The best of all gifts around my Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other – Burton Hill
Christmas was round the corner and our little family bubble was getting together. Lockdown had been lifted for the festive period and rumours were circulating we would be going into lockdown for an uncertain period after Christmas. So my plan was to make this Christmas a spectacular one for me and my family whilst we could. Oh yessss! I had big plans. I would be the the hostess with the mostess. I had already planned out the Christmas meal, sorted the playlist of bangers we would be rocking out to, sorted the fun activities to keep us all entertained. Christmas decor? Sorted. Gifts? Well, not quite but I had a plan in place for that. And did that go smoothly? Heck to da no.
In the last couple of years I’ve been very last minute with xmas gifts but nothing prepared me for the struggle I encountered last year. Lockdown was suddenly moved from Tier 4 to Tier 5 on the Saturday before Christmas. Meaning all non essential shops would be closed from the following day. The announcement was made at 4pm Saturday. And I only found out at 7pm. So as you can imagine it was all drama from that point. Boris must have got wind that certain people hadn’t done their Xmas shopping and thought this would teach them a lesson for not including him on their Christmas list.
You shoulda seen the way I rushed down to TK Maxx. They were still open till 11pm. TKay is like my Treasure Island so I was bound to find a gift for everyone in there. Or so I thought. But when I arrived, the shop was practically empty! Everyone else clearly heard the announcement at 4pm and did a clean sweep before I got there. Worst shopping experience of my life! I spent the whole time having panic attacks as I wheeled my empty shopping cart through each and every isle till the shop tannoy blurted, ‘shop closing in 15mins!!!’ Yeah thanks for nothing TKay.
The depression that night was real. How would I look my daughter in the face and say ‘Sweetheart, Santa got you nothing this Christmas and neither did mommy.’ No way! The part about mommy was never coming out my mouth so off I went the next day to see what I could find. Thankfully, shops like Boots, Superdrugs, M&S and even Poundland were still open as they were classed as essential shops. Poundland?? Essential?? Well I never! But not complaining. All of these shops played a part in saving my life last Christmas.
So that was that! Gifts sorted. The next thing and most important of all was sorting my hair as I had to be looking fabulous of course. So I booked an appointment with Lady L to sort out my overgrown roots. I booked the appointment for the first weekend in december so it was exactly 3 months since my last appointment. And also a good amount of time for my hair to regain some volume before Christmas. Cos for some reason fresh retwists make my head look small and flat like a fish head . And I’m not on the flat fish look. I loooove me some volume.
It was almost time for my appointment and I was running late. I booked with Lady L for 11am. I was still at home at 10.30am but I thought if I was able to catch the 10:50 train then I’d be just about 15mins late. But as fate would have it, South Eastern train lines were undergoing works as they have been for the last, God knows how many years so as usual my plans were disrupted. I looked at the time, I would now be nearly an hour late for my appointment. Damn these South Eastern trains!
I had to take the rail replacement to the next station. A short journey but felt longer with my hair constantly in my ear ‘blaming’ and ‘finding fault’ and me just praying it would soon shut up. In the end, I got to Lady L’s Salon – yes, incredibly late. She would probably make me wait even longer now and attend to 10 customers in a row including those that walked in after me I thought. Ah, I would have to just deal with it and learn to fix this african timing business. I braved myself as I entered the shop.
Since the last time I was in there, there were now signs indicating you had to wear a mask in the salon. There were also stickers and arrows on the floor to guide you through navigating the salon. Enter and walk through the left. To exit, stick to the right side. I wondered what was the point when the shop was so tiny if you stood with your legs apart, one leg was on the left of the shop and the other was already on the right of it.
The barber was at his usual station close to the shop entrance. His chair was empty as he busied himself tidying up his area. A hair stylist was braiding her client’s hair. She and the barber both had masks on. Her client did not. I looked over to Lady L’s corner. She wasn’t there.
‘Who are you here for?’ the barber asked me.
‘Lady L.’ I said.
He frowned slightly and said, ‘Did she tell you she was coming today?’
‘Yes, I have an appointment with her’.
He paused. Then said. ‘Maybe you should call her.’ He pointed to the bright orange faux leather sofa in the corner. ‘You can sit over there and wait.’
I sat down and text Lady L to say I was in the salon. I wondered where she was. I worried that maybe she left cos I didn’t show up on time. But it didn’t make sense. She was usually so busy so if I was late, as I have been in the past (hey! but not this late) I would find her attending to other customers. Oh what if I was her only appointment that day! And I’ve pissed her right off.
I tried calling but no answer. As I waited a short man paced through the shop, raving and ranting about people not wearing masks and not adhering to government guidelines even after all the signage around the shop. I guessed he was the owner or manager. The barber and the hair stylist ignored him. But he did not stop. Then he sat on the sofa next to me, without a mask, making a series of calls and talking so loud in Yoruba. Shake my head. Now I certainly needed a mask and some earplugs too.
I soon got a message from Lady L to say our appointment was for the next day – Sunday. She never works on a Saturday as she’s Rastafarian and keeps the Sabbath.
Cocoa! You doughnut 🍩 how did you miss that?? 🤷🏽♀️ I actually don’t know. So my entire Saturday morning was wasted. I could not believe myself. I casually walked out of the shop without announcing that I was leaving. Save myself some embarrassment. That frown on the barber’s face tells me he clearly knew Lady L never works on Saturdays but instead of telling me that, he made me wait! Agghhh.
Out the salon and straight into TKay for some retail therapy. My hair making such a fuss, something about we would not get this bush sorted before Xmas. I could hardly hear it. The TKay was round the corner from the salon and it was calling me. Shopping was definitely a great way to recover from a sh**ty morning if you ask me. If only I knew Tier 5 lockdown would be imposed 2 Saturdays from this point, I woulda done all my shopping then. 🙄
Anyways, I finally recovered after buying myself some gorgeous items I picked off the sale rack. I think my hair was impressed too. A good bargain always does the trick! I then rebooked with Lady L for the weekend before xmas. But cos of Boris’ restrictions, salons were shut too. Again. I asked if she was willing to travel to mine. She wasn’t. Blow to the face. Ouch! That hurt. I was clearly not a favourite customer. How could I be? I was always late. 😂😂😂 But I was so determined to get my locs done before xmas I told her I was prepared to come over to her house. She seemed down for it except she lived in a block of flats with a concierge that was so pro – lockdown he could smell the scent of a newbie on the block a mile away and it would be very hard to get past him. Plus she said she had a nosy neighbour. The type that probably has the police on speed dial. Sounded like Mission Impossible to me or just a load of excuses. Was not sure which but decided to leave it.
Right, so that was me looking fab at Xmas ruined. I couldn’t even ask the mobile loctician that did my hair the last time either. I had cancelled on her last time cos Lady L said she was available. Since then the mobile loctician has totally aired me. Some ppl need to chill though. Because I cancel one appointment, does that mean you should be giving attitude? Whatever happened to professionalism? Tbt, in my experience, that’s next to non existent in the afro-carribean salon industry.
But what was xmas like in the end? Totally awesommme! We ate the most delicious jollof rice with vegetables and roast lamb. Home made scotch eggs and the best apple pie and custard dessert you ever tasted. We also played games and danced to the best afrobeats tunes. I either made sure everyone was so distracted or pre-occupied that no one noticed I was looking like a real raasclat. Or maybe they chose to simply just keep their comments to themselves or risk losing their gifts. Either way, Christmas was a rave in my house. I watched as everyone merried, opening their gifts in delight. The hugs, the kisses. The laughter. My work was done. Even if it wasn’t the very fabulous Christmas I intended, it was definitely a spectacular one.
Hope you xmas Was as spectacular as mine. And if you’re searching for a hostess with the mostess for your next event, you know who to call! 😂
Image Credit: Any Lane