MAN’S WORLD: 57 minutes of hell saved my marriage


“When did you start your Christmas shopping for Mum?” the Beloved Daughter demanded.


“What have you got so far?”

“Two Toblerones and a bottle of gin.”

Jessica looked at me coldly. “Well that’ll be a Christmas she won’t forget.”

I reminded her that I’d had a slight problem with my eyes. That for most of December I hadn’t been able to see my wife’s Christmas list – never mind send an army of delivery drivers into action.

But now it was the Tuesday before Christmas. I needed help. Which meant putting Jessica in charge.

So much for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Panic Saturday. I was about to embark on Whirlwind Tuesday.

“Has Mum sent you a list?”

“Yep. It’s here, on my laptop,” I rapidly reasserted my competence. “Number one, scarf from Next. We just click on the link. Trot down to Next. Job done. Husband of the Year title secured for another year.”

“Well you sort that out while I get dressed.”

I duly clicked the link. Time to see what I was buying my beloved. Nothing. Uh oh. Next charmingly replied, That page no longer exists. Fiddlesticks.

What else was on the list? A bag. Oh no it wasn’t. Uh oh… You know the rest.

Jessica would not be impressed. I needed some moral support.

I tweeted to my followers. Left wife’s presents to last minute. Now links she sent me have expired. #MayFlyToArgentina

Several of them very helpfully replied. All of them female. All in the same vein. Been nice knowing you. Where shall we send the flowers?

But here was Little Miss Organised. And ten minutes later we were in Next. “This is nice,” I said confidently.

My daughter sighed. “Mum doesn’t like that sort of material. Don’t you notice what she wears?”

Well I’ve noticed she wears a scarf when it’s cold but clearly I haven’t noticed hard enough. I kept quiet, let me daughter decide and handed over my card like a good husband.

To Boots. Jane had been very precise. Olay total effects 7 in 1 moisturiser and serum duo. Whatever ‘serum’ was…

“It’s three for two,” the sales girl said helpfully. And with my daughter reporting back to her mother there was no way I could refuse. ‘No, Mummy. Dad said he didn’t love you enough to spend thirty pounds.’

“This one’s for fair skin and this one’s for medium skin,” Jessica said. “Which one do you think Mum is?”

I shrugged helplessly.

“For goodness sake, Dad. You don’t know what she wears and after twenty years of marriage you don’t know what she looks like.”

“Of course I know what my wife looks like.”

“So which of these matches her skin?”

I shrugged helplessly. Again.

And this is where it gets clever.

Jessica took a photo of the two alternatives.

Then she colour matched them with a picture of Jane on her phone.

Then she told which one I was buying.

“Brilliant,” I said. “That’s truly awesome. We’re making real progress. Let’s go for a coffee.”

She’s been working on that particular stare for 19 years. It’s perfected now.

“Dad, you have been in town for, like, 12 minutes. You go for coffee when you’re finished. Which without my help would have been April.”

After that shops passed in a blur. Charge in. Do as I was told. Tap in my PIN. Add another carrier bag to the load. On to the next one.

I never did get my coffee. But we were back at the car 57 minutes after we’d parked it – all presents bought: marriage saved for another year.

And all thanks to Jessica…