Saturday. The day that David promised me he would amuse his mother. How was he planning to do this? By taking her to the World of Golf superstore in Sidcup. Perhaps understandably she was less than keen on going. “No, I’ll help with the shopping for tomorrow” I heard her say as she buttered her fifth piece of toast. Mac, fresh from walking Jessica round the garden (all three dogs sat at the patio window and watched with glum looks on their faces) was asked if he wanted to go in Granny’s place. Faced with a morning spent with his doting father in an as yet unchartered territory or shopping in Sainsburys with his growling mother, he dashed off to change into something golf orientated.
After watching me add a few final things to the shopping list, folding it and putting it into my bag along with mobile phone and purse, Amelia asked if she could add a few things to take home with her. “It’ll save me asking Edie Mickelthwaite’s son”.
Pilchards, lemon curd, gravy granules, Jacobs crackers, Dijon mustard.
David kissed me goodbye which elicited a tut from his mother. He kissed his mother goodbye and I tried not to yowl. We really don’t get on at all you know. The drive to Sainsbury’s was uneventful. She tried not to clutch her seatbelt and cross herself when I overtook a bus on Champion Hill. Driving Amelia always makes me want to do handbrake turns and rev the engine yobbishly at traffic lights. She brings out the truculent teenager in me.
Sainsbury’s Dog Kennel Hill is effectively a building site – they’re revamping the store but its still easier for me get to and negotiate than Sainsburys New Cross. Amelia’s first comment was “How on earth are you expected to get into the shop?” I pointed out the huge entrance with the rather large “Entrance” sign above it and wrestled with a trolley. Amelia took control and just walked, regardless of other people with wayward trolleys, cars and a bus. All screeched to a halt as she strode on regardless, leaving me following her, red faced and damp around the armpits.
Fruit, veg and salad were placed in the trolley with little or no problems and we headed for the ready meals section. “Why Don’t You Make Fresh?” she queried as I hoiked three lasagnes in the trolley. She repeated the question when I didn’t answer immediately. I was counting to ten. Explaining as I swept round to the yoghurt section that my lasagnes could be used as doorstops, she halted by the fish counter to insult the cod and halibut. And again by the meat counter, looking outraged when I perused the pre-packed beef joints. “This is Fresher!” she boomed, pointing at the amused butcher. I pretended not to know her and picked up Jamie Oliver’s 21 day matured beef. “That’ll Be Off!” she chuntered, striding over to look at a towering display of Easter eggs.
Halfway round, I’d forgotten I meant to pick up some tulips. “I’ll go dear” she said, smiling at me before trotting off obediently. Ten minutes later there was no sign of her and I’d kept popping back to the aisle she’d left me in. Hefting the full to the brim trolley in front of me I headed flower-wards. “Don’t worry young lady, you take a seat there and we’ll do an announcement” said a rather lanky youth behind me as I passed the Customer Service desk. I tutted almost automatically at the thought of yet another Poppy/Clara/Flora/Millicent being lost in the wilds of the freezer section as a yummy mummy or right-on daddy perused the organic mushrooms. “Would the daughter-in-law of Amelia Mitchell please return to the Customer Service desk”
I went hot, then cold and wanted to climb into the flora and fauna in front of me. I turned round slowly and there was Amelia, clutching her throat and taking shaky sips from a glass of water as a clutch of orange jacketed youths milled around her. Apparently, when she returned to the freezer aisle where she’d left me, and I wasn’t there, instead of waiting or looking for me herself she did the next best sensible thing and reported me to the deputy manager of the store for abandoning her. I got a very sympathetic look from the deputy manager – perhaps he has a MIL From Hell too.
We went through the tills in silence and drove home in a pretty similar manner. It was minus 10 in that car by the time I’d pulled up outside the house. I started throwing carrier bags into the hallway as she made her way to the sofa and the remote control. Chuntering madly, I put everything away, filled the kettle and laid my head on the cool work surface.
“If you’re making tea, I’ll have coffee” came a voice from the living room.
Sunday. Dinner wasn’t as dreadful as I had thought it would be. David more than made up for his golfing aberration the day before by not only amusing Amelia all afternoon on Saturday with old photo albums and a walk down memory lane so I could have a relaxing afternoon generally pottering around but this morning he took her to church with Mac. He had to find it first, it being so long since he stepped in anything remotely resembling a church. Mac promised to show him where it was.
Lydia and Matthew arrived while they were out – Lydia looked amazing and she admitted while Matt was in the loo that they’d done “it” for the first time the night before. I dropped the spatula as she went into rhapsodies over his technique, staying power and, erm, dimensions. I halted her, I don’t really feel comfortable talking like this about my step-son. She does look amazing though. I felt like sending her along to Susan at Number 30 to ask to borrow a cup of sugar. Matthew looked equally amazing – he’s a very handsome boy, like father like son. I looked at them both fondly as they argued over who had the biggest Easter egg. They’re obviously over the age gap problems.
The church-goers returned at half past 12 and Amelia immediately spotted the cuckoo in the nest. “Hello, And Who Are You?” she said, regally holding a hand to Lydia as she returned from the Littlest Room. Lydia, not sure whether to merely take her hand or kiss it, told her she was a neighbour and friend. “Yes Well, As I’m Sure You’ll Appreciate, We’re Having A Family Lunch. Myself, My Son, His Wife and My Two Grandchildren So, It Was Nice Meeting You But……” Amelia left the rest of the sentence hanging and almost swept Lydia out of the room.
The cheek of her! I was so incensed at her rudeness I couldn’t speak. David handled the situation and within minutes we were all “laughing” at the mix up. Not me. I quickly rang Saskia and Charlie on my mobile and invited them over later. Hah! That’ll teach her. Lydia looked faintly uncomfortable and surreptitiously removed her wedding ring as we made our way to the table.
Mac is such a little man now, he spread his napkin over his lap rather than tucking it in his collar and ate his melon with raspberry coulis like a pro. There was a rather dodgy incident when he scattered his carrots all over the place but Amelia was grilling Lydia and so missed it. She’s very hot on table manners, even David keeps his elbows out of the way.
As Lydia was looking a bit shellshocked at all the questioning, Matthew bore her off to the garden before dessert for a cigarette and no doubt a quick snog. Oh, how I miss those illicit snogs. It’s not quite the same when all you’re hiding from is a slightly disapproving three year old. Amelia patted her mouth, covered the (empty and all but licked clean) plate with her napkin and pronounced the meal “nice although the carrots were a bit underdone for me”. David shot me an understanding look. She then took to her bed at just gone eight complaining of stomach ache “I don’t think the gravy agreed with me, shop bought you see” she said loudly as she wearily climbed the stairs.
Monday. Breakfast a little subdued due to the copious amount of wine I had drunk the previous evening. Saskia and Charlie arrived (late!) at nine with three bottles of red and three of white. Matt and Lydia staggered home at gone 2 this morning. As a result, not up to taking Amelia home and stopping off at posh restaurant as per the plan. Eliza rang mid morning: did Mac want to play with Ashley this afternoon and sleep over tonight? Ashley got a tent for Easter and it had been “pitched” in her bedroom. Mac more than keen and packed for a week. Amelia, once Mac had departed, felt very put out and said she’d like to leave a bit earlier than planned and, while David were there, could he do one or two jobs in the flat?
As a result I spent a blissful afternoon re-reading, for about the fifteenth time, both Bridget Jones’ diaries (Helen Fielding = Genius) firstly spread out on the sofa with huge bag of Maltesers and then later in the bath complete with candles and shamefully large glass of wine. Am now waiting for David to come home, hair washed, squeaky clean in new tartan jim-jams with a nice curry bubbling on the stove. Do you remember that “Sunday evening feeling”? When you were about 8 years old, waiting for the Top 40 on the radio, Harry Secombe burbling on the telly after Bullseye and the knowledge that you’ve already done your homework so don’t have to do it on the bus on the way to school.
Yes? Well, now imagine that AND the satisfaction of knowing that your Mother-in-Law is not due to visit again until at least Whitsun weekend and that you’re planning to make full use of the fact that your Son and Heir is two streets rather than two rooms away from your boudoir. Bliss!