The steady flow of lovely Swedes landing on these shores is showing no sign of easing up. Over the past month we’ve had my father and my youngest brother here, then my sister last weekend, and today my mother arrives with her two sisters and a friend. It’s my youngest aunt’s 50th, so they’re having a girls’ weekend in London to celebrate. Because I live here, I have been tasked with booking a taxi for them, providing a weather forecast so they’ll know what to pack, and booking somewhere for dinner Monday night.
Birthday girl auntie said they’d like to come out to Chiswick (which is where I live), which is great, but I have asked and asked again if they really want to. OK, so Chiswick is, in my opinion, London’s crown jewel: a quiet, leafy and clean pocket of west London, right on the river and so quaint with its independent boutiques, bars and cafes. All the king’s horses couldn’t chase me away from here. But it’s not the sort of area you’d go to unless you live here, I don’t think. It’s not Notting Hill (with its famous Portobello Road market) or Covent Garden (with its piazza and street performers). It is, however, littered with great restaurants, a handful boasting Michelin stars.
B and I are going to Annie’s this evening, our favourite restaurant and where we went on our second date. It’s cosy, lovely and quirky, and the food is amazing, along with an impressive wine list. It’s right down by Strand on the Green near the river, and its faithful clientele made up by mostly local residents and those who have come upon it by word of mouth. It’s unique – that’s probably the best way to sum it up. So I have suggested that for mum and the laydees. If they want to head out to Chiswick, I reckon it’ll be better to give them an experience they’ll remember than some Michelin starred miniscule portions someplace you’ll need to take out a mortgage to settle the tab.
We shall see.
Mum’s staying with the others in town. I would much have preferred, obviously, to have her here with us, but it’s my auntie’s weekend, not mine, so I will have to make do with whatever mum-time we get. And I’ll see plenty of her over Christmas anyway, when we’ll be in Sweden for almost two weeks. Preparations are in full swing and last night dad rang to check what we’re doing in terms of presents. His gift is always money – either cash or bank statements showing what he’s invested in for us. B is now firmly a member of the clan, so the amount set aside for me has now doubled to include him too. I explained that if they decide to heap gifts on B, he’ll in return feel he should bring presents for everyone too (as anyone would – being given gifts and not giving anything back wouldn’t sit easy with me either), but my dad boomed NOOOOOOO. B’s one of the little’uns, he explained. I explained we’re adults, and B is not a little’un at the age of 48. Dad wouldn’t hear it. Oh well, we’ll probably bring him a nice bottle of whiskey as usual – whiskey normally relaxes any resistance in my dad, the solution to many, many things.
I’m starting to stress out a bit about Christmas presents for B, as it happens. With a conspiratory (and slightly smug) smile, B told me last week he’s already planning my gifts. I smiled back and tried my best to hide the panic that immediately started to rise inside me. Over the past year and a half I’m pretty confident that the presents I’ve got for B have been pretty damn great, but so many have been ticked off that I’m now up against feeling I need to top what’s been before, and that’s no easy feat – what could possibly eclipse our word cloud or the book containing all our text messages from our first year together? Damn, I need to pull out all the stops here….
Clothes? No. Boring. Perhaps something as a stocking filler, but not as a main event. Jewellery doesn’t work for a man (or at least not B, who’s not into wearing necklaces or anything like that – besides, I’m not keen on male jewellery anyway), so that’s not even worth considering. I once got him Vivienne Westwood cufflinks, so that route I’ve already gone down. A tie pin? No, boring.
Time to get thinking. B’s been ever so good, so whatever Santa brings needs to be spectacular.