”This company took money out of my account when they shouldn’t have. When will they give it back?”
”I sent a registered letter to America and it didn’t arrive, I want to check where it is.”
”I need to fill out a form for the revenue. I want to claim my tax back.”
So ”Homeland Night” rolled around on Tuesday, which meant only one thing – a meeting of myself, Panties and Hangsandwich, this time at my house, where I was doing the cooking (a mean shepherd’s pie if you must know – zero degrees outside requires comfort food inside) and the others were bringing dessert (cakes from a French patessiere – HEAVENLY).
This being my first Christmas in my house sans Exhimself, I have made it as festive as I can without the expense of adding a Christmas tree – there are candles everywhere, including some horrific reindeers and a Santa carrying a giant sack of goodies (which happens to be a candle holder – tack central anyone?), tinsel and some strategically placed lights. As trees are SO expensive and I earn a pittance, I was just getting used to the idea of not having one, when I flung opened the door on Tuesday night to be confronted by a giant box and a hatted and scarved Panties who declared ”Look what I stole for you!” which turned out to be a tree, swiped from her place of work, stuffed into a box, along with some decorations and more tinsel, also stolen.
It’s not many friends that will steal for you, let alone for something that you’ve convinced yourself you don’t want, and then through your protestations, take out, fix up, decorate and light, while you check to make sure the potato on your shepherd’s pie is nice and crunchy. Then decorate your pictures with your lights, and wrap yet more lights on the bannisters of the stairs and squeal with delight when it’s all lit up and ready to go. This was accompanied by some deep sighing from Hangsandwich, who helped throughout, with lowered eyes, knowing he was powerless against the force that is Panties’ Christmas Spirit.
We ate the pie, inhaled the cakes, discussed Homeland’s shortcomings in Season 2 and after they left and every day since, I’ve switched on the tree and sat and watched it with a growing sense of joy. And when Little Niece N came to visit and I helped her walk up the stairs to let her turn on the switch for the lights on the bannister and watched her eyes light up with astonishment when they came on, I silently thanked the universe for a woman who believes rugby players shouldn’t fight so much as it’s just MEAN, and who sees no issue with taking Christmas trees from a dull office and placing them in the home of a friend who has been much in need of Christmas cheer this year. It’s good to be clear on what the right course of action is.
Myself and Babybro looked disdainfully at the 80’s tribute band and declared almost simultaneously that the singer was NOT Freddie Mercury, as much as he believed he was. He might be able to hit some of the high notes for ”Under Pressure” but poncing about in a white vest did not a legend make. Luckily the guitarist, with a giant blonde centre parting, sunglasses and a complete lack of dancing ability, was more approachable and did a complete guitar solo at our table, finding the time to prop himself up on one knee at a chair beside me, so I wrapped myself around the knee and thanked the universe that nobody in the family was sober enough to remember to take pictures. It would NOT have been beautiful, which was confirmed a couple of days later when Mammy printed some pictures from her camera, showing myself and Lilsister and our double chins, allegedly dancing in a way that was so horrific it made my face bright red, and made Lilsister bang a Christmas Cracker off her head, and make a face that can only be described as ”grimmacing”.
A DJ followed the band, who sweated so much they slid off the stage once the Aha and Madonna numbers had been belted out (for both of these numbers I rang Trevor, whom I found out later was just finishing an 11 day in a row shift at work, and who did not appreciate our attempts to hit the falsetto parts of ”Take On Me” (the cheek) at half eleven at night. She also did not recognise our version of ”Into the Groove”, something I found most insulting).
Once the DJ cracked on with ”Billie Jean” (the tribute band not being stupid enough to attempt it themselves) there followed a dance off between Babybro and the Baker, with my flesh and blood pulling out all his MJ steps, and The Baker making a fair fist of some 90’s moves, before doing a rousing rendition of a Worm on the floor, which stopped the entire family in its tracks. Fabulous stuff, and it was followed by what has pretty much replaced the Irish national anthem at Christmas time – the Pogues singing ”Fairytale of New York” which requires all participants to wrap about each other and sing whichever version they know best – the aforementioned smash hit of the Pogues, or the amazing Christy Moore acoustic strumming piece.
This brought the DJ’s set to an end, but Sisinlaw, quite drunk after a couple of bottles of red, declared Christmas officially ON, and we continued belting out the classics to each other which left everyone out of breath and sitting down, except for Babybro and Sisinlaw who kept on singing to each other, and therefore created one of the most perfect Christmas images in my wandering mind’s eye – the two of them, in their Christmas finery, parents of my much beloved Little Niece N, singing Christmas songs into each other’s ears, drunk on wine, beer and love, being the best parents and happiest couple in the hotel that night, and in the world. They spun around the table, and we all sighed because we were in the presence of something quite as lovely as roast potatoes cooked in goose fat on Christmas Day.
The table was booked, admittedly with an awkward number (11 – the additional 1 was you guessed it – me – husbandless and happy about it!). Luckily the hotel managed to squeeze us all at a table with no one person sitting at the top (which I feared would be me) and I found myself in the midst of five couples – Mammy and Papabear, Firstbrother and Preggers, Middlebro and The Baker, Babybro and Sisinlaw, and Lilsister and Scarydancer.
Having only had two beers in ten minutes with Papabear before leaving the house, I was relatively sober when Middlebro put an arm around me at the table, and asked me how my sex life was going. ”It is not,” I gently informed him, sensing the disappointment rising up in his soul. There immediately followed a lecture on dating and the 38 year old woman, which involved the usual encouraging words such as ”get out there”, ”meet people” and the dreaded ”internet dating” that I have heard about and which to my credit, I did dabble in when I lived in Melbourne last year. In a short space of time I had ”met” what appeared to be a perfectly normal functioning male who didn’t look horrific and appeared to have what I like to call ”wit”. Some jokes cracked over instant messaging and a date was arranged. As I hadn’t been on a date in ten years, and the last time I had been on a date I had been so drunk I couldn’t remember it, I decided to have a glass of wine beforehand in a nice bar just down the road from the nice bar I was to meet my bespectacled friend in (did I mention I do like a man with glasses and this bloke wore some in his picture, so he was 50% there already).
They knew me well in my little nice bar and were quite generous with my white wine, which I gulped down greedily, hoping for a wine buzz within a short space of time. One was not forthcoming after 30 seconds, so I bought another practically full glass and took my time with it, taking nearly three minutes to down it!
At this stage I was almost late for my date, so I ran down the stairs of my nice bar and up a bloody hill to the nice bar I was meeting Glassesman in. I found him, and bought us both large glasses of wine, which, in my nervous state, I drank quite quickly, and realised I needed the loo.
Whilst in the loo I texted my work friends to say no, I had not been murdered, and things were okay, but I was a little disappointed that Glassesman was not actually wearing his glasses. It was a bit of a turnoff really. They replied not to lose heart, or if I was losing heart, to get the hell out of there. I checked the train times and I had about twenty minutes till mine was due.
I ran out, nearly falling up and down some steps I hadn’t realised were there, and went back to my Notsobeloved. He asked me if I wanted another drink, and I looked disappointingly into his face, only to realise yes, he WAS wearing glasses and yes, it had been a bad idea to drink the majority of a bottle of wine on an empty stomach. But I still had twenty minutes, so I got another glass, and quite literally fell onto my train twenty minutes later.
I did not get a chance to tell Middlebro any of this, such was the forcefulness of his lecture. Basically what it boils down to is this – if I don’t start slutting around soon, my brother will take great offence and possibly beat me. I don’t want to offend my brother, so I had better find a willy to start having sex with.
My brother also reminded me that I was attractive, and did not look my age and was a general good person to know and while I am sure he has to say those things to his sister, it was still nice to be told and restores my faith in men somewhat, that they cannot all be cheating, lying scumbags.
I promised my brother that I would go speed dating soon, as he seems to believe that this will be my salvation, and if nothing else it will be something to tell my nieces about when they get older as I will not be unfortunate enough to have children of my own to tell stories to. They will think I am fabulous, and if they are thirteen years or older I will buy them beer behind my brothers’ backs. Hurray!
Middlebro patted me on the shoulder and reinforced his message telling me again that I had my looks, and that he did not want to have this conversation with me in ten years time, when my looks would be going. Allegedly I still ”have it” and should go out and shake it about.
It is truly lovely to be looked after by a big brother, even if he is five years younger than me. I like being his little sister.
Well it’s the favourite and tackiest time of year in our little family’s calendar and to celebrate the entire clan booked a fancy meal in a nice-ish hotel that HAPPENED to have an 80’s tribute band playing on the night. SWEET!!! The tables in the room were all themed and whilst I fumed that we did NOT get the Madonna table I was somewhat appeased to find that we had been given ”Family Ties”. I immediately pronounced Lilsister to be the Little Sister of the programme, owing to the actor Little Sister being a bit chubby, and Lilsister’s gut, whom she calls Fred, getting bigger by the day, due to Lilsister’s extreme aversion to healthy eating and exercise.
To get the festive spirit kicked off, I purchased a pint of the black stuff for Papabear, and he regaled me with a story of being in ONE of his locals for a Christmas beverage a couple of years ago, where upon the bar he espied a dancing Santa machine ornament thing. I’m not sure why this particular bar would have a singing, swaying Santa, it being frequented by a particularly rough and militant crowd in the inner city of Dublin, but there you go. Papabear was NOT impressed to find Santa bopping to some awful poptastic Christmas song, and resolved to block it out of his mind’s eye with several dirty pints, which he began to inhale.
Some hours later Papabear was seen yelling at the barman to tell that ”dancing prick” to stop staring at him (Papabear) or he would send ”it” back to the North Pole. Unfortunately, the electronic representative of Christmas was left ”on” and Papabear became increasingly concerned that it was ”looking” at him in a way that was not becoming for the season that was in it. Enough, thought my drunken father, who wandered over to the bar, and promptly headbutted Santa off his perch, where he smashed to pieces, and stopped singing.
This COULD have been a ”bah humbug” moment except that the barman said nothing, the patrons never noticed, and Papabear continued his Christmas, unhindered.