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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Er, Thanks Very Much

Certain presents are fated just to Do The Rounds, their life spent being wrapped, unwrapped, witness to a false smile, shoved in a drawer, grabbed at in desperation, re-wrapped, off-loaded. Phew.

I’m talking here of:
jewellery rolls (we all have several, the churl advises: we don’t need another, be they everso beautiful)
scented candles in whacky flavours
ditto soaps reeking fit to freak the kiddies
amusing socks in a fridge-shaped tin
necklaces – have none of my friends noticed I’m blighted by a metal allergy?

(However, let it be said that bizarre items – flat, light, soft – therefore with the tempting property of being easy to post are excused. They fall foul of no rule, needing zilch further function beyond the practical.)

It’s the receiving of odd presents which truly exposes the inner ingrate lurking within my otherwise fully-rounded Friend To All persona. In fact, it runs around naked, screaming and also means that I have a drawerful of weirdo objects, where candles jostle with necklaces, the lot rubbing shoulders with earrings I can’t wear and all smelling of mango.
And come my birthday, with a sullen flick of the wrist and spoilt toss of my curls, I chuck a whole shed load more in, ready to be handed on down the line to someone else as and when. Naturally, I gush charmingly, fling my arms round necks and am smiley in thanks. What do you think I am? Horrid? No, merely 2-faced.
Go on … we all do it.

And the same applies to boxes of chocolate brought by friends over to supper. Just the one box gets eaten that night so you are left with two or three more which, not being blessed with a particularly active chocolate gene (although I can do swift and permanent damage to a bag of decent fudge), it seems odd to sit on the sofas of a Tuesday, say, and eat à deux. Or maybe I presume. You might be a truly professional porker.

But these swishy boxes do need company, to be among flushed faces, and to be passed around, peered into without much in the way of hope, and plucked from dutifully.

Recently, an extremely odd box of chocolates made its way into the house. I was able, with the cunning waste of half an hour, to work out which of my friends had left it and she is not a natural purchaser of such stuff. Her face is quite well-scrubbed and her demeanour no-nonsense. My suspicions were raised, moreover, by it not having been handed over with any sense of obvious transference of ownership, no fanfare which, given that it was well within the sell-by date, and flash-looking, would seem that something was afoot.
Being a past master, I was quick to spot the Passing On of a Dud at play.

It was a silvery box possibly hailing from France, by one Anthony Berg, containing individually wrapped discs of dark chocolate. Encouraging a brief surge of hope, was the word “marzipan,” a beacon in an otherwise confusing explanation, but also was there the phrase Muscat grape jelly: hmmm, bad, surely? Jelly?? Not unlike tea-flavoured chocolate, or carrot and radish chocolate. Quite the wrong meeting of parts. I shuddered. Greed squashed by reality.

My heart felt heavy about these chocolates. They were clearly deeply disgusting but there again pretty expensive going by the flourishy writing. Having an empty little life, this is the sort of thing I fret about. The snob in me suffered a swift fisticuffs courtesy of the parsimonious in me.
I was ashamed of them.
And mean.
They had to be eaten.
They had to go.
Dinner party on Saturday.
Feck it. Perfect.

So we turned up, the basket bulging with Mr Berg’s creation, 2 bottles of wine (one decent and showily presented, one a dodgy Chardonnay on serious off-load), and a present for one of our number. Ahem, being temporarily shy a jewellery roll I was proffering the third book in a 3-4-2 when a book is bought not with wisdom but the desire to cash in on an offer. It was wrapped truly beautifully.

Chatting with the magician’s art of feint and bluff, I slid our bottles onto the table, and the box of chocs, which were immediately noticed.
“Top chocs, Milla,” S boomed with pantomime conviction.
“Oh, well, not sure what they’re like, probably disgusting,” I muttered, embarrassed, but sufficiently sussed to prepare the ground for later disappointment and disassociation.

The evening passed in the predictable blur of jollity and alcohol until coffee time when S bustled back, spoiling things by waving a familiar box in the air, the silver flashing ostentatiously amid candle light.
Fiddlesticks. Bastard things stalking me.

“Thanks, Milla, darling!” she cooed at maximum volume.
Cow.
Did the room hush? I fear it might have done.
Really, she must have had these before AND hates me, I thought, hunched like my avatar, and cringing while still alive to a certain flicker of relief that at least the chocs had reached the end of their road. No more busy drawer work for them, I was shot of the brutes.

Paws dipped into the box, there was bemused and noisy merriment at the pantypad/ladywipe nature of the individual wrapping, drawing more and more unnecessary attention to the chocolates. And then there was endless chomping. I frowned. The script was deviating. Fearful of missing out, I took one too and popped it in my pocket, sat on it all the way home and encountered it next morning, cracked and crumpled.
I slid it in my mouth.
And really rather delicious it was.
I sensed an immediate involuntary gnashing of the teeth at my failure to take full credit for these beauteous beasts, kings of chocolate, and a greater rage at not having snarfed several more the night before.

My only worry is now that I will have to reassess, on a serious basis, jewellery rolls, soaps and strange necklaces.

46 comments:

mountainear said...

How true! I think there are professional raffle prizes too.

A wonderful, enjoyable blog.

Edward said...

The chocolates were fab, darling. I had two. As you know, the chocolate gene runs in the Spear side rather than the Distaff. Glad you ditched that filthy chardonnay, though.

Top blog as usual.

Preseli Mags said...

As soon as you described the box I started salivating (but, then again, I am a truly professional porker). Those Anthony Berg marzipan things are YUMMY! How could you give them away? I'll trade you some fudge for those any day... or perhaps one of the candles I have stacked in a cupboard. Brilliantly funny blog, as ever.

Faith said...

So funny as always and very perceptive. I feel sorry for those mango scented jewellery rolls.... always passed on, never wanted.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Ah had you the eat all chocolate gene this would not have happened . . . you would never ever ever ever pass on chocolate . . to me it is a bit like freezing left over wine . . .left over wine? Helloooooo!!!!!!!!

Fennie said...

A wonderful, wonderful piece, with much truth, though I suspect embellished for enjoyment. Anyway I laughed twice out loud, which for an old curmudgeon like me, must mean you are hitting most of the right notes.

I agree with you about the fudge!

Zoë said...

That made me laugh, and so much more inventive than me at recycling all my unwanted gifts. Mine have all ended up at either my Parents Bowls club jumble sales/tombola, or the Odiham Cottage Hospital Charity Shop( if the unwanted item was a family gift). I am definitely missing a trick!

DevonLife said...

Have you no shame woman, I bought you an olive and pine scented candle for Christmas with matching jewellry roll and oyster card holder. Are you telling me you shunted 'em on. Am still chortling about your treatment of slugs btw. Cut em, snip em, chuck em, seek em.

Frances said...

Ah Milla, you made the dinner guests happy, and now have made us happy, too.

Now, continuing the campaign to have you bring happiness to an even wider circle, please do take a look at the petition with your name on it, that is circulating over in the common room.

xo

Kathleen said...

Expect a painted clay ashtray with matching earrings and cheap Peruvian champagne from me at Christmas.

elizabethm said...

You gave them away? Madness, though good move on the Chardonnay.
My pet groan present is aromatherapy oils. Don't know what to do with them and now I have no children in primary school can't donate them to anything. I should start goint to church I suppose.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

We had disgusting ones given to us by visitng friends they were dyed stange colours and contained vile liqour of bizzarre nature such as fig and passionfruit...yucky yucky buck!!I got so fed up with nasty giftees I persuaded siblings that now we were all such old crones we should stop bihrtday gifts however we still manange to get landed with unloved and unwanted ruddy Ikea aprons from SIL each year!!!

Sally's Chateau said...

Rushes over to chatroom with glass of chardonnay and mouth full of chocolate .....

KittyB said...

Perhaps it was you who came to my housewarming and left a box of assorted fruity schnapps in little light-bulb shaped bottles, printed with an engineering company logo. Am still puzzled.

The Country Craft Angel said...

Fantastic blog!

And SO true!

xx

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh goodness - I am having one of those 'moments' when I suddenly realise everyone is privy to a universal truth except me. Although not much of a fan of jewellery rolls, I love anything smelly - candles, aromatherapy oils, bubbly things to pop in the bath... Also chocolates in any form however dodgy. Am also, I suspect, a bit of a porker.

Drat - my secret is out. However, everyone, do bung your dodgy presents this way where they will be thoroughly appreciated. Except perhaps for the jewellery rolls.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

never mind laughing out loud ...howling well in Shropshire

bodran... said...

That was so funny xx

lampworkbeader said...

Brilliant blog Milla, as enjoyable and sharp as ever.

Blossomcottage said...

All that have gone before me have said it all.
Its high time Mrs you printed the whole bally lots off and sent a copy of everything to everyone who puts printers ink to newspaper cheap and expensive. there is someone out there who will grab your hand off...........if of course thats what you want to do with these masterpieces.
Blossom

Expatmum said...

I never quite know what to do with candles. Well, obviously I do, but who burns candles with two idiot boys running rampage around the place?

palomino said...

And I thought it was only I who had a top-of-the-wardrobe full of assorted notepapers, bath sets of varying cheapality, and knitted whatnots. Oh and a bookcase with 3 boxes of chocolates of doubtful provenance residing within.

Brilliant brilliant blog.

Exmoorjane said...

Rummaging frantically back through the thick fog of my memory to recall if I;ve ever bought you a jewellery roll (very nearly), necklaces ( sure I have) and scented candles (definitely). So it's flat and squashy from now on....a gift-pack of dusters beckons for your next birthday.
Don't really have the 'what to do with the spare box of chocolates' problem here....tend conveniently to 'forget' anyone bought any and just scarf the lot while watching dodgy DVDs....
(funny, isn't it, dodgy DVD sounds OK while dodgy video sounds.....dodgy - in a bad way).
Lovely m'dear...as always. jx

Potty Mummy said...

I do love chocolate. But if asked to chose between that a bag of proper fudge - well, I'm with you Milla. Lucky for me, it's much harder to find - so in the meantime I'll have one of those fancy schmancy french numbers please...

nuttycow said...

Look at you with all the love. I'm envious :D

The worst thing about crap pressies is those people who forgot that they got you rubbish last birthday and so get you the same rubbish the next year (yes, I'm talking to you Godmother... as much as I love bookends shaped in my initial, there is no way I need two pairs)

A super post as ever Milla love.

ChrisH said...

I got here at last and it was well worth it... and you got a comment from Zoe!

CAMILLA said...

Milla darling, an absolute winner of a blog, soooo funny, laughed till I cried.

Yep, I'm the same, beauties of gifts all in bedazzled gift bags containing jewellery rolls, they will not discover that I am of the metal allergy type, have not got the heart to tell.

There is a certain Magazine you might know of....the opposite name to the word ME and goes under the name of LJ Diary, well I think you need to strutt your stuff Milla honey, and send your manuscript to Editor, your writing is sure bliss and will be snapped up that's for sure.

Camilla.xxx

Kathleen said...

It's worse still to inadvertently gift one of those unloved duds to the same person who gave it to you in the first place...errr...one has to be careful when recycling jewelry rolls and cheese domes.

insteadi said...

Um..what are jewelry rolls? I obviously either don't host enough dinner parties, or I have guests who are too kind!

I do like the Anton Berg chocs though. Professional porker I am most definitely and if it's got marzipan and choc together, you can be sure my snout will be in the trough!

On another note I'm soon going to disable my insteadi account which means I won't be able to comment on any of your fine posts. Would you be able to activate Open ID? It means people with blogs outside Blogger can leave comments.

Lucy Diamond said...

Sorry but I had to laugh... Gutted! Still, at least you know what to put on your next Crimbo wish-list now...

KAREN said...

Great post, as always! A close friend of mine has what they happily refer to as 'the cupboard of crap,' which is full of unwanted gifts - the most offensive being a candle made out of what looks like, but surely cannot be, fish scales. Nothing, but nothing, could transform it into a thing of beauty.

Needless to say I'm always Very Careful to buy them gifts they actually like. At least I think I do. How would I know?? I might try a box of unusual chocs next time...

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Oh how maddening Milla, passing on the really good chocolates. Though I agree with Potty Mummy, and you, that the good fudge is just the best. Don't think your judgement is wrong about the jewellery rolls though! Lovely, funny post. M xx

Pig in the Kitchen said...

damn! foiled by the frog chox. jewellery rolls? i've never possessed one. awful smelling soap, is definitely a re-gift, or bought by someone with horrible taste. in fact soap full stop says, 'i had no idea what to get you'.
v. entertaining read!
Pigx

Maggie May said...

Have you ever given someone the present that THEY bought for YOU, by mistake!
I gave some one a box of pretty notelets, only to receive them back a few months later for my Birthday! She obviously hated them!

DJ Kirkby said...

Brilliant post, so much fun to read. Lol at Westerwitch's comment!

Dumdad said...

Um, I shan't be sending you that soap on a rope I'd been intending to then.

Mean Mom said...

It's taken me so long to read the comments, I've forgotten what I was going to say.

I've often thought that a jewellery roll might be handy. I'm obviously in the minority, there, then. I'm so relieved that I've never bought you one. Whew!

A long, long time ago, someone bought us a sardine dish, for a wedding present. It was an oblong stainless steel tray, about 12" x 6". I knew that it was a sardine dish, because it said so on the box. I took it to a 'bring and buy' at the office, a couple of years later. The next time someone was getting married, at work, I watched while she unwrapped her presents from work colleagues. One of the presents turned out to be a stainless steel sardine dish, in a cardboard box. Coincidence eh?

Pondside said...

Two very funny, very well-written blogs! Get thee to a publisher, Milla!

Woozle1967 said...

Oh, Milla, you totally mad woman, you! Flippin' hilarious, as ever. Right on the nail........xx

The Lehners in France said...

Very funny Milla. I never had the jewellery roll problem, being a jeweller. We got given loads of chocs and jellies though after Christmas. The other useless gift is body lotion! Does anyone really use it or does it just get passed around endlessly. Debsx

Grit said...

oh dear! i must be the only person who uses these things and when we haven't got any, goes off to the charity shop to buy them.

jewellery rolls can hoard treasure under the bed; candles can be carved, shaped, melted in the sun; soap (posh or not) washes soil from unicorns; socks are puppets; and necklaces are pirate booty, or i bury them in the ground and we play at archaeology.

Any unwanted item will be wisely used. i should set up a p.o. box.

Lane said...

Blimey, I must be moving in the wrong circles. My last visitor gave me kitchen roll although it must be said it had nice patterns on it:-)

Great post as always, evidenced by all these comments!:-)

Ernest de Cugnac said...

First time here. I comment only to say you write like a dream.

Her on the Hill said...

Brilliant Milla! And oh so true.
Bendicks bitter mints and green&black's milk choc are the only ones for me - you know what you're getting!

I used to have a jewellery role. I tried to use it, honest, but it now lurks at the back of a drawer with the migraine-inducing candles and pot pourri..

@themill said...

I take break from blogging and what do I find? You have a well deserved army of supporters; about time that the rest of blog world discovered what a wonderful writer you are.
Aren't there any publishers amongst them?

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