I’m enjoying mixed success with my new year’s resolutions: as you’ll have noticed, the regular blog isn’t working out so well for me, but I do have beautiful nails and, having had my first manicure ever in January, have become a regular at my local nail bar, and I can also afford this habit as I’ve finally completed last year’s tax return and received my tax rebate, so I like to think I’m at least partially winning at life.
May’s been a big month as, in another first-time event, I got the chance to be a surprise! Actually, that’s not strictly true, as, as I’m writing this, I have a vivid memory surfacing of my parents breaking the news that my whole existence was a surprise over Sunday lunch when I was about thirteen (not what I needed to hear at the time). In any case, being a surprise was both very exciting and very difficult all at the same time. My parents announced a few months ago that they were having a little bash for the thirtieth wedding anniversary at the end of April, and were intending to have a church service followed by a meal with their nearest and dearest. I’d resigned myself to being unable to attend and missing out on yet another family shindig with free-flowing prosecco, until one morning in January, when my parents were here visiting, and my Mum was in the shower, Papa Mc mused how great it would be for me to surprise my Mum for the big day. Flights were swiftly purchased, and a lot of very unsubtle winking and nudging took place over the following days.
Then, my parents went home, and we all forgot all about it for a few weeks, until about early April, when Skype calls started to take a sinister twist, as Adam kept very nearly giving the game away, and Mama Mc got increasingly sad about our absence from the impending re-nuptials. This built to a crescendo with a particularly emotional Skype call the night before my flight, by which stage the chances of keeping the cat in the bag until my arrival two days later, on Thursday, were looking increasingly slim.
Lying to one’s mother is always stressful and inadvisable, and by the time I reached the airport on Wednesday evening, my anxiety levels were high, not least because I’ve long been suspicious of the fact that my iPhone is more intelligent than I am, always seems to know where I am even when I don’t, and is certainly capable of telling Big Brother (or should I say, Big Mother (ha!)) my every move. After some frantic fiddling with my settings, all I could do was hope for the best and that Papa Mc could sit on his excitement for another 24 hours. Thankfully, as soon as I boarded the plane my next-door travellers, Glenn and Chris, introduced themselves, and proved such excellent company that I forgot all about what might or might not be going on 40, 000 feet below me.
Papa Mc and his beautiful car were eagerly awaiting my arrival at Heathrow. I was somewhat confused by how surprised my Dad was to see me, given that he was the only person in the UK that was expecting my arrival, but I guess the best thing about surprises is that, even when you’re in on them, you don’t really believe they will ever happen, because you’ve been pretending for so long that they won’t. I was convinced by this stage that Mama Mc’s notorious maternal, witchy intuition would have kicked in and she would have clocked it, but Dad assured me she hadn’t, and that the text I’d sent her from Dubai telling her I was having breakfast with my friend Megan that morning before work had done the trick.
The great unveiling of me was as emotional as anticipated. Thankfully we’d decided I’d arrive a few days before the party, and that I wouldn’t just knock on the door, as we were genuinely quite concerned my Mum would pass out and knock herself out before the big day. My Dad therefore left me sitting out in the back garden, shivering, on a cold, grey, damp, April afternoon, whilst he went inside and had some fun. He first ensured Mum was sat down, and asked her if there was anyone that could attend the party on Saturday to make it even better, who it would be. This was an enlightening exercise, as several deceased relatives and even a deceased pet were listed before we reached my name. Thankfully I didn’t have too much time to think through the implications of this, as, before I knew it, Mum was at the back door wailing “But what about Megan’s breakfast?” Cue tears, hugs, champagne and, for me and Papa Mc, much relief all round.
I had five nights at home in total, which was just enough time to squeeze in trips to Tesco and M&S (Quavers! Monster Munch!), have a great curry at the local Indian and a bacon sarnie at Yiewsley’s finest bakery, spend some quality time with family and loved ones, and, most importantly, for my Mum to stop crying! My parents’ 30th wedding anniversary bash was absolutely beautiful. It was just incredible to sit and look around the room at all the relationships my parents had built and the wonderful extended family they’d given me and my brother. Everyone had a fantastic time, and I was so delighted that I could be there.
Unfortunately, it was all over too soon and by Tuesday morning, I was back at Heathrow getting ready to board the plane again. It wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds, however, as I’d used my Qantas points to get an upgrade to Business class. Having never flown business, ever, before, it was something of a treat to board the flight, with 24 hours’ travel ahead of me, and discover not only that I was in a secluded section of Business with only 3 rows, but also that the cabin was half-empty, meaning that I had not one, but two seats in business to myself. I made the most of my Kate Spade toiletries bag, snuggled into my Qantas PJs, and spent most of the flight with the bed fully extended, drinking champagne – all of which was a great idea at the time, but led to a 2-week jetlagged hangover…
I’ve recovered just in time for winter to kick in here, so am now looking forward to a few months of hot chocolate, roast dinners, Christmas in July activities, and reacquainting myself with my good old friend, the electric blanket.