Rose­mary

The an­nual party isn’t go­ing as well as one might like

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Contents -

The waiter is be­gin­ning to look worn down by the jol­lity and cheer

The charity shop Christ­mas party is not go­ing with any­thing that could re­motely be de­scribed as a swing.

‘Well, I’m en­joy­ing my­self,’ says

Wendy, ly­ing through her teeth.

‘It’s nice that we can all get to­gether so­cially once in a while.’

We all nod and smile and say, ‘Mmm’, but with­out any real con­vic­tion. The prob­lem is that we all get on so well in the shop. There is no gossip to pass on at our party, be­cause we’ve al­ready gnawed it to the bone at work. So we are re­duced to po­lite con­ver­sa­tion.

And, as any grown-up will know from bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence, there is noth­ing less ex­cit­ing than po­lite con­ver­sa­tion.

It doesn’t help that ev­ery­body around us is ob­vi­ously hav­ing a whale of a time. (Are whales re­ally known for their party spirit? As the high­light of a whale’s day seems to be slap­ping the water with its tail fin and cre­at­ing a bit of a splash, I sup­pose a cou­ple of drinks and a sausage on a stick must sound rather at­trac­tive.)

Let me set the scene. We are in one of those pubs that does a good line in food. Be­cause it’s nearly Christ­mas, the place is heav­ing. A cou­ple of ta­bles away, I can see friends from the cricket club. They are wear­ing party hats and tin­sel, and the waiter – who was also given a party hat – is be­gin­ning to look worn down by the sheer amount of jol­lity and good cheer.

On the ta­ble by the win­dow, and sur­rounded by many waiters, is a party of young women all dressed as Santa, as­sum­ing that Santa takes a size eight and favours blonde high­lights in his hair.

‘I hear you’ve been go­ing to the gym, Rose­mary,’ Mrs Beasley pipes up from the end of the ta­ble. ‘How’s that go­ing? Have you man­aged to lose any weight?’

Well, that might have been phrased a lit­tle more sen­si­tively. Sud­denly my beef Welling­ton with all the trim­mings doesn’t seem quite such a good idea.

‘I’ve been go­ing for about a month now. Three times a week. Well, three times a week twice, and twice a week twice, and for two weeks we de­cided to have a week off be­cause rest is as im­por­tant as ex­er­cise.’

‘And have you lost any weight?’ says Wendy. (I re­fer you to the sen­tence above: ‘phrased’ and ‘a lit­tle more sen­si­tively’.) By the win­dow, the young-lady San­tas are singing Jin­gle Bells. One of them is stand­ing on her chair, and I can’t help notic­ing that her red skirt is rather on the short side. If Santa re­ally dresses like that to do his rounds on Christ­mas Eve, it’s a won­der he doesn’t get chilblains.

‘Per­haps,’ says Ben, who is one of the younger mem­bers of our team and a gen­tle­man to boot, ‘it’s not the sort of thing Rosie wants to an­nounce in pub­lic.’

‘Non­sense,’ says Wendy. ‘I never knew you were so old-fash­ioned, Ben dear.

It’s years since a woman’s weight was a dark se­cret that was known only to her­self and her bath­room scales.’

‘If you must know,’ I ex­plain, ‘and there’s no rea­son why you should,

I have ac­tu­ally put on weight.’

There is a short si­lence as ev­ery­body round the ta­ble di­gests this im­por­tant news. I – in for a penny, in for a few more pounds – set about the beef Welling­ton with a bit more en­thu­si­asm.

It is per­fectly nor­mal, I ex­plain, for peo­ple to put on a bit of weight when they start do­ing ex­er­cise for the first time. Our trainer was very re­as­sur­ing, and says it will soon start to fall off.

‘It won’t start fall­ing off if you keep shov­el­ling away meals like that,’ says Wendy. ‘Shouldn’t you be eating salad, or some­thing?’

She is, of course, per­fectly right, but I have a weak­ness for beef Welling­ton.

And I was just about to ex­plain, at some length, the mer­its of beef Welling­ton when the other young mem­ber of our team, Clare, sud­denly says, ‘Oh! My! God!’

As any­body who has ever met a young per­son will know, this is an in­di­ca­tion that some­thing VERY SE­RI­OUS IN­DEED has hap­pened – such as re­ceiv­ing an un­ex­pected pic­ture of some­body’s lunch, or the news that an­other young per­son has posted an amus­ing mes­sage on Face­book, or Snapchat, or one of those other mo­bile phone things that nobody over 40 has ever heard of.

‘Look!’ she says in a stage whisper. ‘Look who’s just come in.’

‘Who is it?’ says Mrs B. ‘I can’t see. One of those noisy Father Christ­mas girls is in the way.’

‘It’s Alan,’ says Clare.

For the ben­e­fit of new read­ers,

Alan is cur­rently the pan­tomime vil­lain of this page (oh, yes he is). He is the man­ager of a new charity shop that has opened just down the road, and he and Mrs Beasley seemed to have a bit of a thing go­ing on. Un­for­tu­nately, he also seemed to be hav­ing a bit of a thing with a lady called Bev­er­ley.

‘Oh yes, I can see now,’ says Mrs B. ‘Who on earth is that woman he’s with?’

‘That woman,’ says Clare in a slightly cold­ish tone, ‘is my mother.’

Sorry, new read­ers, but I for­got to men­tion that, as well as Mrs B and the lady called Bev­er­ley, and prob­a­bly a list of other women as long as your arm, we sus­pect that Alan might also be hav­ing a bit of a thing with Clare’s mother, who is an old friend.

Mrs Beasley’s eyes nar­row no­tice­ably. ‘He told me he was go­ing out with an old friend,’ she says.

‘They are old friends,’ says Clare. ‘I didn’t think he meant that sort of old friend,’ says Mrs B.

Sud­denly, our party seems to have got a bit more lively.

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