I got lots of nice cards with lovely things written on and in them and a fair few long sought after, fantastic, original, amazing, thoughtful presents. David's present was one of the best however and required the support of my wonderful sister and stepson and close friend. "It's all arranged" David had said as I clutched onto the envelope and gaped. "Mac's staying at Bea's from nursery on Friday until Sunday evening and Matt and Lydia will be staying here with the dogs while you lap up luxury." I glanced at my mother in law who had a face like a bulldog sucking a wasp because she wasn't part of Team Give Joanna a Nice Weekend Away. She was also in a foul mood over the whole Lydia Pregnancy Situation but that's another story. Mac made much of the fact that he'd "given mummy lots of money to buy new clothes" and brushed his father's assistance with this under the carpet. "I went into the shop with you daddy to buy the vachers!" he insisted with a pout that he's inherited from me. "But why aren't you happy I'm going to be a nuncle Granny?" was his other outstanding contribution to the evening.
"Aaannnnddd....." David said in a teasing fashion as he pretended to stagger into the room under the weight of the cake and the 36 candles that my Auntie Ivy had made, "....I'm even missing the opening games of Euro 2008 just for you!"
This led to a fifteen minute debate by the boys in the room - David, Dad, Stephen, Matt, Jack Next Door, Darren, Uncle Jim, Frank, James the Gorgeous Cardiothoracic Surgeon With Audi and No Wedding Ring who came with Charlie and Simon - about how terrible and awful and shameful that England wasn't in the tournament. This set the girls in the room - me, Bea, Lydia, Janey, Auntie Ivy, Marjorie, Charlie, Eliza and Saskia - off into discussions about just who is the sexiest footballer in the tournament, y'know, in the absence of Mr Beckham. Amelia pursed her lips and tutted us all loudly, her daughter especially. Ginny ignored her.
"Why don't we have a stakesweep?" Darren suggested. "Or a sweepstake" Simon pointed out. This was greeted with even more enthusiasm than the vol-au-vents that Marjorie provided.
There was then a burst of activity as David searched for pen, paper and a big box. Followed by an even longer burst of brain activity as we all attempted to work out how many teams were in the competition in relation to the amount of people in the room. As you can imagine, five bottles of champagne down, this took a while. "Sixteen!" Saskia announced as she peered at the computer screen after finding this site. She was the only one on the Schloer because she was due on duty at 9pm. "So, we all pick a team out of the hat, stick two quid in the pot - to make it worthwhile - and the winner takes all!" Simon said as he shook the box to shuffle the teams.
"And if you don't want to do it?" Amelia asked as she stacked up the cake plates. "Oh come on mother, don't be a stuffed shirt!" Ginny was rummaging in her pockets "If you win you can donate the lot to charity". "And if you don't know the first thing about football? Other than the majority of footballers are uncouth yobs who think spitting should be an Olympic sport?" Bea enquired, despite clutching a two pound coin in the hand that wasn't holding a glass of champers.
Because there was more of us than there are teams, David drew Spain on behalf of Mac and Janey chose Poland for Scarlett. Bea got highly excited that she had drawn Italy and started talking earnestly about Milan "for shopping darling". Lydia selected Greece for The Bump which made Amelia's lips disappear disapprovingly. Needless to say, the killjoy that is my mother in law declared the whole thing "ludicrous" and proceeded out to the kitchen to "make a start on this mountain of washing up".
All in all, an enjoyable day. I'm currently sitting in bed, typing this on David's laptop with yet another glass of champagne on the bedside table. My wonderful husband is splashing around in the bath having promised me a "preview" of next weekend. "You do know that England are playing tonight don't you?" I queried as I flicked through the Sky TV guide earlier. "S'alright darling" he said as he headed bathwards, towel draped provocatively around his waist "We can have it on in the background".