GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XLII)


The phone calls came in a flurry. Actually they weren’t all phone calls: Jeremy called us on Skype, which is a phone call with pictures, video, on the computer – he was calling from his suite in the Hôtel Meurice, where he stays in Paris each year for the microsurgery conference, and he said he would be home in early December, and could fit us in if we wanted to do something seasonal. Nancy discovered that Marcus had issued a statement on his personal website, which said he was looking forward to returning to Australia for the first time in two years, but was sad that the Wiener Symphoniker[1] would be taking a break from touring, and he hoped to take up further conducting opportunities in the new year. Dymphna, on the other hand, made a traditional phone call, informing us that she would be leaving for a three month sojourn with an Amazonian tribe which has an unpronounceable name and has a matriarchal social structure, but would like to see us before she left. She said something about the experience being empowering to her “as a woman”, which seemed redundant to me, and added that it might even help with her ambition to launch a hostile takeover of rival agency Dick’s Ideas Lab  when she returned. I liked her using the word ambition – very much indeed – and offered advice about how to destroy her rival, but Dizz informed me that things are not done that way in advertising these days.

It seemed a perfect opportunity to hold an Urquhart Christmas function, as all branches of the family would be in town for a brief window of time. A team of party planners were engaged to help with the arrangements, and finalise the timetabling of the thing, but by the time Jeremy was in Washington for Thanksgiving (and to give evidence before a Congressional committee investigating corruption in the pharmaceutical industry) the arrangements were settled, and he confirmed that he would be attending. Of course Nancy and I see the grandkids quite frequently and we do our fair share of babysitting, but to have all the parents and all the kids together, with their grandparents, is a rare treat.

Francesca was the boss of the planners and she did a fine job in the room we booked on the top floor of Vino Conto Salato. The room has a very fine view of Sydney Harbour, which is almost as good as the views from my house, and inside there were huge bowls of eggnog and rum punch, there were flashing fairy lights, and tinsel, and three Christmas trees (Nancy and I have always been partial to the idea of more than one Christmas tree). Carols played on the sound system, and so did Bing Crosby, and novelty Christmas songs played too, including the one everyone loved, which was dogs barking to the tune of yet more Christmas songs. The technical team had done Francesca proud, producing a room with air conditioning so chilly that scarves and playfully festive jumpers had to be worn, lest you acquired hypothermia, and the windows appeared to have a build-up of snowy deposits in their lower corners. We ate roasted meats of several kinds and gravy and pudding and warmed ourselves by a large open fire at one end of the room.

I popped out at one point, for a quick trip to the gents, and while I was gone Santa made a flying visit, distributing gifts to everybody who had had done well in their exams[2]. The grand kids were all pleased with their Apple products. Their parents enjoyed the day too. Most pleased of all, though, was Titus, who sat near me during lunch, and said, at the end of the day, as the parents started gathering their children and belongings, “God bless us every one!” He added shortly after: “I was being ironic” and we all laughed.

That’s the end for 2012. It’s been fun.

[1] Vienna Symphony, to you and me.

[2] Which means all the grandkids. Urquharts don’t do badly in exams.

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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