14st 12lb, 2.0 units. As regular readers of this blog (today’s Top Tip: get a life) will know, it was exactly one year ago this afternoon that I clicked open the fatal e-mail that was to change my own life forever. Coming, as it did, almost on the eve of April Fools’ Day, I naturally assumed it to be a spoof. After all, I had been displaying an advert for a wife/girlfriend/carer on www.keithhann.com for five years and had only received one response, from a lady who sounded quite sweet-natured but who turned out to be living in sheltered accommodation with one of those alarms to summon the warden outside her door. Added to which, my new respondent claimed to have a name that could surely only have been generated by giving a Scrabble board a hefty kick, including a first (“Christian” seems inappropriate) name that was an obvious acronym of “alarm”. As if all that were not enough, she claimed to be writing on behalf of a tall, blonde, 35-year-old friend who mysteriously did not have access to an e-mail account of her own. Yeah, right.
Only the fact that she claimed in her opening line to work for a company that had once been a client of mine held me back from pressing the “delete” button, and so enabled the frail, holed and lumbering craft to become airborne. For I cheerily forwarded the e-mail to her chief executive, asking whether the person in question actually existed. The Less Tall Cheshire Brunette, as she became known to distinguish her from her friend, the Tall Cheshire Blonde, took some time to forgive me for this, when she found out about it. True, her boss of bosses thought she was some sort of payroll clerk rather than a reasonably senior management accountant, but at least his reply got things off the ground. And, when she came to look on the bright side, the LTCB accepted that I might not have destroyed her career as she had written to me from her home e-mail address and “I don’t suppose they can sack me for being funny in my own time”.
Shortly after I received it, I also forwarded her e-mail to my perceptive friend Tom, who said that it was definitely a wind-up as the only people with the sense of humour it displayed were other Blokes. This mystery was finally resolved when the LTCB asked me what had initially attracted me to her (rather than the friend with whom she was quite genuinely attempting to fix me up). I replied that it was the fact that her initial e-mail to me had been so very funny.
“But didn’t you notice?” she replied. “I just took all your own jokes from your website and repeated them back to you.”
Bugger. I often wake at nights and look fondly at the hugely pregnant form snoring beside me, and reflect that I only got into this situation because I made the fatal mistake of laughing at my own jokes. Let that be a lesson to you all.
I was able to share this story with some Chaps over lunch today at my Liverpool club, to which I repaired by train after dashing off my weekly newspaper column, walking the dog and putting on my smartest City suit. I was sure that absolutely everyone had worn suits when I last wandered into the place. But while ties are still de rigueur, and women admitted only as servants, standards seem to have relaxed to the point where one can get away with a pair of cords and a linen jacket. It would clearly be a breach of etiquette likely to lead to my dismissal from the club if I revealed anything that arose in our conversation over the luncheon table, so I shall merely observe that the food was good, and quite extraordinarily cheap; the wine good and quite extraordinarily plentiful; and the banter of the highest quality. I was also made to feel most welcome, at least until the Bloke to my right rose to take his leave, placed his hand on my shoulder and said kindly, “You really must come again when you have less time”.
I fell asleep on the train back to Chester, after hoovering down a tube of mint imperials. It really was just like old times.
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