The Christmas party: part 3

A gift that keeps on giving

A gift that keeps on giving

The worst things about throwing a Christmas party?

1. Everyone arriving at the same time. (I get panicky and the dog runs out of toys to take to the front door.)

2. … bearing gifts.

3. … bearing food AND gifts.

4. … bearing food and gifts AND flowers.

Thankfully, they all bring their own platters. But I need more vases.

The best things about throwing a Christmas party? (Apart from the obvious stuff – the people and their food, gifts and flowers, the clamour, the music, the way the mirror balls pick out the serried ranks of champagne bottles in a merry little flashdance.)

1. Our first visitor, who moves in mysterious (and very fast) ways her wonders to perform, arrived in the early afternoon with a ham taller than she is when she’s in heels, glossy and sticky in Asian-inspired, patent-leather glaze (the ham, that is, not the heels). She had scored it, meinen blogfreunden, not in your common-or-garden diamond pattern, but in single, perfect slashes across its entire length, exactly one centimetre apart.

I’m guessing she has an ingenious method of executing this feat of fat-scoring perfectionism, and I’m guessing it’s got something to do with chopsticks. I’ve been researching roast turkey recipes for Christmas day, and her recipe for roast turkey is served with potatoes slashed in much the same way, only deeper – hasselback potatoes, they’re called. She uses chopsticks to prevent the potatoes from being cut all the way through. The recipe was in the Dec/Jan 2011 issue of MasterChef Magazine.


The whole, incredible eight-kilogram hulk was prettily dotted with kaffir lime leaves and tied at its shank with a festive scarlet ribbon. Accompanied by homemade spiced plum sauce – two jars, no less.

I’m sure someone with a wide-angled lens took a photo of that ham. I didn’t; I was too afraid that if I did it would steal my soul.

2. The splendid array of hangover-breakfast opportunities. Bite-size crab empanadas with homemade chilli salsa? Perfect glazed ham, lettuce, oxheart tomato and homemade spiced plum sauce walnut sourdough sandwich? Dense, dark, flourless chocolate cake with berries? Yes, yes and yes. And we’re not talking either/or, people. A three-course, two-coffee breakfast. Served with a large side of flowers (and a hair of the dog, though not our dog, for the gallant disco-shed decorator – see The Christmas party: parts 1 and 2).

The Christmas party: part 2

Disco shed - after

Disco shed – after

I’ve got to hand it to him – for a grumpy old man, my husband still knows how to light up a room…

The ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Gourmet-or-MasterChef’ Christmas party is almost upon us and the scene is set. The mirror balls have been stripped of a year’s worth of sawdust and reckless spiders; the snowy drop sheets stapled over every surface in anal-retentive pleats; the hot-pink and acid-green cellophane neatly lashed to the spotlights. He’s even repainted the white concrete floor – all the better to reflect you, my dear…

Those of you who are still hanging around this blog as recklessly as the aforementioned spiders may recall an earlier blog titled (originally enough) ‘Christmas party: part 1’ and illustrated with a gloomily lit corner of our shed captioned (you guessed it) ‘Disco shed – before’.

I love a sequel – almost as much as I love a sunburnt country.

So this is it – but it’s more of a pre-sequel, as the party hasn’t happened yet.

But I just wanted you to see how it’s all going. Those strange objects dangling in front of and below the sparkling mirror balls are actually quite sweet white porcelain pieces. Not, as you might initially suspect, large, airborne moustaches; but angels’ wings. I got them in a sale last year at Have You Met Miss Jones (a purveyor of occasionally whimsical pottery in Sydney, for the benefit of all my many international blogtrotters).

Yup. Underneath this hard-boiled exterior, I’m more fey than Tina.

The other dangling things are stars, obviously.

Rest easy that you won’t be getting a ‘Christmas party: part 3’, because by then it will all be too late – the cheeseboard will have turned back into a board, Cinderella will have cut herself on some broken glass when she took off her shoes because they were killing her, and the handsome prince will be asleep standing propped up against a speaker booming out Urthboy.

It’s unlikely that the police will be called at 4am, though, as they were for our friend’s 60th birthday party a few weeks ago. But you can’t have everything.


Dead woman skipping

Moon over BotanyRather than inflict anything on you late next Friday night, when I may have had a glass of red too many – or worse, none at all – I thought I’d get the farewell business out of the way now.

No, this isn’t a posthumous post – ‘If you’re reading this I must be dead’ – although by the time you get to the end of this you may well wish you were.

Posthumous post – I like that…

On Friday afternoon (early lunchtime preferably), I will walk slowly for the last time down the health-and-safety-poster-strewn corridors of what has been my second home for the past six and a half years (especially on deadline). As I walk, the solemn HR person (who looks uncannily unlike Susan Sarandon) beside me, her hand ready to catch me should I stumble, will be quietly, gravely, reciting my last rites – And yay, though ye shall hand over your ID card and parking sticker, your iPhone and your News Ltd Style Manual, you shall fear no evil...

But I will not falter.

Instead, with head held high, mouth fixed in a steely, yet imperceptibly vulnerable smile, I will walk resolutely to the exit, ears ringing with the sound of my fellow inmates clanging their Pantone™ mugs against their office half-partitions, clad in their grim standard-issue micro-minis and 10-inch platforms.

One by one, they’ll shout words of encouragement as I pass: ‘Have you thought of local government?’, ‘Next time I see you, you’ll be CEO of Google’, ‘Remember the Alamo!’, always with that pathetic flicker of hope in their eyes that maybe, just maybe, if this dame can make it, we can make it, too.

But we’re hardbitten, battle-scarred. We know there’s no pot at the end of the rainbow; that we’re not in Kansas any more; that new publishing models ain’t as photogenic as they used to be.

We’ve seen this whole damn charade play out too many times to know for sure whether this dame will make it beyond next mealtime.

Especially on a school night.

But finally I’ll be at that door – that familiar, so frequently out-of-order, revolving door. With a wry smile and a brief nod of encouragement, HR will push me firmly but gently into the harsh sunlight.

I will not turn round. I will not show weakness as I stand alone in my shabby 2006 civvies, blinking in the light, back on the gritty mean streets of postcode 2015.

Farewell FPC/News Magazines/NewsLifeMedia (or whatever you’re called by the time I finish writing this sentence) and thanks – in advance – for having me.