I have performed my Daughterly Duty today as Lord H and I have spent the day at Mother's. To prepare for this momentous occasion, I took two calming pills and one Vitamin B De-Stress pill with breakfast. Good to have a healthy diet, you know. Much to our astonishment, the journey there was almost entirely clear of traffic and even the A12 (Gawd bless it) had moving cars on it. Well, miracles can still occur then - but it does make me wonder where the hell everyone actually was. Have they gone abroad or are they staying in to watch the Olympics? It's a mystery. Anyway, as a result we arrived earlier than usual, and poor Mother was still donning her Difficult Daughter armour in order to get through her day. We might have been even earlier, but when we were parking outside the house, Lord H and I had a five minute discussion as to whether we could get away with peeking in at the window and then leaving a note saying "sorry but you were out" before making good our escape. Ah, dream on, eh.
It also meant that we had to make up an extra 45 minutes of conversation but I think we managed fairly successfully. If only by talking more slowly. We also bravely offered to take them out for lunch - which can be something of a trial as both Mother and Jim (stepfather) make their feelings known in no uncertain terms if (a) the service is slow, or (b) they don't like the food. Which is fair enough of course, but can be difficult if (a) the service isn't slow but the waitress has taken more than 30 seconds to appear at the table, and (b) the food is perfectly fine but the restaurant doesn't serve new potatoes without skins and the vegetables aren't cooked to the point of exhaustion.
However, today we have truly hit the jackpot! Mother had booked a new restaurant neither of them had been to before, but which had been recommended by friends - the Village Maid in Bradfield. Really though, there aren't many village maids anywhere these days, so good to have one preserved in the wilds of Essex ... Anyway, it looked strangely downbeat and appeared to be filled entirely by men with tattoos and Essex accents so strong you could have built the Dartford Tunnel with them (much like the village maids then ...), but in fact they were utterly lovely, the service was swift and friendly and the food was wonderful, hurrah! In fact so wonderful that Jim complemented the chef for the first time in his life and actually smiled. Mother and I nearly fainted as we can't remember the last time anyone saw Jim smile (being the horny-handed son of the soil that he is). We didn't even know he had the capability.
Buoyed by this exciting discovery, we went for a walk through woods near the River Stour to make the most of the unexpected August sunshine. Mum and Jim surged ahead, and Lord H and I lurked in the rear and hid behind a tree, wondering if they'd notice if we made a bid for freedom while things were going so well. However they were too deep in conversation to realise so we were forced to catch up with them in the end. Lord H's theory is that having a good meal obviously made the parents more amenable, so we must bear that in mind next time and constantly carry a supply of food just in case we need to distract them ...
Back at Mother's, we had tea and a bun, only having a slight dispute over the best way to toast a crumpet (which is pretty good for us - normally we row about the tea and the bun too) and when the toasting process is completed. Still, Lord H and I managed to throw the car into first gear and escape at just after 5pm without me using the remaining crumpet in a way not intended by the manufacturer, so I consider I did pretty well really, all things considered.
And a quick round-up of the day's conversational topics went something like this:
1. Napkin-folding lessons are rather addictive though it's astonishing how little you remember an hour after the lesson
2. There are no clothes to be bought in the whole of the known universe this season, or at least none we like
3. Yes, it is possible to use your socks to polish your shoes
4. Baby barn owls are extremely noisy and have to be taught how to make proper owl sounds
5. The dead bird in the porch is a sparrow
6. My (nasty) cousin hoovered my aunt's bungalow and is now being proclaimed as a hero. The fact that the bungalow is the size of a postage stamp appears to make no difference to the general (apart from me and Mother) adulation
7. The Royal Yacht is shockingly only nicely decorated on one side for photographic purposes. Not only that but the Royal Yacht servants had to live in conditions which would be deplored by third-world sweat-shop children, and if they saw a Royal they had to stand completely still without breathing until the Enemy had departed. Off with the royals' heads, say I! Thank goodness they decommissioned that floating slave-ship then ...
8. Yes, friends are irritating when they ask what you've been up to - don't they know it's private?? - and yes we do realise this is something one can never explain to said friends. Really though, if you wanted them to know something, you would have told them without being asked ... (strangely, Mother and I agreed about that one - hmmm, perhaps I have more of her blood in me than I'd like to admit, arrrrggghhh!!)
9. And, finally, we both agreed it would be extremely helpful on occasion to have a "You have been deleted from my current contacts list - sadly, there is no recycle option" card. Well, it's a thought, eh!
Today's nice things:
1. Surviving Mother
2. Finding a nice pub
3. A walk through the woods.