“Wow!….Me!….Really?!!!”, was the exclamatory thought rattling through my head. When asked, by one of my dearest friends, to be Godmother to her beautiful little bundle of joy I felt like I’d won the lottery. I literally hadn’t been that excited since my wedding day (a great day!).
Worryingly, I’ll admit that I may be ever so slightly addicted to babies….luckily this seems to be limited to other people’s children (my figure, and husband, couldn’t hack it!). I don’t know why but I just want to nibble them and cuddle them and watch their eyes sparkle as they try to take in the enormity of the world around them.
I’m already a Godparent to one of my super-talented sisters (of which I have three…..all super, and all talented). I’m particularly proud that they all have incredibly useful talents….none of those boring touch-typing, speed-reading, balancing plates on sticks kind of gifts.
One of my sisters is mind-bogglingly good at drawing, and anything at all arty….I think she popped out of the womb with a pencil in her hand! I always thought she’d become an artist or an illustrator, but she keeps her pens and paints aside for when she’s not busy taking the Big Smoke by storm in her new swanky job!
Another of my sisters seems obliviously multi-talented but hasn’t quite worked out how she wants to make her mark on the world. She has a real flair for photography that seems to be slowly blossoming into a passion, and so she should….she’s super talented!
The third sister I must mention sometimes seems a carbon copy of me (without the obvious streak of heritable insanity that I got lumbered with!). She, like the others, has a heart of gold, and though her talents are not limited to all things edible, her masterful gift for making perfect meringues (amongst other things) never goes amiss!
I have the great privilege to be the eldest of all my siblings (including my awesome brother, who I have deliberately left out so that I don’t embarrass him…..this time!). I know there has been much scientific debate over recent decades about whether people’s personalities, gifts, successfulness, and pitfalls are due to Nature or Nurture…
I think that, as I’m the eldest, I should bear the burden of taking all the credit…..I was here first, so they must have got it all from me!
So there I was, about to become a Godmother for the second time….bursting with excitement and pride (thanks for picking me by the way!). I set about trying to find the perfect christening gift:
Something no one else would buy
Something a baby could enjoy
Something that could be treasured
Something a teenager wouldn’t try to flog at a car boot sale!
I trawled the jewellers in the high street and online, toyshops and speciality shops, perused M&S and John Lewis in search of their finest wares, and eventually, one week before the christening itself, I found it!…
Vera Wang, I love you!
I found a beautiful silver heart that fitted in the palm of my hand, and had a little key that you turn to wind the clockwork inside….a beautiful little music box, just perfect for a beautiful little girl.
Relieved and overjoyed at surviving phase one of being a good Godparent, I put it in a safe place until my husband came home from working away.
The day before the christening my hubby was home (and with him my two beautiful, loving and equally talented stepdaughters). I had the outfits pressed (well, he did!), the itinerary planned, the map to the church in my bag and the gift on the kitchen work top, ready to reveal my awesome shopping prowess…..the wonderful, perfectly sourced musical heart.
The lid came off, the tissue paper rustled, the silver musical heart gleamed like the North Star. There were raised eyelids and nods of approval. I carefully lifted the heart from where it sat, nestled in the tissue paper, placed a finger and thumb either side of the discreet little key, and began quietly winding the clockwork, milking the moment before all would be mesmerised by its dainty music….
…..and NOTHING! I mean, literally NOTHING!!!…
Not a click, not a tinkle, not a tune…
So, after a round of stunned faces (including my rather flushed cheeks), a rustling of coats in the hallway, and a jangling of car keys, we left the house like rapid fire to catch the last fifteen minutes of business before the shop closed, in search of a transplant…
Needed, one musical heart….urgently!
Thinking I would be prising the automatic doors open with my bare hands and bribing the store manager to let us in, I was surprised to arrive at the shop with minutes to spare…okay, maybe three whole minutes. I dashed in like an exasperated Anneka Rice (minus the dodgy blue jumpsuit!) and headed straight to the silver giftware section. There, four pairs of hands set about ransacking the display, furiously unwrapping and winding the little shiny ornaments. With the sudden sweet sound of nursery music ringing out, we grabbed the working masterpiece and headed for the till. It was a bit of a blur, and the whole whirlwind visit over in a matter of minutes, but the mission was a success. Though I never did work out how we ended up with one musical heart and two boxes!
All was well and good, and utterly charming on the day itself. A chilly day in late Spring but the rain held out. The family and their friends filled the pretty little church. We arrived, on time (when you know me you’ll know this is worth mentioning for its rarity!). With beautifully wrapped present in hand, smiles on our faces, and the promise of a well-stocked casual buffet in the church hall afterwards, we were in good spirits.
I sang the hymns, stood by the font and did all the godparently stuff (as per the instructions in the diligently prepared order of service). Without hiccough, delay, or screaming baby, the ceremony was soon over and I had been officially commissioned Godmother (for the second time).
It would be wrong to say that I had the buffet on my mind the entire time, but standing up at the font and looking believably sensible and grown up is seriously exhausting. Just think of the weight on my shoulders: stood there in the church, in front of strangers predominantly, a pillar of respectability, responsible and trustworthy….an ideal candidate for such an important role. I do get a little over excited about food, and buffets in particular….there’s nothing quite like a meal that doesn’t involve portion sizing chosen by a money-mindful caterer! This, most excellent buffet, was the culmination of a ‘bring your own contribution’ effort and, by the look of it, some people must have thought they’d been ask to bring a whole buffet. There weren’t enough trestle tables to adequately prop up the vast array of plates, dishes and platters, all heavily stocked with meats, salads, pastries and cakes.
I positioned myself at one end of the buffet tables. I volunteered to stand there so the large, three-tiered cake stand would be safe from accidental knocks and bumps inflicted by the plethora of children milling about the place. Honestly, put them together and they can be like pack animals! (Did I mention that I love kids……until they can walk). In reality, my strategic positioning by the cake stand allowed me to maintain a safe distance from the salads, whilst staying within easy reach of everything in the pudding section. I did the cakes a favour really. I witnessed at least half a dozen children snatch a cupcake each with their already sticky little fingers, run across the room, take an unattractively large bite (smearing the icing all over their chubby little faces), and set their cake down on some unsuspecting adult’s temporarily vacant chair, before running off never to return. Such a waste……I must have put at least seven cupcakes out if their misery that day.
Meanwhile, my darling daughters were avoiding mingling with the strangers by forming a tight huddle by the piano in the corner. They’ve got the situation covered, and enough cake to see then through to their eventual rescue, by a delightful and charming aunt of my dear friend. I don’t remember her name but, from my vantage point by the buffet, there was definitely some giggling and bashful conversation taking place.
My husband, on the other hand, had been missing for some time. I hadn’t noticed for the first half hour (keeping a hawk eye on the cake stand at all times). When he never emerged I reluctantly left my station at the buffet and went in search of him. Rather appropriately, I found him in the kitchen! An ex-chef he may well be but, between the challenges of the ill-equipped kitchen, a cold vegetable curry that wouldn’t fit in a pan, being dressed in suited finery, and being also surrounded by well-meaning women, even he looked a little flustered. It’s not the first time he’s fallen into the role of emergency cook at a friend or family gathering, and it won’t be the last. He loves it……even if he does boil the end of his tie off in the curry!
So I’m standing there, by the well-stocked buffet, dear friend’s home made curry concoction in one hand, large slice of the freshly cut christening cake in the other (you can’t the kids to leave you some), and I’m thinking to myself…
“Well, that’s the easy bit done……now what will I get her for Christmas?!”