David, Mac and Matthew had escaped to The Den to watch Millwall take on Leeds and the house still bore the smell of Eau de Amelia: bitterness and bad vibes. The Duke, on the other hand, smelt of delicious food (we both had the Scottish Rump steak with "proper" chips and a divine apple crumble with ice cream that I couldn't finish. And believe me I tried to finish it).
Tinkly music played (Nat King Cole, big band sounds....my mum would have loved it) and we had the attentions of a very attentive waitress. Ivy declared the steak "better than you get in the West End" while I was too busy shoving chips and field mushrooms into my mouth to do anything but nod in agreement. A fantastic meal for under £40 for two of us, it would cost more with alcohol but Ivy can't drink anything with an alcoholic content until she's off the medication (her driving scares her so much she's on tranquilisers) and I can't do afternoon drinking any more. Not if I want to stay awake in the afternoon anyway. And I needed to, a) because Ivy was driving me home and I needed my wits about me and b) I wanted all the goss from Lydia.
Kate, Matt's mum, arrived first apparently, weighed down with all manner of knitted items. My memories of her are very vague, I've only ever met her twice. Amelia, of course, loves her and keeps us regularly updated in what she's up to. I tune out and turn up the TV/radio/food mixer/my voice.
"What's she like?" I asked reluctantly. "Very sweet, very well dressed, wonderful manners and incredibly generous" Lydia replied, not realising I wanted her to lie and say mean things. But then, she must be nice for David to have married her and loved her once. I tried not to dwell on that side of things, nor on the fact that she's already planning the Christening. Kate, not Lydia. "When I told her I'm not really that bothered about christenings I thought she'd choke on her coffee". We were on safer ground with Lydia's mum Teresa - Teresa was hideously disappointed when she married Mike, distraught at the subsequent divorce and mortified at her only child's current living situation. I know where I am with a woman like that. "She arrived with loads of bags - I thought she'd brought me a selection of hair shirts" Lydia cackled. She seemed remarkably upbeat for someone who had just spent two hours in the company of her mother and the woman she's supposed to dislike on my behalf.
Marjorie Stewart, during her regular Saturday afternoon visit to collect our pound for The Avenue National Lottery Thunderball game, confided that she's worried that Belinda Hall has seemed to back down on her campaign for Avenue Domination. "Old Mrs Lazenby rang me, full of remorse, and asked if I'd go back to getting her Morrisons shopping every week." Marjorie whispered as she jangled her bag of pound coins. It seems that Belinda Hall's dominance has withered and died. "All of my old dears are asking me to do things for them again, I went and bought all of Mrs Jacobs' Christmas card stamps yesterday". I pointed out that that was good, surely. Marjorie didn't seem too convinced. "You can't be too careful. Perhaps she thought she was flogging a dead horse with taking over the OAPs shopping - she might be planning another coup!" Here she clutched her chest and dropped her bag. "She might start up a rival Lottery game or try to outdo my Christmas decorations or......." she was prevented from continuing by Jack Next Door popping out with his pound and to let me know that Amelia made it home safely.
Three very happy boys arrived home (Millwall won 3-1) and, after Matt had left to tend to Lydia's cravings (currently Ben and Jerry's Phish Food and American mustard) we had beef casserole - sans dumplings, to exorcise the memory of Amelia's recent casserole, Strictly Come Dancing, Casualty and bed.
It's what Saturday nights are all about.