I wasn’t sure what the rest of Christmas would bring. Reindeer, tinsel, good cheer flushed down the toilet? Anything could happen. Taking Christmas emotions to my mum’s house – we may as well have drank a mountain of coffee, then locked ourselves into a toilet-free room. Stuck a tap on for good measure.

You learn things about yourselves in these situations. For example, Lulu got angry at Delphine on Boxing Day and encouraged her sister’s head to make contact with the radiator. Lulu revealed the reason she flipped was because Delphine had one of her pincer-crab pinches on her arm at the time. We told Lulu off for her hotheadedness – we had to because, unfortunately for Lu, this wasn’t the first time she’d been encouraged to halt before using her super human strength on Delphine. ‘You are supposed to call us before you face-plant her against the wall,’ we took turns saying in a variety of nagging-to-angry tones.

Ok. I was pissed with her then. Goddammit Lu, where was your good cheer? But now I think; if you were being pinched, would you eschew revenge and keep clinging to moral high ground? Ok fine. If she had to do it though, I just wish she’d have apologised straight away. They could work it out together and I’d never even have needed to know. Oh the bliss of wishful ignorance.

But nope. Defiance is Lulu’s go-to emotion at the moment. Took a day or so to wear her down into apology. It threw the ‘I hate you’ comment a couple of days before into a giddy, carefree shade. I’d happily take a quick ‘I hate you’ and trade it with a twelve-hour, sulking, ‘I’m not sorry’. Any day.

After it finally blew over we went to London. Free cinema tickets were waiting for us in Piccadilly Circus: for a bank accounts reward scheme (in a whisper) for money we don’t have anymore. No one’s taken away the bank cards… (still whispering)…  so we thought we’d use the tickets before we lose the tickets. All was great, the cinema was fancy, the movie Bumblebee was good, if violent. Who would have thought a movie called Bumblebee would be full of battling robots? Me, if I’d actually read the review. It was still good though. Lulu and I sat together, laughing and joking despite the fact that it didn’t look good for Bumblebee the robot for most of the movie. Then, as we were leaving the cinema for the busy crowds of Piccadilly, she joined her dad. A few moments later, Jack was doing a pretty decent impression of a boiling kettle.

‘What’s up?’ I asked him.

‘I’m not happy.’ He steamed.


‘I asked Lulu how long she’d manage to keep the phone I bought her for Christmas before she’d lose it. She said probably about a month.’

I frowned. This sounded to me like Lulu matching her father’s bluff. ‘Do you think maybe she thought you were joking?’ I asked him. ‘And that’s why she said it back to you that way?’

I don’t know if the busy, unfamiliar surrounding was helping me to see differently, but it was suddenly cloudless. Jack’s defiance clearly mirrored the same defiance on his daughter’s face over the previous days. ‘Well I don’t think it was funny.’

I looked across at Lu who was trying hard not to cry. All around us in the West End, people rushed past like tiny, colourful fish being pulled by a giant current. ‘Were you joking with your dad?’ I asked her.

Lulu nodded vehemently, her cheeks getting bloodier-red by the second. ‘I thought he was joking.’

I glared at Jack. There it was. This dynamic of hotheadedness streaking through my family. It seems to send thoughtfulness into a high-pitched girly run. And that’s being mean to girls. More days of Christmas were being done.


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