Last night our wonderful grown up children presented us, Gary and myself that is, with a surprise evening!
About a week ago Laura and Arya had invited us to their house for a family “going away to Arran” goodbye meal. So far so good. The designated date was last night and we all had to ensure that we were free. Little did we know that Jamie, Laura and Arya had been secretly conspiring together in the background.
Arya is a chef and doesn’t work on Tuesday evenings, Laura took the day off work…allegedly to help Arya shop and prepare the evening meal and Jamie managed to swap his days off, as otherwise he would have been doing an afternoon shift. So,the only sticking point was…….. Gary.
Although he has been retired for a good few years now he is a very busy man, both socially and with football related duties. He has been Secretary for Leeds Modernians football club for over 30 years and felt very honoured when 2 years ago he was asked to be President of the Yorkshire Amateur Football League which has been in existence for 90 years.
Unlike his involvement at The Mods, this position has few duties and he is more of a figurehead attending League committee meetings and any special functions including football semi -final and match finals where he is expected to present medals, cups and trophies. This time of year is the end of the amateur football season and accordingly is littered with such occasions.Last night being one of them….and yes…. you have guessed the rest Gary had agreed several weeks ago that he would attend last nights semi final match.
Now we have a rule in our family that if you have agreed to do something you do not give back-word if something more appealing turns up. You should always stick by the first arrangement and not let people down. At times our children found this hard and especially when they discovered that others do not do the same. They would be disappointed and hurt by others changing their minds about attending events, often at the very last minute when it is too late to invite anyone else.But as in Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by featured largely in our family’s moral code.
What a quandry for Gary. This was the only evening we could all be together and just to add to the moral dilemma another tenet held by us is that wherever possible family should come first. I callously suggested that as is his wont he should try to do everything. In other words go to the game and then come to Laura’s and Arya’s meal afterwards and have whatever scraps were left over. Laura was horrified.
As it was the game wouldn’t finish until 9:30 and then the presentations would begin so attending both wasn’t possible. He was in turmoil torn between family and duty.
What on earth should he do and what would you have done?
In the end, but only at almost the last minute, he came clean with the League chairman and emailed explaining the situation but still offering to attend the game if it would leave them with too few league officials in attendance. This was especially as the previous match final which he had attended on Saturday had become rather “tricky” with spectator dissent with the ref and linesmen.The response was quick and very positive….no worries, Gary could easily be replaced and he should put his family first.
At last all the stars were aligned and the family meal with full attendance was definitely on!
We agreed to meet at Gary’s favourite bar in Meanwood, Alfreds for pre -dinner drinks. I was a little surprised at this as timings for cooking a meal can be precarious but was assured by Laura that all the preparations were in hand. Jamie dissuaded us from taking wine and beer with us, as is normal for dinner guests. He was quite emphatic that they weren’t needed as Laura had insisted that she had already bought enough for everyone. This was rather a relief, as with me in strappy sandals and a dress, heavy bags of booze would be an encumbrance I could do without as we were planning to walk there.
So at 6 o’clock we walked down the Ridge to Alfreds where soon we were all happily ensconced. By 7 o’clock, with the exception of Jamie and Gary, we had finished our drinks and Laura suggested that the rest of us should return to their house so that Arya could begin cooking with a view to the other two coming soon after.
So off the three of us went. Along the road we were due to pass one of our favourite restaurants, Zucco. As ever it looked quite busy inside although there were still one or two tables free. To my amazement Arya opened the door and then Laura beckoned me inside. She, Jamie and Arya had booked a table for us all for the evening. The meal was a present from them for our soon to be 30 th wedding anniversary, the Pearl Anniversary.
What a wonderful surprise and what a wonderful evening we all had. Laura explained that they hadn’t known what to give us as we already had everything….well anything within their financial range ….there was that Hymer Duomobile motorhome that we had fantasised about!
Jamie managed to manoeuvre his dad out of Alfreds and steer him to Zucco’s soon afterwards and Gary was astounded to see us all waiting there.
Our lovely family evening was set to continue in style with the kids paying for everything. Of course ,Gary did offer to pay for the drinks at least but they were adamant the whole evening was on them.
Service was friendly, helpful and efficient and the food itself was utterly marvellous.It was such fun to be able to share and then discuss the various merits of our individual choices as the menu is based upon tapas style, small, sharing plates. For me the star of the main dishes was the ox cheek risotto while Gary’s was the calves liver.
What a good job he didn’t go to the football match!
How very lucky we are!!