April 23, 2014

Carole is good at a lot of things. Talking, for example, is probably one of her special skills. As is managing, inexplicably, to discover the financial history of anyone she has just met or spent any time with. She’s also good at Ticket To Ride – that can’t be disputed. She is the house’s reigning champion when it comes to train-based board games.

One thing she’s not good at, though, is being ill. Nope, it turns out when my little Petri Dish is ill, she really goes to town with it. Today she’s resembled an ill version of the Dormouse from Alice In Wonderland. Like something really cute mixed with the coughing death rattles of a 90-a-day smoker.

While people mat point fingers at menfolk who suffer with a sniffle, calling it “Man Flu” in a way to belittle the disease – although a large portion of the internet do believe that Man Flu is an actual type of flu you can catch, like swine or bird flu before it – Carole suffers from Carole Flu. Which is much, much worse.

Death is imminent, apparently. It’s something I should be prepared for, I have been told.

And while Death might be there, waiting, with his scythe poised she still finds time to use up valuable strength to complain that the cup of Lemsip I have made her is just a little bit too hot. Even to the end, she’s been a fighter. A very demanding fighter. If she had a little bell she could ring, I’d have probably cut the clapper out of it by now.

Obviously, she’s not actually fading as fast as she claims. She’s just got a bit of a cough.

And an intermittent whistling bogey.

One of which (the cough, preferably) she’s probably passed onto me for later in the week, most probably Saturday when we’re off to the Good Food show in Harrogate, so I can hack up a lung or two over any food samples on offer and infect most of North Yorkshire in a single day. And you won’t hear me complaining. Oh no. I shall just stand strong. I won’t criticise the temperature of my medicinal drinks.

Ok, I might complain a bit as I cough and splutter my way through a Mary Berry masterclass or something, but other than that I’ll be fine.

After all, us menfolk can handle a few germs, can’t we?


Park It

April 22, 2014

One of the fun elements of going to the cinema in Huddersfield is the close proximity of the cinema to the sports stadium so if there’s a match of any kind on, you’re pretty much fucked if you want to go to the cinema rather than just spend a few hours driving round and round the car park getting annoyed at yellow-jacketed jobsworths.

Yesterday, it was a rugby match. I think. I don’t know. Let’s say that’s what it was. The kick of was at three o’clock. We were going to the 12.30 showing of Spider-man. We arrived before noon to find that the jobsworths had laid claim to all of the car park apart from one tiny but near the cinema itself.

“Oh no, you can’t go and park over the bridge,” said one of them. “That’s for the match…”
“It does say on the website that on match days you might not be able to park…” said another, smug-faced parking git-wizard.

Yes, it does say that on the website. But it also says that parking restrictions will come into effect three hours before kick off and for two hours after the match. Although I’m not sure why it has to last for two hours afterwards. Surely once things are underway in the stadium then that should be the end of it. If you’re not parked by then, then you should just be forced to find your own place and not be led by the hand by an enthusiastic volunteer who can now put on his Record Of Achievement that he helps out with major sporting events. And anyway, the kick off wasn’t until three, and it was before twelve. So he was being a dick before his allotted dick time.

We ended up waiting at the end of row of parked cars, hoping that a space became free that we could nip into.

One did, as it happens, about ten minutes before our film was due to start, and we nipped in there – with some help from one of the less nobbish yellow-jacketed git wizards – much to the annoyance of a very large man in a very small car who growled something angrily at the parking people and muttered a lot.

I just hoped he didn’t get the smug one with his “well, it does say on the website” speech. Otherwise he’d have to unpour himself from his tiny car, pummel him, and then struggle back in again to once more begin the slow circle of desperation to find a parking spot.

The other thing we learnt is never, ever, under any circumstances look at the seats your about to sit on in anything other than the muted light of the cinema environment. Don’t, for example, shine your mobile phone light on them. Just don’t. Because then you spend the entire film sitting in a way which, you hope, minimises any contact with the surface of the seat cushions whatsoever.

Trust me on that one.

Lie To Me

April 21, 2014

You know when you go to buy new shoes and you walk in them to see if they’re comfy or not and no matter how hard you try you can’t actually remember how to walk like you normally walk? The same sort of thing happens when you’re tying out mattresses for firmness in the middle of a bed shop.

We’re in the market for a new mattress because ours is flatter than a flat thing. You can feel everything through it. If you put a pea under it I’m fairly sure that both of us would actually be able to assert our claim to Royal Lineage by feeling it through the mattress. Although it would have to be a hard pea, and not just a Birds Eye one straight from the freezer because then you’d just end up with squashed pea on the underside of your mattress. Although we’d probably feel that as well.

So, in an effort to not wake up in the morning with the imprint of every mattress spring embedded in our body, we’re getting a new mattress. But before you can do all that you have to go and lie on a lot of them to work out how firm you need them to be.

There’s a scale which goes from 1 to 5. One is soft, five is hard. One is stupidly soft. Five is like sleeping on a floor. Three is a bit too soft. And four – well four is just right.


I mean, it’s hard to tell. I would say a four. But I was primarily lying on them like I’d just been laid out in an open casket. I don’t sleep like that. I don’t sleep with my arms crossed across my chest as though they’ve been placed there by a mortician. I sleep all over the shop. Limbs out left, right and centre. There’s usually a cat involved as well. Sometimes I’m scrabbling for a duvet. Very often I’m left exposed to the elements. Or Carole is chuntering. Or humming. It’s very hard to recreate the conditions of a normal night’s sleep when there’s someone hovering around wondering if you need any help.

I don’t know what he would really help with, either. We’re just lying down for a bit on a variety of different beds, trying to work out the difference between the mattresses and – personally – praising whoever it is who made sheets a thing because, Sweet Jesus, some of the designs that are put on mattresses are fricking awful. I mean, how much help can he really give. I mean, I watched him taking apart a display wardrobe with one of his colleagues. He removed the sides and left the top on.

That’s not right.

Should this man actually be helping me to lie down?


Egg-splain Yourself Better

April 20, 2014

I’ve never had much luck when it comes to Easter eggs.

I mean, I don’t think anyone will forget the year I suggested that Carole just buy her own egg as she was going to the supermarket anyway. I even offered to give her the money. But that was the wrong thing today. I clearly had a lot to learn about women, not least that they are not fans of the most efficient way of doing something. And then there was the year when I spent a small fortune on an egg which, for all intents and purposes, looked like it was going to be magnificent. Presented in a special tin and everything. Which turned out to be 99% tin and 1% egg. But still, it was an expensive tin which you could – if you so wanted, and for that money I did – sniff the inside of to enjoy the smell of what little chocolate was contained within. It was like a homeopathic chocolate hit.

But I don’t let that deter me. Every year Easter comes around, and every year I get back on that egg-shaped horse.

I’ve never been particularly good with horses.

This year I was told the following:-

“No pressure, but I have bought you an egg. So if you want to buy me one that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s also fine.”

Now, lets break that down into manageable pieces, shall we.

1) “…fine…”

When a woman says fine, they don’t mean fine. It’s fine does not mean that anything is fine. It’s the opposite of fine. The only time a woman can use the word fine and mean fine is when they’re talking about the rain being fine. Anything else isn’t fine. I picked up on that one straight away.

2) “If you don’t, that’s also fine.”

It’s not also fine if I don’t buy an egg. If I want to sleep on the couch for ever and be sneered at for the remainder of the Easter Weekend, then I should not by an egg. If I want to be judged by every member of her family and all her friends, then I should not by an egg. If I want to be shunned by my own family then I should abandon any thought of buying an egg and just not bother. In short, it’s code for “Buy me an egg or I will make you pay”.

3) “No pressure but…”

There is pressure. A lot of pressure. Do not fuck this up.

4) “…I have bought you an egg…”

I took this to mean, well, I have bought you an egg. I thought, as I woke up this morning, filled with the joys of the season or whatever it is we’re supposed to feel at Easter – you know, excitement that whatever we gave up for lent is back on the menu, that kind of thing – that I would have an Easter egg that I could cherish. An egg of my very own. But no. It turns out that “I have bought you an egg” doesn’t mean that an egg has been bought specifically for Easter Sunday. It means that during the week before Easter, when we enjoyed the benefits of a ridiculous egg offer in a supermarket – you know, buy twenty-seven eggs for three pence and a feather – one of those eggs was for me. And we’d eaten it, together, back then. That was my egg. I didn’t know that, as I came home from work on Thursday clutching an egg that I had gone and bought specially as a present. I didn’t know that as I hid an egg in a special hiding place ready to present it to Carole this morning. I also didn’t know that – as I’d also taken part in a multi-buy egg purchase earlier in the week, I had ticked off the need to buy an egg.

In short, I bought an egg – an expensive egg (for which I could have sourced the components at a cheaper price) – that I didn’t really need to buy.

Next year I’m determined to understand Easter a bit better. I might have to get some sort of legal document drawn up so I know exactly what is happening…


Slow News Day

April 19, 2014

I don’t know what to write today
I haven’t got a clue
So I’ll stick some words down in a rhyme
And that will have to do.

I haven’t done a thing today
That’s worthy of a blog
The cats have been quite boring too
I wish we had a dog.

I made some cheesy biscuits
Which turned out really nice
I had to make another batch
So I guess I made them twice.

But other than that it’s been quiet
With nothing to appeal.
And I’ve learnt that I was right to not
be bothered by Man Of Steel.

I’ve read a book and drunk some tea,
Played with at least one cat
But none of it’s exciting so
I’ll not get a blog from that…

The Cat In The Act

April 18, 2014

Cats are very territorial creatures. They have a set area that they claim as their own, and they will patrol that area with startling regularity, making sure that everything is shipshape and dealing with any interlopers as they see fit.

Our two, for example, consider the house to be part of their territory and will defend it from each other, having frequent cat fights (quite literally) in doorways as one finds the other in a room, or – in what has become one of our favourite things ever – fighting each other, or attempting to, through the glass of the front room window as they both assert their claim on the room from opposite sides of the window sill.

Likewise, should either of them see a strange or unwelcome cat in the front garden or, on occasion, just passing by on the pavement, they will fly through the cat flap and run round to the front of the house to ask the visiting cat to jog on and not bother us.

They are very good defenders of their territory.

Or so we thought.

After this morning, we might have to call this into question.

A beautiful day heralded the start of Operation Garden, a multi-day campaign in which we actually sort the bloody garden out once and for all and – for the benefit of Carole – put the fence panels back on. So that’s what we were doing. Out in the morning sun, fighting through weeds and brambles to fill five large plastic buckets with garden waste and still have half the garden to do.

As is often the case when we’re outside, the cats came out as well and just pottered about. When we’re outside they tend to hang around near to where we are or – if they can – completely in the way. It’s a unique skill possessed by both cats, leading to a belief that all their “fighting” might actually be a ruse to lull us into a false sense of something or other. So it was unsurprising to find we were joined by Pumps and Peppa – Pumpkin reclining on top of the recycling bin, soaking up the sunshine, Peppa sitting on next door’s beautiful manicured lawn soaking up the sunshine.

Neither of them defending their territory particularly well as – at that time – a cat from further down the street was in our kitchen merrily munching its way through their food.

And when I looked to see if either cat was going to spring into action they were both just sitting there, legs akimbo, licking their bums.

Leaving it to me to chase the cat out of the house.

Which was quite good fun.

Because I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a startled cat try to get a grip on lino before….

Sick, Innit

April 17, 2014

Picture the scene. A darkened bedroom. It’s not too hard to picture because, well, it’s dark. Imagine a dark room in which you have an awareness of where all the major pieces of furniture are so you don’t, say, walk into the end of the bed like an idiot but will stub your toe on any boxes that are poking out from underneath.

That’s kind of the scene you need to picture.

For completeness, imagine it’s 11.30 at night and you’re on your way to bed clutching your mobile phone and – for some reason – your Kindle (even though you’re going to a dark room to sleep).

Imagine that you’re walking around your side of the bed when your foot – the left, if you want to be specific about these things – comes into contact with something on the floor. Something cold on the floor.

Now, as this is our bedroom all bets are off as to what this may or may not be on the floor. There are often, for reasons I will never understand, random coins scattered about the place. A foot, the left, on a coin could recreate the sensation of cold that was felt.

It wasn’t a coin, though.

It was a pile of cat sick with a monumental hair ball in it.

And I had walked through it in a moment which was quite reminiscent of when Victor Meldrew goes to put his slippers on and slips his foot into a decomposing hedgehog which has somehow found its way into the bedroom.

One of the curious things about cat sick – and one Carole enjoyed pointing out to me this morning – is that even though it’s sick, it doesn’t really smell. And it doesn’t. It also doesn’t coat the underside of your foot either. Which is nice, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to want to splash through puddles of the stuff like a child kicking through a pile of leaves.

There was also a massive pile of sick on the bed – which was lovely. Absolutely lovely. I had to ferry it from the bedroom to the bathroom, gipping all the way, while Carole sat up in bed, offered to help and then fell immediately back to sleep again. I mean, I suppose I have to count my blessings that I trod in the sick that I did tread in, otherwise we would have gone to bed completely oblivious to the fact that there was the majority of the inside of a cat bouncing around at the bottom of the duvet.

Having said all that, I can’t deny that it did add an element of tension to proceedings when Peppa climbed under the duvet to go to sleep…




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