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Yorkshire Pud at Granny's Pad

I don't want to be a fucking granny; I just want to be a granny fucking. Why not? If you can still give head when all about are losing hairs and blaming it on you ... then you're doing really bloody well, old dear.

Sunday lunch for fifteen today; it didn't faze me. Five or fifteen, same old lame old shit, but today ...

... today I forgot to make the sodding Yorkshire pudding.

I forgot the Yorkshire pudding. Does it signify? Does it sink into your tiny brain? I was ready. The lord and master was still in bed, hoover-dodging, so I rushed to pick up venomous number five from her sleep-over. Sleep-over? Joke. Stay awake all night and paint each others' toenails while watching naughty, forbidden Scary Movie Six and talking about boys, bras and Brazilians. Spitting in the back of the Fiat she was, angry, pale, exhausted, her and her inarticulate glottal-gobstoppered friend - premonstration of premenstrual years of teenage angst to come. I left them simmering in the back and went into Tescos. (Once I despised Sunday shopping. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy, I reverently spouted and signed their cross-hatched petitions. Now it's an everyday convenience.) I had to buy more eggs, you see. I'd started making a pavlova the night before, not knowing about the dog-sick disinfectant lingering in the dried out depths of the mixing bowl. It wouldn't whisk and form peaks; thank God it didn't whisk and form peaks and ...

... you can't make a Yorkshire pudding without breaking eggs.

Knock knock, who's there? James and Fiona arrived first with the dog, the girls and all their clutter, impeccably on time, far too early; I was still reeling cat fur off the dining chairs, wiping down the crusty kitchen layers. Sold out, that son did. It hurts to see him; you always have hopes of the eldest. I thought he had a soul at first - Eng. Lit. with Phil. at Durham, and he becomes a plod, a speed camera king. Fiona's helpful, in that patronising Scottish way of one who knows this kind of dirt isn't lingering on the carpets at her home. The clingfilm queen, I call her. At the end of every meal she clears the table, each morsel wrapped, filed and fridged away - a true NHS administrator. Does she honestly think we'll heat and eat them? Does she really think they won't grow a beard of mould together with the five tins of opened, date-late Whiskers on the shelf? Anyway, they took my mind off the batter with their vacuous chatter, so ...

... I forgot to make the fucking Yorkshire pudding.

Convexity distracted me. You know those serving covers they use in cod-archaic hotel restaurants at breakfast, the silver domed kind with a round hinged handle? That's what Kylie's belly looked like over the top of her crack dropped jeans, once again, my daughter-in-lawless number three. Flouncing through the door she came, one currant bun with a cherry on the top - cherry, some joke her. Didn't her mother ever teach her to eat with her mouth shut, sleep with her legs shut? Probably not - she lives by hosting Ann Summers parties herself. My poor thick son, Steven, the stud; his girlfriend covered in them, screwed into her body. Maybe this time she'll have the sense to take the ring off her navel before it turns inside out, and pull out the tongue stud before she swallows it in her uncessant labours. Christ knows what other studs the midwife's going to mine. ... Mine, that's what he thinks of the baby, that fat, blue-eyed, round-faced placid pudding of a child, so unlike my own bright brown-eyed infants. Oh yes, that reminds me ...

... I forgot to make the Yorkshire pudding.

They pour it on you, this grannydom. Not much you can do about it once they start to sprog. Today, there's only three of them mewling and puking ... tomorrow it'll be a warren. You should seem me do my granny act, lying on the floor, crawled upon and crawling, tickling with spider fingers their snotty, soft so-sticky skin.

'Gwanny, Gwanny, I wanna dwink.'

For God's sake, teach her to say her R's, wipe her own arse. Why can't the English teach their children how to speak? Stick on a video - it's all that quietens this primary coloured plastic happy meal generation. And the baby, Jesus ... that endless bloody whinging. Give him some gripe water, for Christ's sake. Mine used to drink it by the gallon. I did too. Have you seen the alcohol content they used to put in a bottle of Dinnefords? I have, twice every time.

Wine's the only remedy for whining, and I had a nice bottle of Mersault hidden away in the other fridge - not cardboard box Chardonnay. I'd kept it from Christmas, and it was slipping down smooth as warm honey on a sore throat. Wine, let us call thee devil? No, more like a seraph's kiss, and it might explain why ...

... I'd forgotten to make the bloody Yorkshire pudding.

Jesus, I needed some female support - someone on my side for once. On cue she came in, Katie, my Carry-On-Nursing daughter, F-cup above, size eight below, blonde and perky ... no wonder she thought she was reading the blood pressures wrong when she first put on her student's flimsy gaping uniform. And what had she brought with her this time? Let's have a look. Yum ... torso like Dallaglio, arse like a young Mel Gibson, legs like Beckham - not much hair on top - in fact not much up top in general, probably ... he plays rugby for the Tigers. He could rattle my cage any time.

Grandad with his nicked resigner stubble sat in his familiar armchair in the corner; even rugby didn't penetrate his beta-blockered boredom. He doesn't really get up all day; he'll never get it up tonight. Want to be a happy fucking granny? Fat chance. No wonder ...

... I forgot to make the fucking Yorkshire pudding.

Just two more to come now. God, we'd better all behave. In came the couple with the conscience, the pair with principles, the son with sod all in his pocket but treasure stored up in heaven. First in Law he took at Cambridge, and he's working for the CPS, for the good of his fellow man. He must be flaming daft. He should be practising to look after me in the manner to which I'd like to become accustomed. He's oh-so sensible, too, waiting to start a family until financial circumstances permit, until she's had good value from her M.A. He's another one with a Scottish wife, a washed-out vegetarian unlibertarian librarian with a nose, such a nose.

'Some time, mother,' (she calls me mother). 'I'll catalogue your library for you. I could alphabetize it or do it by subject. It would make it easier to find a book when you need it.'

Jesus, she'd have a shock if she tried. I've got books in plain covers Dewey never numbered a category for. Anyway, that's the fun of a full bookcase. It's not that I know where everything is ... exactly the opposite. You're looking for a dictionary and you get distracted by Dickens; hunting for the A-to-Z you pick up the Aristophanes and lose yourself in long-forgotten deciphering; Hemingway rubs shoulders with the Brontes, Thackeray with Binchey, Trollope with ... Trollope. I can forget myself in there, and Christ, that reminds me ...

... I forgot to make the Yorkshire pudding.

The women helped me dish up, while adult sons vied for points on the Disney dance mats, lumbering with surreal elephantine lack of grace to the cryptic arrows on the television screen. Sibling rivalry is never quite dead.

There are only two things I can do well, and one of them is cooking. Roast rib of beef we had today bloody and unbowed, carrots, cabbage, beans and sprouts, roast potatoes and parsnips, wine-dark gravy. There was cheese for afters, a rich chocolate mousse (hail to the Goddess Delia), and an apple and mincemeat crumble laced with rum.

The house might be a wreck, but the table looked good. Dark blue with white lace - it always works. The silver was dishwasher shiny, the glasses gleamed and the wine flowed. The table extended down into the conservatory, wreathed in sunshine, ivy and bougainvillea. Norah Jones didn't mind being left in the background. Everybody talked incessantly, all at once ... mouths full, cutlery waving. It was great. I kept the kiddies in the kitchen.

Everybody talked at once, except for one - the quiet, grey-beard sitting at the head of the table, mild, confused, flustered by the noise and commotion. He looked up once only from his plate, and volunteered his sole, disappointed contribution:

'Isn't there any Yorkshire pudding? We always have Yorkshire pudding.'

Northampton-based writer. First prize winner in Momaya and BBC Write '04 competitions. Finalist in Peninsular, Northern Echo/Orange, BBC/LBF, Scribble.