Midnight Mass

OHG Sophisticated Ladies it is barely three hours until midnight mass which my mother and I attend religiously (ha, ha) every Christmas Eve. My parents live on the lane in front of the village church, St Bartholomews; and it is, as the saying goes ‘a hop, step and a jump’ from the front door to the entrance. In my case a crutch assisted series of bunny hops guided by the torch my mother will be clutching! I sometimes wonder if the residents of the lane ever regret having declined the local authority’s offer to adopt the road and provide street lighting. At the time street lighting was considered to be magnet for local young people (or nocturnal dog walkers). Neighbourhood watch perhaps?

 This festive event marks the annual exercising of my vocal chords and I confess to being a little breathless on account of my tobacco habit. It is quite shameful that I can barely manage a line of the average Christmas carol without gasping for air! I am confident that the great Lord never envisaged being praised by a panting worshipper who only drags her sorry ‘ass’ to the ecclesiastic premises once a year! My shortcomings are thankfully offset by my mother’s rather more judicious attendance albeit to the larger Crooked Spire in town; accordingly I, rather selfishly, consider my bases are covered via this maternal insurance policy!

The question for the evening is how to make my appearance tip top; the congregation is bound to include persons who witnessed my growing up and they need to see a statuesque sophisticat not a cripple! As a permanent crutch user I can refer to myself thus without offence; if you are offended by my use of the term ‘cripple’ I will refrain from apologising. Not least because my sleek black walking aids are the height of German imported sophistication; co-ordinated with black leather boots, gloves and handbag. The question is whether to complete the ensemble with my black cloche hat or not?

 The worst part of coming to visit Old Whittington is the soft nature of the water; it is a devil to style my hair after a shampoo on the premises of number 16! Frankly I could never move back to this part of the world simply because of the coiffeur challenges one would face on a daily basis; my poor nerves would just not stand it! Hence the question of the hat. The state of the barnet as we speak is shockingly as it appears that I have provided residence for Tufty the Safety Squirrel!

 In the absence of blonde highlights, for the first time in over 20 years, my true colour is on show. An unadulterated strawberry blonde otherwise referred to a light squirrel adorns my cranium from all angles; the wavy curls envied by many resemble tufts when subjected to rain soaked wind! Try as I might I simply CANNOT get the tufts to kiss the side of my skull – preferring instead to say a jaunty hello to the lobes of my ears! Frustration; until you’ve had curly hair in a Derbyshire soft water meets moisture laden wind you don’t get near to appreciating the meaning of the word!!

 So I am inclined towards the hat this evening; of course this covers all my hair enhancing my newly tinted eyebrows. It is entirely my fault for paying little attention to what the beautician was saying when I visited for a recent eyebrow shaping. On account of my ‘shaky hand’ tendency to pinch the flesh when plucking errant brow hairs I consider this to be essential maintenance; standards must not be allowed to slip! So when the lovely lady said ‘shall we try a tint’ I simply responded ‘OK’ as I carried on with some amusing trivia.

When I initially looked in the mirror I was a little taken aback by the surprised cum alarmed visage looking back at me! Without foundation to counteract the blanc cum rose wind burnt skin i.e. patchy pale pallor, the contrast with my newly tinted eyebrows is a tad stark. Arch ironically raised eyebrows fortunately flatter my personality; a lesser human being could attract quite the wrong kind of attention!

 Safe to say I shan’t need an eyebrow pencil for sometime; would I have tinting done again? Well as time has passed and the tinting of the skin under the eyebrow has faded I do quite like the overall effect; even if I feel a little shallow admitting this! Which reminds me I had better pop off and top up my makeup before going to church.

 Of course it will be dark and the body of St Bartholomews isn’t exactly well lit but I simply can’t risk being anything less than the opitome of sophistication with a subtle hint of menace as I clip down the central aisle after taking Holy Communion! Ironically the sip of consecrated wine is the only alcohol I will imbibe over the festive period…

 Hark the Herald Angels the Contemporary Spinster will sing this evening; I will forgive you should you slip on your mittens before placing them over your ears….poor mother’s ear is already burning on account of her shingles so a blast of icy wind as we cross the churchyard may be just the ticket. We will make an amusing couple on account of the height differential; mother is 5’2” whilst I am 5’11 without the hat!!!















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