The Eldest of the Darling Daughters leaves us cosily ensconced in our respective armchairs, nursing mugs of coffee and preparing to watch Toy Story 3 on TV. I love that film. Mr B is not so sure, it being a children’s
film, don’t you know, but I suggest he suspends judgement for the duration. I am pretty sure that Woody, Buzz and Co will win him round eventually.
children’s film Mr B absolutely refuses to watch is Stuart Little which just happens to be granddaughter Eleanor’s favourite film. Well, it may have been overtaken in her affections in more recent years by more grown-up fare, but I am willing to
bet she would still be perfectly happy, on a future visit, to settle on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and Stuart. If only to make a point to her Grandad who - we are both certain - has never watched SL all the way through, so is hardly qualified to
judge it on its considerable merits.
The Eldest of the Darling Daughters, taking her second turn on the Mum Rota, is keen to ensure that she completes all
the tasks on my latest Jobs To Be Done List. I am growing accustomed to saving up all the Tiny (or, to be honest, Not So Tiny) Tasks that can’t really be carried out with only one arm for the day when the next family member comes to call. Hanging up
lines of Christmas cards is a case in point - it goes against the grain to put all the seasonal greetings that arrive each day, courtesy of Loyd the Postie, in an untidy heap on the dining room table rather than stringing up yet another line using lengths
of wool and drawing pins. This is, however, a job which simply can’t be done with only one arm. Believe me, if it were possible, then I would have tried.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters did her best on a previous visit but sadly failed the Thumb Test - as in, having a strong enough thumb to push the drawing pins securely into the ceiling coving. The Eldest of the Darling Daughters’ thumb
is made of Sterner Stuff, added to which she displays considerable creativity by stringing up double lines. Double the line, double the cards - you know it makes sense. Her pride is slightly dented when one of her strings inexplicably breaks free, cascading
greetings cards all over the hall floor just as she is on the point of leaving but fortunately the displaced cards could all be found another home without the need to resort to more wool and drawing pins. Tomorrow, of course, Loyd will almost certainly be
back with another handful of cards...
The Eldest of the Darling Daughters’ other most important task was to prepare the smallest of our three bedrooms for
the Twins, Tala and Lilia, who will be (fingers crossed!) sleeping there on Christmas Eve. When you consider that, until recently, that room was my Aladdin’s Cave, crammed with presents (both wrapped and unwrapped), crackers and other Christmas Related
Paraphernalia, you can imagine this was a Tall, rather than a Tiny, Task. I do offer to help - as in, to stand by nursing my Robot Sling and offer sage advice - but for some reason my daughter prefers to act alone, while I take a rest downstairs.
In between tasks, we enjoy ensuring that our jaws will not rust by engaging in plenty of conversation. It is one of the pleasures of having time with a grown-up offspring
- that chance to share news and views on anything and everything.
Our welcome visitor has to leave by 3.30 p.m. so as not to be late for an important date
with Handel and his Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall. We just about manage to complete a quick shop (the E of the DDs was keen to make sure we had plenty of food in to see us through to the arrival of her sister, the Middle of the Darling Daughters, on Christmas
Eve), to post a few letters and pick up Mr B’s “sunshine tablets” from the pharmacy before she has to set off. “I’ll see myself out,” she says, gently but firmly stopping me from rising from the reclining chair where she
has deposited me with my mug of coffee.
Usually I’m there at the garden gate, waving frantic goodbyes with both arms as any visitors depart - but for once
I do as I am told and stay put.
Less than two weeks now and I will be able to bid a not so very fond farewell to the Robot Sling. I won’t be sorry
to say goodbye.
Let’s face it, as companions go, it isn’t a patch on a Darling Daughter...