It’s Christmas Eve and Mum and Dad have ditched us at Nanny Pam’s while they go shopping all day. Dad only got paid today so they’ve gone out to buy everything. Dad said he’d buy a proper tree as well, because the one he got from the woods doesn’t have any needles left and Mum says it smells like cat piss.
Jenny, Josh and me are lying in front of the telly watching Home Alone and eating Cornflakes. Nanny Pam let us put double cream on them instead of milk as a special Christmas treat.
Nanny Pam’s friend Maeve, from the fag counter, pulls up outside in her knackered old brown mini, she’s wearing her Tesco uniform and her name badge has some tinsel round it. Out of her boot she grabs a big red bin bag that says ‘Santa’s Sack’ on it.
Maeve comes into the living room, plonks herself on the sofa, does a big annoying sigh and lights a fag. I really hope Maeve’s not in one of her talkative moods, because she’ll ruin the film, she’s always in a talkative mood though.
Dad never buys fags from Tesco when Maeve’s on shift. He says he can feel himself ageing in the queue while she tells the customers in front her daft stories, like the one about her dog being psychic or the time her sister in-law accidently swallowed a car air freshener.
After being quiet and pretending to watch the film for less than half a second Maeve says,
‘What's this film all about then?’
Jenny tells her really quickly, ‘This boy’s home alone, there’s some burglars, and he has to get them to piss off before his parents come back.’
Maeve says, ‘Oh right, that’s like what happened to my neighbour Maureen last week. She went up town and when she came home she saw her bathroom window was open. Now, she thought she might have been burgled, but it turns out her husband had just got home from work early and opened it after he’d been to the toilet.’
Jenny says, ‘That’s nothing like Home Alone.’
‘Tis! Anyway, do youse lot wanna see what’s in Santa’s sack?’
We pause Home Alone and sit around Maeve while she gives us a present each. Josh opens his first; it’s a kazoo! Mum will go mad when she sees it. We’ve only just got him to stop playing the recorder. Mum had to pretend it had batteries, and that they’d ran out, by shoving a load of bog roll in so it stopped making a sound.
I open mine. It’s a jumper that has a cat on it but the cat has a really long face, and instead of paws it’s got big hands which are connected to a black box that has teeth.
It’s rank, but I decide to be dead fake and say, ‘Thanks Maeve, I love cats’ (which isn’t exactly a lie because I do love cats).
‘It’s not a cat it’s Snoopy playing the Piano’
I can’t think of anything else to say so I just give Maeve a hug.
Jenny opens her present; it’s a used blusher.
Maeve says, ‘I thought you were looking a bit pale recently love, and the lads like it when you’ve got a bit of a glow’.
Jenny says, ‘Feminists don’t wear make-up’.
‘Well if you want a girlfriend, you’re still going to have to start making the most of yourself, because I don’t think girls go for ghosts either.’
‘I’m not a lesbian, I’m a feminist.’
‘Oh, well do what you like with it love, I got it free with Take a Break anyway, but when I tried it on, your Nan said I looked like I’d been Vimto'd.’
‘Yeah, that’s what I said.’
From the kitchen Nanny Pam asks Maeve if she wants a cuppa.
Maeve asks, ‘Have you got any Baileys?’
Nanny Pam shouts, ‘I thought you’ve got work?’
‘I have but I need to get my courage up for Father Christmas, it’s his last shift in the grotto today.’
Josh stops playing his Kazoo and stares at Maeve. I whisper to him that Maeve doesn’t mean the real Father Christmas, and that there’s no way the real one would bother coming to Tesco, Cannon Park when he could be cheesing around Lapland with Rudolph.
Nanny Pam hands Maeve a Baileys and says, ‘You’re not still going on about him are yer? I thought he was shacked up with Jill from the garage anyway?’
Maeve sips her Baileys and says, ‘Let's just say there’s no Mrs. Claus anymore after she caught him coppin’ off with Michele the Mouth at the works do. But Michele got back with Tony on Fish last week, so he’s a free agent again.’
Nanny Pam says, ‘Fine but when Father Christmas is back on the dole in January, don’t come moaning to me’
Maeve lights up a new fag while the one she’s just finished still burns in the ashtray. Jenny presses play and Kevin McAlister gets a lovely cheese pizza just for him. I wish we were having an America Christmas with proper Christmas trees, snow and pizza.
After ruining the whole film, eating all the decent Roses and brimming the ashtray, Maeve eventually leaves for her shift on the fag counter.
It starts to get dark and Nanny Pam’s Christmas lights come on. Cars start to drive really slowly passed her house and kids faces press against car windows to have a look. Nanny Pam’s gone even bigger with her display this year, after one of her neighbours put a note through the door last year saying they were ‘tacky and dragging the whole street down’.
Mum and Dad come back with a huge Christmas tree tied to the roof! We run to the car before Dad’s even parked and get in. Nanny Pam waves us off, and Dad says we can have what ever we want for dinner. I ask if I can have a lovely cheese pizza just for me.