Mr B and I are sitting in a restaurant appropriately named "Food" enjoying lunch and talking about, well, food.
This is a splendid conversation for one such as
I who is, as regular readers all know, Always Thinking About My Stomach. What is more, my taste buds, which have rendered me completely tasteless (no jokes, please) for so long, appear to be reviving. It may be, fingers crossed, that they will have recovered
their tasty abilities in time for Christmas. What a present that would be!
To return to our conversation over the tablecloth, we are discussing the Olden Days. As in, the Seventies. Way back then,
the height of Fine Dining was a prawn cocktail starter, steak and chips for the main course and (what else?) the delights of the ubiquitous Black Forest Gateau for pudding. All washed down, if we were really pushing the proverbial boat out, with a glass of
Blue Nun. How very daring we were!
We used to throw quite a lot of parties in those early years of marriage. I don't recall that we ever needed a specific reason for such generous hospitality; I imagine
it may have had something to do with the difficulties of finding, and affording, baby-sitters - so it was easier for people to come to us. I do, however, remember the food we used to serve up. Particular mention must go to the table centrepiece which was always
half a large cabbage covered in silver foil stuck over with cocktail sticks bearing a piece of pineapple, a small chunk of cheese and a silvery cocktail onion. Oh, the hours I spent threading pieces of pineapple and cheese onto cocktail sticks before adding
the onion with a flourish as a finishing touch and inserting the whole tasty morsel to the cabbage which, by the time I had finished with it, resembled a rather exotic hedgehog.
Mr B reminds me of
the party when I prepared fruity loaves, the main ingredient of which was All Bran. Cut into slices and slathered with butter, it was delicious - so much so that a friend of ours ate several slices, for which he paid dearly the following day. That delicacy
is now known, rather indelicately, as "Utter Loaf" in our family.
Having exhausted our memories of Food From The Past, we set off to do a bit more Christmas shopping.
We are pacing ourselves so we only have a small list today which makes for a pleasantly active experience to complement our frequent visits to the Amazon On-Line Jungle. In the centre of town, the Rotary Club is collecting for the local hospice. Not one, not
even two, but three Santas are waving green collection buckets at passers-by and singing a song which, unless we have misheard, includes a ribald chorus about a "Nudey Santa". Whatever happened to "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"? A bored looking elf is
leaning against a shop window, shivering in the cold. Heaven only knows how he survives the cold of the North Pole.
All this must be very confusing to the small tots passing by who, quite rightly,
imagine that Santa should surely be busy in his work-shop, putting the final touches to the Skylanders, the Barbie dolls, the computer games not to forget exercising that all-important quality control which only he can do. Has anyone ever returned a faulty
present to Santa at the North Pole? I thought not. Passing parents are hard put to it to explain why there are three Santas; I eavesdrop on a number of interesting conversations, some of which actually opt for the truth which is that these are not Santa at
all but people dressed up as Santa to raise money for a good cause. "But I want the real Santa!" wails one littl'un. Hopefully not a Nudey one, either.
We buy more wrapping paper ("its 3 for 2," Mr
B points out, ignoring my insistence that I only need one more roll); berry lights for our aged Christmas tree (when I manage to find and retrieve it from the loft); and some sparkly silver crackers for our Christmas dinner with the Middle of the Darling Daughters
and her family. We are still a few presents short of a Christmas but we are not doing too badly.
"Christmas Dinner hasn't changed too much over the years, has it?" I say, returning to our lunchtime
conversation. Possibly not so many trimmings as today but we did have real silver six pences hidden in our Christmas pudding which the Festive Elf and Safety would never allow these days.