I was stumbling back from the corner shop the other day – something heavy was on special offer – when I bumped into an old friend.
She started having a rant about her husband. But it was a resigned rant.
“Twenty five years; magic not there any more. Nothing to talk about now the kids have gone…”
I did my best to cheer her up. I pointed out that while her husband is not perfect – he supports Liverpool – things could be far worse. “Look on the bright side, Claire,” I said. “You could be married to me.”
She couldn’t, because she was never that type of friend. But you get my drift.
The grass is not always greener.
I’ve been writing about family life for over 10 years. During that time I have once or twice – cough, cough – painted myself in a more favourable light than might really be the case.
My wife and children have not been slow to point this out. They have long suggested that a no-holds-barred confession of my failings would not come amiss.
So here goes. And hopefully it will put the bloke on the settee with the beer and the remote control into perspective…
I’d rather write about it. Whatever happens in our house, my first thought is, ‘can I write about it?’ My inclination is not to fix things, it’s to write about them. You may be married to a man whose greatest joy is collecting power tools, storing them neatly and using them constantly. Count your blessings. I think there might be a screwdriver somewhere in Tom’s bedroom…
I’m convinced I’m Gordon Ramsay. Look, I’m not a bad cook, but one does tend to get up one’s own bottom. Do I really need to yell “Service! Main course away!” every time I dish up a bowl of Spag Bol? And yes, I do swear when I’m cooking. Particularly if it’s Jamie Oliver’s turkey and leek pie.
Delicious – but sweary.
I’m untidy. I occasionally like to test my wife’s blood pressure by declaring that I want our house to be ‘minimalist.’ Or that ‘I’d happily sleep on a simple futon.’ In everyday terms this is nonsense. I’m a writer, so I live in a constant blizzard of A4. And see above: I cannot cook without re-decorating the kitchen. Neither am I perfect at putting my clothes away…
Speaking of clothes, I love my red shorts. And my navy blue ones. The navy shorts are simply disgusting, but it’s the red ones that really define me.
They’re so old that they’re no longer red; they’re pink. They’re also frayed. Very.
A remarkable testament to the needlework of Madam Matusiewicz and her ability to keep an item of clothing going long past its appointment with the recycling bin. Appearance isn’t hugely important to me. Comfort is.
And then there’s Pools. All my life my sports teams have been able to plunge me into fits of depression. But when they win I’m wildly ecstatic.
When ‘Pools score (a rare event this season) I run round the house telling everyone. Frankly, it is pathetic. I should have grown out of it long ago. I haven’t. I never will.
So there you have it. Your flame may not burn quite as brightly as it once did.
But look at the positives. There is not a badly dressed maniac in your lounge, wearing ripped shorts and leaping to his feet yelling ‘Yessssssssssssss.’
Your dining room is not awash with discarded paper as the kitchen cupboard door hangs from its hinges.
And do you really want a third rate Gordon Ramsay in your kitchen? No, you don’t…