25 April Apparently, the last four days were this year’s Easter Bank Holiday weekend – which has meant four days of sunshine, beer, chocolate and barbecues for everyone else. Just to be awkward (and, maybe, to prove some mysterious point which is still unclear), my body decided I needed a jolly good lie-in instead and insisted that I spent the majority of the holiday in the dark, and in bed – doggedly accompanied by a migraine – minus sunshine, chocolate, beer, or any form of unidentifiable charred meat. Somewhat appropriately, today I rise as if from the dead out of my tomb-like duvet and compensate for my absence by eating my own weight in chicken kebabs, ice-cream and bits of stolen left-over Easter egg.
Mrs V tells me about her birthday celebrations last week, which involved macaroni cheese, frivolously high new shoes and a lot of alcohol. Predictably, it all ended rather messily and without a great deal of dignity, or so Mr V apparently told her the next morning in that high-minded sort of way that husbands tend to adopt (rather too often, in my opinion). I tell her that I have always found dignity to be a vastly over-rated quality. It can, in fact, be a millstone around one’s neck; always tapping you disapprovingly on the shoulder when you’re enjoying yourself or trying on something a size too small in a Topshop changing room. I don’t know if she finds my advice a comfort or not. I’m not even sure she’s still paying attention. Perhaps I’ll remind her of my wise words when she’s finished scraping macaroni cheese off the bedroom ceiling.
28 April My Graze Box arrives. This is something that Lucy has encouraged me to send off for (not, as you might think, to keep her ageing mother in good health, but because – yay! – she gets a free box if she successfully recommends a friend. That’s a child’s priorities for you); basically a Graze Box is a cardboard box tray with an assortment of healthy dried fruit, nuts and seeds that one munches in a detoxing sort of way during the day. It does look healthy, admittedly. Now, I would love to think of myself as a Healthy Grazer, nibbling daintily on nutritious pumpkin seeds and bits of dried-out banana.
I know, however, that I am a handful-of-cereal-out-of-the-box, stray pickled onion, peanut-butter-sandwich sort of grazer which is probably the opposite of detoxing.
I dread to think what my personal Graze Box would actually look like. More of a Guzzle Box. I give the Graze Box to Mr Young who looks at it doubtfully and puts it in the glove compartment of his car where we both know he will find it in six months’ time, looking reproachful and even more dried out.
(The Graze Box, not Mr Young. Although, come to think of it….)
29 April Mr Young and I are determined to be different and not watch the Royal Wedding, but my resolve breaks at 10.55. “Just for five minutes,” I say. “To have a look at The Dress. And it is a day of historic national importance.” To my surprise, Mr Young accompanies me to the sofa.
“I suppose it would be polite,” he says. “Just for five minutes. After all, they have given us the day off.” Clearly, he has been secretly hoping that I would crack first. So we watch the bit of the Royal Wedding where she walks down the aisle, none of the guests – and yes, Elton! that includes you! – even pretend to sing the right words of the hymns, and vows are exchanged while Prince Harry shuffles about awkwardly. Then Mr Young gets bored and wanders off.
I watch it for a bit longer and marvel at Nick Clegg’s wife’s outfit and wonder why Samantha Cameron hasn’t made more of an effort. (For goodness sake, Samantha! It’s a wedding! It’s a Royal Wedding! You’re the Prime Minister’s wife! What better excuse to splash out on a ridiculous hat!) But then I too get bored. And anyway, I have to get on. We’re having a Sopranos party tonight (no, I haven’t got the time or inclination to explain) and so I have a vat of pasta, a bathtub of tomato sauce and lots of dishes ending in ‘i’ to prepare. While I sweat and chop and trip over Archie in the kitchen, Mr Young practises his New Jersey Mafioso impressions and gets his Hawaiian shirt out of the back of the wardrobe.
You’ve got to give it to the man. He does like to get into character. I am getting into character myself by eating a great deal of Italian ingredients and yelling at Archie in a very vocal, hot-blooded, Mediterranean sort of way. “Get outta my way!” I shout, waving my wooden spoon at him.
He doesn’t move. He’s not stupid. Something tasty could fall to the floor at any moment.
And if he succeeds in his mission of actually tripping me up, that could leave him a window in which to leap up and grab the Torta de Caprese that’s currently cooling on the side. (It’s a chocolate and almond cake. Just as delicious as it sounds. I know, I deliberately left a quarter of the mixture in the bowl so I could scrape it out. Now, there’s another idea for the Guzzle Box.) It’s a good evening. There’s a lot of chianti, a huge amount of food, several prolonged bouts of shouting and arguing. A proper Sopranos-style evening, in fact. It would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for my pesky dignity persistently tapping me on the shoulder after my third glass of chianti. Good job I didn’t make any macaroni cheese.