Monday, February 12, 2007

Marriage and mayhem

Ok, the move. I am at risk of spontaneous combustion. I am at risk of the children coming to find me and finding instead a flaming office chair and a pair of charred sheepskin slippers, smelling of burnt wool and cheesey feet. If you could scream on the internet I would do it. What was I thinking? What was I doing agreeing to move house in such a cack-handed way? I hold myself responsible. I believed my husband when he said it would be OK. It was not OK. It still is not OK. The idea of a white transit van pulling up to the front door and loading the house into it did not work. Hah! Who said it would? Who thought it would? Ever? In a month of Sundays? I feel like I have one of those creatures inside me that give Sigourney Weaver such hissy fits. An alien locked brooding behind my rib-cage, all teeth and slaver. One that does not like my husband one teeny-tiny bit. I want to do that thing they do in unfunny comedies, bang-your-forehead with the heel of your hand and say "Duh" and do it really hard.

Friday; I could not help with the move because the permanent amber alert we are on with my mother, switched to red. I spent a ghastly day watching my mother being brave and cleaning up old lady poo. My husband therefore had started the move alone. Not quite alone. Because of the pea-brained way we had decided to move house, the builders had to stop building and heft furniture and general deitris out of the cottage into the van. My husband thought they were being nice, I think they decided getting rid of us was a day well-spent.

Saturday; apart from the blizzards of last year, today's was the worst weather I have come across since we arrived almost 18 months ago - 3 degrees, driving wind and rain that wanted to hurt you. The only good thing to be said in the weekend's favour were the three friends who came to our rescue including a Northumberland farmer who arrived with a horsebox because that is how you move things in the country. I was so grateful to them I wanted to cry. They all did a lot of "Come to me, come to me, over to me. Nope, nope. Me, I said. That's right, over to me." Even if you were useless at spatial mechanics, I figure that if you say "Come to me" often enough when you are moving something large and heavy, you can probably get most things round a corner, out the door and into the van. If these large kindly men had not been wandering about my house shifting wardrobes, I think I might have killed my husband. Only the thought that the large kindly men would probably make very good witnesses for the prosecution, stopped me. At one point, I ended up driving behind my husband who was in the hire van. I flashed him eight times and peeped the horn continuously to get him to stop because we were about to go through a flooded section of the road. He drove on oblivious. I know you should not say these things with children in the car. You should at all times present a united front but I might have said "Your father is a bloody, bloody idiot" as he sped his way through the flood, abandoning me, the three children and the low-slung car in the black as pitch-darkness on the other side of the water. We were lucky; we made it through in first gear by keeping to the centre of the road. When we got home, my traitorous six-year-old ran in. "Why didn't you stop the van Daddy?" My son looked back at me with china-blue eyes: "Mummy says you're a bloody, bloody idiot." I tried to look like he made the last bit up but I do not think my husband was convinced. Over dinner that night, he said: "I think I have done really well today and yesterday. My arms are tired." Usually, I am more than prepared to play the "Yes, I think you are marvellous too, darling" card in the game of marriage but I stood up and filled the kettle instead.What I really wanted to say was: "What about me? How well am I doing? I only moved house 18 months ago. You have just made move again and you told me I wasn't really moving because it was only down the road. You lied. I could still be at home in London. "

Sunday: all day, I kept saying that the only thing I wanted was my computer in place and the internet up and running by close of play. Was it? No. At 10.30pm when the builder rang the doorbell to discuss building plans and I said to my husband "It's too late, tell him to go away, I have to have the computer up and running tonight." Did he say: "Yes, you are right. I will tell him to go away." He did not. He said: "He's here now" and went to let him in. This meant I did not get the computer running last night. Sometimes, I stop and ask myself whether I have actually said what I thought I said to him. I have to think really hard whether I just thought the words or whether I said them out loud. When you get married and you stand there in an ivory satin dress with its slightly grubby train caught up in a loop that weighs down your wrist, at some point in the evening, an apple-cheeked couple will totter arm-in-arm across to you. Your great aunt, or someone who looks like she could be, will take your manicured hand into her little bony hand. She will look up at you and say: "We have been married 138 years haven't we Arthur?". Arthur, who is leaning precariously on his stick, will say "Eh? What did you say? ". She will put her hand on his arm and she will shout into his good ear: "A hundred and thirty-eight years, haven't we Arthur?" and Arthur will nod emphatically. "My advice to you," and she will draw you so close that you smell parma violets on her breath, "is never go to bed on an argument." You look across their munchkin heads and you think: "How wise." When you are a wife and not a bride, you remember your great-aunt's violet-scented advice of that night and you realise, she must have been senile by then.

Monday/today; I drive my six-year-old to school. I drive back to the wrong house because I had, understandably in my opinion, momentarily forgotten where I lived. I curse. I drive back to the rented house where I am now living to find my husband running up and down the street. As I open the door of the Saab, he tells me I drove off to school with the keys to the Volvo and to the hire van on top of the roof. He put them there. He has miraculously found the keys to the Volvo a mile down the road at the roundabout. He cannot find the keys to the hire van. There are no large kindly men around. I contemplate killing him. He says he wants to cry and that he is going to have an asthma attack. I decide killing him might traumatise the baby and my four-year-old who are still belted into the back of the Saab. Instead, we drive very slowly down the road with my head out of the passenger window looking for the electronic fob. As we crawl along the road, a friend's car passes us and we wave cheerily to the driver. I am not feeling remotely cheery but I am mindful of my husband's reputation locally. When my husband locked us out of the cottage, the driver who just passed us had to scale a ladder and vault over our bedroom window to let us in again. He must be 60 if he is a day. I am pretty sure he told people. We drive on into the village and I start going into shops to see if anyone has handed the keys in. What I really want to say is: "My husband is an idiot. Have you seen his carkeys?" What I actually say is: "You haven't seen any car keys around have you?" Eventually, the lady who works in the butchers directs me to a woman down the road, who has handed them to another woman who has handed them into the local school. I find them and say thank you.


Anonymous said...

I moved like that once: we moved 100 metres down a London street and for transport we had a ....
.... ford fiesta.

Needless to say it was my idea.

None of our neghbours had a horsebox, or if they did, they weren't lending it to us; so anything that didn't fit in the fiesta....we carried. For instance a mattress.

Fortunately this was back in the 1980s, so my wife didn't have a blog.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my God. Well, when you do finally settle in and retrieve your sanity, let us know how you like your new surroundings, will you?

And postpone killing your husband. He does sound like a good sort who just occasionally loses his senses.

Anonymous said...


Over the weekend I finally managed to work through most of the older posts. Please, may I congratulate you on one of the most wonderfully written blogs I've come across? Its humour and compassion and warmth of expression could give E. M. Delafield a run for her money. I very much look forward to more of the same.

Dr. Syn
Newcastle upon Tyne

Anonymous said...

Dr Syn ? Mm - sounds exciting !!

Although the prosaic truth is you are probably male, and a gp in toon..

Anonymous said...

You only said 'bloody, bloody idiot..' ? I think you have shown admirable restraint, to be honest.

I am at a bit of loss to understand how someone so clearly assertive and intelligent doesn't use your female 'influencing skills' to better effect. I am not married, so it is easy for me to say 'it is all about joint decision making', as the only person I ever have to please is me.

And whilst I can be just as crap as hubby, the only pain I inflict is on myself. That said, I've always subscribed to the argument that there is not much point buying a cat and then complaining that its independence is driving you up the wall. If you wanted a pet that could be easily trained, you should have bought a dog.

Trying to turn your cool cat hubby into a sheep dog who can be ordered to 'come by' or go 'away' may be a time consuming exercise. I once had a handy turn of phrase that I read for such an occasion as this. But I can't for the life of me remember the exact wording; someone else may be able to help. It went along the lines of :-

Never try to teach an elephant to dance; it frustrates you and annoys the elephant. It may have been a donkey. And possibly not dancing.

But hey, I think you're getting my drift...

Anonymous said...

You are so right that one shouldn't go to bed on an argument. And it is easy for 'one' to do that because it is difficult for one person to have an argument.

When there are two people I think it does rather require the assistance of both parties, and inviting someone into the house very close that sun setting deadline makes it look like one person is making it harder.

I'm sure your husband is loverly, but a little co-operation is I'm sure not too much to ask for.

However, there are two sides to every story, and I am waiting with 'bated breath' for 'Husband In The North' to start blogging so that we can 'compare notes' so to speak.

I wonder if Mariella Frostrup can offer some 'top tips' ?

p.s. did all this action mean that you missed the BAFTAs ?

wife in the north said...

re anon: I am at a loss myself. I think I should consult Dr Syn. maybe there is a pill for it.
re Dr Syn. Thank you and is there?

Anonymous said...

I think I should consult Dr Syn. maybe there is a pill for it.
re Dr Syn. Thank you and is there?

Oh my dear, if only I were that kind of doctor...

Anonymous said...

The quote: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

Anonymous said...

jtschida -Thank You ! Thank You !

For putting me out of my misery [so to speak ] about that quotation.

Looking this up on wikiquote I see that one of the sources is a lady who had a rather exciting, if sadly foreshortened life.

Carpe Diem, as they say.

Sandra Montgomery said...

I realize you may never read this, seeing how I am posting about a year after you wrote this blog... but I have to say you made me laugh out loud at the image of your husband mad at YOU for driving off with the keys HE put on the roof. And then wanting to kill him. No kidding. You showed remarkable restraint.

I am reading my way up from the bottom in one day. I have a daughter who lives in London and have asked her to find me your book and bring it back with her in January. I live in Canada. I was born in Yorkshire so know whereof you speak. I was not that long ago in York for the first time every and so could picture you there on your laptop when the man selling the crayon pictures came to you.

I envy you. I would love to move back to England. I love it there. I think when you get to my age [50] your roots call out to you. And I have wonderful family in Shelf and Sherburn-in-Elmet that I would love to spend more time with. But my grown children live here, or all will soon when my daughter returns from London with her Kendal fiance.

If I come back for a visit, can I have tea with you?


p.s I started a blog, it only has about 7 posts but here is the link if you would like to have a read.