I HAVE a confession. Last night I took a photo of a bloke’s underpants when he wasn’t looking. He wasn’t wearing them at the time, in fact, he wasn’t even in the room. Let me start at the beginning. I was invited to celebrate Christmas in July at the house of a couple whom I had only met once before. Salt-of-the-earth people who opened up their hearth – there was a roaring log fire – and home to a crew of 10, to mark this festive mid-year point.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care and our handbags and winter coats were piled up in their 24-year-old son’s old bedroom. Which is where I came unstuck. Because along with our belongings, the son had left a few of his own, among which included an impressive collection of clean designer underpants. To put you in the picture, I had also met the son once before, and let’s just say, all of a sudden it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
In my defence, the undies sort of leapt out at me. It wasn’t like I was rifling through his drawers or anything, if you’ll pardon the pun. I had gone into the spare room to collect my camera to take a photo of Miss Chris’ Christmas Cob Loaf. And out jumped the undies. I couldn’t resist. So I took a snap. While every other adult was out in the living room talking about politics, I’m in the spare room taking photos of underpants. In the spirit of Christmas I should also add I may have sprayed a bit of his deodorant on me as well.
We all sat down to dinner and it was at this stage our host pointed out that there were 12 of us around the table, like Jesus and his disciples. Oh, my God, I thought. He knows, he knows I’ve been in the spare room taking indecent shots of his son’s smalls. I felt like Judas, and it took everything for me not to shout out: “It was ME, I took a photo of HIS underpants,” pointing at the 24-year-old who had also joined us at the table.
Instead, I ate and participated in the polite conversation until I felt someone rubbing my leg under the table. I glanced at the son. He was looking intently in my direction. Ding, dong merrily on high. I smiled, coyly. He looked confused. I peeked under the table and there was Digger, the border collie, lounging against my leggings. I looked behind me. The son was watching the rugby on the television.
We ate my cob loaf, leek tarts with speck in bechamel sauce, a moist turkey, steaming pork and roast vegetables drowned in duck fat gravy all washed down with copious red wine and boisterous banter. Dessert was delectable with strawberries and cherries dipped in chocolate and a hearty bread and butter pudding.
The son went home, taking the dog with him, both of them looking a little strangely in my direction on the way out. And I went home, tail between my legs but spirits high. What’s not to love about Christmas?
Miss Chris’ Christmas Cob Loaf
Buy a plain cob loaf from the bakery
Slice the top off the loaf and set it aside
With your fingers, pull out the insides of the bread in bite-size balls
Slice the sides of the loaf with a knife
On a stove top warm up 450g of frozen spinach
Add a packet of French onion soup (no water)
Add a large tub of extra light sour cream
Stir until all mixed well and bubbling
Pour into the centre of the loaf
Put the bite-sized bites of bread around the side
Put the lid of the loaf back on top
Serve with a flourish!