We’ve been working so hard recently that I think I’m beginning to lose touch. Pointing the jalopy’s nose homeward this evening, I was surprised to see a Christmas tree strung with lights in Saffron Walden High Street. Why not? It’s December after all.
Danny emailed me his Christmas list two weeks ago and I asked him if it was still relevant this morning at breakfast. His response was typical of our fast moving world,
‘I’m not bothered about the main present (a filter coffee machine). But the rest stand (socks).’
Socks are easy; TKMaxx has super socks at rock bottom prices. Last year he pulled on a pair that Santa Claus had indulgently added to his stocking, ‘These feel great,’ he chortled and the chuckles continued after the first wash. This is the acid test for socks. I discovered this having met a man with a penchant for buying five pairs of socks with the change from a pint.
If I start early, it’s easy to please Danny. He loves those giant bars of Toblerone and Galaxy that Tesco sells to desperate stocking filling automatons like me. And large boxes of chocolates always go down well, generally silently scoffed in a single sitting. But finding him a decent present is hard and requires more than a waft of the old flexible friend. The problem is that he doesn’t want Things.
I suspect that Danny wants what most of us crave. A day out to remember. It might run like this:
Magically slim, he’d wake to a hearty fry up (now prescribed by his doctor) and dress in clothes that had been pressed and hung up the night before (by his old bank manager who has fallen on hard times and is now temping as a valet). He would steal half an hour with the Sports pages of several newspapers (delivered). Sipping an espresso he would sample a casket of exquisite chocolates (flown in from Belgium that morning) happily passing the time until I returned from the Mercedes garage. I’d won the elegant sports car by guessing the name of a small felt race horse at the champagne charity do the night before (Danny’s Pet).
I would not be wearing my wellies but a classic slinky dress that I’d found in the back of the wardrobe that morning. He’d play with the on-board sat nav as I chauffeured us to a gorgeous, invitation-only, restaurant (four Michelin stars).
On a large sofa beside a roaring fire, he’d pour himself a decent slug of Bushmills and watch his favourite dog, The Contessa, settle in front of the fire on a small pink cashmere rug. We would be ushered into a comfortable dining room, with well spaced tables and enjoy a wonderful meal. Many exquisite courses served with spectacular wine by calm happy staff.
The chef would be desperate to hear his opinion on everything and refuse to let him pay for the meal. Leaving an enormous tip, he’d be driven home by me. The Contessa on his lap. Confident that any stray red dog hairs will be removed by the diligent valet, who is cleaning the cottage, anticipating our return. Snoozing on the way back he’d wake refreshed and delighted to find that a couple of his dearest friends had dropped by to give him two first class return tickets to Dublin that they were unable to use.
I wonder if he’d settle for a trip to Aldeburgh. We could get take away fish and chips from that excellent place at the end of the High Street and eat them on the beach, with the gulls wheeling and crying overhead.
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