I am sitting in bed, watching episodes of Desperate Housewives back to back and feeling sorry for myself. Despite the Christmas tree sparkling winsomely in the corner of the room, I have never felt less festive, or more hungover. That’s what happens when you go to a party for grown up singles on Christmas day, instead of more traditional activities such as watching the Top of the Pops Christmas special in the front room of your parents house, or sulking when your mother refuses to put any alcohol in her Christmas pudding. Grown up + singles = unfeasible amounts of drink. My liver is determined to find me a boyfriend. It’s an act of self-preservation.
The phone vibrates on the bedside table, almost making me jump out of my skin.
“Hi there,” I say to Mr Frog. “I was just thinking about phoning you. I need to think about plane tickets for the February holidays…”
“Already?” he replies. He never did understand my impulse to organise things in advance. “Well, er, that’s not why I’m phoning. My Doctor friend just stopped by to see Tadpole and I have some news.”
“About that little scab on her head?” I ask, puzzled at his rather ominous tone of voice. There has been a crusty patch above Tadpole’s right ear since she caught chickenpox back in November. It was taking a while to clear up, so I’d suggested to Mr Frog that he might want to show it to his friend if he stopped by. “Right, well, what did he say?”
“Well… it wasn’t healing right, and he actually cut off the hair around it and opened up the wound. So now she’ll need to wear a compress and a bandage around her head for two weeks…”
“A bandage? For two weeks? For a scab the size of a one euro coin? Why on earth? Was it infected or something?”
“Well, I don’t think so, but he did prescribe a week of antibiotics. And a special gel…
“Jesus,” I say, choosing my words with festive care. “Why didn’t I take her to the doctor’s earlier? I feel awful now. But it looked dry and fine and I was just expecting it to fall off any day now…”
“Hey, it’s not your fault…”
I replace the receiver.
So, the pictures of Tadpole’s Christmas this year will feature her head mummified in bandages, perhaps with a tiara perched on top to cheer her up.
And the in-laws have just spent the holiday with the gauzy white evidence of my neglect staring them squarely in the face.
Roll on 2007, things can only get better.