It’s taken me 45 years of marriage to realise it, but my life had been on remote control ever since that fateful day in 1966 ... and it was like this.
We men (and at this point I perhaps need to point out that your usual columnist Jacqui Morley is on holiday and that I, a male, have been press-ganged into taking her place otherwise she may never publicise my choir group again: damn right, JM) like things to be above-board, you see – a straight answer to a straight question.
“Would you like to put the bins out, pet?” “No.”
But women – well, wives, anyway – do things very differently, with a cunning worthy of Machiavelli himself.
“I’ve made you a coffee, love: it’ll warm you up”, i.e. warm me up when I’ve put the bins out in a howling blizzard. The word “bins” doesn’t even have to be mentioned. I’ve got the woollies and the wellies on in no time, once I’ve worked out what is expected of me.
Or “Oh. I see next door’s gardener’s here. I know you’re busy – shall I ask him...” And mowing our lawn and weeding the roses suddenly becomes my No 1 priority. Pavlov would have been very interested in me.
Or “That dress wouldn’t suit me, would it?” Chaps, that’s like being asked if you’ve stopped bashing your granny with a hammer. There simply isn’t an answer.
The four-letter word in our yurt is “tidy”. My workroom is actually very organised. Everything stays exactly where I put it, and often I can remember where that was.
Left to myself, I could find anything I wanted in less than a week, and anyway books and papers protect the carpet.
True, every so often I have to be dug out when a few hundredweight of books have toppled over on top of me, but that’s because the floor bounces. My piles of stuff would be perfectly stable if people didn’t go walking round the house all the time, tidying things and making the floor bounce.
And as for passengering – my wife is the passenger from hell. She’s got ESP. She can sense an oncoming combine harvester four miles away, and starts flinching in readiness.
It is very distracting when you’re trying to remember which pedal it is that you have to press when you want the car to stop. I once lost nearly half a stone from nervous exhaustion after driving to Garstang.
I wanted us to go somewhere nice for a meal tonight – anniversary time, you know. But I’m learning at last to be cunning. I didn’t come straight out with it. I intended to be subtle and artful and romantic. So I said: “Listen. I’m not going to do the washing-up this evening.”
Nurse says they’ll probably let me go home tomorrow. (A nurse who talks straight! Gee, and thanks a bunch, Brian.)
Oops. I’ll have to go. She wants me to help her watch the telly. Bless!
* Look At It This Way has been written by Geoff Adams, of Over Wyre