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Monday, December 24, 2012

Only one more sleep until Christmas. And for us it's likely to be a broken one with a chatty baby and a crying four-year-old. Toby's learnt how to laugh in the past three or four weeks, which is ironic, as we haven't had much to smile about, so he's now combining his extra loud talking with endless chuckling. Usually late at night. It's as though he's practising for a stand-up career before he learns to walk.

He finds Lisa's actions particular laughable, which is something he and I have in common, but whilst we might be able to cope with one loud-mouth in the family, we're currently dealing with his ill big sister as well. Amelie blows a bit hot and cold at the moment. Quite literally. She seems fine at times, then starts to go quiet, and quickly develops a high temperature. By 5pm yesterday she was burning up like an apocalyptic asteroid in the earth's atmosphere, but much like the world after the Mayan prophecy, she seems a lot brighter again this morning.

On the downside, she barely ate a thing yesterday, which is unfortunate as we've bought all our Christmas food now. We've actually discovered the solution to stressful festive food shopping, which I'm tempted to keep to myself for future years, but in the spirit of Christmas and goodwill to all men (who have to work particularly hard at this time of year), I'm willing to share. The solution is the Marks & Spencer's food shop in Hollingbury.

I've done a bit of Christmas food shopping at Marks & Spencer's before, and it's a lot like trying to do the breast-stroke in this swimming pool...

But that was the branch in town. We're lucky enough to have another store on the fringes of Brighton, which sells simply M&S food. It's only been there for eighteen months, and as this article in The Argus explains, its opening was met with a lot of criticism from people who live on council estates and have never heard of cars.

Fortunately, whilst I do live on a council estate, I have heard of cars, and what's more, I'm willing to drive mine a couple of miles to shop in 'their' branch of Marks and Spencer. So with it being Christmas 'n' all, we decided to push the boat out, go into debt, and eschew Asda in favour of buying all our festive food from M&S.

And boy, was it the right decision. We arrived there on Saturday evening with both the kids, expecting the kind of crowds that would test the parking angel to her very limits, and instead found the place deserted. I think all M&S customers must be Mayans, and they'd given all their money away. We had our choice of parking spaces right outside the entrance, and spent a leisurely hour strolling the empty (but well-stocked) aisles, choosing delicacies that are high in both calorie content and price. Frankly it was worth the extra money just to avoid the stress. Although our hearts might not cope with that £9 chocolate dessert.

On the subject of heart attacks and death, we thought Lisa's Mum had popped her clogs yesterday. No, really. The doorbell went at 9:15am, and I answered it to find two of Lisa's cousins standing outside with a hamper of festive goodies. Sadly they weren't for us, but were intended instead for my mother-in-law. Unfortunately, having told her in advance that they'd be dropping by that morning, they couldn't get her to answer the door. They'd hung around for a while, still got no answer, and had to dash off elsewhere, so they left the hamper with us, and departed.

Lisa's Mum usually phones us every day, but it occurred to us that she hadn't rung at all on Saturday, so when Lisa gave her a call and she failed to answer, we began to get worried. The chances of her going anywhere on a Sunday morning seemed slim, especially when she was expecting guests, so when the unanswered calls continued for the next half hour, we began to convince ourselves that Lisa's cousins weren't the only ones who'd departed that morning.

So while Lisa did her best to avoid a panic attack, I dropped everything, grabbed her Mum's spare keys, and drove at high speed to the sheltered housing, where I found an ambulance parked outside...

... and Lisa's Mum happily doing her neighbour's washing in the laundry room downstairs. The ambulance was for someone else. Although it could have come in useful as I felt like slapping her around a bit. While half the family were thinking she was dead, she'd been out of her flat for an hour and a half, doing festive chores for the other residents. Frankly Lisa had been closer to a heart attack than her mother was. But all's well that ends well. She gave me a tin of biscuits, so it wasn't a wasted journey.


Phil's Mum said...

Phew!!!  That was nearly a bad start to the festive season!  Hope you ALL have a healthy and happy Christmas - till we see you. (and after that as well!)  Shall I book a doctor's appointment here for Am?!