Need to catch up or know who is who? Check out the first installment of 'Milla's Diary.
8 January 2014, Sandringham (I WILL get back to daily writing when we leave. It's simply too difficult when they days all meld together.)
Well! How about this for a creepy start to the day? Today is our spectural host's--Prince Eddy's--150th birthday! Cue the Jack the Ripper stories, I say! As much as this family enjoys tramping in the rain and shooting at things, its never personal. After all, if we raise birds to shoot them, we must shoot them? But kill decent, everyday, tarts? Of course not. Imagine! Well, happy birthday ghostly old thing!
This is certainly the holiday without end. Randy is still installed on the sofa with the remote. Edith and the wife are now VERY twitchy for the off and their
Found Dear One, cotton wool sprouting from his ears, hunched in despairation over an elderly signed, first-edition Dick Francis from the shelf in the upstairs loo. (Lest you think we are living in too much splendor here, the loo situation is roughly as it was when Queen Alexandra died the year before the Mother-in-law was born. There's a que in the morning and quite a pong, I might add. The ventilation isn't all that it could be.) I grabbed the iPad to catch up the Street with my ear buds, but the signal was too weak, so I budged up against Dear One and read along with him. Anything to escape the Family. I had just settled in nicely when a very Regal voice broke the sound barrier saying "Outside--the lot of you!" Even Dear One heard it through his cotton wool. He sighed, put down the book and grabbed his Barbour. I'd left mine downstairs near the dog door, so we padded off for enforced outdoor living.
Edith's children were clearly out of their element so, seeing no nanny, parent or protection officer to take charge, I grabbed their icy hands and dragged them off toward the gun room. The Mother-in-law can't see that entrance from her study so we were reasonably safe. Happy to do anything inside, they cane along willingly. The boy was gobsmacked by all the guns. From the cypher affixed to each I named the soveriegn who had owned them. This is where my years of Mummy school outing chaperoning duties comes in so handy! Naturally they wanted to handle them so I shot a look of total desperation to the armourer and he unlocked one belonging to Edward VII. I gave a very nice not-quite-special-snowflake-lecture on the heyday of shooting parties, ignoring the wretched excesses of indilety, drinking, etc. Then I pulled out a leather bound volume and explained it was a "Game Book." The boy sat right up! I was impressed. I explained that each day's bag was listed along with other details--I pointed out a handwritten annotation saying "David's first day" and explained who that was, skipping the Abdication, of course. The boy soaked it all up like a sponge. "Wow!" He said, looking at the figures for a day in 1902, "he must have been at the uppermost level! Imagine the coins he had." I nearly said, "Not coins, darling, stamps," but didn't want to spoil the moment. It was only the second time the boy had been still the entire holiday. He and his sister continued discussing this with wild excitement. It dawned on me--they thought it was a video game! The Glorious 12th for Xbox or PlayStation. What a hoot!
Back in the sitting room after we'd run around to the front door to look suitably cold and miserable for the Mother-in-law, the boy tugged at my sleeve and whispered something. I fetched the butler and the boy's request was relayed. Soon a notebook was found and, with his sister's help, a "Game Book" was enthusiastically begun. He carefully recorded his best scores at each video game! I saw no point in elaborating on what "game" really meant---they were both beautifully still, totally quiet and utterly content. They're such lambs!
Dear One took me off back to Prince Eddy's room and rewarded me far more handsomely than Edward VIII did in giving Wallis most of his personal wealth in jewels for providing peace and quiet at last. I'm told a flunkie was sent to fetch us for dinner, but we didn't hear him. The Mother-in-law and Pip exchanged silly looks when we finally came down at 11 pm.
The next day it was soon after breakfast when the chaos errupted again. Not the children this time, but the "children"--Dear One, the OTH, Randy and Edith. Randy WILL hog the remote and Mummy always sides with him, but the others ganged up on him this time. Pip, wisely I thought, had vanished to the Stud (most likely to chat up the new stable lass, but I went with his story of needing to check on some horse he likes). The OTH, who takes no nonsense, let me tell you, smacked Randy hard, shoved Edith and lunged for the remote. "YES!" I heard her chorus with Dear One. "[OTH] you appologize to Darling Randy this instant!" said the voice the entire nation recognizes. "I won't Mummy. He's impossible." At last she pursuaded the Mother-in-law (and she IS the ONLY one who could do so) that Randy's hand on the remote had outstayed its welcome. "Fine." Came the very regal voice. "Sit down--all of you. And no talking, no getting up, until I return"--she fixed Dear One with an especially chilly look given his history of whining to go to the loo in such situations,. She took the remote, flipped to a channel that I'd never known existed and left, remote in hand, to resume the perusal of the content of her boxes.
The Crochet Channel is not well known, but I'm sure it has a lovely following.... somewhere. Several hours later she emerged and said: "Alright children, you may get on." All enthusiastically showed her what they had made as they watched. The OTH had written a note ("Mummy didn't say ANYTHING about not writing or not ringing.") Apparently a servant had located the old nursery craft box and brought out crochet hooks and wool that the OTH recalled having been purchased for her long-ago class of girls (before she won the battle to go off to boarding school). Edith did especially nice work, I thought. Dear One, as always, had made a muddle of his bit. The OTH, having a headstart in that she had at least been shown the rudiments, had done a lovely bracelet for each of her little Grands and one for the Grand-to-be. Her husband had managed a jolly good start on a face cloth. Randy was making a little band for his take-away coffee cup and Mrs. Edith, having been to the RIGHT sort of boarding school, had done part of a set of mittens. But it was Edith's fine, lace-like product that left us all speechless. He really has the knack for it. But could the Mother-in-law praise him for it? Of course not! She giggled at Dear One, then praised Randy to the sky for being so clever AND so practical (not just ONE compliment, if you please). Edith and the OTH were ignored. (Probably she figured Pip could praise them--parents do that--divide and conquer with such large families). I'd done my bit quickly having learned when I was pregnant and had to rest a lot. I made dear little Owls for the Grands and Edith's two. Takes no time at all.
The last few days have been oddly quiet. The Mother-in-law shared that her Father and his brother David were taught needlework so they wouldn't fidgit when Queen Mary read to them. As we all calmly watched a movie--the children toting up their "game" books (there were two such now) and the rest of us boozy and crocheting, it was really very nice. Edith set the dvr to record a few programs for his own use (he decided on lace place mats and needed to watch the rest of the series). All was, therefore, well until Pip called Dear One "Miss Nancy" for his efforts and then we were back at it! I suggested to Edith's two that we go to the nursery for a nice LONG story and, "game" books in hand, they agreed. Downstairs it was a regular Donneybrook. The Equerry, having seen the fury in the OTH's eyes (and likely not fancying having to sleep on a 19th century, horsehair sofa) decided to help me with the children and kindly produced a lovely flash of something yummy to help jolly us all along. Mrs. Edith, a look of undying gratitude in her eyes, joined us shortly thereafter, leaving the "nuclear" family to go....well.... nuclear downstairs. It was the phrase "Oh Bollocks, [Pip]" from the one with the ermine that made us all duck and cover and protect the children. Soon doors were slamming everywhere. Family! It's part of what makes us British, I always say.
Nothing like a lovely family Christmas, I always say!