Sunday, December 26, 2010

Toffs and Tuffs and Turkeys

Working through Christmas was always going to be a little trying. This year I spent the 'special' day with the family of my 91 year old client at the manor: an intimate gathering of around 15 upper-class toffs, and yours truly. They put on a lavish spread, although being a vegetarian I did bring my own nutroast just to be sure of some protein intake. They pulled the biggest bird I'd ever seen out of their AGA, and I now can appreciate why artificial insemination is essential for modern turkey production. The fatties have been bred so big they are unable to do the deed on their own. Images of live turkeys being inseminated with, well, turkey basters, was almost enough to put me off my sprouts. The seating plan had me placed between spinster vet Aunt Jane and one of my clients grandsons, freshly arrived home from boarding school. I had the option of listening to endless stories about Auntie's horsey vet practice or trying to get blood (i.e. any conversation) out of a stone (i.e. a 14 year old boy). The champagne and wine soon did their job and everyone was embroiled in deciding whether Amanda Knox, the American girl convicted of murder in Milan, was a homicidal hussy or an innocent angel. Having been in Italy when the scandal happened I'd had quite enough of the whole matter and sat tight waiting for pudding.

Other conversational highlights included family friend Horatio's sailing trip to the Antarctic and whether a kick turn was an essential move to master on skiing hols. The skiing part went on for what felt like hours and I was at a loss to recall any appropriate skiing anecdotes, having, um, never actually been skiing. Flaming pudding arrived and was run 'round the table by the youngest granddaughter until it went out. I have to say I love this tradition. Get the youngest child present to run with burning dessert soaked in alcohol, brilliant. Unfortunately it was followed by a tradition that might be my least favourite: watching old Queenie's Christmas message on telly. When my client asked us all to stand for it I had to tell my Irish Republican blood to cool it and think of the hefty fee I was charging for working Christmas day. Lizzie's focus this year was on sports and their ability to build community. Trying to link this up with communities of early Christians in the Bible was drawing an exceptionally long bow I thought, but hey, who is really listening to the old bird?

Next up was games in the drawing room, listening to my client's son tell age-inappropriate dad jokes, bad coffee (another British tradition), and chatting with the 20-something grand kids in the kitchen. The last part was actually enjoyable and I thought to myself 'I could almost like these toffy gen-Yers if their weren't so blissfully unaware of their privilege'. Discussing tertiary education fees and job security with these youngsters was just so odd because I knew they would never really worry about these issues from a place of personal experience. They were born with a sense of entitlement as much as they were born with arms and legs. This entitlement, however, is not extended to the general population, we must tuff it out while the toffs and tories live it up. I can only thank sweet baby Jebus that my 'upstairs/downstairs' days are nearly at an end and I can once more go amongst the commoners, free to badmouth the monarchy, say 'torie scum' instead of 'the conservatives', and never again have to pass up the roast potatoes because they are covered in rich goose fat. Happy Christmas to the tuffs. x