Saturday, November 25, 2006


A good weekend?

This weekend promises great things. I am going Christmas shopping in Manchester today (after some lunchtime Focus delivery), where I will buy a load of useless trinkets for friends, and make my way through a shocking amount of money for the exclusive purpose of giving and receiving unwanted tat that will clutter my house for years.

I have bought for my Mum and Tamsin already, so there are plenty more people to get for.

After that, we’re going ice-skating on the new temporary rink in Piccadilly Gardens, where I will cling to the side-rail like a vertigo-sufferer on stilts, whilst Tam glides across the ice like a swan. She's a dancer, so careering across a frozern surface whilst balancing on the edge of a blade comes a little more naturally to her.

But ice skating is something I have never really got to grips with. Falling with force onto a surface that is both rock hard and freezing cold, whilst dodging high-speed knives coming at you from all directions is NOT my idea of a good time, and yet it seems to attract so many people. I once managed to pull off what a BBC commentator would have described as a "triple axle with pike," although this was less to do with inate skill, and more to do with being struck a glancing blow by a passer by as I lost my balance, and being sent spinning off in all directions. The illusion of professionalism was shattered on landing, where I neglected to carry on with my routine, and instead crawled on all fours to the side, nursing my bruises.

After the ice skating/falling, we’re going to the Royal Exchange to see a play. Which should be far more sedate.

When it comes to Christmas presents, Tam's parents are always a challenge. For starters, there is the perennial problem of how to refer to them on the card. I am nowhere near confident enough to jump in gung-ho and call them “Colin and Viv” straight away. They may throw me out on my ear for my cheek! But then, I have known them for six years, so “Mr and Mrs Thomson” sounds a bit staid. I may just avoid it altogether, and hope they don’t notice. An astoundingly large “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!” greeting inside the card, plus maybe a smiley face and a Christmas tree drawing, may make them forget that the whole thing isn’t addressed…

When I am with them in person, I imagine I will do what I have done my whole life, with parents of friends, and parents of girlfriends, which is NEVER to refer to them directly in the first person, and always talk about them as if they lived in a different time and place, even if they are standing right next to me. For instance, asking her Dad whether “Tam’s Mum would like a cup of tea,” and thus avoiding the issue altogether.

Pointing always works too. “Would you like a cup of tea?” [point finger accusingly].

Or just pretending to forget that you ever knew the name in the first place: “Would you like a cup of tea, er… er…” [make Royal Wave motion with hand as if summoning correct name from inner recesses of mind, until sentence helpfully concluded by object of question].

This method has its advantages and disadvantages. If performed correctly, the recipient of the request will inadvertently let you know how they’d like to be addressed:
“Would you like a cup of tea, er… er…”
"YES! Vivian! That's right. Good Lord, how did I forget? After all, I have known you now for six years!"

But on the other hand, in my case, after six years, forgetting my girlfriend’s Mother’s name is just plain rude.

Once again, even Christmas, the time of joy, presents nothing but worry.


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