Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Cradock Christmas Staff Party

It's that time of year when we are all 'enjoying' our Christmas nights out with our colleagues, getting dressed up and letting our hair down. I'm sure the Cradocks, erm, being good employers, would have been no exception. It might've been the one time of the year that the poor assistants were able to stop quivering for long enough to enjoy a small sherry, a vol-au-vent and perhaps a mince pie, if they were lucky. And they were lucky just to be with the Cradocks. It seems Fanny and Johnnie had a favourite 'parlour game' that might've been played, it sounds perfect for the poor assistants. Perhaps they named it after Fanny? Snapdragon. It involves a large silver punch bowl (although in times of stress any heat resistant bowl wrapped in a scarlet or emerald napkin will do) and some raisins steeped in a mixture of brandy and vodka for a couple of hours. Fanny would add more spirits to the bowl, set it alight, switch the lights of and make the assistants snatch the raisins with their fingers from the flames. She certainly knew how to relax her assistants at a party. Ouch! 


And this was their prize for months and months of hard labour, I mean hard work. Fanny had a plan to make Christmas easy. A blueprint which ensured that we could all 'take it easy' during the festive season, simply tying up 'all the loose ends' after months of planning. Well, it would've been the lucky assistants that were tied up for months and months in preparation, but Fanny shares her tips to get the party in full swing anyway. Including a schedule to make the most of your ordinary four burner cooker, with a queuing system for pots, pans, steamers and birds. All complete with a handy illustration just incase it wasn't clear.


Fanny urges the housewives of 'this Island' to sit down just for a moment to remind themselves just what 'the day' really means, lest we all forget with the pace and stress of life today. Fanny recommends while you are sitting to grab a pencil and piece of paper to make lists. Lots of lists. You'll end up with lists everywhere. Jot things down at a pace. It's all very stressful. Ah, so what Fanny really meant to remind you was to get yourself in a fankle over all the things that she herself gets other people to do for her. There are menus to plan, orders to place, spare fuse wires and candles to buy (there could be a power cut), an extra flannel to purchase (in case a car breaks down outside your house or someone misses a train), the lists go on. I'm stressed just thinking about all the possibilities Fanny outlines. Things I'd never considered.


Fanny insists that the most important appointment to make is of course to have your hair done. The shame of turning up to your 'staff do' with an inferior 'hair-do' would simply be too much. While you are thinking of yourself, only for 10 minutes mind you, remember to lie flat on the floor with pieces of cotton wool wrung out in iced water over your eyes. Jolt your feet up higher than your head. Presumably not in the hairdressers, but it's not clear. Apparently, it works miracles to give you a lift, and is cheaper than champagne. It also means you don't see the assistants running around demented, frantically arranging, presenting and preparing. As if there isn't enough to do, Fanny demands that Palm Trees are fashioned from cardboard, silver paper, plasticine, doilies, nails and hairpins to show-off festive crystalised fruits. That really says 'Christmas' doesn't it?


No Christmas Party buffet would be complete with a suitably stuffed bird, and Fanny has her own invention to make things even easier here. A piping bag. Fill it, insert it (both ends) and shove like mad. For the final presentation of all the assistants hard graft, so that they can 'relax' and enjoy it even more, Fanny suggests a jaw-dropping, eye-popping, neighbour-stopping table display. She has them binding holly to make lavish swags to accentuate the groaning buffet table. But wait, there's much more groaning ahead before any food can be consumed. Lights off. Set the bowl alight. Come on now lucky, lucky assistants, get your bare fingers stabbed in to the flames and see how many raisins you can snatch. Ouch again. That's their actual Christmas dinner, a Christmas bonus even, I'm sure this buffet is for the real Christmas guests... Fannys' Christmas isn't so pain-free after all. Merry Christmas you old Snapdragon. 

14 comments:

  1. Fanny got her Swag on for Christmas? Who knew!

    Not started making our Christmas Palm Trees yet, but there's still time, surely.

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    1. There is! I can send you very detailed instructions, or you could just freeform it 😉

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  2. I don't what to try first, stuffing the turkey with a piping bag or play Snap Dragon!

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    1. Stuff the Turkey first, you'll need your fingers for that!

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  3. I am a true believer in lists myself - I am a tad OCD, so I'm with Fanny on that. But palm trees? confused.com

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  4. Hope there's not a crush at the buffet or you could be stabbed by the holly as well as burnt by the flaming brandy! Flamin' Norah, you wouldn't catch me round there for Christmas - very entertaining to read about though

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    1. Aaaaah! More issues to worry about! Thanks...

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  5. Great blog :) i recall someone saying her kitchen floor at home was never cleaned - she just put another layer of newspaper down!

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    1. Yes, her hygiene standards were reputedly something else!

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  6. Oh the Pomp Glory of a Cradock Christmas!
    Attending one of Fanny's soirees might have felt like an extreme sport in many ways.
    I'd have been there in a heartbeat!
    Sending you a pic of my Fanny's White Christmas cake!
    Thank you for the recipe, & for all the fun.
    Your Instagram is Dazzling!

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  7. My best Kaftan (jade green chiffon with sunray pleats) & my biggest costume jewelry statement pieces are ready!
    The vallium is in my gold brocade clutch should my nerves need steadying, along with some tums & anti emetics. I'm prepared.
    Can't wait!

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    1. Oooh those Tums will be very handy, pass them round!

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