After the Party


Being woken at five thirty am on New Year’s morning was not in my master plan or on my list of New Year resolutions, although Lucy, my cat, didn’t seem to know this. It wouldn’t normally have been a problem except that I had only gone to bed at two am but how could a hairball know that? And it could certainly have been worse, the offending hairball was deposited on my bedroom carpet mere inches away from my new fluffy pink slippers, an extravagant Christmas present from me to me, to mark the new improved Alicia; absolutely no more slovenly attire to be worn at any time, which included my ancient comfy moccasins, which now adorned the bin.

Scrubbing the bedroom carpet with foam cleaner, hot water and elbow grease had the effect of waking me up completely with a sharp aroma, akin to smelling salts I suspect and I knew it was useless to attempt going back to sleep. I would use the time efficiently, after all, getting up earlier had been on my list, ( maybe not quite this early), the reasoning behind that particular  resolution was to give myself time to eat a nutritious breakfast rather than running out of the house last minute and grabbing a donut and coffee to go. Of course, being New Year’s day I wasn’t going to work but I determined to use the time constructively and rummaged around to find my new best friend, a copy of the much acclaimed book by Melissa-Jayne Fosdyke, ‘Be Your Own Life Coach’ subtitled, ‘How to Achieve a New, Improved You!’ My sister had bought the book and given it to me well before the festive season, assuring me that I would find Christmas so much easier if I became an organized, focussed human being. Strictly speaking, organized and focussed were two words which had never applied to me but I decided to accept the book in the spirit with which it was given and had read the tome from cover to cover well before the holiday had begun. Perhaps it needed to be read several times to produce the desired effect, as I found myself still caught up in the last minute dash to the shops during my lunch break on Christmas Eve, followed by an extremely late night wrapping the presents I had meant to do weeks ago.

But today was the start of a New Year, I would begin to get my house in order, metaphorically as well as physically. An early spring clean wouldn’t be amiss, getting rid of the clutter from the festivities of the last few days. Was it too early to take down the tree? Hmm, it was a scrawny specimen with more needles on the carpet than on the branches, yes it would have to go, out with the old and in with the new. Hey, that could be my mantra for the New Year, it had quite an efficient ring to it, ‘out with the old and in with the new’. Yes, I rather like that and I’m sure Melissa-Jayne Frostbite would approve.

By seven am I had cleared away the debris in the kitchen and lounge. It amazes me how guests are so keen to stay to the bitter end of a good party, but suddenly feel they’ve out-stayed their welcome when you begin to clear up the mess. Still, I only made a token effort before the call of my cosy bed overtook my good intentions. Of course next year will be totally different, I’ll have worked out the most efficient way to throw a party and achieve minimal disruption into the bargain, but for now perhaps I’ve earned a coffee and a bacon sarnie for breakfast.

Opening the fridge presented another dilemma. Left over cheesecake, those bite-sized chocolate éclairs and a tempting assortment of cheeses called out to me. Gosh, I didn’t expect to face such a massive problem so soon into my new improved life! What would Melissa-Jayne Flapjack do? Probably sacrifice the goodies to the dustbin and reach for the prunes. Maybe I could eat the left overs today and begin my new regime tomorrow, my mother always said it was a sin to waste good food while millions across the world were starving. The cheesecake was a little dry but two cups of coffee made it more than palatable. I resisted the cheeses, saving them for lunch to supplement the filo pastry tartlets and left over quiche. I could easily justify eating the left overs for two very good reasons, firstly the waste thingy and secondly because I didn’t have any fresh, healthy options in the fridge. I would find a supermarket later in the day and stock up on caffeine free coffee, high fibre cereals, fresh fruit and veg. Yummy!

Inevitably the tiredness caught up with me and despite a gallon of coffee, I succumbed to the lure of my bed and by mid morning was fast asleep with Lucy curled up beside me, a furry, purring hot water bottle.

The telephone woke me at mid-day, or was it the door bell? Crumbs, it was both and as Lucy made no attempt to answer either, I struggled to the door snatching up the phone on the way. Strangely the perpetrator of both disturbances was my sister, Harriet, who claimed I wasn’t answering the door bell so she just had to ring me from her mobile. It had not, of course, occurred to her that I might be sleeping, if she was up then the rest of the human race should be too.

“You must have stayed up late to clear the mess up.” She observed.

“Actually no, I was up rather early and had just settled down for a little catch up.”

She gave me one of those tight-lipped smiles which I know means she doesn’t believe me, but hey, another of my resolutions had been not to let my big sister wind me up. I took a deep breath and returned her smile.

“Coffee?” I asked.

“Green tea if you have it.” She replied, knowing full well that I wouldn’t. Harry settled on Earl Grey and I joined her, resisting the urge to rummage in the cupboards to find a kit-kat to go with it.

“Well Alicia, how are you getting on with the life-coaching?”

“Oh give me a break; it’s only the first day of January for heaven’s sake!” The sharpness of my own voice took me by surprise, bang goes another resolution.

“But haven’t you made your lists? Melissa-Jayne Fosdyke always recommends lists, sticking to them is vitally important if you want to succeed.”

I sighed, mentally counting up the number of resolutions I had already broken. There was the unhealthy food, letting my sister get to me, going back to bed instead of using my time constructively and I hadn’t even prepared a single list. Looking down at my tatty bathrobe there was another breech of the master plan, I looked a mess! Shame washed over me followed swiftly by a defensive stubbornness and a desire to throw my fluffy pink slippers at my sister. Why should I try to change my life, I was happy wasn’t I? Perhaps this life-coaching thing was good for Harry but it certainly wasn’t for me, I loved my life and was comfortably happy and content.

I looked at my sister, always striving for perfection, pushing herself to the limit yet feeling not one iota happier for all her efforts.

“I love you Sis, but this life coaching list making stuff isn’t for me. Perhaps Melissa-Jayne Claptrap works for some people, but I’m simply not one of them.”

My sister smiled, a genuine thoughtful smile, then surprised me by suddenly hugging me as if she hadn’t seen me for eons. Pulling away there were tears in her eyes as she said,

“I’m sorry Alicia, I’m the one who needs to change, I love you just the way you are, even when you frustrate me. I think I’m probably a little jealous of your carefree, relaxed attitude to life, forgive me please?”

We hugged again, differences acknowledged but accepted, exactly how sisters should be. I shuffled off to the kitchen to rescue my ancient moccasins from the bin, then turned to my sister,

“Chocolate éclair Sis?”