25 December I wouldn’t say it was entirely down to the meticulous detail of my Christmas Masterplan™, but our Christmas did go perfectly.
Oh, OK, if you insist, I will modestly admit that my Christmas Masterplan™ might have played a minor role in the perfection of the day.
Because preparation is everything, as I kept trying to point out to the various members of my family as they waved their champagne glasses at Mr Young to congratulate him on the meal; our division of labour is such that I am the Mastermind creating the Christmas Masterplan™ while Mr Young, the sous-chef to my executive chef, follows the intricate instructions of the Masterplan™ and does all the last-minute cooking and serving.
A sort of Baldrick to my Blackadder, if you like.
Unfortunately, as I have belatedly realised, there is a major flaw in this arrangement. The flaw is this; to the casual observer, this makes it appear as if all I do on Christmas Morning is drink a very large amount of champagne and thrust smoked salmon triangles at everyone while Mr Young, a pirouetting blur in a gravy-stained apron, performs an impressively choreographed display of cookery skills to produce dish after dish of crispy roast potatoes, tiny sausages, Brussel sprouts, red cabbage, bread sauce, parsnips, carrots, peas, fragrant turkey and homemade stuffing.
I need to rework my Christmas Masterplan™ so that I can earn the glory that should rightfully be mine. It’s going to take a lot of preparation.
I’d better start now.
26 December Another family gathering; I overhear Joe, my brother-in-law, asking Mr Young what I’d got him for Christmas. “A sausage making attachment for our food mixer,” Mr Young says. “Oh dear!” says Joe, “Never mind, mate,” and he gives Mr Young a sympathetic slap on the shoulder. “It’s what he wanted!” I shout indignantly, making Joe jump back in alarm. “He asked for a sausage maker!” “Yes, I did, actually,” Mr Young admits reluctantly.
I suspect that if I hadn’t been there he’d probably have pretended to be disappointed that I hadn’t got him something more manly like the new Jeremy Clarkson DVD or an Arsenal calendar.
Joe struggles to find a suitable follow-up remark to keep the conversation going.
I can’t say I blame him.
We are having a lie-in and I am trying to read my new Stephen King while Mr Young plays with his sausage maker (yes, yes, I know, it does sounds vulgar, but get over it. I’ve already been through all the smutty innuendoes).
Mr Young has, in fact, been hoping for a sausage maker for some time. It is quite a fancy attachment for our Kenwood Chef, and minces up the meat, churns it all together and then creates the links. It is the best possible present for Mr Young, as it combines his passion for gadgets with his passion for meat; it should therefore be twice as entertaining as any ordinary gift.
“Look at that!” he says, opening up the box, taking out one of its many parts and waving it at me. “Do you know what that is?” I make a semi-knowledgeable face, as I can tell it's a piece of plastic attached to a piece of metal, but this probably isn't the right answer, so I say nothing. “It’s an Archimedes screw!” he tells me, actually beaming with pleasure. Clearly it's a thing after all; I always thought beaming with pleasure was just something people did in books, but my husband is apparently capable of it as well. Who'd have thought? “Look, this fits inside this tube, and then it turns round and pushes up the…”
I glaze over at this point; fortunately, years of living with Mr Young have honed my multi-tasking skills so that I can simultaneously nod alertly while daydreaming about shoes.
I hope that the rest of the box’s contents won’t generate more lectures. There is only so much alert nodding I can do without getting a stiff neck.
Fortunately, though, after inspecting the contents of the box, he starts reading his special book on making sausages instead. Another thoughtful present from me. “Pork and chilli,” he says. “Steak and kidney sausages. Mmmm. That’s interesting. You can use potato instead of breadcrumbs, you know…” I am still trying to concentrate on Stephen King and tune his voice out so that it is just a comfortingly culinary drone in the background. “E-numbers,” he continues. “There’s a whole section on these. Listen to this…” Poor Stephen. I have only managed to get through two paragraphs in twenty minutes. The Master of Horror deserves better.
Having finished with a detailed description of what each E-number consists of, he then returns to the box and takes out all the pieces again. “They’ve all got to be washed up by hand, you know,” he lectures me sternly. “Aluminium, you see. Can’t go in the dishwasher.”
He then has a lengthy discussion with me about the availability of sausage skins.
I put a bookmark in Stephen and wonder if Mr Young will notice if I escape to have a shower.
Why on earth didn’t I go with the Arsenal calendar? Even Jeremy Clarkson looks like an attractive proposition at this point.
And that’s definitely a first for me.