In Britain and her colonies there is a Christmas tradition called Pantomime. We go, the full generational family, to see such productions such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin and, of course, Cinderella.
These events bear little relation to the original folk tales, ballets or movies the children’s stories have sired. They are written and rewritten each year to be entertaining, topical and funny (for all ages). If slap stick, scatology, double entendre, men dressed up as women, women as men and “He’s behind you!” shouted by the audience at regular intervals does not rock your boat then pantomime is not for you.
But that’s your loss.
And just because the Carmichaels are in a pantomime hiatus presently (children grown, grandparents gone, grandchildren years away) Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without reference to shows of yore.
This weekend gone I was put in mind of Cinderella, the last production we saw en famile, and the character, Buttons who is, in panto-land, the servant of Baron Hardup, Cinders’ father. He is, along with the Ugly Sisters, a comedy character extraordinaire dressed always in blue and gold and using funny to mask his unrequited love for our heroine.
The mind I was put in was more because of his name than his love-lorne nature and the person that sprung into my snapses?
Mr Carmichael of course.
Let me explain.
Every December my husband’s and my presence is requested at the Company Do. For Mr C, this involves hunting for his DJ the evening before (or on the night), asking me if I’ve seen his dress shirt and if so could I iron it, pulling out the bow tie that requires tying and stating that he will look at the internet for tying tips, getting dressed in last year’s outfit, wearing the bow tie hung around his neck untied and getting drunk.
By comparison, it requires Yours Truly to start the outfit hunt in November, find a dress that could not be mistaken for the 2012 model, that not only fits but complements my curves, pay the extortionate price, read a day later that the dress is on price – match (20% off), return the dress, re-buy the dress, find one matching shoe in the wardrobe, get a mani – pedi in Christmassy colours (gold toes, burgundy fingernails), fork out for a wash and blow dry, hunt for my ‘special’ jewellery that I have put somewhere safe (for two frantic hours), decide to straighten the bombshell that was our bedroom (jewel hunting) another time, find the second shoe (phew), iron Hubby’s shirt, buy a pre-bowed bow tie, squeeze into my Spanx, dress, push up bra plus crippling shoes and breath in shallow bursts for the remainder of the evening due to corset-like constriction on lungs and tummy while waiting for my feet to blister and ache inconsolably.
Looking pretty smart, if I say so myself, we set off for Syon house and a masked extravaganza a la Cirque de Soliel on steroids. I agreed to take the masks but did mention we might well leave them in the car. Heels, Spanx and a strapless bra enough inconvenience for this gal’ on this night.
Mr C agreed but only because, I think, he had difficulty squeezing his forehead into the Doctor’s phizog and didn’t want to sport red welts for the evening. If only that had been the worst of it.
We were greeted with a queue for bubbles, a bar with better booze and scantily dressed damsels hanging above our heads. Luckily the majority of attendees had, like us, eschewed the Venetian element of entertainment and were brazenly bare faced.
The drink flowed, I found K……, another wife who I had bonded with at last year’s function and changed the seating to be beside her. No shame. It just makes all the difference doesn’t it?
“Husband o’ mine,” I said early on, “Your top button’s undone.”
He was downing a pint of beer so I tried to do it up for him. That proved difficult. On heels, holding a glass of wine and being bumped by the many, I believed I’d achieved it. But when he joined me and my bestie at our table, not one but two buttons were adrift.
“Do up your buttons,”I hissed. It was only 8.30 and some decorum was required.
It was a lost cause. At one point during the dinner all his buttons were undone. Sweet Jesus, what a sight. Thankfully the European Manager, film star looks and the height to match, was at another table.
“At mumble years old I would expect you to be able to do up and keep control of your buttons,” I shouted over the live band.
“I think there might be another button behind this button,” he replied looking down at his bare chest. “Can you help?”
I wished I hadn’t left my mask in the car.
K……. found it all hilarious. Well, she would wouldn’t she? It wasn’t her husband.
Hours later, Mr C staggered back to our table for a sit down and possible minor sober up. K……. noticed him first, her laughter alerting me to his approach.
The pristine white dress shirt was neither buttoned nor white.
“What’s happened to you?” Kate asked in a voice reserved for anyone other that a husband.
“Ive been shot,” said the love of my life.
Well at least the two of them found it funny.
I have got almost all the red wine out now. His DJ’s in the cleaners, the pre-tied tie is put away, my blister is healing, and I have one more thing to add to my To Do list for Christmas 2014.
Teach Mr Carmichael how to button his dress shirt.