'Ten ways to prepare for your brothers' visit' by Jude Higgins
1. Window sills. Remove your wedding pictures and replace with childhood family snaps. 2. Garden. Pick the rotting apples from the tree your husband gave you years ago. Variety – 'Allen's Everlasting.' When your brothers arrive, you'll point out the charm of goldfinches feeding on evening primrose seeds. They won't see the parliament of rooks in the ash tree, or hear their harsh calls repeating you're not entitled to benefits. 3. Kitchen. Remove tannin stains from the teacups. Your brothers have dishwashers to create a sparkle. (You'd put your whole life in a dishwasher if you owned one). 4. Bathroom. Brush your teeth with whitening toothpaste. You will need to smile. Sweep the doctor's tablets out of the cabinet into the back of a drawer in case anyone goes snooping. 5. Living room. Burn frankincense to dispel the stale smell of cigarettes. Hope they don't ask what you're doing for Christmas. Move the remaining furniture around so the room looks less bare. 6. Hall. Get down on your knees and scrub the tiles. Twenty years of couple grime is hard to remove. That's not something a husband wants to take with him. 8. Bedroom. Study your dishevelled appearance in the long mirror. Tie your hair back. Change your clothes three times. No black – you've read it makes the older woman's chin sink into her neck and her mouth appear bitter. Settle on the red cashmere. Lipstick. A bright scarf. When they're alone, you want your brothers and their wives to agree you don't look too bad, considering. 9. Dining Room. Lay out the bread, cold cuts, olives, cheeses and deli pastries on the tablecloth embroidered by your mother. (Talking point). Arrange a posy of nasturtiums at the centre of the table. Open the last bottle of good Rioja. Play 'A Kind of Blue', the album you both used to like. Relax. You can do this. 10. When brother one rings up to say something's come up at work, and brother two says sorry it's so late but his wife has an important church function, sit on the sofa and cry.