Monday, 13 April 2009

Apocalypse later

The sun is belting through my window as I look out on a quiet village square. The shop is closed, people have gone to the beach and Mr Grigg and friends have jumped in the car to watch Bristol City at home. I have just seen my first swallow, chattering away to himself on the telephone wires.

Yesterday, this house was choc-a-bloc with family. I am one of five and there are hordes of us. Mr Grigg is one of three and there are not so many in his family. And with some relatives on holiday, working or perhaps deciding it was just all too much, he was a little outnumbered. He took it well. But I felt rather sorry for him. He has been working very hard lately. Being in the bosum of his family would have been good for him. Still, my 'all-talking-at-once' family more than made up for it.

He was on good form as we prepared for Easter Sunday, making a massively hot chilli while I rustled up a vegetarian lasagne, cous cous with Mediterranean vegetables and a kind of bread and butter pudding from leftover hot cross buns. 'Is it Jamie Oliver's recipe?' someone asked me yesterday. 'No it bloody isn't,' I almost said. Instead I just smiled and shook my head.

So we had about 27 people over yesterday. Everyone brought food, having been given the choice of sweet or savoury. We seemed to eat from noon until 8pm, off and on. But when people all contribute, such gatherings are so much easier to host and everyone feels involved. My family is not the sort to scoff at table napkins that don't match or Simpsons beakers mixing with cut-glass crystal. That's not important. It's the getting together that counts. And the food.

However, it was not a good day for the dishwasher to pack up. But there were plenty of willing helpers.

In the afternoon, the spaniels were bursting to go out for a walk, especially nine-month old Bertie, who widdles everywhere when he is only slightly excited. This is becoming very wearing, and is something I need to deal with. Two bricks, maybe.

Joining me on the walk was Number Two Sister, my grand-daughter, a sister-in-law and a niece-in-law. My immediate family are true sons and daughters of the soil, very much country born and bred. My niece-in-law is French, very French, so teetered on her high-heeled wedges around the field arm-in-arm with my petite, city girl sister-in-law. Both of them lagged way behind and looked like actresses from Sex in the City. All that was missing were Louis Vuitton handbags and carrier bags and hatboxes from Macy's.

A little later, when my sister and I left the field and closed the gate, it crossed my mind, just fleetingly, that neither of the in-law ladies would be able to open it again. Then I thought, 'don't be silly Maddie, how patronising is that?' As we walked along the lane, we could hear their squealing, swallow-like chattering. Then there was a wail: 'How do we open this?' It was pitiful. Rather like me when confronted at the London underground by the machine you need to put your tickets in before you can get to the platform.

Later, I almost had to throw Number Three Sister, a busker, out of the house so we could get to the pub in time for the quiz. We did not win it, despite the inclusion in the team of Number One Son. He was still hungover from the night before but managed to win us nine points by putting all the planets in the right order. We were stumped on naming the fourth horseman of the apocalypse. We hazarded a guess that the first three were Dave, Mike and Pete and thought the last could have been Colin. The answer was Death. Death? At Easter?

Colin, bringing up the rear.

Just as we got going on the beer leg, a shout went up from the landlady. ' First aiders please!' It wasn't Dudley this time but a young lady who'd cut her knee after falling over on her way home. First in the queue to assist was the unattached vet, who just happened to have a medical bag with him. He is a horseman but his name is neither Colin nor Death, which is just as well really.

What a way to spend Easter.

That's about it
Love Maddie x


  1. I love family get togethers too. My lot all shout and talk at the same time whilst my mum gets tipsy and waves her glass at my dad in a 'secret' signal which means 'Get another bottle!'We all dance even if we can't stand up.On the other hand, husband, billy no-mates, doesn't have a bendy bone in his body so doesn't like dancing, drinks very little.... guess who can't wait for the wedding????
    Our monster is part spaniel, please give me some hope that things are going to get better before he's 9 months old.

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun at your place. We had a crowd here too, but it was too rainy for any walking around outside.
    I loved the thought of the two city girls teetering through the fields in their fancy shoes!

  3. That sounds like a lovely hectic get together.
    And as for Colin - I'm glad he stayed away from your merryment - to make us laugh!


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