My guest list for Christmas dinner has grown to include Jack Next Door who mournfully told Amelia during their telephone conversation of last night (!!!!!!) that he would be all alone on Christmas Day as his only daughter will be in Chile categorising rock samples. "I told him he could join us for the day" my mother in law informed David when she rang this morning to report on the progress of our turkey. Apparently it's going to be a whopper. Good job really. I need more cutlery and a bigger table.
Frank and Marjorie went out first thing this morning and got back at about four making such a racket that I was forced to go and investigate. They were laden down with Harrods bags and letting everyone know that they'd been shopping "for Christmas decorations, none of this Pound Shop crap for us". Frank's voice could wake the dead when he gets going. The cab driver could be seen mouthing the words "effing lunatics" as he drove off.
The trip to Harrods was fuelled by Marjorie's visit to Joyce at Number 2's house yesterday on the pretext of collecting for her OAP hampers. The Stewarts have identified four OAPs in the immediate vicinity of The Avenue that "live alone and need an eye keeping on them over the winter". They're rallying the rest of the neighbours to donate to their food collection. At least one of the OAPs is chuntering about being treated "like a bleeding charity, if I want other peoples store cupboard leavings I'll ask for 'em!"
"It's awful in there" Marjorie had boomed yesterday on the doorstep as she collected my own contribution (four tins of soup, four packets of shortbread and four packets of tea). "Where?" I asked politely. "Joyce at Number 2! All manky tinsel, fake tree and Chinese lanterns. That kind of foil decoration went out in the 90s and as for those dreadful paper chains......eurgh!" It was then that she revealed her plan for Saturday. "We're going to 'Arrods to add to our collection - it's a very superior shop" she said, as if I didn't know. Bea pops in and out of Harrods for "bits and pieces" as I do in Sainsburys. And they've got an East Dulwich Deli - my dear sister hyperventilates whenever she mentions it. I wasn't that impressed with my Christmas visit to the Rich Peoples Store a couple of years back, I have to admit. The most exciting part of the day was seeing Dennis Bergkamp in Planet Harrods......he had a burger by the way.
As they lugged their famous green and gold bags in (with Frank booming "watch the goods woman!") Jane Opposite appeared in her doorway, eyeing up the shenanigans and dumping a rubbish bag in the bin. We exchanged glances as Frank reappeared to take in a box with the words "DELUXE NATIVITY SET" stamped on it. "Tis the season to be jolly eh ladies?" he said with a wink that seemed to encompass the entire Avenue. "Not with you it ain't mate" Jane said, flinging a couple of empty wine bottles in her recycling box. Undeterred, Frank continued with what he thought was some saucy badinage "You must come and check out my elaborate hangings" he said, turning to me and straightening up. Jane Opposite had disappeared behind her front door in a flurry of swear words.
"All top class stuff, none of this Woolies mass produced stuff" he went on. "And just wait until you see my lovely big shiny balls!"
Perish the thought!