Mums’ Rules

Oooooh, the excitement! John Lewis has offered me a £25 voucher in exchange for my top tips on a perfect family Christmas! I am touched that anyone would think for a second that I, the homewrecker of Herne Hill, would have the least clue about creating family harmony – and particularly John Lewis, surely the most sensible and practical of stores. It is quite a pat on the back. I’m very touched. And I could really do with a £25 voucher. Well, single mother, Christmas – you do the maths.

Now I just have to think of some tips or, as they call them, ‘Mums’ rules.’ Errrrm …..well, I think my absolutely tippermost of tips is:

1. Dump the sprouts. If ever a vegetable was pure evil, it is the sprout. They are hell to peel, they smell vile when you cook them, and they taste even worse when you eat them. Don’t do it! Stick with broccoli. You know where you are with broccoli.

Next up is:

2. Get divorced. This means half as many relatives to bicker with on the day, half as many presents to buy, half as many insincere Christmas cards to write, half as many thank you letters to get through….go on, you know you want to! And if you don’t now, you certainly will want to get divorced after spending Christmas day with your spouse’s nearest and dearest.

But my proper rules are as follows:

3. As I cook the Christmas lunch, I get to choose the post-prandial film that everyone slumps in front of. It’s only fair. Of course, I do choose one my daughters would like …because luckily their tastes are the same as mine!

4. Some sort of exercise has to be taken after eating lunch, and preferably before settling down to the snooze film. I don’t mind if it’s just a quick run in the garden, but it should, preferably, be a walk to the park. Christmas Day is often a lovely, crispy December day and it’s great to be out and about, saying hello to everyone you meet (possibly the only day of the year you can do this in South London).

5. I insist that presents are opened with a piece of paper and pen to hand, so that we can write down who gave what. It can be hell, days later, trying to reconstruct which aunt gave which T shirt to which girl.

6. Cracker hats must be worn at the lunch table, but can be removed for the walk/film!

That’s all made me feel really Christmassy. Can’t wait!

While I’m zooming around tidying things up, there are a few other things I should mention.

1. The very lovely Telegraph Online Bookclub is still pootling on its merry way, following the circumlocutions of Freddie de la Hay, the Dog Who Came In From The Cold, by Alexander McCall Smith. I must say my weekly dose of five chapters does give me huge solace. I can curl up with this and, at once, be far away from the world of packed lunches, squabbles and concert rehearsals which, at the moment, seems to be my daily lot. The Bookclub has also asked, amazingly enough, for people to suggest their own plot twists. Frankly, I don’t think that the wonderful AMS needs the help – the book seems to meander along pleasingly without any troubles at all. But, if you think that Berthea should get back together with Oedipus Snark (please, no!) or that William should marry any of the females who, implausibly enough, seem convinced that he is suitable husband material, then here’s your chance to make some suggestions!

2. Those adorable people who made the Griffin Air Curve, the brilliant wire-free ear trumpet which amplifies my iPhone and is beautiful as a piece of modern art, have sent me another of their wares – MyPhones. These cunning little contraptions have a built-in volume limiter so that your little ones cannot possibly hurt their tender eardrums, no matter how hard they try to turn up the volume on ACDC. Best of all, they can decorate the headphone discs themselves! A truly great invention – these Griffin people really are clever. You can plug them into any old thing – MP3 player, CD player, etc etc. They’ve given me a set, but my girls are really too old – does anyone want them? Just let me know via my email and I’ll send them along. Only one set so first come, first served.

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