Overdone – a Christmas Story by Mary Irvine

Overdone: Part of Mary Irvine's Greek Memoirs

As I ascended the final slope to Martina’s house, I could see her on the balcony wielding the binoculars she claimed she used to watch the fishing boats out at sea.  Others, however, did wonder if they helped provide her with her plethora of knowledge of the comings and goings of her neighbours.

She obviously saw my approach, without realizing she had likewise been spotted, and surreptitiously – she believed – slipped the binoculars out of sight before calling ‘welcome’, then disappearing only to re-appear moments later at the entrance to her garden of which she was rightly proud.

Greeting me in her usual enthusiastic, even effusive, way she led me up the steps and into the cool of her kitchen which abounded in many cloths – all matching and, since this was the festive season, they all displayed the same motifs of seasonal relevance: little jolly fat men dressed in red, angelic cherubic children – red and green flourished on every possible flat surface.  This theme was carried over into the living area with a plastic variation of 3D greenery and angelic, cherubic children adorning the wall directly opposite and a large, kelly-like, blow-up fat jolly man dressed in red.  A truly un-realistic tree emanating from one corner took over, rather than dominated, the room.  I was conscious, how could one not be, of the flashing lights which positively rivalled Joseph’s coat, but wasn’t sure, at first, that I was hearing correctly.  Yes, there it was again – co-ordinated with the flashes were the computerised strains of international festive music.

Fortunately Martina had begun her latest piece of gossip so her volume, rather than any rapt interest, drowned out the less than melodious tones of the ‘orchestra.’

As I stirred milk into the hot coffee placed in front of me I switched on to Martina’s diatribe on the latest foreign wife to ‘do a runner’ with her children ‘and just before the festive season too, a time for families to be together’, and wasn’t it terrible?  I made what I hoped were the right noises in the right places! But I had long since desisted from proffering any justification or rationale for so many foreign wives leaving, often with no advance warnings or announcements.  It was, with minor variations, the same story.  Young woman comes to the island and is seduced firstly by its beauty.  She stays.  She meets the man of her dreams.  Or at least the blue sea, the pine trees and the radiant sun makes it so appear.  Several years and two or three children later the dream has dissolved and reality revealed itself. Martina’s tirade ceased as abruptly as it had started.  The sound of an old motor-bike heralded the arrival home of her husband.  She must attend to his needs.  But I must join them for the festive celebration when I would finally meet the much praised grand-child!  I couldn’t wait!

Part of Mary Irvine's Greek Memoirs

Kibble Palace: A Winter Tale by Leela Soma Glasgow Writer
I'm A Shepherd: a Christmas Story by Allan Wilson

This section: Christmas Poems , Stories and Winter Tales

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Publisher of Pat’s Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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