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Christmas 2006 was our first a very special occasion, even by the usual standards of the season; it was the first Christmas after Keith and I had moved in together.

It was the sort of Christmas you have before you grow into family sized tables, where furniture is crow-barred into a room and people are pressed elbow to elbow, perched on everything from the coffee table to a lawn chair. 

I cooked up my first Christmas dinner in our too small kitchen and it was cheerfully devoured by both of our families along with a suitable quantity of wine.

Later, while people were loosening off belts and negotiating over the last chocolate, a suggestion was made to play cards and in the tradition of the Batsford family, a game of “spoons” was decided upon. 

Perhaps it was the wine, or the near exhaustion from my morning of cooking, but I have no idea what happened next. 

Seriously, none.

I know there were cards exchanged at a furious pace but what sticks in my mind is the fact that by the end of the game my table, and several contestants, were all sporting gouge marks.

This was my introduction to a family who can turn a casual game of cards into a blood sport.

I know this is an outstanding tangent, even my usual standards, but I wanted to give a little context that will help frame my next statement:

Alfie has started playing Football.


I had absolutely no knowledge of the fact that my son wanted to take up this most hallowed of team sports, but Keith assures me that he was keen.

Suspicion aside, I’m torn between whether this is a stroke of genius, or the damnation of us all.

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