Last week was exceptional for two reasons: I hadn't been well and then wrote a blog in a paeon of praise to spouse. Well, that state of affairs inevitably wouldn't last and it did not.
In case you think I am just putting my own slant on affairs I would ask you to consider some past history.
When we moved to the Durham Dales our nearest church was thirty miles away. It was a lovely little country church with a small congregation comprised mainly of local people. We were the 'incomers', the newbies and kept a low profile for a while, (you will shortly see why).
On one of our earliest visits to the church, there we were, before the start of the service, sitting quietly and so I thought, very prayerfully, side by side The church was quiet, lit by soft lighting and many candles prompting one to turn ones thoughts heavenwards.
Maybe that was what the rest of the congregation were doing. I certainly was in meditative mood and thought my spouse was too. Suddenly he leaned across to whisper in my ear. I leaned into him eagerly, sure he was about to share a great spiritual insight.
'You see those nuns in front of us?'
I looked and nodded.
'Well, that older one and the one sitting with her; they're keeping an eye on the two younger ones in front of them and if they make a run for it, the older one will shoot them, 'cos she's got a machine gun under that big coat she's wearing.'
So, dear reader, as you can see, that was not quite the spiritual insight I was expecting to hear. Only spouse could construct serial killers out of the loveliest nuns you could wish to meet.
So from the above episode, you will see that when spouse gets into the church, something odd gets into his soul. Here is another for instance - once more in the same church, we were sitting side by side in prayerful mood, or so I thought and spouse once again leaned across to share an 'insight' with me. He had been staring fixedly at the wall to one side of the altar.
'I can see E.T.' quoth he.
Now, I know for a fact, he had not been imbibing of the hop or the grain and to my knowledge there were no magic mushrooms in our fields that he might have partaken of in a moment of hunger or abandon. So what was with the vision of E.T.?
'No, seriously,' he urged, 'look at the wall closely.
He directed my gaze to an extremely damp area of plaster work to one side of the altar. I looked hard. Mm. Was E.T. there? Mm, maybe.
'Now,' he said 'look again. There's a Legionnaire on horseback, galloping away from us, with a monkey at his heels.'
I shuffled along the pew, not to get a better view, only I was a bit worried about spouse. Was it a touch of sun? Why couldn't he concentrate on his prayers like everyone else?
Every week thereafter, he unfolded a new piece of the story to me. You can have no idea of the adventures that E.T. and the Legionnaire got up to and as for the monkey, let's not even go there.
These are just two examples of spouse inside a church. I realise we have been talking historically, so I would like to bring you bang up to date.
We now live in North Yorkshire near to the sea and attend a new church, (not because we got run out of the other one). This week, at the end of the service I passed the comment to spouse that we had sung my all-time favourite hymn today, one call 'Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord', which was played at our wedding. Bear this in mind dear reader.
I reminded spouse of this fact and half expected him to go a little misty eyed at the memory. But no, the leopard does not change his spots, the lion does not lie down with the lamb if we are being biblical and religious. I remarked that I would like this hymn at my funeral. Spouse, true to form, had his own take on this.
'Well you will be still at your funeral, you'll be dead, can't be much stiller. You'll be in your coffin. You'll be still then, and quiet.' Did I detect a note of relish in his voice?
He did make it out of the church alive, only because I don't approve of murder in church. But the moral of this little tale is, DON'T TAKE HIM TO CHURCH, he may not make it out alive next time.
I have been mightily indisposed this week. A touch of man-flu, only it's woman-flu.
I am usually your regular woman, fairly fit and able to go about my daily business just fine, which usually includes a three mile walk with spouse along the prom and the beach.
But when the common cold comes calling, I admit it, I am just a teensy-weensy bit of a wuss. I hate not being on top doh health-wise and being stopped from daily walking. What is it about an ordinary cold that knocks you off your feet? I've had chest infections and fevers that have not felt as bad.
But, I am digressing oh, so much. what I really set out to do in this blog is to praise my spouse. Yep, you heard that one right. a bit of praise where praise is due.
I have been ministered to like I have a resident domestic angel. Hot drinks, cold drinks, food; kept warm at an ambient temperature at all times, (without him weeping over the heating bills) and offered love and sympathy in the midst of my unlovely Rudolph nose and streaming eyes.
Truly a real Superhero, selflessly caring for his damsel in distress. I'll never say a bad word about him again, (and even I don't believe that) but a gal can try.
So, Mr Superhero, thank you for all your loving care and if you catch the cold from me, I'll be there - with a hot toddy to end all hot toddies, (pass the chilli flakes) and believe me, your cold will disappear overnight.
Hey, maybe I should lodge the patent for that> Haven't scientists been looking for a cure for the common cold for years? They should ask me for the recipe.
In previous blogs i have mentioned my dislike of going clothes shopping. However, having been given a wodge of cash for this purpose from a doting relative, I set off for the big city to hit the January sales.
My only mistake was not to set off on my own. Spouse decided to accompany me. We would make a jolly day of it, have a spot of lunch with a glass of vino thrown in and maybe, have a little cultural excursion whilst we were there. It sounded like a plan and I agreed.
What was the matter with me? Had some kind of shopping amnesia come over me? It is never, ever a good idea to go shopping with him. Even he doesn't like going clothes shopping for himself, so why would he enjoy going with me? Why didn't we ask ourselves those very questions before we set out on this jaunt? Post-Christmas woolly thinking is the only reason I can come up with.
The journey passed harmoniously and we didn't even fight over the newspapers in our favourite coffee shop. It was all going so well ... until we hit the first department store. Take note dear reader, the very first store. This being early January all the sales were on and I was having a high old time cruising the rails of ladies clothing all marked 'sale'.
For the first time in a very long time I was actually finding clothes I wanted to buy. I'm not sure what that says about me, wanting to scoop up all the leftover raiment rejected by the rest of the female populace and I don't think I even want to go there, but that's all by the by. However, there I was mildly enjoying the experience and then ...
Yup. Old spouse-chops caused a ruckus. I had been so absorbed in gathering up said garments that I had not noticed the gathering of men at the periphery of the ladies clothing area. But a gathering there was and at the centre of it was none other than my spouse, enthusiastically holding forth and gesticulating wildly at a chair and the foregathered males were nodding in equally enthusiastic agreement. And headed towards them was a posse of security staff.
I stayed put. In fact, I cowered down behind a rail of clothes. Whatever he had been doing and if he was going to be given short shrift and thrown out for it, I didn't want to be thrown out too, not just yet. I hadn't finished cruising all the clothes and it was quite obviously my lucky day. If I was going to clad my back for the next twelve months in a passably stylish manner, then spouse must be thrown to the wolves.
Peeking out between the dresses I watched as Security, along with members of staff broke up the assembly of men and discreetly shepherded them towards the store exit. They went quietly enough, except of course, for spouse. Still gesticulating and arguing whatever point he was trying to make, he had to be thrown out and I found out afterwards, asked to kindly keep away for a while. Only I don't think these were quite the terms they employed.
Security staff loitered around the entrance for quite some time, watching spouse as he waited for me to come out. He had spotted me and with his nose flattened to white against the window was making faces at me and gesturing for me to come out there and join him. He pointed to the security staff and then himself and went through quite a pantomime in an effort to enlighten my ignorance of the situation.
What does a lady do? I ignored him and took my clothes to the pay desk. The Assistant had been watching spouse's antics with much amusement and asked me what it was all about.
'No idea', I said happily 'and I really don't care. I've shopped 'till I've dropped and he's that side of the door and I'm here. Perfect, just perfect. I've had no "how much?" when he sees the price of any item; no "can't we go now?" after the first five minutes and, best of all, I've loved every minute of it. He should get thrown out of shops regularly.'
When spouse and I were finally re-united on the outside of the store, it turned out that all he was doing - and I only have his word for this and I doubt it in its entirety - is that he, whilst I was in my delightful shopping bubble, he got tired of hanging about and found a chair to sit on. But he found it was a bit draughty there, as it was near the automatic doors and a they opened and closed every nano-second with the entrance of a new customer, he was getting very cold. So he stood up and went to look for a chair in a better site. Of course, he couldn't find one, so then he started talking to the other blokes who were also hanging about for their better halves and spouse led them back to the site of his draughty chair and the subsequent meeting of minds, (and I question that one too) ensued with the resultant chucking out of the store.
So my advice to all readers is this - don't take him shopping, but if you must or even if he is mad enough to volunteer to accompany you, tape his mouth up first.
The author and relationship counsellor, John Gray. coined the phrase 'Men are from Mars and women are from Venus'. Oh boy, how right was he?
In early December 2016 in a burst of enthusiasm, I suggested to my spouse that a little interior decorative sprucing up of Maison Comb might not go amiss after Christmas. Spouse duly agreed and I went happily on my way thinking of new paint colours; trying to remember where we last parked the dust sheets and how soon after Christmas we would leg it down to the local DIY shop.
Tossing this little nugget of a suggestion into our next conversation, spouse stared at me. It was one of those long, silent looks, with a hint of disbelief at the back of it. I looked behind me. Had I missed something? No, there was nothing there. I checked my face in the mirror. No, no sooty smuts, no ink smears, hair properly brushed and all-in-all, fairly tidy for me. So, what was the problem?
'January 2nd?' He repeated my last sentence and I have to say there was more than a hint of incredulity in his voice.
'Well', I temporised, '3rd or 4th, then.'
'Never mind 3rd or 4th,' he expostulated.
Yes, I do mean that. He expostulated. If you've never heard anyone expostulate, try out, what seems to me in hindsight, to be an outrageous idea to them. Of course, you'll have to think of something outrageous to suit them first, (which obviously won't suit them, if you want them to expostulate) and then throw it into the ring. It's a bit like lighting the blue touch paper.
It turns out that the blue touch paper for spouse wasn't the idea of doing a spot of decorating. In fact, he quite like the idea of freshening up the old family yurt. It was the thought of a January start to the proceedings.
'When you said 'after Christmas, I thought you meant May or June,' quoth he.
Now why on earth would I mean May or June, when I said 'after Christmas'? Post-Christmas is January, isn't it? If I'd have meant May or June wouldn't I have said 'next spring or early summer'? Yes, I'm sure I would have, but I said 'after Christmas'. Now, check me here if I'm wrong, but to a Venus gal like me, 'after Christmas' indicates the immediate period of time post-December or early into the new year, to most people.
But not if he's from Mars and I'm from Venus. Here we are at January 8th and how 'after Christmas' does it have to get? When does 'after Christmas' begin? Spouse is not letting on. I foresee some tough negotiating ahead and that's before wer get on to interior design ideas and colour changes.
Happy New Year and wish me luck. I hope I make it through 2017 without wearing an opened pot of paint on my head or am permanently pasted behind the new wallpaper.
If I go missing, you know what to do .........
Snoozing in my bed this morning with the dulcet tones of the BBC’s Today programme washing over me, I contemplated the notion of rising and shining to greet the new day. And then, blow me down with a wet didgeridoo if you will, didn’t somebody say it has been scientifically proven that men have an inbuilt sense of direction and women don’t. At least, in my semi-wakened state that I think is what the nub of the item was about.
Now I can feel women everywhere bristling at this idea and I’m sure you good ladies all have a most excellent sense of direction and could find your way from Rotterdam to Riga just by consulting your inner satnav.
This piece of biological or neurological equipment, sadly, I seem bereft of. As do all the female line of my family. Whatever bit of familial chromosomal material on whichever gene assists with finding one's way, this never attached itself to our brainboxes.
I know this and so do my female rellies, as we have all tried over the years to educate ourselves in the minutiae of the geography of our country in an endeavour to independently find our way to unfamiliar destinations, mostly to no avail. How does one know to go down this street or that in a strange town, or an instinct that says ‘we want to be over there?’ Yet my spouse can do this in any place, in any country.
Technically speaking, we have all learned to map read, but it does not translate to anything meaningful in our heads. For me it’s something akin to reversing the car using the mirrors. Which way to turn the wheel? I have to think about it. I don’t think I’m unusually dense, it just doesn’t come naturally.
My spouse always maintained I could get lost in a paper bag. As ever, he exaggerates, thought I. Until one day I almost got lost on Darlington Station. Early morning, waiting with a friend for a train to Inverness and nature called. I duly trotted off and found the Ladies, used the facilities and came out again, only without realising it, out of a different door. I stood on an unfamiliar platform wondering what on earth was going on. Had I gone through Platform Nine and Three Quarters like Harry Potter and come out in a strange land? I went back indoors again and discovered there were, after all, two doors to this facility. With huge relief I stepped out again, onto the platform I had so recently left. So yes, maybe spouse has a point. I had got lost almost in the space of a paper bag.
Returning to the item on the Today programme. It seems this inbuilt sense of direction was a requirement of our male hunter-gatherer ancestors. Presumably they roamed hither and yon in search of food and it was helpful to find their way back to the little woman at the homestead.
Lucky for me I don’t live in a mansion or palace. I might have had to find my way with the unwinding a piece of string technique. And please, never, ever put me in a maze or I might end my days still trying to find my way out. (Note to self - do not let spouse read this - it may prove too tempting.)