I like a mince pie. Not daily throughout December, but occasionally, warmed up, with a dab of cream. My 14 year old boy absolutely adores them though. Last year, this was revealed as his eyes lit up each time one came out of the oven.When we got to January, I naively assumed you could find them year round - not in EVERY shop, but surely in the big supermarkets they’d be tucked away in the cake aisle for mince pie crazed fiends. Not so, my friends, not so. (I did try making them but they weren’t as good apparently). So this year, I’m stockpiling them. Not because of any (sshh) Brexit related madness but because you can’t buy them come Jan 6th. The shelf life on these babies is April, so I reckon a few packs will keep him going. He’s as thin as a rail, so he could have one daily, but he’s self-imposedly stringent, so will only have 2 or 3 a week. I would describe this as indulgent mothering, which I don’t often get to do with him as his needs and wants are few (apart from musical equipment).
Otherwise, things are just about in place. I did my last bits (I hope!) of food shopping today. Sometimes I miss having a partner, but not so when encountering the furious sotto voce conversations between overwrought couples in the supermarket. I can do things my way. If things feel all too much, here’s a piece I wrote a few years back about this time of year. Asda has a different ad this year I've no doubt, but I’m sure the sentiment is much the same.
It seems to me that mums have the roughest time at Christmas, because all the expectation and planning falls on their shoulders. If you don’t think that’s true, ask yourself this? Who will be sending the cards to your husband/partner’s family…? Come on, be honest, it’s probably you, isn’t it? Because you know that they will send cards to your house and if you naively assume your fella will pull his finger out to send one in return, it won’t get done and there’ll be pursed lips from Great Aunt Ethel about the ingratitude. The same applies to presents for all the extended family, the arrangements over the festive period, the entire food and drink shop and everything else besides. Not to mention all the paraphernalia the kids will need.
Last year Asda cottoned on to the fact that mothers undertook this mammoth task every year. Their blurb read – ‘we know that there’s a mum working hard to make it magical for the whole family – that’s the theme of our latest TV ad.’ The advert featured our pretty blonde heroine, sometimes dishevelled, but always cute and winsome, as she heroically battled on through all the work. The tree won’t fit in the car – how amusing; the lights for the tree are all tangled – bust a gut; there’s only a pouffe for her to sit on at the Christmas table – stop now, it’s really hurting! But she doesn’t mind, you see. When she sallies forth to the living room at the end, where all the family are spread-eagled, groaning with food and her husband calls out, ‘What’s for tea, love?’ (ho, ho, ho!); she smiles because all her hard work has paid off. They’re completely ignoring her and are glued to the telly.
‘Behind every great Christmas there’s mum,’ intones the male voiceover, ‘and behind every mum there’s Asda’. Their website eagerly assures us this ad struck a chord with lots of mums who said it’s just like that. Really? Had they all been driven to drink and valium by this stage?
Do you know what I’d like to have seen happen? Halfway through this nauseating tosh Santa Claus comes crashing in. In my imagination, this will be George Clooney, but you can picture whoever you want. He’ll sweep Mum up under his arm (her apron will fall off at this point to reveal a sparkly dress). She’ll announce, ‘Stuff the lot of you (especially you, Great Aunt Ethel), I’m going to enjoy myself…..’ and off they’ll go on his sledge, necking champagne and wolfing caviar.
If this sounds like I whoop things up for the entire fortnight that Christmas now is, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m just as bad as all the other mums, including our heroine, in doing way more than my fair share. But I’m telling myself, and all of you, to take a bit of time for you. A lot of the stuff is not necessary. Have a long bath, go out to the pictures, read in bed while eating all the choccies. The world won’t fall apart and you’ll be able to resume duties with a lighter heart. Have a truly lovely Christmas.
My younger son (nearly 11) told me he wouldn’t be having a speaking part in the Christmas show this year because he had one last year. Only about 7 or 8 lines, but he did make quite the impact. Apparently there was a point in rehearsals this week where some lines that no-one wanted to say in performance were up for grabs. He offered but was told no because of having had a part last year. The lines will remain unspoken. This might not be true, it seems extraordinary to me that you would cut your nose off to spite your face, but there you go.
I quite see why schools want to be fair and give everyone a chance. Myself, I’d rather see a good show, but I suppose it’s not about that. You can’t help feel it’s setting up disappointment in the future though. The world is tough, we all know that, but generally if you work hard you will be rewarded in the workplace. If only that were the case in the entertainment industry.
‘No, Olivia/Helena/Keeley, you’ve HAD your turn already. It’s time Maggie had a go. True she hasn’t acted professionally for many years, largely due to living in Brighton and having children, but she’s ever so good and she deserves a chance, don’t you think…?’ said no casting director/producer EVER. This sounds bitter and sour grapes-y, I’m well aware, but I have moved on (honest!). I hope to go back to acting professionally full-time in the future, but recognition in that field may never come. I do know several heart-breakingly good actors who will NEVER get a chance though, no matter how hard they work.
The thing that irks me though is when the offspring of the well-known claim that their lineage is nothing to do whatsoever with their success. They think just because it’s in a different field - acting versus writing, for example, it has no bearing on the fact that a door, however small, was opened to them once. Obviously if they don’t have talent, it won’t open very far and might slam back in their face, but it was open a chink. A definite chink. After that, it is indeed up to them to wedge that door to full capacity, which doesn’t always work. I was at drama school at the same time as the daughter of a very famous actress indeed. She has worked since, but has not achieved anything like her mother’s success, her talents being not in the same league.
In the meantime, my son accepts that school doesn’t operate like real life. His time will come, I think.
some of these...
Rants appeared as ‘My Pet Peeves’ for a blog on The Argus. Everyone has pet peeves. Maybe yours is 'people who have pet peeves'. That's fine. You bog off and be peevish about that. These are my peeves and I'll cry if I want to.