Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bloody Good Eggs.

I met Mags for a coffee during one of my breaks. I was not a happy bunny. Mags was consulting a Christmas list and I knew that I did not have her full attention and boy, did I need some attention.
“Will you listen to me please?” I asked her, “Or I’ll get up from here in a right huff”.
“Sure”, she said, ticking off the people she’d bought presents for.
“Talk to me!”, I said, rather more loudly than I’d have preferred, given that those around me thought I was addressing them and more than one, who had their hazelnut lattes raised to their lips, placed them back in their saucers. I lowered my voice.
“Mags, please, I’ve only got half an hour and I have a lot to say.” She finally got the hint and folded her list and put it in carefully back in her handbag.
“Ok”, she said, “I’m all yours. Spill the beans”.
“Well, I um, am cheesed off”.
“Go on”, Mags replied, her chin resting on her hand which was resting on the café’s table, her eyes and face so serious and intense that she reminded me of a psycho-analytic therapist and I had to laugh.
“Bloody hell Mags, it’s not that bad, I just want someone to ‘drip over’ as my dear husband would say”.
“Drip away”, she said.
“Well, you know this ongoing debacle that we’ve had with the Christmas trees?”
“Of course I know about it Alice. I have dined out several times on the story that my best friend has managed to get herself banned from a Christmas tree nursery!”
“Yes, well, and you know that we need really tall trees, because, well ,that was the tradition we started with when we moved into our house and now the youngest children obviously don’t think it’s really Christmas unless we adorn both hallway and sitting room with 14 foot trees”.
“But they look magical”, she added.
“That’s the point. Of course, it costs a lot of money and all that but, as we don’t go in for ludicrously expensive gifts, then I like to still indulge them with the trees”.
“So what are you going to do?”
“Well, I’ve Googled tall trees and unless I want a couple shipped from Norway, then I’m out like trout. It’s almost Christmas Mags and we don’t have so much have a bloody card up. It’s not exactly festive.”
“I see where this conversation is going”, said Mags, her face now covered with her hands.
“The thing is I may as well get hold of a menorah at this rate and celebrate Hanukkah.”
“Oy vey”, quipped Mags.
“I think it would be rather lovely to be honest. I like the idea of the miracle of olive oil.”
“The Jews were having a tough time of it and there was only enough olive oil to light a lamp for one night, but, miraculously, it lasted for eight days, until new supplies could be found. That’s what Hanukkah is all about”.
“Well I never. Not exactly a virgin birth though is it?”
“Mags!”, I was horrified, “For God’s sake!”
“Well it’s true!”
“They are completely different scenarios. I wasn’t making a comparison between which religion has the best miracles for crying out loud”. Mags looked suitably mortified.
“Besides”, I said, “I’m sure that if I went on that, Who Do You Think You Are programme and they did some digging into my geneaology, I think they’d find that I was Jewish”.
“Why on earth do you say that?”, asked Mags. I explained to her that as I was down-to-earth, intense and funny and pressed huge amounts of food onto any passing visitor and had a very healthy interest in my children’s private lives, then, from what I’d seen of Woody Allen films, Jewish mothers and I have a lot in common .
“Anyway”, I went on, “whether I am Jewish or not, it does not help with the tree situation and I wondered, dear sweet Mags, as they recognise us, if we have your kids for a couple of hours, whether you and your beloved husband would go undercover and buy two trees on our behalf?”. It goes without saying that she agreed to the terms of the espionage I had planned even if I had to bribe her with a glass or two of mulled wine when she and her husband returned: mission accomplished. I went back to work, relieved that within the next day or so, trees, fairy lights, Lilliput villages and other such festive décor would indeed trim our house from the coving to the carpet.
I did not however,account for apocalyptic weather. They were turned away on the first attempt due to severe gale force winds and on the second attempt there was no-one there due to the aforementioned conditions. By the third attempt my children had stopped being excited; Mag’s boys were no longer a novelty and I believe that they never thought they’d see a tree this side of Valentine’s Day. On the third attempt, when it was yet again pouring with rain and blowing a hoolie; when the skies where pitch dark and most normal people were in front of the fire, Mags and her husband opened our front door and, dripping wet, lugged two, vast , comedy trees through our house.
“Oh. My. God”, I said. The girls squealed, the dog went mental, the cats hissed and Hubby went pale.
“Two Christmas trees, duly delivered”. There were pine needles sticking in Mag’s usually sleek coiffure, her cheeks were red and her hands filthy, her husband’s glasses needed miniature windscreen wipers, his nose was dripping as was his scarf and Barbour.
When your friends go out in a storm for you to make you and your kids happy, whether you celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas or Diwali it matters not a jot; what does matter stood shivering in our hallway. “ To our best friends”, toasted Hubby. Hear, hear.

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