We welcomed an extra person to our regular "Lunch at Bill's" date yesterday. I'm not sure if he'll come again. He is the boyfriend of my lovely god-daughter, Pip, and all I can say is that Greater Love Hath No Man than
to sit at a lunch table with The Rascal and The Twinkles. Fun it certainly was. Civilised, perhaps not...
Regular readers may recall (wracking their brains if necessary) that I meet up two or three times a
year with Pat, my best friend from school. We are always accompanied by the Middle of the Darling Daughters who is my best friend's god-daughter, and my friend's younger daughter, Pip, who is my God-daughter. Yesterday we were also joined by my God-daughter's
fella (see above) and her older sister. On occasions - though not yesterday - we are joined by the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and one or both of her off-spring. These days, we are also joined by Faris (aka The Rascal on account of his rascally tendencies)
and his sisters, The Twinkles, Tala (aka Miss Blue Eyes) and Lilia (aka Our Brown-eyed Girl.) I do hope you are keeping up? Would it help if I drew you a diagram? Like, an extended Family Tree?
We meet at
Bill's in Wimbledon because we can count on the staff there being totally relaxed about the mayhem we create and the fact that we have been known to arrive for a late breakfast, stay on through lunch, before agreeing it would be rude not to sample the Afternoon
Tea menu. I wouldn't put it past us ending up with an evening meal some day - it's not for want of Staying Power. Or running out of conversation, which is something we would never, ever do.
I arrived a little
early (the Middle of the Darling Daughters texted to say she was having a nightmare parking) so took a seat in an armchair which turned out to be so low and squashy that I thought I might have to stay there throughout lunch and have my food brought to me,
as if I were a baby bird too weak to leave the nest. Amazingly I hauled myself out of it without having to call in reinforcements. Like the Fire Brigade.
Usually the staff are canny enough to seat us at a
long table, hidden from the majority of other diners by a helpful screen. Yesterday, with the restaurant heaving with Festive Types, we were allocated a different table near a window. Being near the window meant that The Rascal spotted me from outside, holding
up for my inspection a small purple bottle - his latest "must have" object. The Rascal doesn't "do" comfort blankets or cuddly toys. He much prefers unusual Objects Of Affection. Perhaps it's why he loves me?
Middle of the Darling Daughters put me in charge of Lilia. In particular, I was to make sure the younger of The Twinkles drank nicely through her straw and didn't tip the cup of orange juice upside down. For a while she was happy to use a large dessert spoon
to transfer orange juice from the cup to her mouth. This wasn't exactly in the brief I had been given but didn't seem to present a major problem in my opinion. That is, until my small charge gazed at me with those mesmerising eyes, the colour of melting chocolate,
and began to feed her chips, one by one, into the cup where, soaked in juice, they turned into an unappetisingly soggy mess. Was she sure, I asked her, that she should be doing that? She contemplated me, forgivingly, and smiled. My little heart-breaker.
Her twin was enraptured by a felt robin produced by Pip. Every time it fell on the floor (which was often, given that she has not yet developed the Iron Clutch with which her brother ensures that his Objects of Affection
stay in his possession,) Tala would squawk. Like a small and particularly Angry Bird. I thought I would try to jolly her out of her distress by singing a song about a robin - but the only song I could think of, off the top of my head, was "Who Killed Cock
Robin?" You will be pleased to hear that I buttoned my lip, not wanting to be held responsible for Traumatising The Trio.
So how was our new Companion at the Table managing amidst all this fracas?
Well, I am pleased to report that I didn't catch him dropping his food into his glass, nor squawking unnecessarily when things didn't go his way. I liked the way he was always there, topping up my wine glass every time I returned to my seat after clambering
over high-chairs, negotiating the window-sill along which small people were wont to wander, and rescuing other people's presents from the attentions of The Rascal. I liked the way a second bottle of wine appeared on the table without the usual discussion about
whether we needed another one or not.
In short, he can come again.
Whether he wants to or not...