Monday, 28 December 2009

The Miracle of Christmas

It is three days AFTER Christmas and this morning we finally put up all the decorations. That's how behind we are in the Grigg household.

However, we are thanking our lucky stars. While Mr Grigg and I have had a lovely Christmas, friends and family have not had it so good. It started with my dear friend Pelly Sheepwash being wiped out by the usual end-of-term bug which saw her issuing instructions from the sofa, Roman empress-style, to her large brood.

Then there was calamity and woe in Jamie Lee and Ted Moult's household. After a lovely evening at Mr F Word and Camilla's, at which Mr Grigg disgraced himself by spilling red wine all over the pristine white tablecloth and then broke the glass trying to clear it up, we left very warily in the ice.

We dropped off Posh Totty and MDF Man at their house, unaware of the drama going on up the road. The resourceful Jamie Lee, who must have come from the same 'don't walk without carrying' stable as me, decided to use the return trip to post some last minute Christmas cards. Teetering up to the Sheepwashes just outside Tuppence's house, she slipped on the ice. This was bad enough but she brought 17-stone Ted down on top of her. Mr Grigg suggested later this is what happens when you fancy a bit of al fresco rumpy-pumpy at midnight. But diminutive Jamie Lee was badly hurt, although no bones broken. She needed hospital treatment and we doubt if she will be fighting fit for some weeks yet.

On Christmas Day, poor Mr Grigg's mother had to have her much-loved corgi put down. Mr Grigg and his brothers said a few prayers as they buried the dog at the bottom of the garden.

We then learned my son-in-law's father is dangerously ill in hospital. Our thoughts are with him and the family.

So with this doom and gloom all around us, we very much count our blessings. Our sombre mood was cheered on Boxing Day by the sight of Number One Granddaugther, aged four, in a Scooby Doo suit, playing the harmonica accompanied on guitar by my strumming nephew, and the distinctive laugh of a long-lost cousin, found this year through Facebook.

The miracle of Christmas.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Mummers the word at Christmas time

It's just three days to go and there are boxes of Christmas decorations in our hallway and cards still not delivered. It is freezing cold, it snowed on Sunday and we are running out of heating oil. I have just had a row with Mr Grigg, my credit card statement has come through and yet again one of my clients is having difficulty in paying me.

Happy blooming Christmas!

But we are, at least, in the festive spirit thanks to Mr and Mrs Champagne-Charlie who had a jolly, booze-filled open house on Sunday, and Mr Loggins and his band of merry mummers, who entertained us all in our village hall on Saturday night. The mummers play is from ages past. It's a simple tale of good and evil, death and rebirth, comedy and magic, hard to explain but great to watch. A clip from an outside performance in My Kind of Town gives you a flavour.

The clip doesn't show you the best character, a telepathic pony that excels at hunting out naughty children. A friend of mine from Australia was sitting at the front with her jet-lagged eight-year-old. The boy soon woke up when the sinister pony glared around the room and then nuzzled up to the sleeping child.

You wouldn't think a simple thing made out of wood and a hessian sack could be so scary.

Or the doctor, with his cure-all that raises knights from the dead, so funny.

You really had to be there.

I was honoured to be asked as the lady of the house to tie the bow on the holly bough, thus bringing the play to a rousing close.

So here's to a very merry (of course), happy and healthy and peaceful Christmas, if it is possible to have all of those at once. God bless.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Many hands make light work

Scientists spent hundreds of hours working out that octopuses are intelligent.

Mr Grigg's brother spent five minutes working out the same thing.

Oh to be in a warm climate, now the cold and wet is here.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Monday, 14 December 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Just a quick post after a very busy village weekend:

* a party at the Munchkins at which, consumed by alcohol, I ended up inviting everyone for a long weekend in Las Vegas the year after next
* hangover Saturday
* Christmas tree erecting in the village square
* supper at our house for six with someone else doing the cooking
* chief cook and bottle washer at Mrs Bancroft's light bites and nibbles open house yesterday
* cooking roast leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic for assorted waifs and strays last night

This morning I discover the dogs have fox mange and the Christmas tree lights outside our house have been on the random flashing setting all through the night. Classy.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ho, ho, ho, Santa arrives on a quadbike

This morning, as the rooks flew sideways, buffeted against the wind, I reflected on one of those very surreal weekends that seem to happen only in this village.

It began in the pub on Friday night where the chrome pole was wedged twixt floor and ceiling, in readiness for a girls' night out involving a group of ladies including Mrs Bobby Packman, Randy Munchkin and Mrs Monty Chocs-Away. But there were no takers and the pole stood gleaming in splendid isolation, although Larry the Landlord was thinking about it, as he unbuttoned his shirt behind the bar and kissed his own shoulder. When the door opened and Posh Totty walked in, I saw Mr Grigg and Nobby Odd-Job's eyes light up. But the moment was fleeting, as she was quickly followed by her daughter Charlotte Whinge-Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), MDF Man and Sparky Mark.

During the course of the evening, Larry was talking to customers at a table near the fire. A young lady, tired of waiting for a drink, walked behind the bar and pulled her own pint. Larry was behind her in an instant, and became Patrick Swayze to her Demi Moore on the potter's wheel in Ghost.

Picture it. The caption could have been: 'A glass of wine? I've got a nice semillion.' Or maybe 'Mine's a hard-on-ay.'

The next day, Mr Grigg went beating and came back dirty, wet and sweaty twenty minutes before the school Christmas Fair was about to start. After a dressing down from Mrs Grigg, a handbell was heard clanging around the one-way system. The red hooded figure of Santa suddenly materialised in the churchyard, sitting on a quadbike driven by Celebrity Farmer's dad, the new hero of the hour.(I have to say, Celeb's own shed-moving heroics have become tarnished after reports emerged that he did not lift the shed single-handedly as everyone thought but was ably assisted by a stronger and much younger nephew).

After the fair was over, Santa was spotted delivering a brace of pheasants next door.

'You're meant to go down the chimney,' yelled a group of passing children.

He was greeted by Champagne-Charlie, strutting around in plus-fours, who at supper that evening did an exceptional imitation of Rowley Birkin QC from The Fast Show without even realising it.

The next day, after breakfast in the village hall, Mr Grigg and I went to Clarks Village in Street to do some Christmas Shopping. Strangely, we kept seeing ladies from our village darting in and out of Eastex and Le Creuset. It was like something from an episode of The Prisoner or the film Don't Look Now. It transpired they were killing time before going to see Pam Ayres at the Strode Theatre.

Back at home, Mr Grigg took it upon himself to pluck six partridges on the dining room table, just as Pelly Sheepwash, a vegetarian, arrived for supper with her husband. We finished off cracking wet walnuts with our bare hands because the nut crackers were broken.

It's a strange old life.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 3 December 2009

An interview with a Santa

Santa is preparing to make an appearance at the village school Christmas fair this Saturday. If he can sort out his transport, that is. The reindeer are obviously resting before the big day, Celebrity Farmer's quad bike is being serviced and the horses are all gearing themselves up for Boxing Day hunt meets.

He dismissed a suggestion that he could ride to the fair on the back of one of the village's most attractive women. (No names here, but cast your eyes over my cast list and you can probably work it out).

'There'll be a queue for that, with bloody Celebrity Farmer at the front,' grumbled Santa, as he tried squeezing into his suit, which strangely shrinks every year just before Christmas.

So while the transport negotiations went on in the background, I managed to get an exclusive interview with this very busy chap. I have close links to the man himself. I shall say no more.

What do you like about the area?

I go all over the world but, even for me, there is something magical about this part of Dorset. When you see it from up high on the sleigh it's like fairyland, and believe me, I know what that's like. There are lots of chimneys here, with great big fireplaces for me to squeeze down into. The children are usually good and quite generous, too, leaving me nice mince pies, Christmas cake, sometimes a bit of port or sherry - I do like port - carrots for the reindeer and sometimes a yummy mummy to squeeze.

What don't you like about the area?

Hmm, that's difficult. Well, I don't mind those places that haven't got chimneys, because I can use my special key to get in. But I don't like it when mums and dads bank up the fire just before going to bed because it's blooming hot when I come down the chimney. Last year in Bridport I nearly singed my bottom. So I wasn't best pleased about that. I'm also not very happy about the amount of shop-bought mince pies that are put out for me - kids, get your parents to make them, they taste so much better. Oh, yes, the other thing that really gets my goat is the number of children who stay up far too late. Get in bed you buggers.

What would you change?
Requests for computer-related stuff for Christmas. I went to one fair recently and only two children said they wanted a football, although one did want a teddy, which was very sweet. Most of them wanted the latest computer Wee or whatever it's called. Young children are spending far to much time on their own in their rooms on a computer or watching television. I'd also ban the use of the word 'X-mas'. Is everyone illiterate or was Christ anonymous?

You said you were asked for a football. Do you like sport? If so, what team do you support?
I'm really sports-mad and was very much into ice hockey when I was younger. I like anything really - rugby, horseracing, boxing, even leapfrog, especially with Mrs Claus. I support Lapland Wanderers FC, and I've been a fan since I was a boy. I had to stand on a box when I was small so I could see all the action. Mrs Claus likes some of the Latin and Mediterranean sides - something to do with their rugged, swarthy looks and she says the players look particularly good in shorts. It's funny because she's not remotely interested in football when I try to explain the offside rule.

If you had three guests at a dinner party, who would they be?

My first choice would be that author Raymond Briggs, who did a lovely book about Father Christmas with some great illustrations but depicted me as some grumpy old man who resented having to go out on Christmas Eve. I was a bit put out with one of the drawings showing me on the lavatory with my trousers round my ankles. Mrs Claus laughed at that and put it up in my workshop. She says every time I look at it I'll remember not to be quite so pompous.

My second guest would be Dudley Moore, who played an elf in some awfully corny Christmas movie. It was a dreadful film but I've always liked Dudley Moore - his piano playing was absolutely fabulous, it really was. And he was ever so funny with Peter Cook, although they were a bit rude. I never understood the line about Jayne Mansfield and lobsters.

The last guest would have to be Jesus, because it's his birthday! I'm not particularly religious but without him, I wouldn't exist.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
Give up the day job! No, seriously, I might enlist some help to make the job easier. If I won enough I could just sprinkle it around when I'm on my sleigh but I'm not sure if it would do any good. There are some people in this world with far too much money and others who have hardly anything. In a previous life, I think I was Robin Hood. Although Mrs Claus says more like Friar Tuck.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

That's a joke! I don't get any spare time. Once I've delivered presents to all the boys and girls of the world, I might put my feet up over Christmas, if Mrs Claus lets me. But then it's back to work again shouting orders at all those stupid little elves in the workshop.

How would you like to be remembered?
I hope grown-ups will remember me with affection, so much so that they make sure their children put out a nice glass of sloe gin for me this Christmas Eve - and, yes, some nice mince pies. Made by their mums preferably, or failing that, by Jessica's Farmhouse Cakes. And maybe a nice yummy mummy to squeeze. Yum, yum.

At that point, Santa cut our interview short when the 'stupid' elf assembly line decided to stage a go-slow.

Let's hope he makes it to our Christmas fair on Saturday. I'll keep you posted.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

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