MAN’S WORLD: Preparations for the great homecoming

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“So what time will you be back?”

My wife shrugged. “Half five? There’s not much traffic on a Sunday.”

“That’s true. So I’ll watch the Liverpool game with Tom and you go and collect Jessica.”

“Don’t forget Jessica’s bedroom needs hoovering,” my wife added. “In fact you can hoover the whole upstairs. And the top of the oven wants cleaning.”

I was just about to point out the need to bond with my son – in front of the TV, with a beer – before he went back to university, when Jane delivered the coup de grace.

“Bottle bank,” she hissed. “The pile of empties outside our garage can now be seen from outer space. Sort it.”

You wouldn’t want to live across the road from one, would you? The whole purpose of visiting a bottle bank is to make as much noise as possible. When else can a mature, sensible adult smash glass bottles? And double-plus awesome. Someone has left the lid off. I haven’t had this much fun since the last time I came here.

Sadly reality intrudes. As does the hoover.

And what is it with our dog? She seems to have distributed hair in every room in the house.

If Jessica comes home and finds the dog has been sleeping in her bedroom there’ll be hell to pay.

Nope, it’ll be more serious than that. Hell hath no fury like Jessica finding out the dog has been on her bed…

I finally get the top of the oven clean. After I’ve trekked to the shop for more Grease-Off and scouring pads. To be honest I’m rather proud of the result.

No, I can’t see my face in it. But neither can I see enough food to feed a small nation for several days.

I know what you’re thinking. Three jobs done. If ever a man deserved to put his feet up… Sadly not. There is the small matter of the shopping list.

“Can you get her some yoghurts?” Jane had asked. “And she’ll need some brioche for breakfast. And some girlie shower-gel.” The list went on.

I hadn’t noticed this the last time The Beloved Daughter had come home.

Maybe I hadn’t done the shopping. The whole kitchen seemed to need re-stocking.

I trudged down to Tesco – and no wonder your profits are down, Mr Clarke.

Stop re-arranging your damn shop every two weeks so I can’t find anything.

Sorry, where was I? Girlie shower gel. This one looked the business. With shea butter and ginger. And on special offer as well.

What is it with shower gel? I have lived a few years now and I have no idea what shea butter is. Then again I’m currently washing my hair with black pepper and chillies.

Billy Connolly had it right: ‘Where I come from, jojoba is the month after September.’

I finally finish. Jobs and shopping. And cooking dinner. TBD has let it be known that roast chicken will be acceptable: whether the “medley of spring greens” (aka cabbage surprise) will be quite so acceptable is open to doubt.

She arrives. Just the two bags of dirty washing. Large bags – but not on Tom’s epic don’t-appear-to-have-washed-anything-for-a-term scale.

Jane looked tired from the drive. “Make me a gin, will you?” she said. Not that tired then.

So I coughed. Then I coughed again, rather more loudly.

“Are you ill?”

“No, I’m not ill. Have you, er… noticed anything? Anything outside?”

“Good God, you haven’t - ” My wife slumped against a kitchen unit. The shock was too much for her.

“You’ve finally been to the bottle bank?”

I made it a very large gin…