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Thursday, December 15, 2005
AChristmas Story for 2005 (Part II of III)
(go to part I first!!)
“Jeez….!” muttered Ron, and fell back, exhausted into his armchair. (I don’t know if you have all noticed, but Ron spends a lot of time being exhausted in his armchair)
This particular time, he had every reason to be in such a state. Decorating was done – finished – finally!
The traditional errors had happened, sticky tape that didn’t stick (because it was the last of those rolls Ron had pinched before retiring) things detaching themselves regularly, like when Ron did the wallpapering, Christmas trees that firstly wouldn’t stand up straight and when they did, the needles were already falling off – 2 weeks before Christmas (bald trees were in fashion).
Eff was hopping about in the background, looking all the world like a good fairy, covered from head to foot with the tree decorations, waiting for “her” Ron to get the thing to stand up straight.
“Quite like bath night, Eff,” joked Ron,”I can’t get it to stand up right either!”
“Don’t talk about it, Ron,” said Eff, “these things happen, you know, and for your age I find you do quite well, really!”
Finally standing, upright and proud, Eff started to decorate the tree.
She had a tried and tested system, and Ron always joked that she managed, every year, to find the point of balance which he had not calculated, normally with the last little glass ball, and the whole lot came down with a clatter onto the carpet, which needed hoovering again.
Ron was not concerned with all this, of course, except to put the thing up again when it clattered down. He was occupied with his favourite Christmas task, getting the electric fairy-light chain to work.
Inherited from somebody or other, many years ago, this light chain had more bits of metal foil (to make the contact) than bulbs, and somehow (Ron could never figure out why) the chain never worked immediately. It hadn’t been used for a year, worked then, so why the hell didn’t it work now? He always got it to give a sort of dull shimmering, mainly from the bits of metal foil, but the flashing on and off mechanism had given up the ghost years ago. This year was no exception, and just as Eff finished the tree, Ron was ready to try and put the fairy light chain onto it.
Hours later, and several fuses later, all was done – The wall to wall paper chains, the foldable Christmas bells and things had been installed, just the occasional one which persisted in losing it’s grip on the wallpaper, but Ron had found that little patch of bare wall from years and years of Christmas sticky tape, and had hammered a little tack in, which was holding everything up and in place.
Using the hammer entailed the normal half-an-hour consoling period from Eff for his thumb, and a cup of tea, whilst they both looked at their efforts.
“Ron,” said Eff (as she did every year) “I think that one over there is hanging wrong, and we’ve forgotten to put the star on the top of the tree.”
“Eff,” said Ron (as he did every year) “If you think I’m getting on that ladder again, or that I’m letting you knock the whole lot over again – forget it. Anyway, it’s only a Frenchman coming, isn’t it? They’re all smashed when they arrive anywhere, he won’t notice a thing!”
Thus pacified, the tea being finished, it was time to move on to the next seasonal item, a traditional reflective period, of about 10 minutes, thinking about how it would be lovely, again, this year.
“Ron – this year we can really just lie about on Christmas Eve. No kids to worry about, no mountains of wrapping paper all over the place. No vomit to clean up, no nappies to change – NOTHING! “ (Eff said this all with a voice almost of regret)
“Yeah, Eff, and you know what I’m going to do? There’s a one day cricket match on, and it’ll be my last chance to be civilized before the Froggie gets here on Christmas Day! We’ve never been able to do just what we wanted to, because of the kids and things!”
“Ron, I’ll prepare a little something special, just for the two of us, and you watch your cricket, and I’ll wrap up the gifts, and do a little preparation for the side buffet for Christmas day. That’ll put a nice Christmas atmosphere, won’t it , my love?”
“Just so long as that bloody tree doesn’t collapse again in front of the telly, it always does sometime or other!” joked Ron, although it was no joke!
Christmas Eve being a Saturday, all the shops and markets were still open, which meant that Ron could shoot down to the bakers, and get some fresh bread. The traditional British “elastic” bread would have to do for Christmas Day, but Eff was going to try and put some French sticks in the freezer, in honour of the Frenchman’s visit.
At 10am, precisely, on Christmas Eve, Ron started getting dressed up.
“Thank god there’s no Santa Clause uniform, this year,” he muttered, as he pulled over his thick winter pully. All the time he had the feeling that something was missing, and of course it was his Santa’s uniform. Old habits die hard, and although outwardly celebrating the demise of Ron as Santa, somehow he felt that it was a major change, and he wasn’t too sure that it was a good one entirely.
“Never mind”,he muttered,”no more vomit or pee-pee on my lap!”
Pulling on his parka, and adjusting his woolly ski hat, he went downstairs to look for his gloves.
Eff was just taking out the last batch of mincepies from the oven, and an odourof Christmas was omnipresent.
“I’ll jump down to the bakers, dear,” said Ron,”that way we’ll be ready for a lovely lunch and afternoon in front of the telly!”
“Right you are, my love,” replied Eff,”I’ve prepared a little thing you’ll love, but it’s a surprise.”
“Just so long as I don’t have to carve the thing”, said Ron.”I’ll be off then, anything else you wanted?”
“Is that the phone, Ron?” Could you answer it in passing? Probably one of our grown up babies forgotten something”.
5 minutes later, a thoroughly dejected Ron came back through the kitchen door, and plomped heavily onto a chair.
“Well, my love, you can forget your little surprise, I’ve got one for you!
The bloody froggie’s on his way from the station right now! Seems there aren’t any planes and stuff tomorrow, being Christmas Day and a Sunday and all!” He’s at the bus station, and is taking a taxi.. I’d better get down to the baker’s quick,”
“Ronald Oldman”, said Eff sternly,”You’re not leaving me alone in this house to welcome a Frenchman!” (Ron knew that when his full name was used, it was a serious matter, and not worth his while to argue).
In any case, the doorbell shattered the remnants of Ron’s fairy tale Christmas Eve. Gone was the cricket, a tasty little meal with Eff, a sophisticated, gentle snoring, in front of the telly and the fire, gone was the peace and quiet, gone was the relaxation, he now had to get out a foreign language, foreign eatables, and foreign manners, had to be polite for the next 2-3 days at least, grin and bear it.
“Just like the bloody blitz,” he said, and arranged his collar before stamping in a determined fashion towards the door, muttering something about “bonjoor missure” and “bloody frogs”.
End of Part II. Part III shortly.