Most wonderful time of the year, etc etc

It’s a Sunday and the smallest child has just hit his 9 year old brother around the head with a plastic beaded necklace and refuses to say sorry. Casper has taken off with his friends with a £10 note and the aim to eat at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant to try the Beef Wellington.

Noah is cutting onions and peeling garlic to help Mark make burgers out of the deer he stalked and killed late on Thursday night in the freezing temperatures somewhere in Kettering. I was out at a Bafta screening that night scoffing canapes, popcorn and drinking as much of the flowing Piper Heidseick champagne that I was allowed while stuffing my bag full of the complimentary sherbert discs and oat milk chocolate drops to take home to the children, and so did not have to witness the deer being hauled onto our kitchen table and being cut up into red meaty chunks. When I got back, everything was wiped down nicely although the overflow fridge was literally overflowing with stainless steel bowls of newly-dead deer. It is hard to stomach. But there are burgers to be made, and Noah is helping mince and season, chop and shape.

Ned is watching a movie but is nursing a terrible ingrown toenail because no one has noticed that he has a habit of picking his toes to shreds – not noticed until now when the fleshy mess is bad enough to make him hobble. He says he has to keep his socks on all the time because it is too sore and too embarrassing to be let out. I have suggested a plaster and tea tree oil and have made a mental note to look closely at my children more often. Barnaby has just made an excellent joke about Shakespeare and Otis has made his packed lunch ready for Tuesday when he will sing Christmas Carols at Kensington Town Hall for “an audience of thousands”. The bagels will be stale, the ham kind of warm, but he won’t be dissuaded. I’m also not sure who will constitute the “thousands”.

I, meanwhile, have not gone for a run because I have another chesty pink-eyed snotty coughing thing. Instead, I got ready to go with Charlotte for a hotly anticipated church fete in Camden where she and I would most likely buy ourselves vintage trinkets, books, antique lace things, mid-century lamps and costume jewellery to hang whimsically on the tree but alas, when we arrived at the church, it seemed that church was actually still going on rather than the fete, which had, once we reread the flyer, been held the day before. Which makes sense, being a Sunday, etc etc.

This is us trying to find it. A day late:

But no matter as we pootled around the shops and drank coffee and ate brunch and bought things from charity shops which wasn’t quite the same but close. And I was a bit excited to be in Camden because the shows we have been watching – Everything I know About Love and Trying – are both filmed in Camden and it felt quite movie-set-ish today with the trees and people in hats and frosty winteryness everywhere.

Because, Christmas. Last week was notable for the school Christmas fair held on Friday. I baked three cakes frantically on Thursday – one banana chocolate cake for the fair and two others, another banana chocolate and one coconut for us to eat – because one is never enough. But on Friday during the school run the dog finished the cakes off. The rage! The fury! The wasted eggs and butter and desiccated coconut. All gone into the furry belly of that fat, naughty dog. He must have really worked at it, fishing for the cakes on the tray in the middle of our huge table, willing those paws and claws to stretch further, aim higher! He was very sleepy all the rest of the day, way beyond shame. I think he just doesn’t do shame anymore.

I had a sample sale triumph last week – there was a bit of a strange sale with mostly stupid shoes at the Music Room but also some Roksanda clothes on a rack which sounded far too small but massively discounted. I raced in and bought a big pink and black floor-sweeping gown in heavy double-lined silk, hoping it might fit, and which was listed on the Harrods website at £2600. I got it for a measly £80. I wore it to a lovely friend’s farewell at the pub and nearly tripped up on my way to the loos. Practical for nothing, but I shall endeavour to continue to wear it anyway.

Here’s Remi at the school Christmas fair, foregoing a jacket and snacking one of many packets of popcorn:

Yesterday, in the spirit of Christmas tradition, we met up with a group of friends and took the Elizabeth Line to the Prince Charles cinema to a Sing-a-Long Muppets Christmas Carol and then to dinner with 24 other people at a Chinatown dim sum place. It was magical and heartwarming and lovely and only a little bit dampened by my constant coughing and strained vocal chords. The energy required in singing all those Muppet songs was taxing. We passed a Santa pub crawl as we made our way to the theatre:

The coughing has been a problem – Mark is coughing too – and every night it has been a struggle to work out how to get past the tickly throat thing to start getting sleepy. I’ve been having hot showers for the steam and then wrapping up warm and pouring on Vick’s Vapour Rub in the old skool tradition and remembering how my dad says you must keep your chest covered up. It has made me think that coughing is like eating crisps. If you give in to one you are just screwed and you’ll eat the whole packet/cough the whole night. I tried to be mindful and talk myself out of the tickling throat – to decide it was just an illusion. It hasn’t worked very well.

This is the last week of work and school – a few more days of strange pickup times, badly thought-out present buying, more sample sales, Canary Wharf visits, pink-eye, and snot – before we drive to Devon to swim and make pavlova and panic-buy more presents and watch all the great, crap films. I cannot wait!

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5 Responses to Most wonderful time of the year, etc etc

  1. Clare says:

    Wishing you and your lovely boys a merry and restful Christmas. Thanks for another year of brilliant writing, I always give a little cheer when I spot a new post! XXX

  2. rose says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing. You look so lovely in your pictures! Gorgeous complexion and of course…. your eyes! Sounds like things are actually going quite swimmingly well and your family continues to be wonderful and joy inspiring.
    Wishing you such a joyous Christmas and a new year filled with love, laughter, happiness….. and hopefully lots of post writing!

    • theharridan says:

      Lovely kind words from you as usual – thanks so much for the encouragement and all the best to you too – have a wonderful Christmas break!

  3. Wendy says:

    Try Pholcodine, available over the counter from pharmacies. I think it contains a tiny amount of morphine, enough to suppress the cough reflex. Very effective!

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