Tuesday, 18 March 2008

X ~ is for Xmas Festivities


Xmas cards ~ the pleasant custom of sending Christmas Cards prevailed in Tilling, and most of the world met in the stationers on Christmas Eve, selecting suitable salutations from the threepenny, the sixpenny and the shilling trays. Neither Elizabeth Mapp nor Diva Plaistow bought cards from the shilling tray. Diva's and the Bartlett's were all from the threepenny tray. Susan Wyse ignored the threepenny tray and hovered over the sixpenny and shilling ones expressing an odiously opulent regret that there were not some choicer ones to be obtained. Everyone studied all the trays so that when in the morning they all received seasonable coloured greetings from their friends, a person must have had a shocking memory if he did not know what had been the precise cost of all that were sent him. Lucia and Georgie did not join in sending Christmas cards but sent their friends thoughtful and costly gifts instead.
Xmas Festivities ~ one snowy Christmas evening in Riseholme Georgie invited Lucia and Pepino, Colonel Boucher and Mrs Weston, Robert and Daisy Quantock and Mrs Rumbold to dine -which was two more than Foljambe approved of and made for a tense evening.

After dinner, the carol singers came and Lucia failed to realise that Olga Bracely had again disguised herself as a small red-haired boy. In her ignorance Lucia of course found fault with the performance - as she had done when he/she sang deafeningly incognito in the choir in church - and hoped the boy's voice would crack soon.

Georgie however was overjoyed at Olga's presence covertly for the carols and openly for the tableaux after dinner.

Prior to the arrival of Lucia and Georgie in Tilling, Christmas was not marked particularly extravagantly. In Miss Mapp's circle, expenditure tended to be confined to the choice of threepenny, sixpenny or shilling Christmas cards from the stationers in Tilling - mainly from the threepenny tray.

Instead of joining in this practice, Lucia and Georgie generously sent well-chosen gifts: a terrine of pate de foie gras with a very distinguished label for Miss Mapp, hard chocolates for Diva Plaistow, a great pot of caviare for Susan Wyse, a new umbrella with a silver band engraved with his initials for the Padre and half a dozen bottles of pre-war whisky for Major Benjy

Christmas Day dinner for Miss Mapp and Diva traditionally alternated between Mallards and Wasters and that year included sampling Lucia and Georgie's tasteful gifts.

On Boxing Day, Lucia was due to give a Christmas tree for local choir in the evening in her large kitchen at Grebe. Under the pretence of asking to join her callisthenics class and thanking Lucia for her gift of pate if seen, it was actually the desire to acquire the recipe for Lobster a la Riseholme that led Miss Mapp to be uninvited in the kitchen at Grebe at the moment the great flood occurred and to see in the New Year with Lucia on an Italian trawler on the Gallagher Bank.

The Padre's new umbrella was unfortunately swept out to see when he failed to hook the upturned kitchen table as it swept by, but was later recovered - as was the kitchen table and its passengers.
Xmas tree ~ see Xmas Festivities

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