Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing Day recipe

Cooking Time : 18 hours

Ingredients : 1 mini i-pad thingy - very thin,small,in a slippery case - needs to slip easily down the cushions of an armchair

1 larger A5 sized I-pad with nice big symbols which either a 3 year old or a 60 something can see/read

1 blackberry with mini head-phones which can blot out any conversation, allowing the wearer to be present in body only - with mind in another universe where communication involves a lot of clicking and buzzing

2 sets of 40 something parents - one set just 2 weeks into their new business which has required all their financial, emotional and physical resources for the last 3 months.

2 sisters aged 7 and 12.

2 brothers aged 3 and 16 plus 1 sister of University/College age

1 over-affectionate cocker spaniel with a keen nose and an eye for an opportunity but with the ability to make his presence felt from time to time in a quiet, anti-social way (illegally consumed sprouts being the cause).

2 home owners each eligible for winter fuel allowance and directly or indirectly related to all the guests (other than the dog - who likes to be related to anyone with the ability to walk)

Half a stuffed 16 lb turkey

A lovingly prepared venison stew which has been so well marinated there is hardly any sense of venison present ( but it is a fact that deer are associated with Christmas, and reindeer, and a famous one was called Bambi....) 

A well-prepared ham

A delicious slice of salmon

Sea food

A choice of 8 cheeses

Every traditional Christmas vegetable 

Christmas cake


Many more deserts

A wide range of alcoholic and slightly less alcoholic drinks

1 consumer who refuses to eat to eat any meat or fish - and cheese, because that has been the standby used for the previous 3 days.

! consumer who is growing so rapidly in his teen-age years he has lost the ability to speak or think and speaks in monosyllables - and also favours crisps or very plain sandwiches rather than anything exciting - like venison, or salmon, or sea food.....

1 highly active 3 year old who can operate i-pads of any size, the tv remote, dvd controls and taps with ease and has no problem in removing baubles from the Christmas tree (in secret pacts with dog, who is under instruction to hide things).

1 guest with the winter vomiting virus.

1 guest who is convinced she has the winter vomiting virus but nevertheless has an adult sized appetite

1 clever 7 year old who moves effortlessly from room to room without being seen, but who needs to be acknowledged - or else.

An unusual period of prolonged rain, creating unprecedented floods on the main access road from the north.

Preparation :

Spend 2 days preparing the range of foods that cannot be prepared in the 8 hours before guests arrive.

Arrange for the flood effect to strike at the end of a long journey - just at the moment when the winter virus vomit urge is strong; children are tired from the 3 hour 80 mph journey and everyone desperately needs the toilet.

Be on hand with alternative car routes.

Have ready
a.clean toilet and

 - for one guest who can move like lightening from car to a. to b. not to be seen then for several hours ( including Christmas Dinner - which for the first time in 10 years he is not preparing himself). Hope there will be an appearance by Boxing Day.

Have stand - by transport available to find and ferry 16 year olds at short notice. (The notion of forward planning is antiquated and boring..)

Ply with drink, feed (with whatever weird combination works) and sit back to see what happens.

Result : an amazingly enjoyable day! Thanks to all involved.

P.S There was just the final incident the morning after when one of the wrinklies attempted to pick up his prescription from the doctor/chemist  whilst taking the dog for his pre-long drive walk. This was supposed to take 20 minutes, not an hour.
 It was the dogs fault. Why he (the dog)  felt the need to slip his new lead; visit the supermarket on his own; involve a shop owner and 3 customers in getting him back to the chemist; bark all the time it took the nervous dog-averse chemist to count the tablets; then relieve himself hugely 3 times along the river bank (so supplying one more helping than the number of bags available for clean-up) and finally find the muddiest path to follow all the way back to the car - I will never know.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Love my phobile moan

I once overheard a conversation from a motorist broken down on the motorway. He was trying to report a vehicle breakdown from a Motorway phone box and clearly under stress.

Operator : "Your location please?"
Driver : "In the roadworks just after junction 12 - there's loads of traffic and it's very close to us.."
Operator :" Be with you soon sir - can you give me a phone number just to keep you informed?"
Driver : " Ah!!!! Can't remember it - Tracey! Tracey!..what's my phobile moan number?.. Oh xxxx"

I use a limited number of functions on my mobile - just calls and slow texts really. That was before I was given a course of tablets to take for the next 6 months, every day at the same time. The trick to remembering tablets  is to use alarms when I'm at home - so I set the small radio signal driven clock for 6.00 pm - repeating every 10 minutes. As a back-up I also decided to set the alarm on my mobile phone using a carefully chosen tone which increased in volume until acknowledged, also repeating every 10 minutes unless switched off.

This has worked very well for me, but has triggered an unusually frantic reaction from my wife - who is often cooking around 6.00 and well within range of both phone and clock.

Things began to go "pear-shaped" when I lost my phone. Several days later I happened to be in a meeting and mentioned the loss. Two members of the choir committee looked at each other and asked for a description of a phone that had been going off repeatedly in church during a choir practice - a phone that had been switched off and left in the safe.

30 seconds before our Sunday concert performance, as we walked to our places I was handed my phone. I checked the credit but saw a message "Sim card failure". "Fine"  I thought, and switched off the phone.

About halfway through our rendition of "Sister Mary had but one child" a mobile phone alarm went off - getting increasingly louder. I looked at my neighbour pointedly and the row of ladies in front began to either glare or giggle. It took a good 10 seconds (or 5 lines of the carol) for the penny to drop - at which point I decided to bluff whilst singing with as straight a face as possible and carefully pressing buttons on the phone in my pocket.

We sat down at the end of the carol. Then I gave the game away. Having realised the alarm would repeat during the next carol - Silent Night - I decided to turn the alarm off completely.

Having switched on the phone I was rewarded by the familiar switch on Nokia theme tune - followed rapidly by a lot of accusing looks, and quite a few moans...