Let me explain.
Last summer my dad turned 60. I had NO idea what to buy him so I decided to get a portrait painted of his beloved Springer Spaniel.
And then I looked into prices....
There were people who could do it at a price I could afford but the result would not have been so much a present as something which would haunt small children through every sleepover at Grandad's house.
So I decided to sew it instead.
I found a website (I will confess that at the time I may have had more that a couple of alcoholic beverages and I may have slightly over-estimated my levels of both skills and patience) which could provide you with a 'photo-realistic' (hmm we'll see about that) counted cross-stitch chart so that you are able to stitch yourself an exact replica of your beloved pet's head.
For those of you fortunate enough not to be familiar with 'counted cross stitch charts' this basically means you will be supplied with a large sheet of fabric, a lot of threads, a sharp needle and a big piece of paper (or in this case pieces) with about a million different tiny boxes on them - each box with a different mark in. This mark corresponds to a colour and you are supposed to count every tiny box and every tiny bit of fabric, match them up and do your stitch.
Bored yet? I was.
OH. MY. GOD.
It took over my life. Every day I spent hours hunched over my bit of cloth counting and stitching and swearing and raising my hands to the sky and asking 'WHY? WHY? WHY DID I NOT JUST BUY HIM SOME VINTAGE PORT?'.
My one abiding memory of last summer was of sweaty hours hunched over that bit of cloth, counting and cursing and scattering snacks on the floor in order to sedate my children, only to then realise I'd lost the bloody needle and start a full scale 'NOBODY MOVE! THERE IS DANGER IN THE AREA!' search. Only to then realise my needle was still attached to my thread.... Then there would be the grim realisation something wasn't looking quite right and that the dog's head was more than a little skew-whiff. Somewhere around stitch number 19,999 I'd have miscounted. The consequences would be dire and everything I would have done since 9pm the night before would need un-picking and doing again.
His birthday came and went. I told him his present would be late.
The summer came and went. I told him he might have it by early Autumn.
It would appear that Autumn started and I stuffed it in a draw in my hallway with the full intention of 'coming back to it' once I'd had a little tiny break.
Now my thoughts turn to Christmas shopping and I realise that I haven't given my father his birthday present yet.
And every time I (accidentally) open that draw, it is there - glowering back at me. With one eye, half an ear and a small portion of its lower jowl.
Something tells me he won't be getting it for Christmas.