EVERY year, regular as clockwork, we turn up at our friend Aine's house for her Nollaig na mBan.
She goes to a lot of trouble. First, she installs her husband in the sitting room with BBC4 and tells him he is not allowed out until it's all over. Then she presents us with a glass of Prosecco flavoured with elderberry cordial (Downton Abbey has nothing on us) and dishes up the food. This year it was fish mousse to start, followed by fish pie made with shredded spinach and fennel after which we enjoyed a cheese board and three types of dessert. I had three helpings of fish pie and by the time I reached the cheese board I was ready to keel over.
"Nollaig na mBan is just the same as Coffee na mBan except we eat more and drink the grape instead of the bean," Patsy said, flicking her hair over her shoulder as if she was auditioning for a shampoo ad. She'd just had it cut by Maggie who takes great pride in being the only person who can tame Patsy's wild locks.
"Is it really that hard to cut?" Josie asked and then wished she hadn't.
"Oh God, yes. You see, the top isn't too bad but the underneath is just the same as pubic hair. All little curls and wiry as hell," Maggie replied.
I was stuffing some cheese and crackers into my mouth and just managed to get them down without choking to death. Patsy was suitably gobsmacked but, instead of her usual riposte of WTF, she announced that she had bought herself a Klingon.
"From Star Trek?" Maggie said, confused.
"Not a Klingon you daft moo. A Cling On! Here, I'll show you."
She whipped said Cling On out of her bag and before Maggie could say, "Beam me up, Scottie" Patsy grabbed her hair, whisked it up into a bun and jammed the Cling On with its pokey out pins into the back of Maggie's head.
"F*****g hell!" Maggie roared.
(Could I just remind you here that this pair have a combined age of 103 lest you think they are two 12-year-olds fighting in the playground.)
Patsy continued to get her revenge by twisting the Cling On as if she was giving a Chinese burn. Maggie continued to roar like a bull.
I glanced over at Aine and could see she was seriously thinking of letting her husband out of the sitting room so he could save her from us. In the end she gave in and did what Josie and I usually do. She poured herself another glass of wine, sat back and enjoyed the floor show!