A Laurence Llewelyn - Bowen spectacular.jpg

A Laurence Llewelyn – Bowen spectacular

Wednesday, December 7

The gaps between programmes on TV seem to be getting longer and are most definitely louder. This evening’s offerings were scarily Christmassy, with the Corrie break tempting us with the delights of a child’s doll that looked like a hooker, Chas ‘n’ Dave’s new overdose inspiring CD, a ridiculous River Dance DVD and Sainsbury’s mince pies. Back in October, my mother told me of a special offer on Christmas mince pies – three boxes for the price of two. On closer inspection, she realised the offer was not so great as the eat-by-date was December 2.

Monday, December 12

While Martyn is in the UK, I have decided to tart up the house with a new lick of paint throughout (upon re-reading that sentence I seem to have gone very Chas ‘n’ Dave myself). What started off as a little freshening up has developed into a Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen spectacular. The saga began because I was mixing my own colours, but the more gutsy I became the more tame the rest looked, so new frontiers of courageousness had to be strived for. Martyn’s often stated preference for whites and pastel colours not withstanding, I think it’s a great success. The lounge is now an audacious terracotta, clashing triumphantly with the bold blue of the dining room. The hall and stairs are banana yellow and I am contemplating a saffron colour for the main bedroom. Needless to say, Martyn is oblivious to all this and the roller will well and truly hit the fan when he returns.

Thursday, December 15

Being here alone and slowly going mad, I tend to watch more TV than usual. This is not very good for my karma and is making me anti-Christmas, something I have never been before. The Christmas adverts are getting even worse … we now have to endure Jamie Oliver popping up to adapt a Christmas dinner every two seconds. I actually like Jamie Oliver, I think his recipes are reliable and his school dinners campaign both necessary and brave. But even I am getting sick of the sight of him sprinkling rosemary on ‘roasties’, or whatever they are.

My slow metamorphosis into Scrooge is not helped by the tirade of jingly music that the BBC now seem to play at every opportunity, as a sequence of Christmassy scenes flit across the screen. I was considering putting up my tree to take Martyn’s mind off the decorating, but the TV has turned me off the whole idea. I really must get out more.

Monday December 19

Sorry to droll on the same theme, but Christmas television has continued its steady decline, with almost every channel showing somebody’s idea of the 100 best or 100 worst tunes, programmes, moments or anything that took their fancy. Give it a couple more years and there will be enough of these programmes to fill the 100 worst programmes themselves. I’ve now given up on the telly and am making my own entertainment. 

Christmas Day

Martyn arrived back from Britain on December 20 and like a 1950s matron set about a rigorous house inspection, which I failed dismally. Somewhat alarmed by all this activity, I commented on the new zest for life he seems to have. It seems he has cut out one of his tablets and things are going to get ship-shape around here. This was immediately followed by an inventory of supplies. I am a dismal housekeeper, apparently, and how I haven’t gone down with rickets is a medical wonder.

Next came Christmas dinner preparation. We had plenty of meat of our own (most of it still running around), but things on the vegetable front were less rosy (my fault again). There was an abundance of sweet potatoes and ordinary potatoes, plus around 100 kilos of pumpkin. I proudly presented a shiny red pepper, which was greeted with a derisory sneer and flung in the back of the fridge (which looked like it hadn’t seen a J cloth for a month). The only green vegetable available was a cabbage, which, although tasty, does not add much of a sparkle to Christmas dinner.  The next four days for me are something of a whirling blur of us driving furiously from one supermarket to another, purchasing a range of products I didn’t even know existed. A goose, a rooster and a turkey met their maker. A piglet’s leg was defrosted and potatoes were dug. I’m considering taking the tablet he’s cut out.

The other pre-Christmas event that has dominated our lives has been the Aga. The Aga was impulsively purchased some three years ago from a family who seemed a little too eager to sell it, reducing the price at every whip stitch. We didn’t use the contraption last year due to the warm weather, so its innards were choked up with two years of baked on soot. Disregarding this, Martyn fired the whole thing up a few days before Christmas. It slowly belched out smoke, so that by Christmas Eve the house was like a post-war London pea-souper.

Hatches were opened, chimneys dismantled, strange powders administered and soup ladles utilised to scoop out black gunk. The wall in the front of the house is coated in an evil smelling brown liquid and my Datura is drooping like it’s never drooped before.

By Christmas Day, all was up and running again (except my Datura) and by the time the meal was served, a little after eight, the house was like a sauna. Unfortunately, the temperature continued to rise and, by 10, the house was oppressively hot. The situation was not helped by a goose fat spillage in the oven adding to the heavy acrid atmosphere and causing eyes to sting like nettles.

New Year’s Eve

Isn’t it odd how you can spend the whole year being righteous, eating sensibly, taking exercise and drinking in moderation, just to blow it in a few days? In the run up to the big day, I was convinced I would be sensible and stick to a healthy diet. After all, I’ve left all that capitalist inspired gluttony behind me.

Two bottles of port, a tin of QS and half a ton of cake later, I can barely walk down to feed the animals. I feel lethargic, I’m suffering from insulin-sugar swings, I can’t be bothered to play tennis and digging the garden is a distant memory. I’m also fed up. Tomorrow morning I am on a 1040 flight to the UK where I will be working for the next three months. But I’ll still be in touch … Happy New Year!