Sunday, December 25, 2011
I'm going to talk about money. And class. If you are English, look away now.
We are spending Christmas Day with Mr Spouse's mother who you may remember has quite bad memory loss and would not really cope with staying at ours. It's too far to bring her up to ours for the day, and her tiny old people's flat is too small for me to cook in so we went out for lunch.
My family, the middle class ones, have various taboos, one of which would be wasting money on things like eating out on the kind of day when it costs more (or indeed ever. See: mother's upcoming big birthday). My mother can be very generous (she just gave us a frankly ginormous cheque towards our travel expenses) but will not call me today on my mobile, I can confidently predict. My family also seem to avoid using cash (both parents seem to suffer from empty wallet syndrome when for example a coffee out is suggested).
So to me, having Christmas lunch in a restaurant is a new experience. We also never watched Morecambe and Wise (or ITV in general) and we had stockings where Mr Spouse had a pillowcase.
You may also remember my mother-in-law lives a few hundred yards from an area that was rioted in August. We did book an out of town place, and we booked the early sitting (old people eat their dinners early - oh yes, though this is also a regional thing, we grew up eating lunch followed by dinner, not dinner followed by tea). It was more relaxed than I thought it would be, and the food was better (it's a chain). But the early sitting was clearly the right choice. There were a few tattoos in evidence, but crucially accompanied by sufficient teeth. All children sat still and wore age-appropriate clothing. Only about two blokes were propping up the bar chain-drinking lagers.
It was as we left and the 2.30 sitting arrived however that the true flavour of Christmas became apparent. Toddlers in tutus that would put My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas to shame. Enough fake tan to paint a canteen of undercooked turkeys (and that's just the blokes). At least half the adults permanently hovering right next to the door smoking (one hopes not too near each other's hair or the hairspray might ignite).
Clearly the 2.30 crowd either knew they wouldn't be up in time to get there any earlier, or alternatively wanted to get a head start on the drinking). Judging by the navigation skills of the friend being directed to the restaurant ("You just drove past! Turn round! No, not left!"), it may have been the latter (one hopes it was the navigator on the Stella).
Of course, as with absolutely everywhere we've been in the last 7 years, I was wondering how suitable it would be for a small baby - and it was a positive conclusion - lots of room to run around, very helpful staff. And I promise a) not to dress babies in suits or crinolines and b) not to say, like one dad on MBFGC, "you can't buy a doll for a boy baby, he's not gay".