Thursday 9 April 2009

Virgin territory

14st 12lb, 2.0 units. Last night was a first. Mrs H went off to a friend’s house for some sort of pregnancy-related yoga class, and I was left on my own. When I worked in London, I seem to remember my married colleagues getting all misty-eyed about this sort of thing: a brief glimpse of freedom which they called a “pink ticket”. I, with my usual complete lack of enterprise and dearth of friends in the Chester area, just sat at home on my own watching Coronation Street and the clock, not necessarily in that order, wondering when Mrs H might return and make me some supper.

I think I have become a dependent relative.

She did not take to the yoga instructor, as it turned out, as he kept asking her to do things like tightening her sphincter. Which is apparently all a bit much coming from a total stranger at your first meeting.

Today, thanks to Mrs H having reminded her boss’s PA of my existence, I went into her office for a high level meeting. Luckily it was at lunchtime, and they really do have the most fantastic staff restaurant (I was about to write “canteen”, but that would not even begin to do it justice). Even more luckily, I was able to sneak up behind Mrs H just as she was attempting to find room on her tray for some cutlery. She had selected a battered fish so enormous that it hung over the edges of her plate at both ends, yet she had somehow found room to cram on a shovel full of chunky chips and, she was quick to point out, a selection of healthy vegetables. “I never have this,” she kept repeating (clearly untrue), but I merely observed that I would be treating her future claims to have only eaten a small salad all day with a fair degree of scepticism, and reflected gleefully that I clearly had carte blanche to order precisely the same thing myself. Only with mushy peas rather than the healthy vegetables. It is important to observe the traditions, I always feel.

Bloody good it was, too. One of the best plates of fish and chips I have ever eaten, far outclassing not only all the pubs I can think of, but many expensive restaurants.

As we were leaving, Mrs H’s boss and I spotted an employee walking towards his table bearing a plate of this sublime fish and chips, liberally coated in beef gravy. The only words that will suffice are Bad and Wrong.

On my way back home I called at the self-same branch of Tesco I had visited last night, to pick up an item I had forgotten then, in my haste to make my escape from Scratter World. Most strangely, it had turned into a scratter-free zone and was full of People Like Us – well-dressed, unthreatening, middle class. Perhaps there is a social class rota posted outside the store which I had uncharacteristically overlooked, just as our neighbours neglected their instructions about the bin collections. It seemed all the odder because the smell of drains which has always been one of the less attractive features of this store was particularly pronounced today, and I thought that was the sort of thing that would have attracted scratters in the same way that a discarded jam butty draws in wasps.

This evening Mrs H took me for a little drive into the countryside north of Chester, to introduce me to an area where I had identified a number of potential houses to rent when I was scanning the internet on Sunday. We went for a rather long and, so far as I could see, largely pointless walk in the rain, then repaired to a moderately nasty pub. I became depressed again, a fact which Mrs H attributed to the fact that I had been drinking beer, as I was when similarly afflicted on Sunday evening. So I sense the roadblocks being prepared to close off another one of life’s narrow little avenues of pleasure, even though I feel compelled to concede that she might just have a point.

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