How nice it was to have five days off work. I must admit that I even enjoyed Christmas. I had my best friend to stay and she volunteered to do my baking. I had decided, owing to money shortages, to bake presents for my landlady and family, as it was more personal and they could all share; not to mention I had run out of time to shop by the time I realised we would be eating with them on Christmas Day.
So, best friend, P, starts drinking Baileys on ice and baking jam drops, rum balls, taffy and honeycombe. We finish about five Bailey’s later at 2.00 in the morning. So, we didn’t get up until late and, even then, we had 50 odd rum balls to roll.
We went into my landlady’s and, rather embarassingly, I got the impression they had been waiting for us. We handed over the goodies – all nicely wrapped in tin boxes with foil – and went straight in to the (newly refurbished) dining room for dinner. A fabulous dinner, as it happens, a monster turkey with all the trimmings. More champagne was had (but not by me) and crackers pulled; hats put on; only two jokes were found and … well they are not worth remembering.
Too soon it was over and we retired to the sitting room, by the fire, and, as seems to happen every year, games began. First there was the passing of the plastic booby and word games and, then, my favourite, Jenga came out. By this time, P had downed nearly a bottle and a half of the bubbly and her unsteadiness was challenged by the blood content of the alcohol now flowing through her veins. Needless to say, twice the tower went tumbling under P’s hand.
Soon, people started to retire and P and I joined the eldest two children in watching “Gavin and Stacey”, before retiring ourselves. We stayed up a little longer watching … something. Mistake. P had some popcorn and promptly regurgitated most of what she had eaten that day, before falling asleep and repeating the process in the morning. Needless to say, the planned trip to the seaside was postponed and we stumbled around in our pyjamas for the day.
I must admit it was a particularly lazy, hazy four days. On Monday, P went home, but we made arrangements to meet at the British Museum the next day at 9.00. Unfortunately, I had been unwell for most of Monday and was’t sure I’d make it. As it happens, I was fine when I woke on Tuesday, but the buses were not. So, I telephoned P to let her know, I’d be late and wasn’t going to get there until 11.00. Luckily enough, P had been delayed, too.
I arrived at the British Museum in the pouring rain, but so did hundred of others. I waited outside for P and sent her a text to know where to find me. Eight minutes later, P arrived and we plunged into the building, as did the waiting hoards. Immediately, P needed a coffee, so I sent her off to find one whilst I purchased a guidebook, which turned out to be a waste of money. P found her coffee, but then found we weren’t allowed out of the great hall with a take-away coffee. H&S don’t you know? The day became ever more tedious as time passed.
After less than half an hour, I started to feel hot and bothered, and I was being shuffled and shoved from every direction. Children tussled under my feet and adults didn’t seem to miss the munchkins, barely noticing if they were absent at all. I lost my temper with P and wandered off to a bathroom in order to find some space and have a breather, only to find the queues 50 people deep for the ladies, whilst gentlemen wandered in and out of their facilities rather leisurely. Once inside, the smell was of post-binge drinking vomit and, to my dismay, I found the same awful scent in all the facilities provided.
I wandered back to the Indian section, where I had last seen P drifting amongst the crowds, located her in the far distance, found a seat, pulled out my book and waited for her to circuit back to me, which she did around 20 minutes later. I had read a chapter by then, but had also had my feet stomped, my coat pulled and my bag jerked by the jostling herds.
We proceeded to other sections, Japan and Korea, by which time I was over ceramics and then we split. P went to Egypt, which I had seen many years before, and I headed for Europe, thinking it couldn’t possibly be as bad as Egypt, where it was so jammed, you had to wait for someone around you to move, before you could take a step in any direction. Europe was only slightly more freeing. If the person in front stopped, you at least had one direction in which to move.
I got glimpses of the Sutton Hoo mask, saw some lovely golden torcs, the designs of which I have noted for when I win the lottery, I managed to walk around and read all the information on the Lewis Chess Men, and then caught a glimpse of the Staffordshire Hoard. By the time I had exited the European section, I was tired, hungry and ready to commit murder on a mass scale.
I went to the meeting point where P and I had arranged to reunite at 15.00. We had something rather overpriced to eat after waiting around 10 minutes to find a seat and then headed off in the direction of Africa, by which time I was feeling rather ill. I barely remember the exhibits, which appeared to be somewhat different from the overabundance of ceramics in other areas and, one day, I will have to go and revisit.
By 17.30, it was all over for me. I went outside and breathed in the fresh air, only to have tens of smokers join me. P went back into the last section, and came out declaring we could have spent the whole day in the biblio section, as it was more intriguing than all the exhibits we had seen that day. Nail in the coffin for me. Despite it being peak hour, and apologised and said I had to make my way home; I was exhausted.
I flopped into a black cab, made my way to the train terminal, promptly found an express and was back in the countryside within the hour. Unfortunatley, the bus I needed goes through Bluewater and this meant it was running erratically, owing to overindulging shop-a-holics causing congestion on the roads. I waited another hour for the bus, and then had to walk the wonky footpath, uphill to reach the double gates on the private road at the back of the property, as the pedestrian gate in the fence along the road had long been boarded shut to keep out foragers.
I was cold, wet and shattered by the time I got indoors. I needed something hot to eat, but having entertained over the Christmas break, I was out of food, so I had to hobble back out in the weather to my car and drove down to the local chipper. They were just about to close, but I paid for the soggy chips left and went home. I fell into bed and slept almost immediately.
And that was how I spent the holidays. I hope you all had a better time of it and, if you didn’t, have two drinks for me at New Year’s, since I won’t be imbibing.
Now I am back and work and boring people with my blog. Lucky you, eh, dear reader?