Til Death Do Us Part

Teflon Man and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary last weekend. Twelve years. It was a beautiful day, but I do often regret not choosing a new kitchen instead.

  
But we wouldn’t have celebrated the installation of a new kitchen with a fancy, child-free trip to London, so there’s that. Flash hotel with petal-scattered bed and free champagne. We downed the champers and swept the petals aside…to watch the Olympics (Tom Daley in teeny speedos is all I’m saying). Then a sublime meal in a posh restaurant followed by cocktails in the fancy-pants hotel bar…then a sleepless night due to indigestion! Ah, the romance!

 

After 12 years marriage, the dark is definitely our friend!
 
Sunday morning, our anniversary proper, we exchanged gifts amid the marshmallow-plump duvet. We’ve only ever done cursory gifts for our anniversary mostly in line with the traditional gift list made up by who-knows-who, but which at least offers desperate partners some sort of direction and reminds others that a gift is to be expected!!! (Apart from our third anniversary where the combination of a 9-day-old Boo and a lack of breastfeeding facilities In town meant that I returned home in tears and without a present for TM. But I had just created his child in my body, so I got away with it.)

Some years are harder than others (Year 4: Fruit – a tip: go for a nice, expensive bottle of wine rather than, say, a bunch of bananas) and with the purchase of a bread tin followed by a kitchen knife possibly TM is incrementally buying me the kitchen I could’ve had all those years ago. But this year was easy: silk. I gave TM a tie (which, it turned out, looked suspiciously similar to the ones worn by the waiters at the posh restaurant. I promise I bought it in advance and didn’t haggle with the maitre’d whilst TM was in the gents.) Luckily for TM, I didn’t present it √† la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

 
TM meanwhile bypassed the option of lingerie (always a good move as he’d only be bound to get the size wrong, which would only lead to upset whether too big – ‘he thinks I’m fat’ – or too small – ‘I am fat and he wishes I was thinner. Or he was too busy eyeing up the sales girl when he bought it.’) Instead he chose a Hermes style silk scarf. The sort that sophisticated, mostly French women pull off effortlessly, whilst the rest of us mortals struggle with complicated Pinterest instructions to have even a clue what to do with it.

  
I don’t even know how to fold it into the required shape before tying it. But it least it was impossible to get the size wrong.

Back home though I had a bit of a panic. Optimistically assuming that we’ll still be together for our 13th anniversary, I realised that we had now ticked off the major fallback gifts for men: cotton, leather, wool, and silk – hankies, wallet, socks and tie. Only cuff links remain (seeing shaving cream and aftershave isn’t an option on the list) and silver isn’t for another thirteen years!!!

Next year is lace. It’s going to be a struggle. The gift-giving sector of the market is struggling here. I did a Google search and it isn’t pretty. My retinas are still recovering!!! Don’t even go there!

  
  

But it gets worse. Either the list-makers knew they were scraping the bottom of the barrel when lacy g-strings for men became a thing (seriously DON’T look!) or by 15 years of marriage we’re meant to know our other halves well enough to go it alone. I know my other half well enough to know this is a recipe for disaster!

(Exhibit A: remember this?)

  
From 2020 (after lace, ivory and crystal) my anniversary presents are doomed!

And then it struck me. Marriage can be murder, only with a longer sentence for a single decision and we’ve essentially chosen our cellmate (even if sometimes we wonder what the hell we were thinking!). 

  
In which case, the natural filler for those gift blanks are surely the murder weapons from Cluedo.

  
What woman wouldn’t be pleased to receive a spanner after say, sixteen years of marriage. It seems appropriate if you’ve come to think of your husband as a bit of a tool. Some seem like appropriate gifts already – the candlestick more so than the lead piping perhaps. 

  
And could it be an incentive to treat your partner with more respect than a second/third decade of marriage might engender naturally? ‘Perhaps I won’t call him a “cockwomble” out loud in case he stabs me with the anniversary dagger.’  (But then I don’t live somewhere where handguns are kept in bedside tables as standard, and actually, in those places where they are, altercations still happen but tend not to end well, so maybe not.)

But it’s at least a direction for suggestions until someone decides ‘luxury kitchen upgrade’ deserves to be on the list (which it totally does!). Traditionally anniversary gifts can already be appropriated as murder weapons…and surely it’s not just coincidence that I have Cell Block Tango on perma-loop in my head when TM is around. Isn’t it then a natural progression of gift ideas?

One warning though: once you’ve collected your full set of household items/murder weapons (plus some fine-bone china as we stick with tradition for 20 years of wedded bliss) just beware of any invitations to stately homes to celebrate. Or grab your candlestick and head to the library – all’s fair in love, war and anniversary gifts after all.

  

A Night Off

Teflon Man had a night out last night. (Is it still dignified to go to a warehouse party as you approach 50? Mind you, is it ever dignified to attend a warehouse party?) Then football today. Needless to say, he was feeling a little worse for wear.

  

But tonight was my turn to go out. So, instead of cooking like some short-order chef to the faddy requirements of the brood, I got myself brushed up (complete with swishy new lob haircut).

Me to TM: So, what are you getting everyone for tea then?

TM (lying on the bed looking morose at the thought of having to do anything more than breathe): What have we got in?

Me: Nothing. I didn’t know what you wanted.

TM: But I’ve just been to Sainsbury’s. [For last-minute Easter eggs. Like they haven’t been in the shops since January. Nope, obviously they have to be bought as the supermarket staff clear the shelves ready for the next seasonal promotion.]

And he collapsed on the bed to snooze (despite Noodles bouncing in close proximity to his head whilst loudly singing the ABC song).

  

Forty minutes later, it’s 7pm and I’m ready to go out. Teflon Man has got as far as surveying the family for meal preferences to be met with resounding ambivalence. (My daily experience then. Not easy second-guessing the unexpressed desires of other people, is it, TM?) This had him back upstairs to do some more lying on the bed.

Meanwhile, downstairs, no one takes the initiative to feed themselves.

  

My friend knocks at the door just as Teflon Man manages to drag his sorry carcass downstairs and out the door for cheap and easy pizzas. Never mind that Boo and Noodles refuse to eat pizza. I turn the oven on for him to preheat so that everyone might get fed before midnight.

  

I’ve no idea how the pizzas turned out. But my meal was delicious

Porcine Body Parts

Is it possible to make a pig’s ear out of a pig’s leg? In Teflon Man’s case, absolutely!

  

Now rumour has it, some people have immaculate, sparkly kitchens with work tops void of anything but tasteful-yet-essential utensils. (Or is that just on Pinterest?) 

  

Not my kitchen.

  

No, not mine either.

  

*Sigh*

Generally speaking though, there still tends to be room for me to cook and plate up amongst the tubs of peanut butter and tins of lunchbox goodies. There is still room for me to do my thing.

Or at least there was.

And then Teflon Man decided he needed to buy a leg of Serrano ham. Lidl was doing a special deal on them and who doesn’t like Serrano ham?

Yes, I like a nice slice of dry-cured ham… But when it comes in pre-sliced packets that fit so neatly in the fridge. Not when it’s a whole pig’s leg – complete with trotter – sat on the worktop in my kitchen!

  

‘Seriously, what are we going to do with that?!’ I asked, not unreasonably, I feel.

‘We can hang it up and slice bits off. It’ll last for ages,’ TM replied.

Those of you who’ve read my blog for a bit can imagine my overjoyed response to the prospect of having a porcine joint hanging in my kitchen for several months. 

My kitchen is NOT some domestic version of Jamie’s Italian! What look great in a traditional charceuterie does NOT translate to the home.

  

Also not my kitchen.

I was even less thrilled when he told me how we only needed to wipe any bits of mould off and keep on eating it.

Considering how long the Independence Day mango hung around our kitchen before being binned I was increasingly concerned.

By the time he was showing me slicing methods on YouTube I was also pretty much convinced that there would be at least one trip to A&E in our future, quite possibly with severed fingers on ice.

  

‘It’s ok. My mum’s got a spare holder and knife for Serrano ham at home,’ he said. So, I put up with the damn leg on my worktop for a fortnight before the logistics could be sorted for its delivery. She delivered it on Saturday and Teflon Man set about its construction.

  

Experience has taught me to stay out of the way when Teflon Man is doing anything practical. There was a lot of banging at one point…and quite a few expletives.

Once it had all quietened down I ventured into the kitchen. There was no guarantee that Teflon Man would still be breathing, after all. 

‘How’s it going?’ I tentatively asked as he wrestled with a screw and the main board. 

He’d clearly not got very far.

‘Fucking piece of shit. It keeps splitting and there’s no instructions and this fucking screw doesn’t fit…’

He demonstrated how the screw was clearly too long for the thickness of the board so that the holder for the ham would never fix tightly. Plus the hole drilled for the screw wasn’t deep enough and had been done on the skwink.

It was making IKEA flat pack look like the king of all product design.

‘And the banging?’

‘Well, there’s a drawer and I didn’t know which way it went up, so I tried it this way [patently upside down] and it got stuck. So I had to hammer it out. And it split.’

‘But what made you think you had to put it in upside down. It’s obviously a drawer for holding knives. If you put it in upside down incredibly sharp knives are going to fall out, which doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.’

Seriously, this man has a degree. He has a job that requires a substantial amount of intelligence. And yet…

I took Boo to dancing and went shopping.

When I got back the ham was still sat on the kitchen worktop, rather than in its holster.

‘The board’s in the bin,’ Teflon Man dead panned.

And thus the ham is still sat on the worktop. The packaging had been opened slightly however as Teflon Man attempted to use the knife. I sliced a bit off.

It tasted disgusting!

And thus Teflon Man has indeed managed to make a pig’s ear out of its leg. 

How long I’ll have to put up with the porcine disaster for is anyone’s guess too. *Sigh*

Lightbulb!

Teflon Man had a lightbulb moment earlier, after yet another game of call centre tennis. In a move to cut off the TalkTalk muppets he decided to sign up to BT instead. Hopefully a wise move. BT said he needed a code. TalkTalk said they had no record of him so couldn’t give one to him. I feared we’d never have Internet again. BT said the code they needed seemed to be held by AOL (who we switched from to TalkTalk). They did indeed have our code. Hoorah! We should have it within five days! (I swear Peter Jackson has made trilogies out of less!)

And then it struck Teflon Man! If AOL have our code they also have our account and it must still be active! One old router dug out and BINGO!

Possibly the happiest the Gluestick family has been en masse ever!

I anticipate the handover will ultimately go disastrously wrong and we could be cut off again at any time.

But at least it means we can stop having to participate in family fun, such as…

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…invading castles…

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…taking chilly walks out to sea…

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…jumping up and down in muddy puddles…

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…and Gruffalo hunting.

Which is probably just as well because Noodles managed to trash every single pair of footwear he owned!

Now we can do it on our terms. Well, at least until BT messes up too.

Teflon Man Comes Good

Remember last year when I wanted a Pandora bracelet for my birthday but instead got this:

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(I may have mentioned it a couple of times.)

Well, Teflon Man has upped his game. And in a good way.

Not only did he take me out for the best meal of my life last night…

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…he also got me the exact watch I was lusting after…

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(Daniel Wellington: tick. St Andrews model: tick. In rose gold: tick)

and he found his way to the Pandora store with Boo to buy her present for me. (Generosity charm also pictured above.)

10/10, Teflon Man. I’m impressed.

Enforced Hibernation

If I’m not around for a little bit I’m really sorry. It’s not personal, it won’t even be by choice, and believe me, it will all be Teflon Man’s fault.

He’s decided to change internet service providers for a cheaper deal, so has cancelled his direct debit with our current one. The next payment is due tomorrow. The new magic box hasn’t arrived from our new providers. Let alone us being able to set it up.

I may be gone some time.

Or maybe it will all be ok. Or maybe I can sneak onto WordPress at work. (Just don’t tell the boss!)

Otherwise I may as well just go and find a bear to go and see the rest of winter out with.

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If I am forced to live in the real world instead of online, at least I’ll be able to plan my Happy Places post for A Prompt Reply. Yes, I may definitely need to retreat to my happy place!

Philip Larkin Was Right…Now Blame Your Dad

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Surely one of the most enjoyable parts of the ongoing conflict commonly known as ‘marriage’ has to be identifying your child’s annoying traits as absolutely 100% being your partner’s fault.

When she wants to, Boo does a supreme line in sullen and morose.

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It’s actually earned her some decent money in terms of her modelling, but to live with is annoying as hell. 99% of the time it will be over something so utterly minor you want to spit feathers rather than offer sympathy.

But today I realised that it may not be her fault.

Teflon Man was home and at lunchtime complained that he didn’t feel well. I don’t really do compassion when it comes to the poorly.

‘Well, go to bed and have a nap,’ I suggested, not entirely empathetically, whilst wishing that he’d just bugger off and stop getting under my feet.

He didn’t. Instead he chose to sit on the sofa and fiddle with a lump in his neck that is probably just a lymph node, but that he’s fret over enough to get a radiology appointment for. I tried to ignore him, but glanced up as I felt his eyes bore into my soul*.

(*Or whatever shrivelled darkness I happen to have where my soul should be.)

And there it was: the look of Boo!

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And, apart from freaking me out quite a bit, it then made me so very happy as it’s a trait that can be directly pinned onto him!

Because, yes, as parents we do f*ck our kids up, but at least I know I’m not to blame for that one. It truly is all husband’s fault!