I’m having my booster jab Saturday afternoon – at least, I think I am. The information from the NHS is somewhat confusing as to how long after having the virus I’m allowed to have the booster. The text I received said four weeks, so I’m just about all right, but then other sources have said as long as six months. I’m not sure which to believe, so I will make sure I tell them before they stick the needle in and be guided by them. I hope I have no side effects this time, I have work tomorrow and can’t afford any more time off as my paycheck at the end of November was on the sick side.
It’s been a week of highs and lows. I worked Monday and Tuesday and it’s always quite nice getting the bulk of my hours over and done with at the beginning of the week. It means I can relax and enjoy my days off. Work was work. It is what it is. I envy those who have careers they enjoy. It must be nice to wake up in the morning and be happy to go to work. I’ve never had that. I’ve always had a job. The thing I had to do to earn money to pay the bills, but then I guess that’s true for most people. Thinking about it, I don’t know anyone who loves their work. I am hopeful for Miss F though. She is training to do what she loves and if she manages to find employment in the animal industry then she will never work a day in her life.
Wednesday was a day of shopping. There was the usual Tesco weekly shop and I picked up a few bits and bobs for Christmas whilst I was there. I was nudged into doing this because Tesco had very kindly sent me a load of vouchers to earn extra points on food and drink, so I picked through what I was going to buy anyway and made sure I remembered to take the vouchers with me. But … Yep, you’ve guessed it, remembering to take the vouchers is no guarantee of remembering to use the fricking things. Just as I swiped my card to pay, my brain very helpfully reminded me of the wedge of vouchers tucked in my purse. Bugger! I asked the assistant if there was any way to apply them retrospectively. No, she said. And that was that. Hate it when that happens.
I wandered about Wilkes which is a kind of mini-Target store and is handily located at the bottom of my road and picked up bits and pieces for Miss F’s stocking as well as cards and wrapping paper, then I went to Waterstones and bought the books that I’d been told my cousin’s son wanted for his birthday.
I was quite chuffed with myself about making a start on Christmas, but then looking at my calendar which is filling up already I realised how close it is and how very little time I have between now and then. I’ve set myself a deadline of trying to have everything done before I collect Miss F from the university on the 15th. We won’t get back until the 16th and the 17th will be mostly taken up with collecting our tree and decorating it. Every other day between then and Christmas I’m either at work or wish to spend the time with Miss F, not rushing around shopping and wrapping.
My mother invited me out to lunch on Thursday, and as she has loads of Tesco Clubcard vouchers we decided to choose a restaurant in town that still takes them – there used to be several but over the years they’ve either stopped accepting them or have closed. We selected Prezzo, a nice Italian chain of restaurants that have a varied enough menu for us both to find things we like.
Wednesday, I was sitting at my desk having a final look through book thirteen before sending it to the first beta reader when my mother phoned in a bit of a flap. She’d managed to order and download the Tesco vouchers onto her phone but was having problems booking us a table. Prezzo never answer their phone, she said. and although she’d left a message on their answerphone they had yet to get back to her. So, she’d gone online and tried to book, but there were no tables available for Thursday. I was surprised by this because it’s a big restaurant and it was only a Thursday, not a weekend, and still far enough away from Christmas that it shouldn’t be fully booked.
Are you sure there are no tables for Thursday? I asked.
Yes, she huffily told me. I’m looking at the days I can book and they’re only giving me the choice of today, tomorrow, Friday, then the weekend or next week.
Umm, so what’s the problem? I asked, now really puzzled.
Well, where’s Thursday? If they’re only offering today, tomorrow, or Friday, what about Thursday?
Mum, tomorrow is Thursday.
What? Are you sure?
Pretty sure, Thursday has a habit of following Wednesday and today is Wednesday.
It doesn’t matter, I’ve booked it.
Whilst I’d been talking to her. I’d gone to the Prezzo website, found our local restaurant and booked a table for two for 12:30 for the Thursday – tomorrow.
Thursday was something of a red-letter day. Not only was I going out to lunch with my mother – something we hadn’t done in years, but I was getting my haircut in the morning. It’s been exactly two years since my last haircut, so I figured it was about time. Sitting having breakfast Thursday morning, I looked out of the window to see white stuff swirling by, quite a lot of white stuff. Within ten minutes it was coming down thickly and even settling. Now, I’m not one of those people who are very impressed by snow. Yes, it looks pretty in films and on Christmas cards, but I utterly fail to understand why people get so excited about it.
If it’s snowing it means it’s cold, very cold – and I don’t like the cold. It also means it will be treacherous to walk on and if it settles will turn into ice which makes it even more dangerous. Driving conditions will be hazardous and all the idiots will forget how to drive. Plus, here in the UK, everything grinds to a halt when more than a few flakes fall. We are simply not geared up to cope with it. Roads become impassable because there aren’t enough gritting lorries, and they tend to only do the cities and towns. Small villages become cut-off; their roads too blocked to even think about attempting to drive on. Public transport stops, with trains being cancelled due to the wrong type of snow on the rails – one wonders what the right kind of snow is. Schools are closed and parents are left unable to go to work because their children are at home with no one to care for them.
How can anyone think any of this is amazing, marvellous, and worth begging Santa for is beyond me. I think the people who whitter on about how wonderful snow is and how much they want it, either live in very hot countries where it never snows so it’s a novelty to them or in places where there is so much snow their whole infrastructure has been built around coping with the horrible stuff.
As I drove to the hairdressers it was coming down thick and my car’s ancient heating system was struggling to stop my windscreen from condensing up on the inside. This was the first time I’d used this hairdresser – I’d decided to not go back to my old one because she is too expensive, so I was switching to my mother’s hairdresser who charges half the price – mostly, I think because she’s not running a trendy saloon in town and employing people but has a little salon in her home. I’d never been to her before, well, maybe once a very long time ago, so couldn’t remember how to get there and was crawling along trying to peer at road signs through the snow – much to the annoyance of the people driving behind me.
The haircut went well, I am very pleased with it, and was relieved that she didn’t have to cut too much off because I’d feared my hair was dead up to my ears. Leaving the hairdressers, the snow was still belting down, so I drove back to town worrying about my nice new haircut surviving the walk to the restaurant for lunch.
Luckily, by the time my mother arrived, and we set off for the restaurant the snow had stopped, the sun had come out, and the weather was busy pretending it hadn’t misbehaved and tried to snow – snow? What snow was that then?
When we arrived at the restaurant, mum made sure the waiter knew we were using Tesco Clubcard vouchers because apparently that entitled us to a free glass of prosecco each. Why using vouchers warranted preferential treatment, I have no idea. I had heard that the hospitality industry is still suffering though. Christmas is usually their busiest time of year with all the celebrating and work Christmas dos that take place, but this year because of Covid and the fears over the latest variant to hit the UK, many companies aren’t holding Christmas parties or going out for meals. Which is sensible but is yet another kick in the teeth for restaurants. Perhaps by encouraging the use of vouchers and offering little freebie treats they hope to make people eat out more.
The restaurant was crowded so we wore our masks until we were safely seated at our table. They brought the prosecco which was a very unexpected treat and we looked at the menu. Now, I like pasta, but I always find the portions are too big for me in restaurants, so I end up bloated on carbs and don’t want a dessert, which is no fun. So, I chose the slow-cooked beef in chianti with tender stem broccoli and buttered potato rosti, which was utterly delicious and exactly the right size for me to eat it all and still have room for a slice of delicious tiramisu and another glass of prosecco. Mum had the chicken spaghetti carbonara which she said was delicious, but she struggled to eat even half of it and was too full for dessert.
Afterwards, we went looking round the shops looking for a new top for me. I have a few special occasions and treats coming up over Christmas and absolutely nothing to wear to them, so I needed a new top. I have a smart pair of black jeans and black boots which can go pretty much anywhere, but I was seriously lacking for something nice to wear with them – especially after the moths had decimated my wardrobe.
We tried Marks & Spencer. Hmm, I honestly don’t know who they are trying to sell to, but I think even grannies in their eighties would take one look and pronounce their winter collection as “frumpy”. We tried Next. Now normally I am successful in Next, and I like their clothes. Not this time. There was no in-between. The clothes were either too casual – thick jumpers and t-shirts – or way over the top bling. Gold lame shirts and sparkly beaded tops that any game show host would be proud to wear.
Disappointed, we wandered out of the shop and into Monsoon next door. I have never ever bought anything from Monsoon. Not only are their clothes a bit beyond my budget, but I’ve always found them too old for me and usually too long – Monsoon only cater for women of 5’6” and over. They also seem passionately fond of paisley and dresses, usually both. As I said, I’ve never bought anything from there before – oh, correction, we bought Miss F’s prom dress from there over two years ago.
This time, however, I found four tops that I liked the look of, so I went and tried them all on, and it was down to a long line dark green blouse with a thick black lace collar and nice buttons, or a blue thin silky knit evening sweater with a scattering of beads across the front. I liked them both, but felt the blouse was more an “all year round” top – beading is a bit Christmas only, well, in my book it is. It was expensive. That one top cost me the same as a week’s grocery shopping, but it is the only thing I am buying for Christmas, and it will cover at least five or six outings so it will more than earn its keep. I’ve hung it in my wardrobe surrounded by mothballs and I’m crossing my fingers that the moths are all gone now.
Sometimes, you simply have to say oh sod it, and get what you want.
I was so full of lunch that I didn’t want any dinner. Since then, Prezzo has very kindly sent me a code for a free bottle of prosecco when bought with £20 of food, so I’ve texted a friend to see if she’d like to do lunch sometime to help me drink it. She seemed very keen on the idea.
Friday morning, my landline rang. Now, the only people who call me on my landline are my mum, cold callers, and my boss because he knows I’m rubbish at answering my mobile, so I answered it with trepidation.
Hello, trilled a very perky female voice. How are you?
Umm, I’m fine. Who is this?
I’m sorry, I’m going to need a few more clues than that.
There was a brief silence as the unknown caller thought about that.
Is this not Dale?
No, I’m not Dale.
Are you sure? It’s his number I dialled.
So convinced was she that I was Dale, that for a split second I wondered myself.
No, I’m not Dale, you have the wrong number.
Wrong numbers seem rare now, back in the days before mobiles and having everyone’s numbers remembered by them for us, I was always having people phone convinced they were talking to their friend, mother, gran, or even the lingerie department of Marks and Spencer! Once one old dear phoned me seven times over the course of one evening convinced I was her great-niece Caroline. We had ever such a nice chat and I’m not sure the last few times weren’t because Caroline the great-niece hadn’t been in, and the old lady was lonely.
Random phone calls nowadays are always boringly predictable. It’s usually someone trying to sell me solar panels, loft insulation, or trying to tell me my internet is about to be disconnected unless I phone this number now. Nice try, mate, I wasn’t born yesterday though.
I’m back to work tomorrow, then my shifts next week are weird. I’m working Thursday then sadly working the whole weekend to cover for a colleague being on holiday. Then I’m on holiday for seven days during which I will drive oop North to collect Miss F. Going back to work the week of Christmas, I’m working Monday and Tuesday, but only 10:30 to 4:30, then I’m off until Boxing Day when I’ll be working five days on the trot. Brilliant. Not.
Speaking of Christmas, the paperback versions of three of my books – Lost & Found, Lifesong, and Eclairs for Tea and other stories – are available at a special festive season sale price. Lost & Found and Eclairs for Tea have both been reduced from £8.99 to £5.99, and Lifesong is up for the tiny price of £3.99 – or local currency equivalent.
If you are stuck for ideas for stocking fillers, table presents, or even little extra gifts to go under the tree, then these would be perfect and at these prices won’t break the bank. The sale is on until Christmas so hurry and grab your copies while there’s still time to receive them before Christmas. Links are all on the book page.
Right, I’ve just got back from having my booster jab and so far so good. They gave me a great big list of possible side effects which I’m hoping I don’t get, but this time it didn’t even hurt my arm going in. Fingers crossed! I’m a bit fed up with Covid now.
Anyway, that’s it for this week. Take care everyone and try not to stress too much about Christmas.