Gin and ginger

Saturday December 23, 2006

You know it’s Christmas when you see two old ladies fighting over a cabbage.

Why they should fight over that particular cabbage I shall of course never know. It looked exactly the same to me as all the other cabbages in the stack, not to mention the gazillions of the things we used to drive past in Lincolnshire. But no, this was the cabbage they’d both set their withered little hearts on and nothing would persuade either of them to let go.

I walked on by, not really wanting to see any more of the display and certainly not wishing to see its conclusion. You’d need the wisdom of Solomon to arbitrate in that dispute. Me, I’d have used the sword method. Not on the cabbage. It had, after all, done no-one any harm. No, I’d have sliced the dear old ladies in two, snicker, snack. That would have taught them.

And so we got our last food and drink shopping done. Graham did the cheese and wine. I did the rest. Goodness knows how we’re going to get through all that cheese but I’m pretty certain there’ll be none of the wine left by New Year.

“What now?” I asked as we passed through the check-out.

“Could you fancy a coffee?”

“Well, yes, actually, but the coffee here isn’t worth waiting for and there’s a long queue.”

“Let’s chance it and pop in to the town centre,” Graham said. “By the look of it most people are out here fighting over cabbages. I wouldn’t mind betting Costa Coffee is nigh on empty. Besides, I want another look at that Poole Pottery vase.”

“I’m game,” I said. “It’s far too cold for any of this stuff to spoil before we finish.”

Graham took another look at the vase and, at my urging, went into the store rather than peer through the window. I have a theory that you ought always to handle an art pot before you decide to buy it so you can judge the weight and heft and general feel of the thing. Graham didn’t like it when he picked it up but he did like a very nice plate which after a degree of haggling, he purchased as a gift for the house.

There was a crowd of people shivering at the tables outside Costa Coffee, with not a seat to spare.

“This doesn’t look good,” I said.

“Nah. These are the smokers. You wait, it’ll be close to empty inside.”

It was, too. They’d run out of their special Christmas mincepies—very much recommended—so we settled for pannetone. The wonderful vanilla and spice aroma that wafted from the little cellophane bags as we ripped them open was reward enough. And the taste, washed down with decent, hot black coffee, was close to divine.

“There,” I said, brushing the crema from my moustache. “It’s Christmas at last. Everything done and all we need to do now is get outselves home, shut the door, and start eating. And drinking.”

“I wonder what we’ve forgotten.”

“Oh, trust you to look on the dark side. If we’ve forgotten anything we shall just have to do without. I’m done shopping.”

About an hour after we got home I let out a loud wail.

“Whatever is the matter?” Graham asked.

“I forgot my Steradent.”

“Is that bad?”

“Too right it’s bad. I shall have to go out again.”

“Are they open tomorrow?”

“Yes. Sunday opening hours.”

“Do you need it now?”

“No. I’ve got a couple of tablets left.”

“Get it tomorrow, then. Let’s have a gin and ginger wine instead.”

“Okay. You’ve tempted me. Make mine a large one, please.”


With very best wishes for
A Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year
from all at ours to all at yours


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