Well it did this year!
We meet in the Community Hall which is part of the complex where George and I live. We have to be very careful as the caretaker (the Paint Police I jokingly call her) finds every tiny spot of paint – and we do try so hard to watch where we put our stuff.
Every Christmas we have a lunch in the hall. Believe me, starving artists we are not! We have some excellent cooks amongst us. Everyone brings a plate and their drink of choice. George usually sets up the tables but this year, as we are housesitting over 80 miles away, I left George in charge of Millie the dog and drove home yesterday. I’d already bought Christmas crackers, chocolate snowmen, Santa and angels for the table. I cooked the ham last night.
This morning I woke up at 7.30. I could go over to the hall at 8am to set the tables up or I could go to the supermarket to get milk, butter and a few other things I would need. I decided to do the shopping first. When I returned home I was concerned to see first one, then two and then three vans arrive at the hall (which I can see from the kitchen window). A fourth van then arrived. Young men everywhere carrying tools. I thought I’d better see what was happening.
The hall was in chaos. Radio blaring, men and tools everywhere. I was told they had come to replace the gas boiler! Not before time as we’ve had no hot water for ages and the heating has been very temperamental. But TODAY! I’d seen our Warden only a few days ago. She knows of the Tuesday Art Group but no one thought to mention the work to me.
What to do? Two alternatives sprang to mind. A stiff gin and tonic or sit down and grizzle. In the event I did neither. I told one of the young men (who seemed to be in charge) that I was expecting ten people at 1 o’clock for a sit down lunch. It was by now 10.30 am. He assured me he wouldn’t be long. At 11.30 I returned to the hall – by now more cluttered than ever – and began moving chairs and pushing the tables together down one end of the hall farthest away from the chaos.
At 12.30 I again returned – not much improvement and large bins were being carted to the kitchen sink where cement was being mixed. I wiped down the tables I had set up and sat down and waited. The first of my friends arrived shortly afterwards and we laughed together. A second one arrived. By now there were signs that the men were clearing up. Miraculously by 1 o’clock they had cleared up and left. Boiler working, central heating on. All friends arrived. We worked together setting everything up. What a team! We had crackers, chocolates, Evil Santa (a fun version of Secret Santa) and a quiz as well as mouthwatering food. A good time was had by all. Everyone pitched in with the washing up and tidying.
Like Rupert Bear I returned home tired but happy.