The Bankers Guide to Avoiding Christmas

Whoops!!

The Bankers Guide to Surviving Christmas
(with a Spinone or two)

 

Bar Humbug……………………..I am not a fan of Christmas

It was fun once – then commercialism got involved and that for me was the end of Christmas. Or was it the Spins tearing all my prezzies to bits that were under the Christmas tree!!

Having a Cool Yule just doesn’t do it for me

But I have little choice because the Dearest One says so……….

“You will again enjoy Christmas this year and you will participate in the festivities that abound at this time of the year” – “WON”T YOU”??

As if that’s an option

“Oh good grief yes” I replied enthusiastically “I can’t wait, such joy and fun”

“And I can’t wait for the big day and opening all those gifts” (takes me about 38 seconds to open both of them)

Dearest One

“Then I shall begin”

“I’ve prepared a list of things YOU are to go out and purchase” –

1. MY Christmas card

2. ALL MY gifts

3. A Turkey – preferably dead and from a butcher ready for the oven (Do NOT repeat last year’s embarrassment of bringing home a live one) – “or you’ll be in the oven” - “Oh and get one big enough to feed all the dogs as well”!!

“But Dearest One we would need a turkey the size of an Ostrich to feed all that lot”

“Fine. Then get an Ostrich”!!!!!!!! (Probably tastes like chicken anyway)

4. Vegetables – get a variety of breeds?
5. Sweeties

6. Biscuits

7. Fruit – get another variety of breeds?

8. Wine – 1 barrel of white and 1 barrel of red

9. Dog gifts?

10. Dog treats

This list went on for two and half pages, made up of things like ‘stuffing’, crackers both to eat and pull (by the way – don’t pull the cracker packets – they make a hell of a mess and there’s no hat or prize in them – a real rip off) The crackers you pull are made of paper and brightly coloured – a sound bit of advice for you!!

Anyway, after spending two days away from home and with the Land Rover and the Trailer full, I eventually get back home.

It took 7 hours to unload both into the house and put it all safely away – in the kitchen cupboards, the coat room, the loft, the front room and the outbuildings. We filled 2 freezers and the fridge.

Dearest One - “You didn’t get the butter”!!!

Me - “I think I’m going to get the gun out and go shooting”

Me again – “You have until I get the gun out as your head start”…………………..

Me yet again – “And I’m bringing JJ with me”!!!

She was somewhere in the south of England when I finally caught up with her.
And missed!!!!!!!!

JJ was utterly distraught? He had nothing to retrieve………..

Meanwhile back in the house –

I noted yet again that despite all the excitement of the pending festivities the Spins et al were the same. Nothing changed them – they were still as laid back as ever. To them it was just another day. No matter what I did to get them into the spirit of things every one of them remained in a state of sheer bemusement – I tried putting antlers on JJ, baubles on the ears of Kallie, I tried wrapping the strips of brightly coloured bunting around Freya, I put some holly on Duncan (but that was a bad idea, as was the mistletoe above Savanna – the Springer kissed her and she was sick on him)

Next, I got them all together in the vague hope of impressing the Dearest One with a Carol singing session. We Three Spins from orient are, one in a bucket and two in a car (or something like that) The Holly and the Spinone, Away in a manger asleep in a crib was a bloody Spinone having evicted the previous occupant!!!! (That’s not really a Carol is it)?
We were crap to be honest and it was during the chorus of Slades 70s hit “So here it is, Merry Christmas” that I realised that the Dearest One had gone out in the Landy somewhere?

She left a note in the kitchen for me “Gone to jump off the cliffs”

I was disgusted at this for two reasons:

1. She would pollute the beach if the tide was out and

2. I thought it was very selfish and ungrateful as I was under strict instructions to enter into the spirit of things – and that’s all the thanks I get!!

I got the sleigh bells out and harnessed two of the Spins together and hitched them to the wheelbarrow. This worked for 3.8 seconds until they tried to go off in different directions!!
I dressed up as Santa Claus and the other Springer humped my leg and Mia growled at me. Unica hid under a vet bed!!!

All in all it was a disaster.

Oh!! Now look who’s turned up? The living dead herself……..the tide was in!!!!

I sat down with the Dearest One and a cup of tea and a biscuit to contemplate my next cunning move to get the Spins to enjoy Christmas. My motives were simple? If I had no choice but to enjoy Christmas then so would they.

Then the Dearest One came up with the ideal plan that would please us all??

After Christmas dinner we will go out for a nice long walk.

“Brilliant” I said, and meant it

“No idiot box and boredom”

“Have another biscuit Dear and I’ll make you another cup of tea, both clearly inspire you”
And so she was – inspired (rare moment admittedly – but it is Christmas)

She went on to explain……..”We get the best of both worlds that way? We get the morning events and lunch over and done with and out in the afternoon to work up an appetite for Christmas dinner”

“Yes Dear, it is truly inspirational”!!

Full of the joys of an early Spring!! I got up the next morning and had a gentle breakfast and a cup of tea. I got on my winter clothes and with the dogs in tow went outside to gather the logs I had cut earlier in the wood. We had had a tree come down in high winds some months previous and I had already limbed it so the wood seasoned ready for the fire.

I skipped merrily up to my workshop and whilst humming a happy tune I prepared my chain saw and tools ready for the day’s work ahead. I piled everything into the back of the Landy and was just ready to drive off across our fields to the wood when suddenly and without warning……..

“And just exactly what do you think you’re doing”? Boomed the furious one

“I’m taking the dogs to the wood with me and giving them a run whilst preparing the logs for the log burner” I said most sternly, in a wimp like fashion!!

“Oh no you’re not, there’s only 12 days to go and WE”VE still to get the last of the gifts”
“and I want Christmas Eve at home, so you can do all that then”

12 days to go and she’s dithering about Christmas Eve…………..

Full of the joys of an early Spring were now reduced to, Full of the down and out in the bleak mid winter – cue for a Carol there I think………..!!!

I got out of the Landy, unloaded the Landy including 3 of the Spins and put all my stuff back in the workshop. I went inside the house, took off my winter clothes and decided to shoot myself instead of going hunting again for the wild woman of Wales (WoW for short) I missed last time and that was depressing enough

“And don’t think you’re going out looking like that either, you look like one of Monty Python’s Lumberjacks” Cue another song – “Oh I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK, I sleep all night and I work all day……” etc etc (yea yea I know, that’s not a Carol either)

And so it passed……..off we went gift hunting – such joy

“I’ll get this for her, that for him, and do you think they will like this? And oohh, that would be good for them”

And so it went on………….and so did the money.

“This is good value at 2 for 1 and buy 2 get the third free”

I tried so hard to explain that these alleged deals were false economy. But I was being un-Christmas like and should shut up. So I did.

My role then consisted of chief bag carrier and agreeing with everything…….another mistake?
If you can imagine a pack mule lumbering around, then that was what I looked and felt like

“Well you can’t agree with everything I say”!!

“But Dearest One it keeps the peace”

But it didn’t and towards the end of the day I felt like I was now the proud owner of two gift shops and a third of a Superstore!!

Back home it was ‘wrap the gift’ time.

I was fired within 5 minutes for making a complete and utter hash of the first gift wrapping. My role was reduced to chief tea maker and getting dinner prepared for the evening (and cooked as it turned out)

It then occurred to me that WE had not bought the dogs any gifts. This to me was sensible as they are gifted enough all year round by virtue of the fact they live with us!!!

Not sure if they see it the other way round though?

The Dearest One while not quite agreeing with my sentiment felt it was a little over the top given we had so many of them. Instead they would get a Christmas dinner and a long walk in the afternoon!!!

When I said we hadn’t enough chairs to go round the table for all of them she then suggested I go back outside to finish what I wanted to start earlier………but she phrased it differently!!!

Then the ultimate and inevitable Christmas comment, I was hoping beyond hope that I would not hear the sentence uttered by the dynamic pixie herself but here in all its glory it was?

“I’ve invited my parents round for Christmas dinner”

Oh God no…….please no.

I dived over to the laptop and immediately started going through every airline website I could think of. There had to be a way out……….

I phoned my boss and asked him to phone me to tell me I had to come back to work due to a critical thing that had fallen off and without me there everything would fall apart.

Nothing had fallen off, all was well and I was to enjoy myself!!!!!

I offered to take a pay cut. He offered me a New Year review for more………

I threatened him with more violence than he could imagine. He said it couldn’t be any worse than having Christmas with his in laws……..

I said I would commit suicide. He said that was fine so long as I didn’t leave a mess……….

I cried. He cried as well, and we went on to share stories of in laws at Christmas.

In the end I had to resign myself that ‘they’ were coming round for Christmas dinner and no matter what, I was to put up and shut up………(unquote)

“There’s a shoot on in the afternoon and I think I might mosey on down and see what isgoing on” I said, whilst wearing Kevlar

“The only moseying you’ll be doing is in the kitchen and making sure they are looked after” replied the armed one

“But Dearest One” “We have to watch black and white films, the Queens speech and the 1971 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special”

It was then during my most depressed moment that a light bulb lit up and I had a reasonably brilliant idea!!!

“I know” I said in a smug like fashion

“We should all take the dogs for a walk after we’ve had Christmas dinner” “Your Mother could take JJ, Your Dad two of the girls and us the rest”

“What do you think”?

There was a moment of silence…………

Then there wasn’t……….

“So let me understand you clearly” “Dinner, Dogs, Parents, Walk”

“JJ would drag my mother off over the hills and into the distance, the two girls would go after him dragging my Dad along (probably prostrate on the floor) leaving us to do what exactly”?

Whilst it was a brilliant idea at the time I said it, the following was not

“We could call the ambulance and claim the dogs were spooked and it was all a terrible error of judgment”

“The Police wouldn’t get involved as they would be recovering from their Christmas party, and it would look like just another Christmas tale of woe”

I woke up with the dogs all around me and nursing a golf ball sized lump on the side of my head.

It was then I noticed the paramedic.
“Your head will be alright sir, but we have to take you to A & E to have the Christmas tree removed” “We knew where you were sir because you were flashing away in reds and blues and yellows” “We’ve cut the power to the fairy lights so at least it’s safe now”

I finally sat down 3 days later on a feather pillow…and you know what. I reckon even the bloody dogs were giggling at me.

And so it came to pass. The in laws were invited. I was to be a good boy and the Dearest One told me that after Christmas dinner we would leave them to doze off for the afternoon whilst we went to the beach with the dogs………

“If you weren’t so keen to ruin our Christmas and had just kept quiet for 2 minutes I was going to tell that to you, but oh no, not you. Had to go on and on about it” “Serves you right”

There was of course one little event that I had not allowed for?

Carol singers!!!

Now we live out in the wilds and we are by any standards what you might call – remote. So how the hell these people find us is beyond my simple logic. But find us they do and it causes utter chaos. There is no other description for it………..

You see (sensitive moment – parental guidance advised) we have in a town not too far from us a sort of, well they’re – mmm, now how can I put this? Well they’re from a religious er……..they have their Deity and tend to go out and about and try to leave you (us) with a book I can’t quite get into…I think it’s called Lookout Tower, or is it, Black Tower (no forget that, that’s a wine)

Or was it Bay Watch?

Anyway, every now and again they come to the gate that leads up to the house. Hear the dogs and stay at the gate!!!

This was their Christmas walkabout – but as they don’t celebrate Christmas I figured it was just bad timing or pure coincidence!! Who knows………..

But of course they have by now attracted our attention and so we go down (with the dogs) to see who the odd people are that want to be friends with us, and lets be fair they are friendly, they offer us one of their books, offer us a life of sheer bliss (now that interested me, but did they have a Dearest One lurking somewhere) and if we came to see them in their jolly nice Deity head office (can’t remember what they called it, although I thought he said “a place of warships”)
And I thought, “That’s odd, we’re nowhere near Portsmouth”

Dogs are very very very alert creatures and can sense the minutest of temperaments and moods and by now our ‘flock’ had this pair well sorted!!! The dogs knew well enough what they were dealing with?

Friendly enough “Oh bless what lovely dogs and so lively as well”!!!!

Of course they were bloody lively, you’ve come onto their territory and you represent a clear and present danger to them. Or so they think………but what is it I wonder, that a dog senses that we don’t??

And anyway, these ‘nice’ people had no treats for them, so after about 23 seconds the dogs just cleared off to run around the place – with a ‘we’re still here’ kind of bark.

For the next 20 minutes or so the dogs exercised themselves to a near state of collapse. The barking you could hear across the other side the valley (The farmer over there told us that a few days later when he said “Oh, so I heard the dogs…..you must have had those ‘odd people’ around”.

“I had just come back from a rough shoot, they soon went away”!!

Now there’s an idea? I could get the gun out…….it was us or them, we were in fear of our lives from utter boredom and unlike the dogs who were close to collapse from over barking and running around, we were close to collapse from being talked to death (Although the woman said that would be OK as we would be saved)?
It was definitely the gun after that comment…………

The Dearest One in all her glory gave up and sauntered away back up to the house leaving me there to fashion a statement that was the equivalent to “go away, you’re upsetting the dogs” “ and they’re so sensitive to weirdo’s – er…sorry strangers”

I finally found the words I was looking for and off they went. And and and………I didn’t have to give them any money…..what a bonus.

And off they went. Alive (just)

I’ve lost the plot again haven’t I?

So what the hell has that to do with the Carol singers I hear you ask?

Because a couple of Christmas’s ago we had some………and that did cost me money!! BUT…

The dogs barked………until the singers started their harmonies and a rendition of a well known Carol. The dogs were calm, went on sniffabout and generally came down to look, sniff and then went away in a sort of inquisitive kind of way???

But not for long?

The dogs came back again

JJ and Duncan were wearing nice two tone boys choral outfits in black and white, the 5 girls came back down in rather fetching long white gowns with splendid floral patterns stitched into the fabrics. The mix was quite enchanting and when the girls lined up behind the two boys at the front I was taken aback at the sight as they prepared themselves……..

It was so lovely, there we were, watching the local church choir now trying so hard to out sing the Awelymor choir. It was a sort of Christmas X Factor and with the church choir really giving it the tunes by now and the dogs harmonising howls we were in for a real competitive treat!!!

Sharon Dearest One Osborne and Simon Banker Cowell were both smiling and you could see they were visibly moved by the renditions of both choirs. This was not going to be an easy decision.

The decision

Sharon sorry, The Dearest One and I debated for a minute or two, occasionally disagreeing with the timing of the harmonies, but whilst the dogs were slightly out of tune now and again!! We felt overall that the church choir had just marginally taken first place. It really was that close.
The other reason we decided to award the church choir the top spot was that the ailing vicar was gasping for air and needed oxygen, the two old dears at the front had collapsed of exhaustion and two of the children had lost their voices. Other than that it was a fair decision

We were very moved, not in a bowel movement kind of way you understand, that was probably the look on our faces that may have made it look that way, but more of a pay them and put them out of their misery……..I had to give them quite a lot of money as well because it was clear they were never going to make it round the valley after that.

The dogs wearing defeat badly sauntered with us back up to the house, and to lift the mood we gave them well deserved treats and some chews. We made them feel that to us they were always the winners. Well what else could we do after they put themselves out to get all dressed up like that.

After the treats the seven of them got out of their outfits and spent the rest of the night tearing them to shreds………we came down the following morning to one hell of a mess. Bad losers I guess!!

Anyway, enough of that. I’m off now to see my therapist again as for the second time in these notes I’ve misplaced the plot again…..

Now where was I?

Oh Yes, the odd couple and the carol singers and the effect each had on the dogs

I wondered about that as well? I know what you’re thinking?

There is a moral to this but I’m loathe to write it………you just never know who’s watching from the tower?

Alrighty then, let’s get back to this Christmas thingy

I shall begin…………now I don’t drink, but if you’ve followed the Italy trips in my notes (by the way, have the Germans bought Italy now? I’m told it was a bargain buy…… Not sure how it all turned out with them going bump and the Euro thingy) oh yea – sorry……….

The Dearest one does drink – wine.

Anyway – after this I will have probably succumbed as well…..!!!!!

The Bankers Christmas recipe for total success on the day!!

Cooking Christmas Dinner - 4 adults and 10 dogs!! Some handy tips for you from The Banker!!

Ingredients:

1 x Mother in law (Do not confuse with the Turkey)
1 x 58 kg Turkey
1 x sack of Potatoes
1 x Carrot
1 x Turnip
1 x Swede (The root crop)!!
1 x Brussell Sprout (Just in case somebody wants it)
7 x boxes of Sage & Onion stuffing
1x 10 kg lump of Beef
1 x 15 kg sack of dried dog biscuits (Saves on preparing two lots of dinners) – clever eh……
27 x mini sausages wrapped in 27 rashers of bacon
42 litres of Gravy
1 x 5 litre jar of mint sauce (The Dearest One puts mint sauce on EVERYTHING!! corn flakes, toast, chocolate, bacon and egg, soup – everything except Lamb)!!! Told you she was odd!!!

5 Bottles of wine……
1 Bottle of Whisky?
1 Can of a Beer?

Method:

Use the Mother in law to cook the above noting the following:

a) Stuff the Turkey – remembering not to get confused
b) Start cooking the Turkey on the 23rd – see above
c) If the Swede screams – you’ve got the wrong one
d) Isolate the Brussels sprout – if they want it, they’ll find it
e) If you have a Dearest One – hide the Mint Sauce. That’s a great Christmas game


The Alcohol

Sip the wine whilst cooking – you’ll soon get the idea, I did a couple of years ago and missed the dinner after passing out having consumed 2 bottles……..and I don’t drink!!!!!! (Isn’t it funny how I’m reminded of that little incidence every year)!!!

The bottle of Whisky – give this to the Father in Law and he will miss dinner as well

The Can of beer – share equally among the dog bowls!!!

Lay the table remembering to put the dog bowls out as well, and our table now has to seat 14!!
DO NOT give the dogs Christmas crackers – the last time we did this 4 of them thought they were on a shoot and they went and retrieved a cushion off the couch, a toy from their basket, the mother in laws slippers and Savanna bought back a log from the log basket.

Ironically, if last year was anything to go by, the Father in law loved the crunchy bits in the gravy. We have had to be very careful about what we said was in it………..”Oh you shimply musht give ush the reshipe for that gravity, it wash shuperb” – he didn’t mish the dinner but it was closhe

And that’s it really……………easy!!!!

Well, for us we’ll eat, drink and be merry and generally have a great time and enjoy the season of good will

The dogs will be very well fed and exercised – as we both will be

We don’t waste our time watching the TV, preferring to annoy the locals and share a cake and a little sip of something to take away the winter chill – or they come round and annoy us…..either way we have a laugh

The build up to Christmas nowadays is made up of several carefully orchestrated moves. We all have our own methodologies. Our Christmas will be similar to the previous ones – fun!!!

Despite everything I love the time at home and it’s the one time of the year when we really have nothing planned and generally have a lovely relaxing time (Well that’s what I’m told to have)

OK - that’s it then for this year, and from The Dearest One, me and the Spins, The Viz, The Springers, our mad parrot, The farm cats et al………..

We hope you have a Truly Wonderful Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

We’ll see you around at the shows and other events, and of course, there’ll be more from me in 2012 and beyond!!!

Take good care and enjoy…………..

 

 

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