Every year she invited a dozen or more people for Christmas dinner.
Every Boxing Day, exhausted but satisfied, she reminded herself how glad she was she’d done it.
Last year, with just two weeks to go, disaster struck. She broke her wrist. What could she do? Desperate, she wrote an email full of apology with a list of tasks she couldn't manage herself. She sent it round to everyone she’d invited.
Andrea spent Christmas Day sitting in an armchair, eating food cooked by other people. She hated every moment. She knew the Christmas arrangements she'd planned would have been so much better.
She watched, frustrated, as her guests washed up and put things away in the wrong places. She itched to do it herself.
She looked on as her grandchildren opened presents someone had swathed in clumsy homemade paper. She wished she’d been able to wrap them herself in tasteful perfection, as she’d done every other year.
The day dragged itself wearily to its end.
On Boxing Day, her youngest son stumbled downstairs just before lunch. Sighing noisily, he rubbed his stomach, settling down to another beer and a hunk hewn from the Christmas cake. A bought cake. He’d iced it himself, late on Christmas Eve after a trip to the pub, forgetting to use marzipan. It was yellowing already, Andrea saw.
She could stand it no longer. She breathed deeply, her apology on the tip of her tongue. She’d make it up to them next year, she’d promise. Everything would go back to normal. She’d outdo herself.
Before she had a chance to speak, her son leaned over and ruffled her hair.
"Thanks for everything, Mum,” he grunted. “Best Christmas ever.”
Merry Christmas. If this story made you think, come on over to the Speechcontacts website http://www.getmeoffthehook.com/speechcontacts/news.php?id=94 to read more about the importance of storytelling.
‘We are,’ he said, ‘making progress. Just a few millennia ago, we dealt with the dinosaurs. After that: the dodo.’
The picture changed; a group of pig-tailed sailors chased a waddling, flightless bird.
‘Tasty but dim, I remember,’ said Deville, licking his lips.
Americans in the front row downloaded the image to their iPads, snickering.
Deville changed the scene again. Planes speared through the sky over a landscape of melting glaciers and smouldering forests.
‘My best idea to date,’ boasted Deville. ‘I stole it from the last dragon, who, you remember, melted the North Pole with his dying, fiery breath. Bless him.’
He glanced around, caught the gaze of a new acolyte who frowned in a puzzled way.
‘Before your time, young Mr....’ He leaned forward, read the name tag out loud, ’Mr B L Zebub. Interesting name. Well Mr Zebub, the Pole froze over again, but already I had my grand plan.’
He gazed around, timing it.
The tumultuous applause died at last.
‘Air Transport,’ he continued, ‘is central to my plans. Every plane emits enough CO2 to melt the glaciers in, oh, a year or two, I should think.’ He waved a hoof vaguely. Detail was not his strong point. That was for his team.
‘Humans adore their flights, their holidays in the sun, their lunches in Rome. They will never give them up. My work is nearly done.’
At the back of the room, Gerald O’Donahue sighed. He pulled out a battered Pocket Atlas from his battered pocket. Quietly he flicked through the book, stopping at a page marked ‘England.’
He thought a moment, scratched his head, smiled and scribbled a note in the margin.
‘Snow on the runway,’ he wrote.
I write this Communication Blog
Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.
I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.
I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.