Ficklish Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Very jLo Christmas

Here’s how to have a most excellent Christmas season, jLo style.

Step 1: Make yourself a Christmas tree outfit.

Apparently I have become something of a domestic goddess – since the mince pie endeavour chronicled in the last post, I have done MORE baking (okay, I made a cake) and then embarked upon a mission involving sewing!

I purchased myself a bright green dress, and then hand-sewed many shiny additions of the bauble and tinsel variety. A headband, a star ornament and some gaffer tape combined to make a quite striking headpiece. Adding in some brown tights (for the trunk) and some knee-high boots (for the pot), I was transformed into the most festive mascot you ever did see. There were even lights! Here is some photographic evidence (my friend Dr Evil is being the gift):

We had a Christmas party at the Pickle at which the tree outfit was a big hit. Frankie also dressed as an elf, with green tights and all – he would kill me if I put a photo of that on the Internet, but if you let me know I’ll send you the evidence privately (it was spectacular). My boss and my director were so taken by my costume that they insisted I wear it to the work Christmas party the following week. Despite some misgivings – did I really want to make that much of a spectacle of myself in front of all my colleagues? – of course I complied. The staff at my somewhat conservative workplace were a little stunned, but it certainly injected a little festive spirit into the proceedings. I met LOTS of new people, which will hopefully be helpful when work resumes in the new year. I introduced myself to a group of relatively sombre colleagues and chatted merrily with them for a few moments, and as I walked away one of them was heard to remark to her neighbour “that was the friendliest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen”. Result!

Step 2: Put yourself in charge of the department Christmas activity.

Tired of the boring lunches and realising that nights down the pub really aren’t that special when that’s what you do every week anyway, I devised the Most Awesome Team Christmas Activity Ever. Firstly, my entire department went to the Waldorf for champagne high tea, and spent a very happy afternoon cramming ourselves full of scones and cake. Mmmm, scones and cake in a fancy hotel. Then (and this was pure genius) we went to an evening concert of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain!

You may recall that I first encountered the UOGB during my first year in the UK, and the memory of that incredible evening has remained with me ever since. They didn’t disappoint the second time around – performing some old favourites (Candy Says, the theme from Shaft, Miss Dynamite) and adding in some great Christmas songs. The highlights for me, though, were a version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights (with the audience shouting ‘Heathcliff!’ in every chorus) and an absolutely rocking ukulele interpretation of Smells Like Teen Spirit. It filled me with indescribable joy.

We were so inspired by the awesomeness of the ukuleles that after the big work Christmas party the following night a couple of colleagues and I went out to indulge our inner show ponies by singing karaoke until 4am. I performed my own version of Smells Like Teen Spirit, growling so energetically that I was literally without a voice for three days afterwards. Good times.

Step 3: Wrestle with an Aga.

A bunch of us rented a big old house in the countryside for Christmas week. It was lovely: the house was spacious and warm and had a fireplace, a piano, a Christmas tree, a ping pong table, lots of jigsaw puzzles and a bookshelf full of holiday reading. Perfect.

It also had an Aga. I’d read about such things in posh English countryside novels, but never really understood what it was. Turns out it’s giant oven that’s on all the time. Back in the day, these were used to heat the house, heat the water, and cook all the food. This house had central heating as well as a fireplace, so while the kitchen was toasty warm having the Aga on all the time seemed a bit of a waste of energy. The weird thing about it was that the temperatures are pre-set – there are two hotplates (with lids) on top, set to a high and low heat, and two oven cavities, one set to 160 degrees and the other to 220. Trying to cook a stirfry on the hotplate was amusing – not being able to adjust the temperature, you can only move the frypan off and on the plate as needed. Slow-cooking lamb shanks in the cooler of the two ovens for Christmas Eve dinner was much more successful. Deliciously successful.

The week was long and lazy – way too much food, way too much drinking, long walks in the countryside, lots of trashy novels. There was much Christmas merriment: a sound-activated Jingle Bird, many mince pies, lots of chocolate money and mulled wine. I discovered that apparently I love ping pong - who would have thought? We introduced our San Franciscan friend MIA to the honourable Australian tradition of a pantsing: any time anyone was beaten to love in a game they had to run around the table with their trousers around their knees. It was very cold but MIA threw himself into the cultural experience with admirable energy.

On Christmas Eve, we went into the tiny town square where a brass band was playing – we stood and sang Christmas carols with all the townsfolk. It was delightful.

The Secret Santa was a huge success, with an unexpected animal theme. Frankie’s gift was all about badgers, DJ Ill received several items relating to her new-found love of narwhals (based on this). I scored a stuffed koala that plays the Large Hadron Rap when you press his arm. He’s awesome – the wonderful MIA battled an epic hangover to go and make him for me at a build-a-bear workshop in Covent Garden, which delights me more than I can say. The bear’s name is King Hadron: Destroyer of Universes and I love him very much. I’ve never really had a teddy bear as a grown-up, but he’s so cuddly that I’ve been sleeping with him every night since Christmas. When I roll over in bed I accidentally set him off, and it’s very strange to be awoken by the disembodied voice of Stephen Hawking.

That is one of the more bizarre sentences I have ever written.

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas. Happy new year, and may there be many splendid adventures awaiting you in 2009.

Late edit
: I now have a photo of King Hadron, and want to put it up here so you can witness his majesty:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You looked gorgeous as a Christmas Tree - I can't wait to see what you come up with next year!!! Sarina

5:28 AM  
Blogger jLo said...

Thanks, love! It was most excellent fun. I haven't been able to bring myself to pack it away yet - the outfit is still hanging in my cupboard..

10:26 PM  

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