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Wednesday, 12 May 2010


It was 20 years ago today… yesterday, actually. Which doesn’t scan, and calls to mind instead a sad song and one which is somewhat dreary.

Yes, we seem to have been married, E and I, for 20 years. So we bought each other bracelets (not on purpose, just one of those twinny things) which F11 eyed lasciviously. His fingers danced in the air towards our wrists, butterfly-light and shark-sure. “How do they come off?” he asked.
We clamped a protective hand on our clasps. “They don’t,” we said as one.

We went for dinner, missing political excitement and drawing what we could from the odd clientele. An odd place, too: low key; expensive; nasty surly waitress. Good grub.

In the corner was a guy fiddling with fags and phone, what passes for a celeb round here. For someone who’s recently sold his groovy clothing label for £250 million, he hid it well. With him was a girl, a very pretty girl, in horrid shoes, shiny, silly and high and a tacky bag, shiny, holey and bling and 2 not pretty men (shoes and bags not checked). In, out, in, out, they went. Fags. Phone. Fags.

Across from us sat 4 chortling Olds, the sort of people blessed with that rare contentment: happy in their houses being a) fully paid for and b) worth about 10 times what they cost. Florid chops, head to toe in Lands End clobber, confident ordering.

Next to us, Mummy and Simmy, our very own TV in a pub, from whom we could barely drag our attention (well, we’ve been married 20 years; we don’t need to talk, not when we can eavesdrop).

Private school mother and poor, track-suited offspring. Mummy was a bore, a crashing bore who did not stop talking, she simply did not draw breath.
“So, I’m thinking, Boden for Cornwall and for Spain my little Superdry dress.” Here she patted shoulders, chest and lap like an airhostess establishing the exits, “with my boxy jacket over, and as for Portugal, I’m thinking Billabong so … oh, look! Darling! Marvellous! Do look: Green Beans. Oh yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Lots and lots, I think.”

The nasty waitress, summoned by such enthusiastic braying ripping the air slid close, her pen poised reluctantly.

“Darling? Duck? Duck for Simmy, and I’ll have just a steak. Rare, medium rare. And green beans. Green beans for Simmy, too. And a salad for me. And some broccoli. And pommes purees for Simmy. We’re on a diet.”

“Fuck me, that’s fifteen quid on green stuff,” I hissed at Edward.

It was the sort of place where your eyes watered at the prices, and then, when you were down and weakened, they stung you a further £3 a bowl for anything extra, for the stuff which used just to come with your meal, which used to be your meal.

The Olds guffawed over an ancient joke, and we opted to share a salad. “That’ll be plenty,” the nasty waitress said flicking a glance at Mummy. We asked what something in a pot on our table was. She let an insulting silence lengthen before saying with studied insolence, “Celeriac remoulade.” As any fule no.

Mummy and Simmy’s food turned up. The tiny table was bulging with bowls bearing a surfeit of greenery. “Dripping with butter those beans,” E said. We laughed and chomped on our faux gras, ekeing out tiny squares of toast.

Mummy was a-flush with excitement at having headed off the chips at the pass. What a nasty turn. Di-sas-ter averted! She had spied them heading her way and barked “NO!” Hand held high like a traffic policeman. “No, not chips,” she might even have said “frites,” Oh God, I think she did, I’d blanked it out of self-protection. The horror, the horror. “I’m on a diet!” She also proclaimed, “We’re running to a tight schedule,” which was Mummy-speak for ‘Gotta boot the kid back to school by nine.’

Simmy didn’t get to talk much. On occasion, she was handed the iPhone and told to tell Daddy about the 81% in chemistry, darling. Daddy was clearly busy because the chat didn’t last beyond basic imparting of brief info. Simmy also had to check with Natty about Wimbledon. Because if Natty wasn’t going to go they really ought (orrrrt) to get onto MelMel about it.

Simmy had, however, made clear from the off (orf) that she fancied a pud. Mmmm, chocolate. And, as so much of her duck made its way onto Mummy’s plate (an impatient fork tipping breasts and legs, grease dripping from every shard), Simmy was clearly still hungry but when the nasty waitress sidled over and said, threateningly, “Pudding?” Simmy’s eyes might well have lit up but Mummy’s mouth it was which opened first, “No, no, I think not. We’re on diets!” This word caused her to emit small explosive noises, perhaps it hurt? “Yes, ha ha. And a tight schedule. Just some water. I’m thinking few bubbles, I’m thinking Badoit? And the bill. Darling, does Daddy know about the change in plan for Saturday? I think you should phone him.”

We saw them off: Mummy tottering, Simmy slouching, while a sublime chocolate pudding headed our way. Yum.

Mummy crashed the gears on the 4x4 parked outside, and when I say parked, I mean slung at an angle vaguely proximate to the kerb. Still yakking. Scant attention paid to little things like other people.

Mrs Lovely’s parents had bought a big car. “Whatever for?!” she’d shrieked, mindful of the inheritance slipping into a most un-ness Land Cruiser. “Whaddya want a 7 seater for! You’re not taking the girls. You’re 80! Well ... you can take Lulu. Wake her up a bit.”

“It’s for the widows,” Mrs Lovely’s Dad had said. “They need a lift to all the funerals.”

We were gathered in the field this morning, while the dogs romped disgustingly. If Muffin knew how very unbutch he looked with his pompom tail, he wouldn’t swagger like Errol Flynn, he’d sit in the corner and crochet.

Rural Ted perked up, he’s threatened with redundancy. He’s always threatened with redundancy. It gives him a gloomy air. “Put the seats down and your Dad could take the coffin,” he suggested. “Widders could go boi cab. Your dad could make a few quid.”

I’m thinking enterprise, I’m thinking opportunities. Oh yum. Marvellous.


Previously (Very) Lost in France said...

It's so much more fun listening to other people isn't it? Sometimes the urge to pull your chair closer is almost too much. Congratulations on the 20 years. Think myself and the CH are probably there too but we can never remember which year we got married, in fact we struggle to remember the date!

Elizabethd said...

Go write a book. Please.

eleanor's byre said...

Surely, surely a publisher must have stumbled into here by now?
Brilliant as always, Milla.

Expat mum said...

"It's for the widows". How adorable!
Congrats on the 20 years. We had ours last month. Doesn't time fly, etc. etc.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Dear, oh dear, poor Simmy, having to eat meat and green vegetables without a generous helping of glorious chips and then, horror of horrors, to be denied a chocolate dessert? That's just cruel.

I've really enjoyed reading this account. Congratulations to you both. Lesley

mollygolver said...

Congratulations on your 20th anniversary Milla. Great blog - Could just picture it - you've cheered me up no end!

Anonymous said...

Celeriac remoulade – but of course!
This is just brilliant. Can't believe I haven't stumbled upon you before.
Am wondering what Simmy might be short for. Everyone at my school was called Debbie. Or Karen.

Fennie said...

They just get better and better. And all so recognisable - well I suppose it depends which restaurant you alight upon - but on the rare occasions we venture forth it is so recognisable. Incidentally, Celeriac, grated with a little mayonnaise goes most excellently with a little apple - or even carrot. Whether you are on a diet or not. And was Simmy really a girl? It kinda sounded, you know, a bit like Lolly. Whom I trust you took a little bag home for; despite the nasty waitress.

Fran said...

That was a great read. I know what you mean about the eavesdropping. My husband always says, 'Are you listening to me, or to them?' He knows the answer, that's the problem.

Tattie Weasle said...

I just snorted my tea all over the keyboard, I do love this! Reading your posts not snorting tea...feel desperatly for Simmy what is the point of being taken out of school if you cannot indulge!??

her at home said...

ah yes know the evesdropping well after over 20 years,the need and dare I say ability to produce sparkling conversation oneself seems to evaporate on evenins out for two! I have no idea how many more than 20 we have been married, but congrats to you pair!!

London City Mum said...

Love finding 'new' blogs - yours is a treasure. Am so pleased not to be alone in the eavesdropping dept.
Have also now adopted the 'quick-take-a-photo-with-mobile-phone' approach to observation, which I am sure is bound to get me in trouble at some stage. Especially when the flash goes off unannounced thus stunning the unsuspected victim.

And not far behind you - we are 17 years next month.

Have signed up to the stalker brigade now so will be regular visitor.


Frances said...

Hello Milla,

What a celebration it is when we get to sample your writing! Thank you for this feast, and many best wishes to you and yours on the 20 years.

May you all have many more decades of fun and adventure! xo

Milla said...

thanks, y'all, old and new, both very much appreciated. I hadn't thought of it like that, Tattie, of course it should have been a treat. Simmy, hmmm, going by all the rest of the bollocks, could be anything, Simona? Persimmon? Simnel cake (without the cake)?
still in shock over it being 20 years. crazy. Am far too young and foolish.

Preseli Mags said...

Oh poor Simmy/Simona/Persimmon (I so hope it's the latter). Congratulations on the 20 years. I was thinking it's a long time, but we're not far behind you!

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Oh, poor Simmy - Glad you indulged in the sublime chocolate pudding

Potty Mummy said...

Marvellous, dahling. Sublime. But then you knew that already...

CAMILLA said...

Hi Milla honey......love it.! superb writing as ever, yes.... go write that book.!

As for the parking, moi parked on just a eeny weeny bit of banana lines outside local shop recently, not fully on lines, I'm thinking barely an inch. Hot and weary, feeling yuk, but oh yes HL could not eat brekkies without his HP sauce(yukitty yuk)!Inside queue a mile long, rushed out and..... yep, little man sporting a flurescent jacket and waving a pad and pen.

'Do you know that you have parked on a double yellow'? er, have I? feeling as though I had committed an awful crime. Yes, he muttered looking like a Mr Bean in uniform, 'dont do it again or I'll book you'. Moi feeling like a naughty schoolgirl drove home and felt like tipping that said HP sauce on someone's head.!

Hope you saw the card I posted for you Milla honey, 20 years..... I have just reached 40, sadly I am not sporting that ruby diamond.


Potty Mummy said...

Oh, and I forgot to say - you were clearly a child bride Milla - no WAY are you old enough to have been married 20 years... (yes, obviously I'm making us both feel better with that observation). BTW - have put you up as BMB of the week. PMx

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Came for a visit via Potty Mummy's recommendation - excellent choice PM!
Have our 20th coming up next month - you're right, we're too young to be celebrating a very-near silver.
Had a similar dining experience in the Cotswolds recently; hubby and I sat agog listening to the braying nonsense from a pair of young fillies at the bar. Would tell you their conversation but we were unable to decipher any of it!

Chris Stovell said...

Please god if I end up eating in the same restaurant as you I shall ask the waiter to erect screens round me! Congratulations on 20 years of married bliss.

Milla said...

with thanks to the lovely PM for the pick of the week in BMB! Chris, I sincerely hope you'd pull up a chair!
Trish, great to see you, and PM (great to see you, too, but you're an old hand!), 2 more child brides, clearly!
Camilla, I feel your pain. No good deed goes rewarded.
Karen, it was husband stuffing face with pud, I had a few modest slurps. Yum.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Love it - I enjoy eavesdropping too!

elizabethm said...

The hideously accurate rendition of mummy nearly put me off my breakfast. I had to have more toast to take the taste away!
Congratulations on your anniversary and so very welcome back.

Edward said...

As Milla's dining companion, I have to say that she rather underplayed the whole episode. Jolly funny though. And I do love her description of Muffin the Would-Be Hero.

Carol said...

20 years!! Gosh!! I thought Chris and I were doing well celebrating 5 years together on the 14th!!

Yep, I too love listening in to other people's conversations! The funniest one Chris and I ever heard was on the bus in Manchester...this lad with the plummiest Home counties accent I have ever hears was dressed like a wannabe black rapper and he actually uttered the words 'are you down with that' to his friend whilst doing the oddest hand gesture. Chris and I couldn't contain ourselves...i'm afraid we both guffawed and loudly!!

Congratulations on your anniversary

C x

Irish Eyes said...

Now, having picked myself up off the floor after rolling 'round laughing at all that, I have decided to start the Simmy Support Society...any takers?
OH and I celebrated 30 years in March, and we have the "don't waste observation time with conversations you can have at home" idea down pat! Makes a night out so it does, observing those around us. We had Maud and My Dear Maaaan sitting near us in the restaurant when we dined out to celebrate our 30th; Dear Maaaan hardly got a word in edgeways, his dinner was ordered for him, the pint of Guinness he was clearly slavering for arrived as a glass of creme de menthe, and we were quite sure he would go 'menth-el' before the night was over.
Lovely blog. Sorry I haven't been 'round to comment, but have been nipping in to look.
and mine's a Merlot.....!

Brown Dog said...

Totally Mah-vellous, Milla, as ever. Totally and utterly brilliant. Not nearly enough blogging of late if you ask me (what? You say nobody did ask me? Well, no matter - you're going to get my fourpenn'orth whether you like it or no). BTW - just received an invite to a do at one of our local posh restaurants where the menu starts with 'celeriac foam with a hazlenut emulsion' - truly. I'm thinking along the lines of Gilette meets Farrow & Ball. Wonder whether Simmie will be there and if so, whether she will be allowed a sniff of foam.

Too delicious.

Congrats to you both on 20 years of wedded bliss, by the way. I think we probably abandoned conversation in favour of eavesdropping sometime during the honeymoon.

Wine in Thyme said...

Love love love eavesdropping in restaurants. Can get quite the entertainment, all for the price of a meal.

London City Mum said...

Tag for you at mine http://londoncitymum.blogspot.com/2010/06/five-of-kind.html

Have fun!


Lou said...

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant....I too want you to write a book, actually a whole series of books....could you get a publisher to pay you to visit Michelin starred establishments, just so's you could listen to the other guests....go with Richard scarfe...

Exmoorjane said...

That, my dear, is priceless. Vintage Milla. I won't even mention the B word as have been pleading, begging, nay prostrating myself for one for oh too many years.
btw, vis a vis yours on mine - can you tell F11 I would like a world of my own (with no editors in it please).