It was the day before Christmas Eve, in the year of Our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Sixty Eight. Maggie, who was Paddy Donnelly’s wife of twelve years, gave him some money to go and purchase some decorations for the Christmas tree. But before she parted with the money she gave him strict instructions not to buy anything from second-hand shops, cheap markets, or anything made in Hong Kong but above all…not to buy anything from Gerry Stanley.
“I’m giving you three pounds Paddy and I expect some change back as well. I’d go myself but I haven’t the time, as I have to have this house in tiptop condition before my Mother, Phil and that stuck-up wife of his and their three brats come over for Christmas dinner” she paused briefly before continuing “and I won’t get it done with you hanging around”
Paddy wore a solemn look and made to cough before responding as he took the three crisp pound notes from Maggie’s outstretched hand. “I can put up with Phil and Marjorie and those kids to a point, but it’s your Mother that really unnerves me, why she has to poke her nose into everything every time she sets foot in this house is beyond me”
“Paddy! let’s not go there” Maggie replied in her best vexed pose “she only gets to come a couple of times a year so the least you can do is be clean, smart, and be nice to her when she does come, now be gone with you and don’t take all day” as she angrily wiped crumbs from the formica kitchen table.
Paddy hated when Maggie was like this, she was always on tender hooks whenever her sister in-law visited, coupled with the fact that Maggie’s mother thought the world of her daughter in-law ‘My son married a real lady there, and you wouldn’t see Marjorie wearing anything cheap and vulgar’ she was fond of saying, especially in close proximity of Paddy’s earshot. This real lady malarkey nonsense really irked Paddy, as he was sure that his mother in-law, whenever given the chance was quick to fire a shot across her bow at him. She’d never forgiven Maggie for marrying me Paddy thought. Well I’ll show the lot of them, what a real Christmas should be like’ Paddy said to himself as he hopped on the number fifty nine bus into Oldham. Continue reading “Christmas Lights” »