Crumbs it’s been a busy Christmas. Get-togethers, fond farewells and joyous reunions littered the start of December, leaving barely a free evening for me and Bub to sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything.
Even if you ignore the countless parties, my Christmas started the weekend before the official festivities, when one of my oldest and dearest girlfriends and I zipped off to Estonia to sample the delights of Tallinn’s Christmas markets.
Small but perfectly formed, Tallinn couldn’t fail to bring out the Christmas in all but the most hardened of Scrooges: from the picture-perfect snow glazing the rooftops to the smell of mulled wine wafting across the frozen marketplace, Tallinn says Christmas with a capital C.
And you can’t help but think of Santa and the North Pole as the glacial wind blows powdery snow into your eyes and hair, sending you scurrying for the nearest candlelit café – a dark and cosy haven offering top quality coffee and cake … or, perhaps, a fortifying bowl of elk soup. Deeeeelicious.
Anyway, maybe it was the cold, maybe it was the excitement, or maybe it was the first-class company, but Tallinn seemed to bring out the lively side of Bub: he barely stopped kicking, punching and rolling all weekend.
It was only mildly inconvenient when he (rather frequently) chose to recline on my ribcage, blocking the airflow to my poor old lungs. Luckily, my mate has the patience of a saint and was, apparently, happy to wait in the freezing cold while I blew like a rhino and attempted to get my breath back.
(Not that I’m complaining. Whether it’s medically accurate or not, in my book a lively baby means a healthy baby and I’m more than grateful for that. He can boot my innards as much as he likes – it’s a sign he’s getting fatter, stronger and ready to face the world.)
Still, laden with Estonian pottery, a selection of cured reindeer meat and a pair of reindeer-patterned legwarmers (an essential purchase), we returned feeling highly content and infinitely more festive than when we’d arrived.
And so I passed a very mellow Christmas with the folks, in which I tried – and, I think, failed miserably – not to reveal the gender of my offspring to my dear old gran. I don’t know why she doesn’t want to know, she just doesn’t. But I think my treating Bub to his very first sleepsuits, adorned with blue and green monsters, may have been a hint that even she couldn’t ignore.
Anyway, despite it not even really qualifying as his first Christmas, the little fella was spoiled to death and now has a whole selection of sleepsuits, nappies and tiny trousers, not to mention several jackets and hats from keen and generous relatives who have shown themselves to be more than handy with a pair of knitting needles.
But all too soon, the holidays are over and it’s back to real life. I’ve just got a new mobile and I’m trying to keep my old number. But it seems that I’ve made a grave error: I should have spotted some sort of tickbox at the time of ordering. But I didn’t. And now the guy on the phone is telling me there’s nothing I can do.
“Unless,” he says, soothingly, “you go instore. They should be able to cancel your contract and start a new one, which will let you keep your old number.”
Well, why on earth didn’t you say so? I’m more than happy to pop instore if it’ll solve the problem. So, off I trot into town where, after a 20 minute wait to be served, I explain my predicament to Mr Mobile Phone.
“Ah,” he says. “Yes, we can sort you out. We just need to cancel the old contract and return your phone to stock. After that, we’ll start the new contract and resell you the old phone. It’s quite straightforward.”
So he cancels my existing contract. Simple. But then he tries to return the phone to stock and there’s a problem. The system is convinced it’s already been returned to stock and won’t let him do it. He tries all sorts of cunning tricks, then cancels everything and starts again. Then he repeats the whole process.
“Ha!” he says. “This is the point where, if I knew you better, I’d tell you that you owed me dinner.”
And he flashes me a cheeky smile.
I smile non-committally as he goes through the whole rigmarole once more before throwing in the towel and calling the IT department. As he waits on hold, he smiles at me.
“It’s not going well!”
“Sorry,” I say, thinking that if I’d only seen the flipping checkbox, we’d both have been spared this troublesome process.
“No problem,” he twinkles. “It could be far worse. I could be sitting here with someone miserable and grumpy instead of someone lovely and smiley like you.”
After a prolonged wait and a technical discussion, the system finally allows itself to be cajoled into accepting the return and it seems like we’re on a roll. Until he tries to re-sell me the phone. Whereupon the computer says no. Again.
He raises his eyebrows and looks at me.
“Hmmm,” he says. “I think this must definitely be worth lunch.”
I raise an eyebrow, and offer a questioning look. I’m six months pregnant and you’re flirting with me? Really?
Finally the IT department works its magic, the phone can be resold and it looks as if the torturous process can finally be completed. I’ve been in the shop for almost an hour and a half.
As he parcels up the assorted documents produced by these shenanigans, Mr Mobile Phone hands me a piece of paper on which I’d written the number I wanted to keep.
“Better take that. You wouldn’t want anyone getting hold of your number now, would you?” he says hopefully.
“No,” I say, smiling. “No, I wouldn’t want that.”
And as he looks very slightly crestfallen, I thank him politely, gather my papers and head out of the door.