Sunday

Relative Strangers


























And so, once more to the veritable seating arrangement for the forthcoming, long awaited, cornucopia that is Christmas lunch. Never an enviable task when one is born into a soap opera menagerie, all of which will make up the bones of the annual gathering here at the ancestral home of the Files. To the left, we have the inherited relations, 'Ceux dont nous devons si tristement divertir'. Some of which we would not necessarily wish to have mingling amongst us if choice was an option. Sadly, missing persons and accidental gunshot wounds are investigated more thoroughly these days, whilst digging holes in the frozen ground can be a bit of a bugger in the cold wind up there in the Highlands. Unlike friends, a man cannot choose his relations. Man is born of woman and all that malarkey. To the right, my DNA family, 'Les goûts de qui doivent continuer à être supporté comme un mal nécessaire'. The good, the bad, none of us that are too ugly, well, apart from the odd few from our extended Donegal connections that is. It was four hours once before I had even realised that the invited friend of cousin Hugh was in fact a large Mouflon, of which had just happened to board the aeroplane while the pilot was sobering himself up in the washroom. Uncle Hugh befriending him whilst they were both being frisked by the customs Gestapo at the duty-free. The Mouflon that is, not the pilot. He seemingly smuggled his own through in his British Airways flight bag.

My promised missive is still to be completed. I took a small meat pie, a pot of mustard and a small peck of radishes, along with a medium sized bottle of something spiritual, up to my study and began to compile. As well as a rabid indifference to making lists, I also cannot abide the aftermath of the harsh, but necessary seating arrangement cull each festive season. Last year for instance, I had three extra birds to de-feather, pluck and stuff, all before I could even begin to sit down with a pre-dinner minuscule sherry and half a mince pie. You have no idea the strain this puts on the Duke of Argyle's private stock when I, and a few secretive, balaclaved friends, look to replenish our freezers in the earlier hours of Spring. All because my good lady could not abide the very thought of the unprepared flotsam delving into fast fooderies and a cold, unwelcoming, unlit log fire down there in the remainder of the forsaken land that isn't actually Scottish. Two of my visiting spinster aunties from darkest Lockerbie, are regularly delighted with the upstairs lavatories, slightly disagreeable of course at the vulgar additions of the matching his and hers bathtubs, but nevertheless still cock-a-hoop with the free offerings of fragrant gardenia nosegay, triple ply toilet paper, not to mention a good chuckle at the soft-closing seats. 

Honestly though, the gall of some people. Raise the land taxes from the sanctuary of their London offices, ridicule our guttural accents, football teams, weather, politics and religion, before bemoaning our continued success and popularity with the rest of the world. Then they have the cheek to sit, coy like at my table, draped in musty kilts that first saw the light of day way back before the Pictish invasion in 1503, helping themselves to my best roasted parsnips, cranberry sauce and elegant multi-stuffed birds and decrying the English, of which they have notably already become! Breaking wind discreetly in the library after the meal with a large whisky, amidst cigar and pipe fumes and a voluminous amount of coughing to mask the volatile retaliation of the brussel sprouts. They sit quite merrily in their doublets, with creamy frothing java snubbits, and quaintly expensive gingerish biscuits accompanying the big chunky mugs of eggnog and tumblers of single malt served up by yours truly. I try hard every year not to notice my great uncle Murdo, as he engineers yet another cunning plan to pilfer my silver cruet wedding set. His planned exodus with the goods usually ends when the white pepper from the acquired set cause him to sneeze violently several times, whilst breaking wind to the accompaniment of my brothers merry skirl on the bagpipes. Hence beginning an hour long saga featuring a major debate and then the subsequent retrieval of his top set from beneath the extremities of my snug-fit sideboard using a variety of wire coat hangers and hastily fetched snooker cues.

Last year, if it hadn't been for yet another well-timed repeat of 'The Wizard of Oz' summoning the elderly, flatulent and belching, tipsy cauliflowers back to the sitting room, I would quite happily have been reaching for my dusty, but ever trusty, side-by-side that rests above the fireplace in the library. Every year, an endless gaggle of family misfits file nefariously in to our cosy corner of leather and rather damned expensively wooded cockaigne Arcadia. Amongst the black jacketed fat men, hungover actors, lavender smelling retirees, hard-line politicians in comical cartoon T-shirts, come familiar people with fuzzy beards and half unwrapped crampons. Deft, city-type real estate brokers that are ironically on the cusp of going broke and looking for a fiscal hand-out in the new year, and those elderly relations amongst us who for some reason clap inadvertently along to oompah music. Add to the mix the odd homosexualist in motorcycle boots, bedraggled pre-nightclub revellers, one gentleman with a single ski, and of course the obligatory stranger that nobody can ever recognise. Even my faithful pooch, Milo, a fear of dread in his one good eye, has taught Siobhan's pet goat how to extricate himself from his bed in the corner of the kitchen and escape across the fields whenever the first set of car headlights appears at the driveway gates in December. One year he never actually returned until the second week in January.

My children still recall amongst themselves a familiar, rather portly, largely overdressed aunty on my wife's side, extrovert in every possible consideration, even down to her exquisitely carved fake string of pearls. She paused elegantly, halfway through her blended caramel frappuccino as a bookish second cousin posed next to her whilst being snapped for an ultimate book of faces moment. In her hand was a freshly rolled cigarette of dubious quantities, whilst peeking from her handbag was the garish packaging of a well known pre-emptive prophylactic. The aunty in question must be seventy, if she is a day. It was several minutes beneath her inquisitive gaze before I returned her stare. She smiled sympathetically, ran a delicate finger down her face between her left ear and lower jaw, silently mouthing "Bio-oil" at me, as if she was a mystical illusionist harbouring a secret unction that would magically repair and enhance my male beauty. I nodded courteously, and by way of return, in the true spirit of Christmas, ran my own fingers across each eyebrow and silently murmured; "tweezers", right back at her. She hesitated only momentarily in disdain before her dignified exit into the scullery was slightly hampered by the confusion pulling the push only door. Admittedly, the bunched trouser material which had sought refuse in her plump buttocks cleft did not help matters. Being a gentleman, I pretended not to notice the cheapness and the over sized fit of her underwear as she puckered, dug it out immediately with a deft tug, turned dangerously fast on her well-heeled slingbacks and hurried ever onwards towards another large brandy.

Yes, it is the season of goodwill to all men, of that I will agree, but to all of their relatives and subsequent hangers-on as well? Even my patience, if not my larder, has its limits. Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme... Pah humbug!



Porchetta Pork Loin with White Beans 

3 fresh garlic cloves, crushed
Grated zest of 2 Spanish oranges
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 pork loin, still with a modest layer of fat still attached.
1 tin of cannellini beans, drained well
juice of one lemon

On a cutting board, combine the garlic, zest and seeds. Add 1 tbsp of the rosemary and chop the mix until it forms a paste. Scoop into a small dish and add the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper, rub it well with the paste. Marinate the loin for 3 hours in the fridge. When ready, place the loin in a roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes. Check the centre with a thermometer inserted cleanly in the middle. It should read 160 degrees. Take the meat out and allow to rest for 10 minutes. In a saucepan, heat the beans, lemon juice and remaining rosemary until warmed through. Add a small amount of chicken stock to assist the natural jus. Pour around pork, sprinkle the remainder of the fennel seeds, add the white beans, garnish with freshly plucked watercress and serve piping hot.

81 comments:

  1. Brilliant as ever, especially the description of the mutt and the goat and the grand old men of England passing wind in defence of their country. Tell you what, i want in on the next poaching expedition up there on the Dukey boys land. Deffo the way things are shaping up, i can see the new menu now. Fresh pork duck and pheasant hanging up next to the venison and smoked fishies. Lol love it.

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    1. Surely Anthony, poaching is a blurred reference to stealing? It is illegal to steal food and on being sentenced the offender would be sent to the colonies? Do I have to mention the name of Charles Edward Trevelyan (spit) to clear the subsequent mist from your eyes? Let us just assemble at the appropriate inn on a dark evening. Rap thrice on the bar keeps window and ask for Captain Moonlite. Our secret, eh?

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  2. He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

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    1. Good Ghod man, do you ever actually read the words as published up there on the screen in front of you? What an excellent, if not somewhat short-sighted, endorsement from the clergy. It's an altogether magnificent moment when the emotionally crippled trip over their bedraggled prayer shawls and agree with a sensible fellow such as myself. That's the spirit, eh?

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  3. My quality of my life has improved substantially since i stopped spending time with my relatives during holidays. This year, i shall extract my mother for a clandestine meal with her grandson, who will be making a brief appearance at home for Christmas. If i let any members of the extended clan know that he is going to be home from basic training, they'd descend upon us like flies - an opportunity for patriotic facebook photos with the family soldier is not to be missed...

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  4. You had me at clandestine my dear. My most enjoyable Christmas some years back was being carried by way of a tuk-tuk, over rough ground in a rather warm climate whilst enjoying a bucket of the Colonels finest. With me was my good lady and my two daughters. Perfect harmony in every shape, way and form.

    So many people forget the fact that it is not what is on the table at Christmas, but in fact who is sitting around it. I shall wait for the photies of your young fella to pop onto my doormat sometime in the new year. Perhaps then we can talk to him about his mother being pregnant once again and moving to Scotland.

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    1. he's often told me he wanted a little brother.... at this point in my life, however, we'll have to name him "Houdini", as it's going to take some serious swimming skills for one of your mighty tadpoles to locate a relatively fresh egg...

      and your adventure in thailand reminds me of one of the best holidays i have ever experienced -- me and my spawn in Turkey (the country, not the bird), building our christmas tree from empty beer bottles in a hilton...

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    2. Ah, towering beer bottles, romance and your ever exploring mind are indeed attractive to a man.

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  5. Did we drop a bit of a clanger then Mr Fodder?

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    1. Gloating is a poor trait in a man Anthony. Try to see the good in everyone, regardless of what they say and what they do. Moral ground is always more secure under your own foot and not that of your enemy.

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  6. I believe that we are foregoing the family Christmas this year. We may just do a dinner out on the Eve in NYC with a comfy hotel room and a bottle of whisk(e)y.

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    1. If you're coming to NYC over the holiday, bring loads of cash. Just a tip.

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  7. Any particular reason why sir?

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    1. Several. But mostly because we want to do something a bit different this year. Gia wants to go someplace warm as she's off that whole week, but it was a late development and we can't put it together that quickly.

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    2. All becomes clear sir. Sometimes, spur of the moment can be far more enjoyable than the usual laborious planning. Good luck with it.

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  8. Sounds like you are having the whole world to dine.
    I have two musty kilts up in the attic. Do you think I could sneak in amongst the flatulent grannies?

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    1. My apologies Lady Patricia, but one simply cannot squeeze you in amongst such elderly company, soon to be seated at the far end of the dining table. No, far better you are seated beside Siobhan to ensure that your every need is catered for in a suitable manner involving the correct dining room etiquette, of which you currently accustomed to. Or, put another way, closer to the sherry my dear. Can't have you reaching now, can we?

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  9. The accumulation of detail there is like one of those very long, continuous shots that Robert Altman perfected in his films, and which sets up a tragi-comic episode of a modern Scottish Christmas.

    Ours will be simpler, just me, Kirsty and the girls. We're overdue for hauling ourselves up to the Northeast (Teeside I mean, not Aberdeen)--a fabulously costly and effortful four-and-a-half hours on the train, but just for time time being, it is, as you and Daisy point out, a great luxury to be able to spend Christmas with those you choose to, and involves months of preparatory, subtle diplomatic procedure.

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    1. A marvellous softly-softly way in which to hint at my long-winded summation of the facts. In my current state of mind, the entire post is merely a few sentences long. War and peace was not the intention, but I digress...

      Although the benefits of train travel far outweigh the beleaguered car journey across the dreaded A69 to Newcastle before tackling the awful A1 down to Teesside and beyond ( please note the double S), I would suggest the use of a motor vehicle in order for you to stop off and take tea with a rather interesting chap I am acquainted with in Hexham. But then, you already know psycho Dave. Again, tell him James sent you. Good luck sir.

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  10. Family boils down to people who you are obligated to spend time with when you'd really rather not. They feel the same way about you and I, too. Perhaps the best recourse is to boil down the family.

    My mother-in-law, an American Princess if ever there was one, lived in London for a bit. In Mayfair, no less. Once during our visit, she brought a chicken home from the butcher, unwrapped it, and gasped. It hadn't been plucked and cleaned to her exacting specifications. Instead of just finishing the job herself, she marched back to the butcher and demand, in her sharp American accent, that they finish cleaning it. A credit to our country.

    70 is the new hot 50.

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    1. Boiling family members involves the insidious use of rather heinous chemicals that foul the air and linger in one's clothing for weeks on end. Immediately after the cooking process has concluded, welding the sullied remains tightly shut in an oil drum of some description is required. Far better to involve the blunt end of a shovel and a favour owed by a local pig farmer. But I get your drift sir.

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  11. I don't have much family left, extended or otherwise... which is okay because it means I can watch whatever I like on the telly and eat sausage rolls and Kettle crisps... and drink all the Baileys and then write rude words all over the internet.
    Sx

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    1. My dear Scarlet, do not look upon our final seperation earlier this year as a bad thing. Think of it more as freedom to raise your bottom from the sofa and emit freely the hot air of discontent brought on by too many sausage rolls (store bought, no doubt) and your whim for the Baileys. Do you still drink straight from the bottle I wonder? I have fond memories of your nakedness in bed with a whole host of Kettle crisps, the wonderful colours and the crunchiness of what could possibly have been Britains first ever unofficial vajazzle kit. Oh how the dog misses you so very much, as do I.

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  12. Please don't forget the booster seat this year, the thoughts of spending another Christmas day 'away in a manager's is making my hair curl!
    (Apologies for my tardiness, I was away up to the City of the Tribes to clear me heid. It worked.);-)

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    1. My dearest fellow, I don't like to be the bearer of bad news, but seeing as how we have been good friends ever since Mary Mulligan began stealing your lunch money back in the good old days of St. Columba's, and I intervened on your behalf (for a small commision of course) I shall come straight out with it and not beat about the bush.

      You're not coming.

      As detailed up above, the Christmas cull has been harsher than usual this year, I have had to make drastic cuts in order to ensure the ensemble remains in high fettle throughout the festivities. Admittedly, we have been very grateful over the years of your presence in our home at Christmas time, however this year we have arranged for our guests cars to be parked slightly better than the whole stramash caused by you and the missing alcohol last December.

      However... should one require a table clearer or a washer-upper towards the end of the evening, then you will by jingo, be the very first person we contact. Obviously if we cannot arrange for an agency worker to come in, that is.

      Seasons greetings to you my dear fellow.

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    2. What are you trying to say? :-(

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    3. My dearest Máirtín, Or, to use your correct given Christian name, of which I should more often. My dearest Leonard, Christmas without my childrens godfather would just not be the same without you. Of course, all joking aside, you are invited. You will sit, as always, between me, Siobhan and of course the Scarlet one. You are the one person in our extended family that never receives an official invite to the Christmas bash, simply because you are closer to us all than damp on a rock. I have prepared the usual guest suite for your good lady herself, a shared room for the girls and of course fresh straw in the barn for your fine gentlemanly self. No doubt you will be the first guests to arrive (11th December no doubt) and the last to outstay your welcome (4th June last year). My home, is your home... just without the tidemark on the bath.

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    4. Thank you dearest Cecil.

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    5. Do try to refrain from clipping your paw nails at the table this year my dear Leonard. The sherry trifle was damn well nearly ruined, not to mention the fact that dearest Lady Patricia nearly lost an eye.

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    6. Mr Cheen! You missed the 'ia' off the end of the name.
      Sx

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    7. Again dearest Cecil you got it wrong. Lady Pat nearly lost an 'i', what an intense scrabble game that was.

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    8. Intense to say the very least old chap. If it hadn't been for Scarlet's last minute gamesaver word of; 'Poop', the evening would have been lost entirely to you and the blue team. It just goes to show that a lack of education, manners and etiquette are not lost on those dreadful lower classes, eh old man?

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    9. @scarls; haha! I was this very minute listening to S&G..... scary or what? ;-)

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    10. Unlike Cecilia, I wonder if you were in fact, down on your knees? Tis very hard to tell in this light.

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  13. After reading that lot...and laughing like hell...it confirmed why we messed off to Costa Rica.
    The nuisances of the family are to mean to buy a ticket and the people we like come when they please.
    A neighbour has asked us over to share a tepezcuintle or two with his family this week and I'm not asking where he got it or them as I suspect I know all too well which is why we are invited to share it or them.

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    1. My dearest Helen, a deep fried pisquinte is not to be sniffed at... quite literally as it so happens. The best thing about descending on one's neighbours during the whole festive hoo-haa is of course that you are at liberty to choose the exact moment you push off home. Normally for me it is straight after the moment of grace whenever possible. Thank the good, but fabled Christian Ghod for inventing those rather handy emergency fake calls on one's cell phone. So handy in a Christmas crisis. Do give my regards to the Calderón family over there, and please extend my apologies over the entire Nicaragua episode a few months back. The cheque will most definitely soon be in the post, quite possibly.

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    2. Aha! so you are the mystery investor behind the new transocean canal in Nicaragua that is going to knock the socks off the Panama version....and there was me thinking it was the Chinese again....

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    3. Our secret Helen, no one else has so far rumbled our cunning plan!

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  14. When I lived in Florida, Christmas was a small, intimate affair.
    And it was warm.
    I loved it!
    Now i'm back up in NY

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  15. AAAAGGGGHHH!!!!
    I hit the publish button prematurely!
    Grrr....

    As I was saying, Christmas in Florida was small, quiet and usually spent in shorts, tank top and barefoot.
    Now i'm back in NY and Christmas with the family is a lesson in pacing myself with the amount of alcohol I consume.
    It's a fine line to walk to stay sufficiently "medicated" but not pass out at the dinner table.
    And it's cold.

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    1. I'm afraid I will have to ask you to produce those photographs for me as proof my dear. Perhaps some nice glossy 10x8 will suffice, and can you please sign them; To my good friend Chef, all my love, The Blazingly Hot One.

      Many thanks...

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  16. Oh aye? I'll be putting up my hand to claim the identity of the handsome stranger that nobody ever recognises at your parties. Just little old me stealing the chicken legs for me jacket pockets like.

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    1. Hmmm... I see you more as a greasy chicken leg being placed in a loathsome strangers jacket pocket, personally. But then, that's just me, eh?

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  17. It has come to my attention, and also that of the sturdy drinking fraternity at the Rock in Corby, that you appear to have picked up an affected English accent on your travels in Spain. Would you care to explain.

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    1. Heavens, is it that obvious Anthony my boy? Fear not, pray tell the chaps of the Rock that I am in actual fact typing in my normal guttural Glaswegian accent, but due to our English counterparts not being able to understand any dialect outside of Albert Square (which, if you look closer, is actually a circle) I have activated the Google translation settings switch to 'English'.

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  18. Explanation duly accepted. Do carry on squire, I'm orf to wait for Ginger and Algie to return.

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  19. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

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    1. Do not worry your fuzzy head Mr Pew, I can also use my trusty sat-nav should I lose you in the traffic. Please ask them not to use nylon sheets, and I will expect a decent bottle of house red on arrival. Please feel free to use my diners card. It's identical to yours, even down to the name on the bottom.

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  20. As one who grew up loving the traditions of Christmas, I admit to having looked at Hubby last year and muttering in sheer shock,"What the hell happened to these people?! I swear they all seemed so normal when I was growing up."

    The irony is the one family member (who could make Mr. Pew's head explode in less than 60 seconds) who loved playing devil's advocate has "conveniently" declared all of us dead. Well, just after said relative received their share of the dead aunty's estate. Did I mention said relative sued us all first? Or as the lawyer explained, "Just a formality saying you don't mind if my client gets paid RIGHT NOW, rather than upholding the dearly departed's final wish for the money to be held in trust." We signed, Lawyer man got his fee, I got declared make-believe dead and I'm okay with that. No stress...plus I have your crowd to consider family. ;)

    I would love to sit in a corner and witness this story of yours in person. Sadly, my only skirt which could've passed as a kilt has gone on to tartan heaven (along with my ability at that age to do the Highland Fling). Ah, it was a good skirt...wore it from the age of 6 until 12...that's what's possible when you're Elf height. I'll go sit quietly in the corner now...and try not to giggle too loud.

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    1. Close family can be utterly charming when it comes to getting their greedy hands on a few shillings, it would seem. One's mind casts itself back to the blackest of black years when, laying in a hospital bed with an 'in and out' single caliber wound to my lower abdomen, my delightful sister-in-law, not realising that my hearing was perfect, offered to go through my personal belongings should I not make it. The utter charm of this creature has stayed with me over the years. It takes away most of the guilt as I periodically pee into her soup.

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  21. You can choose your friends but not your relatives. ;-)

    Luckily for me, I quite like all my relatives! And my friends too; that goes without saying, or else they'd not be friends then, would they?

    Christmas dinner will be at my niece's house, complete with all the locally available relatives. Still haven't figured out my schedule with Maart, as he works that evening and his kids generally dictate what's going on, due to their having their mum to see, and the parents/families of spouses and all that.

    Not sure I'd take Mr. Pew up on his offer... I hear the wine is rather watery.

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  22. I often wonder if I could make up a Xmas dinner party list of fellow bloggers that visit here on a regular basis. I believe that it would be somewhat of a success and that we would all remain friends. But only if we could suppress the constant outbursts of alcohol-sodden remarks coming from the little singing fella. Your thoughts my dear?

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    1. Just keep calling songs for me to sing (1 song = I drink). Hic!

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    2. Sticking my head in the door just long enough to second that motion: what a wonderful time would be had walking into a room filled with this group and your cooking! I'd be happy to bake something festive. :)

      Ponita: we need to win the lottery so we can charter our own transportation... I'm guessing our gig as the PR firm for the little singing fellow might not pay quite enough for the trip. ;)

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    3. I could always send a car for you my dear, shall we say 7.30 for 8 pm?

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    4. I think a blogger dinner party with this group would be a spectacular idea! (Just one question: is Pew invited too??) And Hope? Since Chef offered, let's let him pick up the tab for transportation. The PR gig hasn't really been much of a money maker, has it? ;-)

      Chef dear, if we all become alcohol sodden, then Maurcheen's outbursts will be right up our alley, don't you think? I'm sure it would all become very amusing, as we'd all be having them!

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    5. Ponita, my dear woman, if a bloggers picture and name appears on my side bar, then yes, they would be invited. (There are one or two exceptions who do not blog). Hope would of course be vital to the soiree, her kitchen expertise is second to none. Blind Pew would be challenging, but still welcome to attend. Leonards outbursts will be confined to the barn, a separate table will be laid amongst the other beasts. Amusing? Oh indeed, it will be a night to remember.

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    6. Oooooohhhhh!!!!
      Think of all the FUN we'll have!

      *scurries to find suitcase and suitable attire"

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  23. There's something even worse, Chef: Christmas parties! Mine this year comes after a 9-to-6 day for me. After such a day, I want to go home and be alone. I don't want to hang with the same people I've been looking at all day!

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  24. Ah the joy of the office party Leni. Fumbling hands, drooling and insincere kisses beneath cheap plastic mistletoe. Secret Santa pressies and BP petrol station wines. Come January when no one dares look each other in the eye... oh the joyous memories I never had.

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  25. What about Christmas movies, dear sir? Who can survive a Christmas movie marathon starting with Love Actually, Scrooge, The Bells of St. Mary's or Little Weemen? Not me!

    How come so many people are glad when Christmas is over?

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    1. Little Wee Men? They made a fillum about us?:-D

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    2. I believe you have overlooked Snowy White and the 6 other little singing fellas.

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    3. Hi-Ho! It must be low elf esteem.:-/

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    4. I'm too old to be Snowy White, sirs, so I wouldn't be in the cast. But Mr Cheen would be perfect as Jack Skelington at The Nightmare before Christmas. He's an excellent crooner. And you would be a perfect Oogie Boogie, Chef. ;)

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    5. Oogie Boogie by god! I do believe I like the sound of that. Too old? I doubt that very much!

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  26. Ha! An excellent point my dear woman. If I am forced to see just one more rendition of 'The Sound 'of Music', 'Elf,' 'Miracle on 34th St', 'Trading Places' and the worst of them all.... 'DIEHARD'! I shall surely lose the will to live!!!!

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  27. You forgot White Christmas, Polar Express and Home Alone.

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    1. One should never endorse child cruelty, it is not something to be proud of. However, in Master Culkins case, I would definitely have made him the exception to the rule.

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    2. At least Gone with the Wind - known to my father as Depart with a Fart - no longer appears to make the yuletide hideous....

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    3. There may truly be a God Helen.....

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    4. *falls off her chair laughing* That is an excellent title for an endless film, madam! LOL

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    5. I do believe that our dear Helen will be the star of the party with her wicked sense of humour.

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  28. I do love it when comments make me laugh out loud.

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  29. Laughter is conjured very easily during our group blogging sessions, Patricia, my dear. It is a reminder to us all that being happy needn't cost a pretty penny when in the company of friends.

    Either that or its your latest batch of bathtub gin that keeps us all in such high spirits!

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  30. I tell you what youngun, if it promises to be half as good as your anniversary bash was then count me in. I was hanging for a week after that little lot.

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  31. Aye, you wasn't the only one.

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  32. An absurdly baroque post reminding me of The Onion Eaters.
    I like the sound of your Christmas get togethers !

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Thank you, the chef is currently preparing an answer for you in the kitchen. Do help yourself to more bread.