Thurs 1st Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -8: New Year
Jane is up early and off to Louth for her Slimming World group.
After breakfast, I start to get the place ready for my 60th birthday celebrations on Saturday. First up is the hoovering, followed by the mopping of the tiles in the hall, conservatory and kitchen. I find that I am hopping much of the time and then groaning as a sudden spasm makes my leg give way. The consultant said that this was only to be expected as my joint is no longer protected by cartilage. In other words, it’s just bone-on-bone.
When Jane gets back, we extend and move the table in the conservatory as well as fetching the four metal chairs from the summer house.
It is at this point that I develop diarrhoea and suffer from excessive wind.
Much of the afternoon is spent on the loo, reading Perfect.
I feel a little better in the evening. Watch Christmas University Challenge with the graduates of Lady Margaret Hall taking on the graduates of Hull University. After that, it’s Match of the Day. Man U are dire in their 1-1 draw with Stoke (Falcao scores). Biggest upset of the day is Spurs’ thrashing of Chelsea, 5-3.
Fri 2nd Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -7:
I still have an unsettled stomach. The morning is spent trailing around Louth, helping Jane distribute her Slimming World magazines and posters to shops and businesses, mainly hairdressing salons. We reward ourselves at lunch time with a trip to Mr. Chips. I am careful and only have the small (Senior Citizen) portion. Jane, ever healthy, has poached salmon and new potatoes.
In the afternoon, we do a birthday shop at the big Tesco in Cleethorpes.
When we get home, Jane goes to Lynn and Phil’s to borrow some plates. Unfortunately, the postman arrives when she is still out and I am on the loo. He rings the door-bell continuously. In the end I have to shout that I am otherwise engaged. He calls out that he will ‘leave the parcel and letters by the back door then’.
I have to calm down with a glass of sherry but this immediately gives me a painful stomach.
Late afternoon sees the arrival of Senior Daughter, Alice, (29 in March), Son-in-Law, Matthew, (30 in March) and Athena, our grand-daughter (2 in February) for a chilli con carne tea. Athena is not eating but manages to fill her nappy which she squashes with bumps down the stairs.
I spend a lot of the evening on the loo while Matthew prepares for tomorrow in the kitchen. Athena gets very cross with me and bangs on the loo door.
Early bed, missing a programme on Rik Mayall called Lord of Misrule.
Sat 3rd Jan 2015: Hip Op Day -6:
My 60th birthday.
Minor injuries are sustained in bed when Athena is brought to us. She wakes me up with repeated bangs to my head with a Massey Ferguson tractor (‘tak-tar’).
Despite a gurgling stomach, I eat my Weetabix followed by scrambled egg while opening my cards. One is of Cromer beach from Rick in Norfolk (we started school together in January 1960), another of Ludlow in the mist from Jane, the rest an assortment of cats, even the one from Athena. On the front there is a black and white cat, like our Walter, wishing he could impersonate a peanut.
After breakfast, I open some marvellous presents. From Junior Daughter, Hannah, (26 in May) and her boyfriend, Tall J (Jake, 29 today) I get a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (the vomit ones really are disgusting) plus The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry.
Alice presents her chef husband, Matt, as her present.
From Jane I receive a disco glitter ball and a record player (!) which leads to an immediate dash for the garage to unearth a handful of L.P.s to try out. The first track I play is ‘While You See a Chance’ from Steve Winwood’s 1980 LP, Arc of a Diver, followed by ‘Matty Groves’ from Fairport Convention’s 1969 LP, Liege and Lief, and finally, ‘Good Times Roll’ from the Cars’ 1978 LP, The Cars. Athena tries to throw small silver baubles at the turntable but is dragged away by Jane ‘to help’ with the setting up of the long table in the conservatory for tonight’s celebratory dinner (for Jane, me and 10 friends).
Jane tells me, reassuringly, that her floral display which runs down the spine of the table reminds her of the top of a coffin.
In the afternoon, I leave early to fetch Alice’s reading glasses and jumpers from her house in Lincoln before carrying on to Newark to pick up Hannah and her boyfriend, Tall J. While I wait for them in the car, I listen to the radio and am fascinated by the gurgles in my stomach keeping time to Ollie Murs’ track, ‘Heart Skips A Beat’. Unfortunately, this soon develops into a squeezing gripe.
When Hannah finally arrives, she looks like Marianne Faithful in her floppy hat and Tall J looks like her manager.
Home to swift alcohol consumption - whisky mac x 2 – to keep gripe at bay.
After tea, I light the fire in the sitting room and inspect the conservatory. In the kitchen, Matt moves so fast that he actually slides from oven to oven and from oven to hob. Alice, Hannah and Tall J are all dressed in staff uniform, ready to receive the guests.
The evening is wonderful and the meal a triumph. Matt is showered with praise. Here is the menu:
Mackerel Pâté with Fennel and Apple Salad and Toasted Sourdough
Roast Duck Breast with Spinach, Pine Nuts and Butternut Squash Veloute
Warm Date and Brown Sugar Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
Coffee and Truffles
I also receive some wonderful presents. Three of the couples buy me a gift voucher for Murdock’s of London (wet shave, facial massage etc.) while the other two buy me a ticket to accompany them to see a production of Othello at Stratford in June (the one with a black Iago).
We end the evening with coffee and whisky in the kitchen and/or dancing in the television room with atmospheric glitter ball. Unfortunately, I still have a volcanic tummy and keep having to use the bathroom upstairs.
When the guests finally go, our staff does the clearing up. What a treat. We discover that we have consumed 6 bottles of prosecco, 6 red, 6 white, 2 bottles of pudding wine, a decanter of whisky and a decanter of raspberry vodka.
I fall asleep on the steps into the sitting room, listening to the family discuss the evening’s events. I am eventually led upstairs to bed by Hannah.