17 September I spot something disturbing during my monthly bath – and, no, it's not the depressing amount of water displacement once I'm fully immersed. It’s the fact that the toe next to the big toe on my right foot – is longer than the corresponding toe on the left. I’ve no idea if this has always been the case; presumably not, or I’d remember my mother saying, “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy…OH MY GOD! Look at the size of it! How the hell do I buy shoes to fit over that?!” So, in that case, this rogue toe must have just taken it into its head to grow an extra half inch when it thought no one was looking. Probably while tucked safely away in a sock. I’ve googled it, of course; according to one site, it means either that I am the boss of the family, or that I am of Celtic or even Royal descent. Possibly all three. (Even though it then goes on to say this is just a myth and it doesn’t mean anything, I still prefer to believe that I’m descended from an autocratic Scottish queen. Possibly even Boadicea. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Is that a royal pun? It is now.)
18 September Mr Young and I are enjoying our Sunday morning breakfast – bacon and eggs, with the aroma of fresh coffee and the occasional whiff of bull terrier fart wafting around the kitchen – when we hear a loud banging. This goes on for some time, then Lucy calls downstairs to tell us not to worry, she’s just putting a hook up in my wardrobe. Then there is a great deal more banging. After ten minutes, Mr Young and I wonder just how big the hook is, and what exactly is being used to bang it into the wall. Some sort of pick-axe? A sledge-hammer? I can tell that Mr Young is itching to rush upstairs and supervise the job in a DIY-expert sort of way; suggesting a different hammer, pointing out a superior placement or an incorrect angle. Impressively, though, he manages to hold back and carries on eating his bacon and eggs just as if there wasn’t a mere woman trying to do manly DIY man’s work upstairs. I think he’s quite disappointed when we inspect the job later and find there are actually four hooks, all faultlessly attached to the wardrobe walls. How, though, we’re not quite sure. Probably with the heel of a shoe. (That’s how I always used to do it. Still do, in fact. But that’s a mere woman for you, I guess.)
“By the way, I had an awful dream last night,” says Mr Young this evening. “It was all about the Sopranos, and murder, and stacking dead bodies up in the boot of a BMW.” “I had an ex-boyfriend who talked in his sleep,” says Lucy. “He used to say really weird things too, like, ‘We’ve got to get into the time box – there’s sandwiches everywhere!’” I ask Mr Young if I ever talk in my sleep. He laughs, bitterly. “All the time,” he says. “But it’s never anything interesting. You just sit up in bed and shout bossy things like, ‘Get back in the kitchen!’” I have a feeling this might be true.
19 September Mr L-N is looking unusually unshaven when I go into work this morning. He makes the schoolboy error of telling me that he’s trying to grow a long droopy moustache in readiness for his role as a soldier in a local amateur dramatics production of Arms and the Man; he doesn’t want to just have a stick-on moustache, he says, because he’s worried it might just fall off when he starts sweating. There is so much comedy potential in this announcement that I’m quite overwhelmed. No, not just overwhelmed; I’m indignant. He might at least have had the decency to drip-feed me this news. Where on earth am I supposed to begin?
With the (currently pitiful) fledgling moustache? The unconvincing Serbian accent he keeps practising under his breath? The hilarious potential for false-moustache-falling-off should the real moustache prove to be inadequate? Then, to top it all, he then reveals that he will also have to make the health and safety announcements before the performance, pointing out where the toilets and fire exits are, and telling everyone to turn off their phones. I think – although I’m not sure – that he plans to make this mundane announcement in character, i.e. with moustache and in his Serbian accent. (This will take some ingenuity on his part – I don’t imagine George Bernard Shaw ever scripted lines about fire exits.) Because I don’t know where to even begin to make fun of him, I just tell everyone else in the office about the play and suggest we book the entire front row to cheer him on. “I hate you,” he hisses. Though not, I am disappointed to note, in a Serbian accent.
20 September Mr Young and I are off to Ikea. We love going to Ikea. All the amazingly cheap stuff, and the interestingly gadgety type things. Although, to be more precise, we enjoy the first half of Ikea. By the time we reach rugs and picture frames, we’re tired and fed up with the crowds and are having snappy conversations about scented candles. Once we actually reach the aisles where goods have to be collected, we’re positively snarling at each other (although in a polite, under-the-breath sort of way. I know this combination sounds unachievable, but if you’re married you’ll know exactly what I mean.) Actually, today’s visit goes pretty well. Until we have to collect some white storage trays for Harriet. I know they’re called Trofast and are £1.50; unfortunately, when we finally reach aisle 14 – after a bit of civilised snarling – there are two sorts of Trofast trays, both £1.50. Now, it should be simple to establish which are the correct ones; just a phone call to my daughter and Bob’s your uncle (well, he’s not mine, but someone, somewhere must have a mother’s brother called Robert, surely, otherwise what’s the point of that?). But Ikea has no signal. It has cunning little washing up brushes with suckers on the bottom that stick to your kitchen sink, and amazingly cheap beech chopping boards, but it has no signal. Not even a Swedish one. So Mr Young has to go outside and call her. He comes back and says they’re definitely the smaller ones. Phew, we say, and buy them. On the way home, I call her. “Mmmm…actually”, she says, “I’m not sure they’re right after all. How big are they?” “Shoebox size,” I say. “Oh,” she says doubtfully. “How big is that?” “About the size you could fit a pair of shoes in,” I say. “Oh,” she says, clearly unconvinced. “Well, I’m not going back again,” hisses Mr Young. I keep quiet. I’m all Ikea-d out too. The Swedes clearly have far more stamina than we do. Just look how long Volvo and Abba have been around for.
24 September We are going to Mr and Mrs L#2’s for dinner. I eventually find something to wear from the pitiful assortment in my wardrobe but am not sure which accessories will go with the dress. “Let me choose for you,” says Mr Young, which unnerves me slightly. “I’ll be your own personal Gok Wan.” With a professional air, he sorts through my necklaces. “This one,” he says after some deliberation. It doesn’t look right, although I don’t like to tell him because he’s so pleased with himself. But I have to be true to myself, not to mention polite to Mr and Mrs L#2 (why visually offend them by turning up in clashing jewellery? It’s unetiqual. Is that a word? It is now!) so I take it off and put on big earrings instead. Hopefully, Gok – who is now wondering whether to wear his shirt tucked in or leave it out – won’t notice. He does, though. I explain that a patterned dress looks better without a necklace. “That’s not what Gok would say,” he says. “He’d say, make up your own rules, girlfriend.” “No he wouldn’t,” I say. Although I’ve got a horrible feeling he would. But obviously I can’t encourage Mr Young in this Gokness. What a bleak – not to mention disturbing – future that would be.
25 September I am having a yoghurt for lunch (I know, the glamour of it all) but can’t find the spoon I’ve got out to eat it with. “Oh, I put that in the dishwasher,” says Mr Young. “I thought it was dirty.” Playfully, I hit him on the head with it. Quite hard (by accident). “Ouch!” he says, rubbing his head.”That was a bit cavalier!!” “That’s because you’re a roundhead,” I say. See? Quick-witted and feisty. And ready to improvise with any available weapon should my territory be under attack. I expect it’s the Boadicea in me.