Well, another funny old Christmas Eve. People will keep checking – pityingly, unbelievingly – that I really will be alone all Christmas. Haven’t I got anybody to go to? Anybody at all? This is really annoying. I mean, where were you-all the last thirty or so Christmases, which I also spent alone?

Where were you nearly all the other days in between, come to that? Which I also spent alone.

My middle sister keeps ringing me from Canada. She is in a panic and going through a bad patch because she too is going to be alone – except that she has been invited to Christmas Dinner with an elderly friend down the road whose extended family – all of whom will be in attendance – all seem to smoke a lot, indoors. I would rather stay home alone than breathe in a whole lot of second-hand nicotine and have to cough it out again next morning.

But that’s just me.

“The thing is,” she says, “you’re just very good at being alone, aren’t you? I’m not, you see.”

“It’s not that I’m at all good at being alone,” I say. “It’s that I’m even worse at being with other people. It’s the lesser of two evils.”

Usually she understands stuff like this. This time she doesn’t, but hey…

My own Friend-Down-The-Road texts. She thought I seemed a bit off with her yesterday. Has she Offended me? Am I OK? She sends one of these infuriating texts every few months. There’s no way I can behave that won’t trigger this sudden rush of guilt-inducing, excuse-eliciting, explanation-demanding anxiety. Once again with the reassurance. No, I was just worn out, having driven over twenty miles in ultra-heavy Christmas traffic, visited my Mum in the Home, to find her half in and half out of bed, her nightie up around her waist and a completely blank expression on her face. Who was I?

Having then spent an hour in a noisy coffee shop trying and mostly failing to lip-read what English Sister was saying, much as I actually wanted to hear it, then another twenty miles in the same horrendous traffic, down a road so wide and fast it ought to be a motorway, but isn’t.

I drive it with gritted teeth, clinging to the steering-wheel.

This morning, Ex phones. I have had time by now to digest the fact of his getting married again and not telling me, leaving it to his sister to phone me and ‘accidentally on purpose’ I suspect, mention it. He explains, in minute detail, the financial and practical reasons behind his secret nuptials. Then he explains, in more minute detail, all the horrors and inconveniences he had to go through to treat his prostate problem. If I should ever grow a prostate and subsequently discover I have a scary problem with it I will be extremely well-prepared for the scans, biopsies, enemas and whatever. I will even be forewarned as to the places they put the tiny tattoos.


I forgive him for getting married again – wotthehell, wotthehell – as Archie the cockroach, or possibly Mehitabel the alley-cat – used to type on Don Marquis’s old typewriter. We’re all three of us quite old now and, in varying degrees, sick – wotthehell. Anyway, it appears it was not last summer but last New Year that they got married. So old news.

Apart from the phone call, I have been trying to have a quiet Christmas Eve, doing random, semi-creative things, as is my wont. I have knitted part of a green dishcloth to put in my ‘sell on Etsy’ bundle. I have sorted and systematised my collection of flash fiction ideas. Tomorrow (I promise myself, ha ha!) I will start on the actual, er, writing. I so much prefer the ‘having ideas’ stage but eventually – one has to write. Wotthehell.

I have listened to the Christmas Eve carol service from Kings. I am not sure what or where Kings is – a chapel, and Cambridge, I think. I wish they would sing the ancient music, all those complex, intertwining, almost painful harmonies. Seasonal and clever though it is, this kind of choral singing tends to remind me of Sing Something Simple of a Sunday lunchtime, and Dad singing along to the radio.

I have fed the (nineteen) cats, twice. I have fed the (three) strays, three times. I have fed the birds (once). I have washed up a lot. I have washed my hair and dried it, perched on the corner of the bed. I have broken up some cardboard boxes in the garage and stacked them against the wall. I have accidentally caught the lady-next-door’s new internet dating gentleman up a ladder, fixing one of those really bright annoying lights to her front wall, and been forced to exchange wincing Hi There’s.

He has false teeth. I don’t think I could be doing with false teeth, but I suppose at our age – you probably don’t have to do that much French-kissing.

6 thoughts on “…wotthehell…

  1. What were the verses about false teeth?
    All I remember is
    ‘His wife said ‘Oh Jack
    If you don’t put them back
    I shall tread on the buggers and squash ’em.’
    Horrible things. Mother kept losing hers in all sorts of places…in the wardrobe, under the bath – no, I have no idea – and in any case would remove them to eat pork crackling. Not sure that she ever went in for French kissing even with her own teeth. If it was French it came under the heading of ‘disgusting’.

    We are on our own for Christmas…thank goodness. I don’t have the energy for people these days any more than I have the wish to consult other people’s preferences for food and drink so we shall slouch around waiting for the blow up from the new neighbours across the road where the woman has forbidden the ex husband to enter the premises to visit their child – and has forbidden him to live in the small house on our finca!
    At some point someone will have drink taken and the fireworks will start.
    Who needs television!
    I shall be feeding goodness knows how many hens and ducks, over twenty rabbits, twenty four sheep and eight dogs twice a day….not to speak of filling up the two plates for the strays….roll on Saturnalia when they can take their turn at being masters and feed and cosset us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Helen.

      Sounds as if our Christmasses may end up being similar, though at distant points on the globe. You have even more livestock than I do! I can’t imagine the cats deigning to cosset me, even come Saturnalia. If it wasn’t for my opposable thumbs and uncanny ability to open tins, they could live without me.

      I hadn’t heard that verse about the false teeth. I have a couple of false teeth stories, but will (briefly) mention only one of them. Back in the nineties I used to work in the basement of a solicitors with several other ladies, doing legal word-processing. One of these ladies – and I owe her a letter, actually – was a Christian, almost saintly. I only heard her swear once, and that was, on our last day at work before Christmas her elderly mother had managed to lose her teeth “somewhere” in town. My friend was forced to trail round all the large stores her mother vaguely recalled having visited, to ask if any teeth had been handed in, because Mum wouldn’t be able to eat her Christmas dinner without them. Eventually, miraculously, they turned up in Boots. They had been found on a shelf, behind some of the merchandise. Now, what would inspire someone to take their teeth out in a large chemist’s store, move stuff on the shelves and actually conceal their teeth behind them? Same teeth regularly got dropped in the loo.

      I am trying not to think what sort of noises might emanate from my own neighbours. Many cars have arrived, which probably means some sort of family party, which usually ends with people running around on the front lawn shouting tearfully at one another. They have also acquired a baby, which seems to have reached the teething/hourly waking and wailing stage, and what sounds for all the world like a mynah bird…

      We will have to blog about it, won’t we?

      Happy Christmas to you both, and thank you for reading, and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was aware this Boxing Day morning that I have been holding my breath while we “got through” it all – Christmas, that is. What a relief to put that behind us for another year!

    This line:

    “It’s not that I’m at all good at being alone,” I say. “It’s that I’m even worse at being with other people. It’s the lesser of two evils.”

    Me too.

    Best wishes for 2020. Rosie.

    Liked by 1 person

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