The Holland family are back to full strength over Christmas with Tom and Harry back from the States and Sam back from Gleneagles. And due to various circumstances, all back to their parents’ house. The Old Folks Home as they might call it.
Like an old school Christmas then and great fun but for the family life glitches that quickly present themselves and my age and dinosaur credentials are laid bare.
The most apparent change to our household is just how much the doorbell rings. A doorbell ringing used to be a time of excitement. Who can that be?
Not any longer.
Our house is like a hub address for deliveries – and mostly it seems with food, even though we do have a kitchen and one which is fully stocked.
“Who wants a sandwich?” Harry might ask, reaching for his phone.
“What are you doing. We have bread.” I protest. “And ham. Cheese…”
“Yeah, but do we have cray fish and rocket?”
As humans we are programmed to lament technology and so-called progress – and at the risk of playing to this stereotype, let me firmly state that food delivery apps are not progress. They are not a force for good. Deliveroo with their margins of up to 40% closed down my local Chinese takeaway – and the idea of zombie kitchens in industrial estates cooking our ‘favourite’ restaurants food doesn’t strike me as great places to work. Nor being the bloke freezing his ass off on a bicycle with a picnic hamper strapped to his back.
McDonalds now delivering food feels particularly wrong to me – fast food even more convenient with their irksome radio ads complete with smug whistling sign off. The Drive-Through always struck me as lazy and anti-human by cutting out interacting with other humans. Not to mention the short stroll from the car and having to push open a door which at least requires some energy and might create some room for the calorific disaster that is the Big Mac.
And now these burgers come to our homes complete with the mountain of paper and card packaging that I am charged with disposing of.
Clothing of youngsters is equally irksome. Basically, hoodies – sweat shirts in my day. Leisurewear. Trousers and tops all made from the same type of material. A dense and heavy cotton with a velour interior. No doubt, very comfortable until laundering is factored in. Environmentally aware, I enjoy the notion of air drying clothes wherever possible. We even have a ceiling drying rack to take advantage of warm air rising. But a standard ‘youff’ hoodie takes about two weeks to dry using this method and our tumble dryer can only handle so many items. And so my boys have converted my house in to an obstacle course of damp velour.
Just getting to the front door in time has become a challenge and perhaps I shouldn’t bother because it is bound to be some bloke in a crash helmet holding up a paper bag or box of future ill-health.
Sports are a problem with masses of football matches being watched on TV channels I don’t subscribe to. Secretly I hope they’ve accessed these illegally but I fear my next next direct debit to my provider and the likelihood of me ever being able to cancel this provision. Accessed with a click but cancelled only via a two hour phone call to Mumbai.
Golf clubs are also a problem. I keep mine at the side of the house but with the very cold weather, the boys have struck on the idea of bringing theirs inside – kinder on the hands if the shafts are not cold and more likely to play well. Reasonable logic, but surely even poor shots will be impossible if the owner of the congested house finally snaps and does the same to their clubs.
Slippers have been in very short supply. I have written in Takes on Life about my need to coat my feet in wool – and because our dog, Tessa loves a slipper as much as me, I need to run at least three pairs at any one time. Sufficient for me but woefully inadequate with a full house. It is well worth getting up early to lay claim to a pair and then not venturing out all day – and whilst others are still slumbering, also to take advantage worth of chargers and re-charging opportunities.
Nikki is lucky in this regard. Her slippers are too small to be of any interest to anyone else, so she only has Tessa to be mindful of. But her charging requirements surpass everyone in the house.
Of a certain age now – and dare-I-say-it – mid-change, her sleep is under assault, such that she now takes various men to bed with her each night. Podcasts I mean and lots of them. Getting in to bed has become a military operation. Phone and Air pods, on-hand, CHECK. All fully charged, CHECK…
TV’s and entire rooms commandeered and designated for exclusive gaming. Milk and tea bags running low. Our porch has more shoes than the entrance to a bouncy castle. Beer bottles poke out of places where they shouldn’t and our broadband appears not to be broad enough…
But hey ho – family life, right?.
And very soon, our boys are about to leave again. Three of them anyway.
And I can watch what I want and where. I won’t panic opening the fridge. Things will be less frenetic. The doorbell will cease and I will never have cold feet again, nor stub a toe on a golf bag.
But quickly I will miss them again. I will ask if they have called and I will wonder if they are okay…
And other things will continue on as per… like Nikki ignoring me because she has her ears in and is listening to another pod cast.
Whether it is 2020 or 2021, as I say, just family life continued…
Happy 2021 to all my readers. Wherever you are in the world, best wishes for the year ahead. This blog runs every Sunday, although for the first time in thirty years, I set out effectively unemployed – and so this blog will depend on having something worthwhile to write about. Let’s see…