Normally we would have lunch with extended family at my sister’s place, but we broke with tradition this Christmas. This year, we went to my niece’s place to have lunch with her new extended family.
In the last twelve months, she and her boyfriend have cemented their relationship with the purchase of a house together. And so while Christmas normally is associated with the extended O’Brien Family, today I got to meet her new “in-laws”: mum, dad, a couple of sisters, a couple of nephews and so on. Although there was some apprehension about meeting new family, and putting on a good show (to try to fool them into thinking we weren’t a combination of The Simpsons and The Griswolds), I soon concluded “families are remarkably similar”.
There was much food to be enjoyed, including two varities of ham, as the extended families were all asked to bring along some plates of food. There were also Christmas hats and a blow up Santa which was the centre of attention for a while.
And then the phone rang. It was a bloke from a commercial radio station, LBC, asking if I’d chat with them about it was like to have Christmas in Australia. They’d obtained my name and number from a colleague who recently moved back to the UK. “Sure, why not?”, I told the producer of the overnight show presented by Cristo Foufas.
I spoke to him for 5-10 minutes at 3.05am UK time, about where I was, what the temperature was like, what clothes I was wearing, about Australian Christimas traditions, and about Cyclone Grant. We also had a bit of a giggle about how their morning show presenter was also called James O’Brien, and how I’d chatted to him on the radio back in 2004. I had a look to see if it was available as audio on demand, but it doesn’t seem to be.
Anyway, after lunch we sat around and chatted for a while, and even did a bit of video watching. And that’s when I made a remarkable discovery. We were watching a “one hit wonders” DVD which included 1980s Swedish super group, Europe, with their song “The Final Countdown”. I always knew they were Swedish, but had never seen the video clip until today. “That’s the town hall” I said. “That’s T-centralen”, I added to the amusement of family members, as I pointed out the gratuitous Stockholm imagery in the clip.
But the biggest surprise? I’m sure the lead singer had exactly the same haircut as Agnetha Faltskog from ABBA during her mid 80’s “rock chick” phase.
Late this afternoon, we took a visit to the cemetery to visit mum and dad. It’s odd to think it’s 30 years in June since my dad died.