Continuing the reposted Christmas series from 2009 for those that missed it.
Day 12 – Midnight mass
Ok, I doubt a lot of you will have experienced this.
Anyway, when I lived in the family home, it was written into the tenancy agreement (the one you sign by being born) that as long as you live under that roof you are to go to midnight mass with your mum.
Now to the non-catholics out there, midnight mass is like ringing someone up at midnight on the day of their birthday just to say “Happy Birthday”. God, is no doubt, very pissed off by this.
Anyway, my mam would say “Right, put down the Radio Times, it’s time for mass. This would always be at about 11pm. It would take half an hour to walk through the freezing mid winter cold and up the slippy icey hill, through the village and into the church which would already be filling with the well to do families keen to make an impression on the omnipotent one that they were there to say happy birthday to the lad.
Since then, well ok, during that time, I began to realise what this annual event was. It wasn’t a sudden need to praise the deity. It was an annual call to parade.
Well-to-do village families would gather outside, dressed up in their smartest having just rolled up in their Jags with those arse warming seats and they would swank about showing everyone how they were guaranteed a place in the afterlife because they were the epitome of holiness once a year.
The parade was just a show of well-to-do-ness and my mother liked to swank about and show them all that she was a council estate girl that had made good. Seeing past the other swanker’s executive statuses and community roles and she would hold her head high, with her youngest child there to back her up and show those toffs that Betty Gnomepants was just as good as them.
After some out of tune caterwauling from the choir and some mutterings from Father Tom Wood, it would end up being something like 1am and it would be time to make the arduous journey back down the slippery hill through the ice and biting fog. But before that, there would be more milling about in the church carpark as the posh and the poor would compete in this show of grandeur.
Them – well my Tarquin has just done his A levels and got straight A’s and is off to Oxfart in his own BMW which he bought through saving up his paper round money.
My Mam – Yes but he still wets the bed doesn’t he?
These days, of course, because I don’t live there anymore I am allowed to not bother going to midnight mass with my mum. Especially as she’s approaching 75 now and I’m living about 80 miles away. But every year I ask how the midnight mass was. Who she saw, what they said and how their children are.
Of course the well to do all sold up when their house prices reached £1mill back in the early-mid noughties and have all fucked off to Barbados or somewhere. But my mam, bless her, she still goes up and down that hill every Christmas eve…just to show off that she’s better for staying round in her semi….the council estate girl that made it good.