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I Don’t DO Valentine’s Day….

Yes, the Man-Hog has asserted himself once again. The latest is: “I don’t DO Valentine’s Day”, said with gusto and a firm smack on my rump. He continues: “I won’t be told when to tell you I love you. I’ll tell you when I want to tell you, as I have done for the past 25 years.” Yes, dear, so you tell me every year.
What he fails to understand is the shallow nature of my desire to be fêted on this seemingly ordinary February day. It is not about love itself, it’s about the visual manifestation of that love to others; the one-up-manship of appearing to be most beloved of someone in a public place – in my view, at least.  Valentine’s Day is the one day he can display as much mushy sentimentality as I want. Anonymously, if that’s his bag. In fact, anonymously works for me too – mystery and romance, what better combination? Yet every year, I am doomed to be the only one sitting here at a desk bereft of any flowers, chocolates or cards bearing smudged question marks written by nervously sweaty mystery hands. It is my own fault, I suppose, for having married at birth. Romance for the majority of my life has been left to the one man on the planet that refuses to engage, leaving me exposed to the pitying stares and smug contentment of those with less recalcitrant, more publicly demonstrative soul mates. Bugger him. I shall do as I do every year and drift for a minute into the misty past, a time when one Valentine’s Day in particular stands out amongst all others……

I met J while in my last year at school. I was too young for the Man-Hog at this stage with our now-not-important-at-all age gap and so, while we were friendly, we were not – ahem – romantically involved. So I dated a tiny bit amongst my peers, and J was the chosen one for a while. Not a romantic on the surface, he did have an inner Cupid. He worked every weekend washing up pots and pans in a restaurant kitchen for a mere pittance. As Saturday jobs go, it was pretty low on the cool ranking scale. Almost as bad as my own spent in the staff kitchen of a local mental hospital. Part of my duties was delivering meals to nearby wards on an erratic electric trolley. Food that had to be passed necessarily through metal grills to the staff; entry to the wards restricted to nurses wearing chain-mail and who were dab hands with a dart gun. Not your average depressive or dementia patients, these. No, these were ones that even the prisons couldn’t handle – that threatened to bite off your nether regions if you so much as breathed near them and, given the opportunity, actually would. If I even so much as heard a bang or a muffled scream from behind the grills, I would drive that Benny Hill trolley so fast in the opposite direction, any lasagna left on board soon became mince milkshake. Anyway, lousy teenage jobs aside, J and I met whenever he could afford the two-stroke or whatever it was that fired his motorbike up enough to make the 5 mile trip to my house. Each time, he would bring some of his hard-earned wages, usually in 50p pieces, and we would place them reverently in a jar to save towards the Holy Grail of our fledgling relationship – the moment we would actually go out together in public and have a meal.

Valentine’s Day 1918 dawned (no, not really, but it was a long time ago) and the pop-pop-fizz of the boyfriend’s motorbike was heard at around noon. J came dressed in trousers, not his habitual jeans, and wearing a shirt. I thought he had been arrested and was off to court, but no. He encouraged me to leave off my Dexy’s Midnight Runner dungarees (terribly fashionable round our way at some point in the 80s – I blame Bananarama) and don a SKIRT and SHOES, both borrowed shamelessly from my older sister’s wardrobe. He then took my hand, led me solemnly to the garden, wrapped the brimming jar of 50p pieces in a towel and proceeded to smash it with a hammer. Quite why this was necessary bypassed me, since the jar had a perfectly good lid, but I suppose it was his inner Cupid going for the grand gesture. We had managed to save £28.50 as I recall. With this heady sum, we headed for the train to London and to that gastronomic enclave that was the Aberdeen Steak House in Covent Garden. J was positively bursting with pride as he pulled out my chair, beating the waiter to the punch. He then proceeded to order for me – I had been momentarily struck dumb by his sudden manliness and the sheer amount of red velour coating every surface in the restaurant. We ate steaks, drank a glass of red wine each (wow!) and stared into each other’s eyes whispering sweet nothings for over 2 hours as the waiting staff no doubt ached to pelt us with stale profiteroles.  Talk about feeling like a million dollars. There was even a sunflower, my favourite bloom, produced from his unfamiliar jacket pocket at the start of the meal. I felt like the only girl in the world that night, as special as a special thing in Special Land. He had worked for that money, bore the chafed and reddened knuckles to prove it, had saved it up and then proudly arranged this special evening – in public, in front of everyone. Aside from wearing a hat that said “She’s Gorgeous and She’s With Me!” there wasn’t much more he could do to display his innermost feelings that night.  Aah. Young love, eh?

It was THE singular most romantic evening I have ever had, bar none. Despite that, we were not to be. Sadly, J and I split up when the tax ran out on his motorbike and they simultaneously suspended the bus route that would have brought us together in the middle. Such hurdles were insurmountable at sixteen. I also discovered a George Michael look-a-like at around the same time and, fickle floozy that I clearly am, was all too willing to be consoled for many hours by “Careless Whisper” serenading me in the very uncomfortable front seat of a red TR7. That didn’t last long once I discovered that George Michael expected me to blow-dry his hair every time we went out. He took longer to get ready than I did. Ew – manly, NOT. So, I bumped into the Man-Hog at a party not long after and the rest, as they say, is history.

Happy as I have undoubtedly been, Valentine’s Day since then has been somewhat of a let down to say the least. No matter how much I sulk, cajole, bribe, scream, shout or deny conjugal rights – nothing has ever materialized on this one day of the year. It is not to say the Man-Hog is not romantic – he can be extremely and I can honestly say that I don’t doubt for a minute that when he says he loves me, he means it. It is just that he refuses to do any of those wonderfully romantic things on this particular day.

So how do I deal with this? Mature and responsible? Nah – childish and pathetic, of course! Following his announcement yesterday, I asked him how he liked our sofa. It’s great, he said, why? Because you’ll be sleeping on it until I decide otherwise. Suck on that, Cupidless One.

Resentment is a wonderful thing. Stored resentment over many years is even better – it’s the gift that just keeps on giving. He’ll be paying for this in so many ways!

Photo credit: http://dadcando.com

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How Low Can You Go…..

For two things you must forgive me today. The first is that this is the second blog post in 24 hours, so there is clearly some form of crisis going on. The second is the word in the above picture, the reason for which will become clear later in this monologue.

Today has revealed that new lows can still be found, even at my great age. The first clue that this was going to be THAT sort of day came when the Man-Hog bounced jauntily out of the bathroom in his natural state (and what a state) and flung himself bodily across my supine body still lying in bed. This was no fit of unbridled passion, dear friends. No – this was the Man-Hog demonstrating that romance, passion, love or whatever that funny bubbly feeling in your chest actually is has finally, and forever, left the building. His words, uttered in a fairly sexy (for him) rasp, were: “Hun, can you look at the spot on my bum? Does it have an ingrown hair in it?” Of all the things a man could say to a woman after spending the night together (albeit the billionth one), this was not what anybody wanted to hear. He somehow couldn’t understand my sudden leap from the bed squealing, running at impressive speed for one so recently horizontal and subsequently slamming the bathroom door. He is blaming it on my hormones. Aaagggh!

Having hidden the tweezers lest he be tempted to ask me to prod, I ventured sulkily downstairs in my PJs five minutes later to be greeted by the Mini-Pig boy: “Mum, I can’t find my PE kit.” I sighed heavily and trudged into the laundry room to search for the offending items. The girl-child wandered into the kitchen meantime in search of school tights without gaping holes in them (there are none) and for whatever her reasons, uttered a sentence I only half-heard from the depths of the ironing pile but which contained the word “mucus”.  Mini-Pig boy – clearly more delicate in disposition than the rest of us – immediately gagged, retched and regurgitated his recently devoured Coco Pops. Still, another heavy sigh wrenched its way out of my chest, the place where the Love Bubble used to be, as I trudged back to the laundry again to fetch the mop. Clearly this is not a word to be used in his earshot within an hour of any mealtime. Forewarned now.

Keep in mind, people, this is all before 8.30.

Man-Hog despatched to visit sister to bore her with botty-spot issues, vomiting Mini-Pigs thrown onto school coach, I was finally able to get dressed and go off to work. The train journey managed to soothe my frazzled nerve endings and, never one to be down for long, hope rose within me again. It was not to be. Halfway across the one-way street housing my office building, a black cab driver flew around the corner at break-neck speed straight towards me. With an adrenaline-fuelled Kanga skip I managed to make the kerb by the skin of my teeth. Bad enough, you would think, until Taxi Neanderthal then screeched to a halt, reversed backwards like he was going for the drifting World Record, and proceeded to berate me for not looking where I was going. I pointed out that I had been halfway across a one-way street – there had been only one way to look before crossing and he had probably been in the next town at that point, the speed he’d been going. This was clearly not the right thing to say. He let fly a volley of words I haven’t heard since Bristol Rovers versus Crystal Palace away back in 1980-something (although I can clearly remember chanting Charlie Nicklas is a Horse’s Arse! I was young, what can I say.) I kept calm and merely directed Caveman-For-Hire to his copy of the Highway Code. To his credit, he was rendered speechless. He then waved a dramatic fist at me  and zoomed off in a flurry of London dust and old fag ends. Miserable old git.

All in all, it’s been a poor start to the day. Boss is at a funeral (bound to come back grumpy), been promised something from a jar for tea (oh joy) and the office is out of biscuits (for the love of God, why?). There’s a great line from the 1993 Mrs Doubtfire film that sums all this up. Robin Williams says: “Did you ever wish you could sometimes freeze frame a moment in your day, look at it and say “this is not my life“?” Well, that’s me. Thinking seriously of going back to bed. Call me when the love is back in the room.

Quote reproduced from http://IMDB.com

Picture credit: http://icouldcrybutidonthavetime.wordpress.com

EARHAIR: We’ve All Got It in Some Form

The blogging world has taught me that there is very little sleep out there. It has taught me that having children was never going to add to anyone’s rest and relaxation, least of all mine. There are many out there – right now – struggling to persuade babies, toddlers and geriatric parents to go back to sleep. I, however, am not one of those tonight. No – tonight I am a victim of an unfortunate but surprisingly prevalent condition. Extremely Annoying Respiring Husbands Are Irritating Repeatedly (EARHAIR).

EARHAIR takes many forms. My Man-Hog, alone, has several variants. You may recognise some of them though I cannot list them all – their number is legion:

Pop’n’Click

This minor irritation usually occurs in the first few minutes of EARHAIR, before the snorer has yet had a chance to settle into a proper rhythm. I think toothpaste or its mint flavouring has something to do with it. First the snorer inhales gustily through fairly clear nasal passages but then decides (because they are ANNOYING – grrrr) to exhale through the pursed stuck-together-with-unwiped-toothpaste lips with a loud *POP*, followed by the back of the throat click as the exhale is completed. Sometimes there is a double-click as the tongue mysteriously rises to the roof of the mouth and down again like Excalibur from the lake. Bearability Scale: Irritating as nettle itch but not worth stabbing him yet. Unless you want to.

Roaring Forties

This, as the name suggests, is EARHAIR happening around 40 minutes after lights out. It is a rising crescendo of chest and nasal wheezing which mimics, quite well actually, the mating call of a lion with chronic tonsilitis. The only way to stop it is a swift blow to the clavicals. Sometimes this can stop respiration altogether, depending on the savagery of said blow, but I’ll tell you how to resolve this in a later blog. Or maybe I won’t. Bearability Scale: Not yet a divorce-inciter but getting close to the wire. Requires earplugs or a change of room.

Elks R Us

This is the deep sleep, rapid eye-movement phase of EARHAIR. The sprouting bushy King of them all. This is a 2AM foghorn waking all in the house except the snorer. That sod sleeps on throughout. Elk Phase must involve some form of sonic block – how else can the bugger still sleep? Why Elk? Well because it must be similar to camping al fresco next to an elk giving multiple birth to breech babies without so much as a TENS machine. Deep drafts of air are sucked in to vibrating nasal tunnels, followed by a short pause then the long, low, resonant exhale so bass and drawn out a note it makes Pavarotti sound like a choir boy, the Elk is a raging beast of a snore. There is no cure. Only death by self-smothering or moving house without telling the snorer are the coping strategies and even then, you’ll still hear it – it will haunt your dreams with its moose-call. Bearability Scale: Un-bloody-supportable.

So there we are. I’ve tried to give a little insight into the private hell endured by EARHAIR victims such as myself. When your baby wants to play all night, or your aged mother wants toast at 3AM despite scoffing most of a suppertime shepherd’s pie already, spare a thought for us. We don’t have wakefulness, but we have EARHAIR. And it’s getting worse.