We knew we needed to do something. You can’t have everyone together for Christmas and have no plan at all. (And expect it to work, I mean.) The Resident IT Consultant issued an order well in advance that we had to do some jigsaw puzzled when the Grandmother arrived.
She is a bit of a pro. Whenever I visit and want to spread my laptop out, I have to shift a jigsaw puzzle. She ‘test drives’ them for Oxfam. It’s best to know whether what you try to sell has all the pieces, so she does that. Me, I can’t see well enough to differentiate between this piece of sky or that piece of sky. (Progressive specs are all very well, but there are areas in-between where I just can’t focus.)
So they puzzled and I made tea. Fair exchange.
I realised – belatedly – that we should have asked for a jigsaw puzzle table when Offspring did their woodwork for GCSE. Is it too late to ask them to return to secondary school and do the course again?
Speaking of woodwork, that is what is behind the puzzles. The Resident IT Consultant’s grandfather made them. The whole extended family has loads of jigsaw puzzles, and when we’ve had enough, we swap.
He would search for interesting pictures (I think the most ‘different’ jigsaw picture I’ve seen was the enormous one of Earth as seen from above the North Pole), stick them onto a sheet of plywood and then attack it with the jigsaw, cutting out the oddest shapes. This means you can never guess what shape you are searching for. It also doesn’t help that there is no image, so you have no idea what you are working towards.
I have a shelf full of handsewn fabric bags filled with jigsaw pieces. Some of the smaller ones live in old cake tins. And I keep meaning to make sure that as soon as a jigsaw puzzle has been completed, we will take a photo of it. But somehow, in the heat of the moment, this tends to get forgotten.
We – I mean they – went through a lot of them over Christmas. It helped that we had some ‘fresh’ ones in from Aunt Scarborough.
Not surprisingly, some were better than others. Although we found ourselves making comparisons between fresh new writing as was the case for older new Doctor Who seasons, as well as for the earlier season of NCIS. Downton Abbey was OK-ish. Apart – obviously – for you-know-what. NCIS: Los Angeles felt more Christmassy than its big brother did.
Although, it was very noticeable that they had decided to throw in a little from many early NCIS seasons and stir well. Except maybe the stirring wasn’t done terribly thoroughly, after all.
I don’t care for the Doctor’s new assistant. She’s spunky, but the chemistry between us is all wrong. And I trust there is now a country full of children who will scream at the mere idea of a snowman.
How could they end Downton Abbey like that? They did, though, didn’t they? Someone here was disappointed it wasn’t a wintry episode, but when you’ve seen one snow scene, you’ve seen them all. And all that Scottish deer-stalking will suit the Americans just fine. Long live Mrs Patmore and her patés!
So, L A was an early NCIS medley with a Christmas twist. But at least once they’d sorted out the drugs on the ship (I just couldn’t get over the L A gang being on a boat in the first place) they went a little Christmassy. To my mind Nell didn’t need fake elf ears. Besides, didn’t she go from very sad to surprisingly chirpy very quickly?
But NCIS, oh, NCIS… What shall we do about you? This was an over sugary episode with too many cute scenes. I almost didn’t mind DiNozzo Sr being back. Again. He was almost more rational than Jr. And the sight of Junior’s bed is now forever etched on my mind. His flat was gorgeous, but was it him?
As for the goldfish… Or the snickerdoodles. Well.
Perhaps get Steven Moffat to write the next episode?
Posted in Television
Tagged Barrett Foa, Brian Dietzen, Chris O'Donnell, Christmas, Cote de Pablo, Dan Stevens, Daniela Ruah, David McCallum, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Eric Christian Olsen, Hugh Bonneville, Linda Hunt, LL Cool J, Maggie Smith, Mark Harmon, Matt Smith, Michael Weatherly, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Pauley Perrette, Renée Felice Smith, Sean Murray, Steven Moffat
Have a Barrowman Christmas!
Now that they’ve sat their exams, The Other Guys can concentrate on becoming the Christmas number one single.
Christmas Gets Worse Every Year is a catchy sort of title. I quite like the voice of the lead singer, and I’m slowly coming round to the merits of the song.
(Between you and me, I have very little idea of how you make it to that coveted top position, but never mind.*)
A reliable source tells me that two of The Other Guys are Junior Honours Physics students at St Andrews, and you need to encourage an alternative career, should the Quantum Mechanics paper turn out to have been more nightmarish even than anticipated.
*Had another look. Apparently you should download it. Legally, presumably.
Just as I was about to throw it away, I looked at the thin wire with the small red ‘berries.’ I could use this. My new white – but frankly boring – wooden electric candlestick from that well known shop needed some help. As it turned out, the fake berries/jewels were just the thing. Years later, they still drape themselves lovingly over the frame of the lights.
I call them my vinaigrette candles.
Shortly before Christmas that year I had sent the Resident IT Consultant out with a list of food to buy from the large supermarket. The two bottles of french dressing he returned home with were already out of date. I had no wish to use old dressing, however safe, and had no wish to go to the shop myself to complain. And the Resident IT Consultant does not like complaining.
Wrote the shop a letter. They phoned to say I could eaily swap the bottles next time I was in. I said I was not intending to come again before Christmas and that I had actually hoped to use the dressing for Christmas. That’s why we’d bought it. I mentioned the small fact that it was a use by, not best before, date we were talking about, and they had displayed it in their shop well past that date.
Half an hour later two members of supermarket staff bearing gifts rang my doorbell. They brought fresh dressing. They brought a £10 voucher. And they brought flowers. Even I was impressed at the swift change of heart and tone.
I am allergic to flowers, but put them in a vase and enjoyed them for as long as I could, before deciding that being able to breathe was also quite attractive. So I dispatched the flowers to the compost and before that the garland of jewels adorning the bouquet had to be removed.
Posted in Blogs
Tagged Christmas, Food
As I raised my blinds the other morning I noticed immediately that the neighbours opposite had removed their Christmas decorations as soon as New Year was done and dusted. I had half suspected they would. I know it sort of makes sense, what with people going back to work.
But I do feel harassed into doing the same, and I don’t WANT TO! (Sorry about the shouting.) I want to keep my stuff up until January 13th, as I was brought up to do. But, not wanting to be too difficult, I’m willing to adapt and clear the decorations sooner.
But I do feel this coming weekend is enough. I want to feel that Twelfth Night (and the subsequent thirteenth day) is permitted to exist. We’re not Russians, I know, but I’ve been cheated out of my third period of celebrating. Christmas is shorter here. Then there is New Year. After which there ought to be a Twelfth Night (5th January), but isn’t.
The good thing about going back to work after New Year’s Day was always that soon you’d be off again. And we could never have celebrated Favourite Aunt’s birthday so thoroughly without her day being a half day, and everyone having time for carting flowers around town and eating too much cake and chocolates, again.
When I emigrated I was aware of the different circumstances, but I was so sure I could incorporate that festive 5th of January into my new life. I just knew I was right. It took only one Christmas to see I was deluded, and perhaps another to give up. But after all these years it still feels as if something’s missing.
If I’d been thinking properly, I’d have worked out that the only reason we ‘knew’ so long in advance that Deeks was leaving, was because he wasn’t. Just a plot trick. Have to remember this in future. But The Debt was still – very – good, because we learned a thing or two about people, and especially about Deeks and Kensi. So did they.
In Higher Power we had the LA Christmas version of parent needing tearful reunion with estranged adult child, similar to NCIS a few years ago. I felt the actors even looked the same. Again, a repeat of an earlier NCIS in the search for the must-have toy of the season. I almost lost my respect for Sam when I heard the $1000 mentioned. It’s too much, even if you are a good parent.
I wonder how Nell ended up with her parents? Or possibly the reverse. And how long is the ‘romance’ between Eric and Nell going to go on? It needs to end, but it needs to end extremely amicably. Although it is fun.
Newborn King turned out to be more of a Newborn Queen story, except girls don’t count. As with other Christmas episodes, it had less plot and mystery, and more snow and seasonal soppiness. I’m all for soppy, and it was obvious from the start that someone would have to give birth in the snow and that Gibbs would have to be midwife. Ziva did what she does better, which is dispatching people on to the other place.
But if you think of where to have a Christmas night birth, where better than a garage? It’s almost the new inn/manger. It has food (of sorts) and a toilet for that necessary ‘my waters have broken’ line, and even somewhere to repair the car.
And although I feel they need to steer clear of in-acency romance, I do believe that Palmer may well end up married. This is despite his awful future father-in-law. The man was more of a moron than you’d think possible.
But even he thawed at the sight of the newborn baby. Don’t we all?
(Photos © CBS)
Posted in Television
Tagged Barrett Foa, Brian Dietzen, Chris O'Donnell, Christmas, Cote de Pablo, David McCallum, Eric Christian Olsen, Linda Hunt, LL Cool J, Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Pauley Perrette, Renée Felice Smith, Rocky Carroll, Sean Murray
‘You must tell me the significance of, erm, this thing,’ said Mrs Tumbler in her thank you note to Daughter. Maybe she didn’t phrase it exactly like that, but it was close. You could visualise how she was staring in total bewilderment at the little piece of wood she’d been given for Christmas, by her Y5 pupil, aka Daughter.
I wonder what happened to Mrs T and her wood? They changed the teachers around at the start of spring term and I don’t think an explanation ever forthcame, so to speak. We’d gone to experience the wonderful Christmas fair at Liseberg in Gothenburg, taking Offspring out of school for one day. I told Son’s head teacher that it was a most cultural thing to want to do, this once.
And it was.
We bought stuff – mainly for ourselves – as though we’d never seen anything like it. And we hadn’t really, stuck in exile as we are. The teachers needed gifts. I vetoed a lot, on grounds of cost and weight. So in the end we got Mrs T a piece of wood, aka a wooden butter knife. It had a painted Father Christmas at the non-business end. Quite nice, albeit inexplicably odd.
Last December when Son and Dodo went over for more happy shopping, I asked him to find me some wooden forks. Not to go with the butter knife (I do have my own, you know), but for stirring bread dough with, so considerably larger. And almost impossible to find. But he managed it.
I gather Dodo as a proper Englishwoman found the Disney music piped all over town somewhat strange. (Surely not as strange as the butter knife?) But it’s what Swedes expect. Ever since television was invented we have sat ourselves down on Christmas Eve to watch an hour of Mr Disney’s finest, only some of it remotely to do with Christmas.
When you wish upon a star..!
My rather nice card comes from the children at Charnwood. This is a Stockport nursery/playgroup with a difference. ‘Normal’ children can be found there, nicely mixed with children with special needs of varying type and severity. Both Offsprings attended Charnwood, and both received much needed skills and support from the fantastic staff. The place looked such fun that it was all I could do not to kick off my shoes and jump into the indoor sandpit, not to mention the ballpools.
Definitely the Inn Crowd.
As with the place in Bethlehem, places are at a premium. But it was well worth persevering.
A Grandmother is not just for Christmas, but for the whole year. But as it happens, we have her with us for a week or so over Christmas. And Son and I agreed it’d be nice to find a suitable film we could all go and see.
That’s where I thought Hugo would be perfect. Cosy, feelgood film with nostalgia. But I doubt it will remain on offer.
So when I read about silent movie The Artist I felt I’d got it. Not that she’s that old, but it’d be good. But oh no, The Artist is out for New Year. That is too late.
What will we do? There is Puss in Boots, starting now. Not sure the Grandmother is up for a kittenish Antonio Banderas. We might be down to Sherlock Holmes. Again. It’s what we took her to see (was it two years ago?) when the first film was brand new. She’ll think we have no imagination.
What we have is a peculiarly timed cinema programme.