for use with the Chance card: ’Congratulations! You finally get that LG widescreen TV. Proceed to the rioting and looting square in Birmingham city centre.’
From Cars to Toy Story, Monopoly also boasts various character versions.
As does that old stalwart - Operation - another game I was victorious in - thanks to Great Aunt’s arthritis.
Guess Who? has scores of additional characters online. But I refuse to send my kids on an interweb search for a beret wearing chap named Bert with a handlebar moustache and mirrored sunnies.
Not to mention the myriad of gimmicky, fussy games; Lego (games full of tiny parts that you have to construct each time you want to play) The Tooth Fairy Game and its spin off, Root Canal, Pumpoloons, Doggie Doo and Elefun, which requires more batteries than an Ann Summers catalogue.
And Poundcity’s rip offs games: Low blood sugar level Hippos, Gerbiltrap and, the popular game of strategy and world domination for the under 3s - Rusk.
Somebody’s been fondling with my Community Chest and I don’t like it!
Why re-invent the (Game of Life) wheel?
What was wrong with the timeless classics?
What next? The Jordan edition of Scrabble, with a range of single syllable words like 'reem' and 'totes' and the triple word score of 'well jel'?
Pictionary, with an interactive white board and option to send PDFs to opponents?
Take me back to basics. Charades. Lionel, give us a clue.
Somebody’s bought the boys Twister. “I’ll spin,“ I volunteer. Well, I don’t want to put my back out.
It’s a relief to see an old friend.
Until I discover it’s a dance version with two CDs.
If the marketers at Hasbro,Waddingtons and MB meet an untimely Downfall, it was Mrs N, down Tin Can Alley with the Monopoly iron.