Dearest Diary, I’ve let you down again. Admittedly, not quite along the lines of leaving you hanging around outside the Odeon in the pouring rain, or sitting on your own in a bar pretending to enjoy making a gin and tonic last for half an hour and reading the list of ingredients on a packet of pork scratchings, but still.
I should be ashamed, and I am. Deeply and absolutely.
So let’s speak no more of this shameful case of flagrant diary abuse, and put the whole ignominious business behind us.
Although, can I just say how much I like the word flagrant? A mixture of scandalous and perfumy. It’s how I imagine Madonna smells. (In a good way, of course, just in case she happens to read this.)
In an impressively intellectual stab at improving my cultural education, I am listening to David Copperfield. (I’m not referring to the slightly creepy American magician, you understand; no, not the two of us chatting over cappuccinos about our levitating experiences – I’m referring to the Dickens talking book.)
It’s a breathtaking 35 hours long and is actually really, really good. And the language is wonderful; I thought I had a predilection for using long words such as predilection, but Dickens can take up a whole page just to tell the reader about a character with a slightly annoyed expression.
This prolonged exposure to verbiage has had an effect on my own conversation just lately. I’m ‘imparting confidences’ and ‘immediately divining causes’ all over the place. Not to mention the aforementioned predilections and verbiages.
Oh all right, it’s showing off, basically.
Ideally, I should forthwith be scolded most vigorously. Forsooth.
Mr Young, Lucy and I are enjoying our Sunday evening roast chicken dinner. Mr Young is very good at roast dinners. He’s something of a gravy expert, actually. Or grexpert, as I’ve just decided to call it.
He does the whole thing properly, in the roasting tray and with the flour and the deglazing – I pretend to know what deglazing is, but I don’t really (coincidentally, this is my default approach to most of our marital conversations, come to think of it) – and the stock and the sherry and other mysterious elements, so that after twenty minutes of savoury alchemy, a beautiful meaty rich sauce, with a professional gloss, arrives in a jug on the table.
Seriously, he does make really, really good gravy.
After we’ve admired, eaten, praised and finished our meal, Lucy clears away.
Mr Young goes over to inspect her handiwork. (He’s on permanent kitchen monitor duty – it’s a role he’s assigned to himself. It keeps him happy, bless him.)
“Oh dear,” he says, shaking his head as he looks down at the bottom tray of the dishwasher.
“What?” Lucy says.
“How, exactly, do you think this is going to get clean?” he says, pointing at a white bowl. There is definitely a long-suffering tone to his voice.
“The dishwasher will clean it,” Lucy says, reasonably.
“But it’s right on top of this pan,” he says, demonstrating. “So the water can’t get to it. Do you see?”
“Well, so’s the colander,” she says. “That’s right on top of a pan, too.”
“Ah, but what’s different about the colander?” he says, holding it up and looking at us through the holes.
Although I do actually already know the answer and have put my hand up, he tells us anyway.
“It’s got holes in it, so the water can get through,” he says triumphantly. “You really must make sure you stack the dishwasher properly, otherwise things don’t get clean.” He shakes his head sadly at us. “For example, the other day, I had to rewash a whole load of mugs because they were still dirty.”
“Really?” I say. “You had to take them all out and rewash them by hand?”
“Well, not exactly by hand,” he says. “I just put them back in again. But properly.”
Call me picky, but I don’t think this counts as rewashing.
Lucy and I leave him happily re-stacking the entire dishwasher and go off to watch television instead.
As I said, it keeps him happy.
Mr Young and I are watching The Sopranos. Uncle Junior is talking to Tony Soprano; as usual, I’m not paying attention.
I normally ask Mr Young what’s happening whenever I get lost in the plot, and with an indulgent sigh, he puts the programme on pause and explains the whole thing to me.
So when I realise that I’ve completely missed the last few minutes of conversation because I was trying to work out if one of Uncle Junior’s ears really is higher than the other, I turn to Mr Young.
“What did they just say?” I ask him.
To my surprise, he looks at me with a guiltily startled expression.
“What?” he says.
“Haven’t you been paying attention?” I ask him.
“No,” he says.
I’m amazed, and, so it would seem, is he. This has never happened before.
“Well, there’s no point in both of us watching anything at all, if neither of us are paying attention, is there?” I ask with, I feel, justifiable indignation.
It’s one of the fundamental laws of our marriage; he has his job – i.e. paying attention – and I have mine – i.e. not paying attention.
We rewind the last ten minutes, and I do my best to follow the plot, although I still can’t help being distracted by the asymmetrical ear situation.
And also by my newfound mistrust of all Mr Young’s previous explanations.
I call my sister Rachel for a chat.
“Guess what? I had to email Tom the other day,” she says.
“Really?” I say.
“Yes,” she says. “I needed a formula.”
Now why a wedding florist would need a formula from a Phd maths student is a mystery. (Like the dead man in the woods wearing scuba diving equipment and the dwarf in the lift who could only go up to the fifth floor).
But those lateral thinking puzzles are always so time consuming, and supper is nearly ready, so I don’t bother trying to work it out.
“Why?” I ask her. “What on earth do you need a maths formula for?”
“Well, I was trying to cost a circular arrangement, and I wanted to work out the surface area so that I knew how much to charge for the flowers.”
Obvious when you know the answer. Just like the scuba diver in the woods.
“And did he know?” I ask her, hoping that he did.
“Oh, yes, he was very helpful,” she said. “Although a bit taken aback, I think.”
You see? Those seven years of further education are clearly worth their weight in….well, in that green spongy stuff you use for flower arranging.
Mr Young is away, so Lucy and I make the most of the opportunity and paint Archie’s front toenails (are they toenails if they’re at the front? Or are they just nails, and the back ones are toenails? Something for me to ponder the next time we’re watching The Sopranos.)
Archie doesn’t express any preference when we show him a selection, so we choose a glamorous red.
To our surprise, he sits very still until they are quite dry, and looks very pleased with himself, especially when we take a picture and send it to Harriet.
She’s not impressed, though, and says it looks ‘hideous’.
Obviously, we don’t mention this to Archie. These sort of cutting throwaway remarks have a way of completely destroying one’s self-esteem.
Mr Young is keen to buy some leisure wear. Or lee-sure wear, as we’ve both been self-consciously calling it because we’re slightly worried that this could be confused with the sort of outfits that overweight Americans wear.
“So, you don’t mean a tracksuit, then?” I say.
“No, definitely not a tracksuit,” he says. “Just…well, lee-sure wear. You know. Comfortable things to change into in the evening when you’re just sitting around watching television.”
“Well, like a tracksuit, then,” I say. “But not quite.”
“Sort of,” he says. “Though more like pyjamas. But not actual pyjamas. And definitely not a tracksuit.”
It’s a curiously specific and yet vague mandate.
Would it be best to go for tracksuit-style pyjamas? Or a pyjamas-style tracksuit? Is there a middle ground, a sort of trackamas/pyjack-suit hinterland somewhere in the bowels of TK Maxx?
I have no idea where to look, but I don’t want to disappoint him.
Perhaps I could distract him with an intricate bowl/colander/bowl/saucepan/roasting tin arrangement in the bottom tray of the dishwasher.
That should keep him happy for hours.