Planet Plunger

24 November

Mental diaries? Do they work? Discuss in 250 words.

Clearly not. The last two weeks have been wiped from my mind. As far as my memory is concerned, I have achieved/enjoyed absolutely nothing.

I must have been reasonably busy, otherwise surely I would've found time to sit down and write a few sentences about each enthralling new day. But it seems not. Apparently my life has been a blank canvas.

If I thought I could get away with lying, I’d make up something exciting – helicopter rides, being trapped in a lift, on the run for a murder I didn’t commit, clandestine meetings with Ray Winstone, trips to Whipsnade Zoo where I unfortunately get locked in the gorilla cage.

But I know I won’t; if Mr Young reads this, he will publicly denounce me because he knows all I’ve been doing is trying to think of a good excuse as to why I haven’t kept this diary updated.

And, irritatingly, I think he’s right. The last fortnight probably really has been spent inventing excuses. And then promptly forgetting them. It’s an extreme form of irony, surely.

Or is it? Discuss in 250 words.

26 November

My father drops in unexpectedly for lunch, as he’s out and about on a dad-type mission involving random bits of car engines.

This makes Archie’s day; he adores everything about my father, and spends the whole time with one paw planted firmly on his shoe, nose pressed against his corduroy-clad knee, eyes beseechingly looking up at the Great One’s face with an expression exactly like Adam looking up at God in the Michelangelo fresco in the Sistine Chapel (showing off here – I’m not really that cultured. I had to Google it.)

Except my father doesn’t have a long flowing beard and isn’t God (although he was when I was little), and the only resemblance Archie bears to Adam is in the genital area. (Archie’s manhood was rudely interrupted when he was still a puppy – Mr Young and I naively hoped it might calm him down a bit. Maybe the same thing happened to Adam. Or maybe Michelangelo just ran out of paint.)

As I’m heating up some rather delicious home-made soup (if I do say so myself), my father says: “Have you got a plunger? We’ve got a blocked sink at home, and I can’t find ours anywhere.”

I think we have, but of course it’s disappeared when I go and look. Plungers come under that category of miscellaneous household items that hang around in a nuisansical (is that a word? It is now!) sort of way for 99% of the time, until you actually need them. At that point, they dematerialise, Tardis-style, probably ending up on that planet where all the odd socks go. And all the torches, kitchen scissors, sellotape, spare batteries, the cover for the rotary clothes drier, metholated spirits and radiator keys. Planet Miscellany, part of Run-Of-The-Mill Galaxy in the Domestic Universe.

So I ring my sister Janny, just on the off-chance.

“Have you got a plunger?” I ask.

She sounds cautious.

“I might have…why?”

I explain.

“Oh,” she says with relief. “That sort of plunger!” Apparently she thought I wanted to borrow a bra.

Isn’t life exactly like one of those predictable family sit-coms sometimes? All we needed was a fake laughter track.

Just my father shouting Get down, Archie! in the background wasn’t the same, somehow.

30 November

It’s Mr Young’s turn to cook supper. He’s found some mince and a stray cauliflower in the fridge, and he’s planning to do something exciting with them. I have every faith in him; if anyone can do something exciting with lean mince and an ageing cauliflower, it’s my husband.

I go upstairs to get something, and am just standing on the landing, wondering what it was, when Mr Young calls up to me.

“The cauliflower is very small.”

It’s an enigmatic statement, which sounds uncannily like a code phrase from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy rather than just a culinary observation.

“And the penguin will not fly tonight,” I whisper back.

“No, it really is very small,” he says, irritated. “Don’t be childish. I’m just pointing out that the cauliflower is very small.”

“Yes, and I’m just trying to explain that the penguin will not fly tonight.”

He disappears back into the kitchen, exasperated.

Sometimes he’s just no fun at all.

1 December

All day I’ve been planning to clean our bedroom and shower room. It’s a job that’s well overdue. The makeup on my dressing table is starting to look like Miss Haversham’s wedding feast.

But to my joyful surprise, I'm met at the front door tonight by Mr Young, who’s looking very pleased with himself.

“I’ve cleaned the bedroom,” he says. “And the shower room.”

And he has. It’s all looking immaculate. All that’s missing is the toilet paper folded into a triangular point.

“Look! It’s amazing how big this room really is, once all those clothes are picked up and put away,” he says, gesturing at the expanse of uncluttered carpet.

But I’m distracted because I’m more concerned about where ‘all those clothes’ now are.

“Oh, I put them away,” he says airily. “And your makeup and hair stuff.”

I am now very concerned. Mr Young doesn’t know that I have special areas of my wardrobe for different things, and separate drawers for long/short sleeves, dark/light colours. All right, so they may not actually get put there very often, but it’s still a very orderly system.

And it follows that he therefore has no idea about my alphabetical/ chronological coding method for lipsticks. To my horror, he’s put my new mascara where my old mascara should go. What’s more, he’s unplugged my hairdrier and wound the flex neatly around the handle.

Doesn’t he understand that precious seconds that are wasted unwrapping flex and plugging hairdriers in?

Doesn’t he realise that I rotate my lipsticks on a weekday basis?


So I have to spend a whole evening tracking down long-sleeved light tops in the short-sleeved dark drawer and re-sorting my mascaras.

Naturally, I don’t say anything. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

Anyway, he’s downstairs. Probably busy sorting out vegetables into alphabetical/ chronological order.

28 November

Mr Young’s new belt arrives. He’s bought it from Amazon, which is where we buy almost everything these days. Because you can buy almost everything these days on Amazon. Hoover bags, headphones, books, sage leaf tablets. And leather belts.

He tries it on, over his jumper.

“Well?” he says, posing. “What do you think?”

Unfortunately, it’s cinching in the waist of his bulky sweater, and so he looks more like an Icelandic fisherman snugly strapped into an airline seat than the stylish smart/casual male model in his imagination.

“Very nice,” I say. He nods with satisfaction and takes it off again.

Or he would take it off again – if he could.

“It’s stuck,” he says. He seems puzzled rather than anxious, which is good. A burly Icelandic fisherman in a panicked state should be avoided in a confined space.

“Well, just do what you did to put it on, but backwards,” I say. He gives me a Look, and wrestles with it for another thirty seconds.

“It’s definitely stuck,” he says. “I can’t seem to work the ratchet.”

“Wretched ratchet,” I say.

He gives me another Look.

“Puns aren’t going to help,” he says sternly.

After a few more grunts and concerted efforts, he manages to free himself.

“Aha!” he says, inspecting it closely. “I see now. There’s a small lever on the side; you just press it like this…” he demonstrates.

“What a pity you didn’t try that before you actually put it on,” I say.

He gives me a third Look.

I can’t help feeling he missed a golden pun opportunity there. Personally, I would have told me to belt up.

3 December

We are having friends over for lunch – and it’s going to be lunch with a capital L. Possibly a U and an N and a C…maybe even an H as well! A great lunch. So great that we don’t even care if our guests arrive, as we shall just have the rib of beef, Yorkshire pudding, potato dauphinoise, red cabbage, profiteroles, Bakewell tart and cheese all to ourselves.

Isn’t food wonderful?

As usual when entertaining, Mr Young and I become a well-oiled machine – well, only slightly-oiled. We’re not well-oiled until after the gin and tonics and red wine…

Blast. I'm pretty sure I've made that joke before. Several times.

Forgetting where you’ve put your keys and finding them in the fridge is one thing, but when you start repeating your own puns…that’s when the menopause gets really annoying.

However, I’ve just renamed it the pun-opause, which is some small comfort.

I just hope I don’t make the same joke next week.