London Sketch 7

She stares hard at the paper, willing her brain to comprehend the printed words, but a sense of smug accomplishment keeps getting in the way. She’s on her way home with the last item on her pre-Christmas checklist complete. Her groceries were delivered yesterday, the kids’ presents weeks earlier, but today is about her.

She resists the urge to pull her phone out to admire her newly cut-and-set bob. Every hair has been immaculately trimmed to sit just right, perfectly echoing the rest of her plans. She gloats a little, savouring just how easy and stress-free Christmas has been, nothing at all like the nightmares the other mothers at school bemoan. But tomorrow her sister’s family will arrive and then the stress will really begin.

She idly turns a page of the newspaper, still none the wiser about what it is she’s trying to read. Her sister has promised to arrive no earlier than eleven in the morning which should give her enough time to get her own family in order. She’s already ordered, unpacked and ironed their outfits, each chosen to complement the rest of the family — a touch of plum purple this year. The new hair do is exactly what she needs to complete the look, the perfect family that her sister craves, but will never have.

Instead, her rag bag bunch will arrive, late of course, in a complete state of disarray. Unbrushed hair and teeth, mismatched socks, and worn out hand-me-downs that have seen much better days — brother-in-law included. Sometimes she wonders if perhaps her sister was adopted they are so dissimilar. Where she likes order and neatness, her sister is always too busy laughing about some awful scrape her kids have gotten into.

She sniffs a little and tries to push the horrors of tomorrow from her mind. This is her afternoon and she’s jolly well going to enjoy it.

Picture taken 24th December 2014