It’s Wednesday. I have escaped Julia’s clutches today, though it’s at the cost of going into work, so it’s a sort of swings and roundabouts thing. No domestic duties, but more parcels.
First I have to give blood, then we are going for a McDonald’s breakfast. After that I will go to work and she will stay at home with a list of jobs. When she uttered the words “for better, for worse” I wonder what she thought it meant. I have not improved. I haven’t done too well on “in sickness and in health” or “for richer, for poorer” either. However, she sticks with me.
I often wonder about modern marriage vows. I came across some while checking the wording of ours, and it looks like some of the vows last longer than the actual marriages. I note that even in 1549 the bride had the option to omit the word “obey”. Four hundred years later my mother omitted it from her vows and forty years later she advised Julia to do the same, t’m not sure there was ever any danger of Julia doing what she was told anyway.
I just had a quick look at some statistics and it seems that divorce rates are falling in the UK, however, by the 30th wedding anniversary 40% of marriages will have been ended by divorce and 11% by death. I’m a bit concerned about the 11% by death, which seems a lot, particularly if you married in your 20s. This does tend to highlight the sickness and health aspects.
So there you go – I started with housework, moved on to marriage and ended with mortality. After that cheerful start I wonder what my day holds . . .
The title isn’t quite accurate, but headlines often aren’t. However, there is an element of truth in it, as you will see if you persist.
Despite me rushing to finish last night’s post by midnight, my days don’t really run from midnight to midnight and I often work an hour or so into the night while it is quiet. This is particularly the case at weekends when I can get up later to compensate.
As an example, I did some decluttering this morning then set my alarm to give myself just over an hour at the computer before warming up the soup for lunch. Julia decided this would be a good time to start work on reorganising the kitchen so my writing efforts are now accompanied by the clatter of various kitchen implements (mainly noisy ones) as she composes a symphony for baking trays and raised voices.
I did think of inserting a witty quote on marriage here, but couldn’t find one. I suspect all the wittiest quotes are written by people who aren’t married. The ones who are married just nod and keep their heads down, which is why they are still married.
I’m playing WP Roulette here – if she reads this I’m in trouble. If not I will live to moan another day.
That’s why I work into the early hours.
And that was why, about half an hour after posting I decided to look at one of the magazines that had some submissions from me five weeks ago. I was surprised, and a little put out, to find that they had published the next issue. I don’t mind rejection too much, because it’s part of writing, but I don’t really like being ignored.
Anyway, it is what it is. I read a few of the haibun and decided to see when the next submission window opened. While I did that I noticed a note saying that if you don’t get an acknowledgement within in two days you should get in touch. It was a lot longer than two days, but I double checked, found I definitely hadn’t had one and decided to take action.
As recommended in many articles on writing I dropped the the editor a short polite note to check if they had received anything from me and checking the best way to submit next time round.
The marvels of email and the time difference between the UK and USA meant I had a reply within half an hour. It seems the automated submission form is suspected of discarding a number of submissions and is now out of favour.
When it comes down to it I checked the two pieces I’d submitted and decided they weren’t all that good anyway. Internet oblivion is probably the best place for them. Anyway, even if they had been brilliant you can’t turn back time, despite Cher’s singing and the services of a good plastic surgeon.
As time goes on I’m finding that I have more and more sympathy for editors. It can’t be easy at the best of times, particularly when you see the number of submissions some of them get, and when the technology turns against you it must be hellish.
It’s a big day tomorrow – three submission windows open and I have submissions prepared for each one.
The game’s afoot, as Holmes said, though when I check the quote I find that Henry V said it first. Tricky things, quotes.
I thought I’d get up early and do some writing before Julia rose. She deserves a rest after her exertions yesterday, and I though I might evade her for a while as she lay in the arms of Morpheus, as they used to say. I wasn’t sure whether to say that or not, but it seemed more appropriate than the more accurate ‘snoring’. On looking it up, I find that it is considered a ‘pretentiously classical allusion’. It’s a cliché
, an anachronism and overly-flowery, but is it really pretentious? Am I pretending anything? I think the writer of the free dictionary should read his own product.
Anyway, it didn’t happen. At the first hint that I might be making a break for freedom, she woke up, sniffed the air, sensed a disturbance in the force, imitated a questing Dobermann and said: “What are you doing?”
“Putting my socks on.”
“I have some writing to do.”
The air crackled with tension.
As things stand, I am, as you can probably tell, writing. There is a time when a man has to put his foot down and tell his wife “This far and no more!” This is, I believe, a paraphrase of Job38:11 “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further:”, though, unlike Bertie Wooster, I did not win a prize for Scripture Knowledge in my youth so have to admit checking it up on the internet. I have, of course, used the King James version.
This, however, was not the time for me to use those words. I have, sneakily given her a lift to the laundrette, and returned home. She thinks I am sorting books for disposal.
Books for disposal, one of the saddest things I have ever written.Anyway, can’t stop for sadness, or more discussion of my craven capitulation, as I need to make the best use of the next half hour.
There are of course the obvious ones – I regret ever starting smoking, I regret eating so much and exercising so little and I regret not being better with money.
I regret being an indifferent husband, a bad father and an ungrateful child.
Most of all, in this miserable, whining list, I regret not being able to make Julia see my marriage potential when we first met. It took me nine years to persuade her, though as she points out, it might have been easier to persuade her if I’d adopted a life of seclusion, sobriety and celibacy. I, in turn, point out that if she’d married me I wouldn’t have needed the wine, women and song to dull the pain of rejection. I am not by nature, introspective or pale and interesting.
To this day, after 30 years of marriage, she remains unimpressed by my explanation.
Two of my favourite things…
I was born too late to drive a Bentley Speed Six or fly a Sopwith Camel and I didn’t realise you could use a metal detector to find gold in Australia until it was too late. On the other hand, in the absence of parachutes and decent brakes, my regrets are tinged with a feeling of relief.
As for Australia, my suspicions about snakes and spiders mean I am not fully committed to the idea of wandering round with a metal detector, regardless of the possibilities.
You can, after all, find gold in Scotland if you are prepared to brave a cold river.
Finally, I confess that although I did many things I would come to regret, my main regrets are about chances I didn’t take, challenges I ducked and opportunities I missed. There is probably a good quote about this somewhere on the net, but at the moment all I can think of is “A man who never made a mistake never made anything.”
It doesn’t quite fit the subject, but it does provide a good place to break off. And it’s probably a good place to put regrets into perspective. It’s all very well looking back, wondering about “what ifs” and plotting different courses for my life, but it all points to one thing. Destiny needed me to be in Preston on a particular day in 1980. I was there. And I’ve never regretted it.
We had 20 parcels to post today, which took some doing as many of them had multiple items in them. However, I’m a professional parcel packer so it’s what I expect. I’m sure there’s a tongue-twister in there somewhere…
Then I returned home to be industrious. I normally waste my half-day by eating fast food and seeing friends, but today I have writing and cooking in mind. I’m going to cook tonight’s tea in advance, and probably Tuesday’s too. But first I’m going to blog.
Do you remember me saying I was back in the game a few days ago? Well, at that time I had two submissions out, both using my email system as an editor due to the lack of Word on the netbook. I’ve just had an acceptance on one of them, so I really am back in the game. This is a record, even for me. From the depths of despair to unbearably smug in just 12 days.
Julia says that one of my most annoying characteristics is my ability to be irritatingly happy. It is, she says, a characteristic I share with my father. At 30 I used to be dismayed at the thought of being anything like my father. In my 60s I take it as a compliment.
The result is that every time she accuses me of being irritatingly happy I smile broadly, knowing I’m carrying on a family tradition. And that, of course, makes me even more irritating…
Every marriage, they say, needs a little mystery to add spice to it. The biggest mystery in our marriage is why she puts up with me.
And that, in a neatly circular manner, brings me back to the beginning. I’ve come home to do some cooking as I really should make more effort. But not so much effort I can’t write a quick post first.
Sorry about repeating more photos, I will sort some new ones out for tomorrow.
You may well be familiar with the concept of matter and antimatter. Or you may not. If you are, you don’t need me to explain it again. If you aren’t, I suggest that you consult Wikipedia or Dr Who, which is where most of my scientific knowledge comes from.
All I know is that when the two meet, the consequences are not good.
Clutter and anticlutter are slightly different. When the two meet there is no mystery of quantum physics or annihilation. There is merely a sigh, an old-fashioned look and a patient explanation.
You see, clutter is the undesirable accumulation of a husband. Anticlutter is the vital stock of craft supplies belonging to his wife. Things like paper straws, cardboard oddments and the fleeces of Jacobs sheep are essentials. Ordnance Survey maps from the 1950s, military cap badges and comic postcards are mere detritus.
When the two meet anticlutter survives, or even expands: only the clutter is annihilated. And possibly the husband, if he objects.
I’ve decided on a post to cover up my lack of recent photography. I will, of course, be dressing it up as a listing of my favourite photographs. It will also make a change of pace from the last post,
Male Common Blue
I was on the way to visit Men in Sheds when I stopped to take a picture of round bales. We have a Hockney post card showing a scene like this and I keep trying to reproduce it photographically. So far I haven’t managed, but this Common Blue flew past and after twenty minutes of stalking I had a couple of decent shots. That’s about as good as it gets – butterfly photography can be tricky.
Small Copper on castor oil plant
This was one Julia spotted in the front garden. It’s a small garden and relies on self-seeded red valerian to attract butterflies, though it has plenty of marigold and allysum as back up. We’ve had quite a variety this year, with the favourites being the Hummingbird Hawk Moths.
Though they are great things to see, they are very difficult to photograph, so they haven’t made the cut.
This was the opposite of the previous photograph – no stalking needed. All I did was get the camera out as I walked from the car to the door.
A Puffin thinks about ending it all
I know it’s only contemplating flight, but it does seem forlorn as it looks down. The clown face adds to the general air of despair. This photograph was taken as a group of birds loafed about just below a viewing platform at Bempton Cliffs.
We also went to Flamborough Head that day, and spent an enjoyable time on the cliffs there too. With a mixture of poor health, work and creaking knee we’ve not been out and about much this year – which makes the good days all the more special.
Bee-eater at East Leake
This is a poor photo, but we had an interesting trip out and saw, albeit distantly, some exotic birds. The quality of a photograph, for me, lies in the memories of the day it was taken on, as much as in obtaining a pin-sharp picture of an event. Even people with top quality equipment were struggling because the heat was making the air shimmer and at the distance we were working this was causing problems. With low quality optics and a dirty lens I never expect perfection…
They were very much on the edge of their range, despite global warming and the nests failed in the end, but it was a brave attempt.
This one always cheers me up. The photo, that is. The subject of the photo always has a list of jobs for me.
This was taken as a new profile photo when Julia started the new job at the Mencap Garden. It’s a typical pose – outdoors, dressed for gardening and with that enigmatic smile. It’s a smile that shows how happy she is to have been married to me for all this time.
We’re having a day off today, the first we’ve managed for while. Naturally my thoughts turned to a lie in, leisurely breakfast and some light shopping. Julia is working this evening, so the trip to Stoke on Trent will have to wait until we can organise a full day. That’s Julia’s annual treat – touring factory shops. It’s an annual event for me too, though I find it falls short of treat status.
Hopefully we will have several more days off before Christmas because it’s been busy recently, and with Julia working weekends it’s easy to let the week slip by without taking time off. My workload is such that Julia says it will be difficult to tell the difference when I retire. I dispute this, but am willing to admit that I’m not going to win any prizes for industry.
Anyway, my plans all came to nothing. I woke early by accident, and as I was wondering what to do about this undesirable state of affairs, I was hit by the jobs list. Seems she’s been planning it for a while. Mostly standard stuff, and I did my normal nodding dog routine until…
“Your books in the living room need sorting out, and taking to the charity shop.”
She’s always had this unreasonable prejudice about me stacking books on the floor. To her, it’s an eyesore. To me it’s a logical place to put books, and it doesn’t involve a trip to IKEA for a bookcase calle Billy. ( I’m in total agreement with the Lancashire Hotpots on the subject of IKEA. Follow this link to find out what they think).
This quickly turned nasty.
“But me no buts, you pusillanimous worm. If you don’t have shelf space you can’t keep them.”
(She didn’t actually use those words, but you could tell she was thinking them).
So I’m working slowly and stacking carefully. With any luck I’ll get away with a few dozen books, particularly if I cook a large lunch.
After a morning spent doing the heavy lifting for Julia, who is in “clean up for Christmas” mode, I continued my “day off” (as we married men call it) with a spot of lunch at The Big Fish before taking her shopping. She’s at work now, earning the money that allows us to continue with the Quercus project, so I suppose I should be counting my blessings rather than complaining.
I will keep telling myself how lucky I am when I drag myself away from the evening episode of Pointless to pick her up from work, and again tomorrow when we get up early so I can deliver her to her birthday treat and leave her to be pampered for the day. I would provide you with a link but I won’t, as I can’t run the risk of a possible kidnapping – without her I might have to get a proper job.
Have to go now – need to get the vegetables in the oven. I’m still basking in the smug glow of two pointless answers – Bismark and Lofoten. It’s amazing what the brain retains. If only I could work out a way of making money from knowing useless facts I’d be a happy man. And richer.
Time to go now, having just witnessed an outrageous bluff by two older gents on their way to the Pointless final. It made me laugh, it put the youngsters out, and it gave me the title for today’s post.
Number One – humour. It may be immature, but I still have my sense of humour, and couldn’t resist taking the picture with the cabbages. Fortunately my wife is a fan of Calendar Girls so I got away with it.
Number two, as covered above, immaturity. I’ll have time to grow up when I’m dead but while I’m breathing I’m going to carry on laughing at unsuitable jokes and wearing odd socks.
I worked out the other day that I have around a third of my life yet to live. As this is the third that features incontinence, Alzheimer’s and …I forget the other thing… I have decided that I’m not going to waste time being serious.
Number three, doing a job I like. It’s worth a lot when you get up in a morning (well, most mornings) and want to get to work. I also get to work with my wife. She is extremely irritating to work with, and I find I have to introduce her as “the first Mrs Wilson” to keep her in order, but i can’t really think of a better way to pass my days. (Yes, she reads the blog, but she’s remarkably forgiving).
Then there’s birds, butterflies, flowers, trees, grasshoppers and stoats and all the things that live in the area outside the office.
Red Admiral and Peacock
I suppose I could come up with a fourth, probably about all the great people I meet whilst blogging, but I’ve just made myself so happy I’m going to go out and take pictures of butterflies. We had a Common Blue fly in yesterday (a new species for the Butterfly Garden) and, in my eternally optimistic way, I want to see if it comes round again.
Later: I didn’t find the Blue, but I did get a good shot of a Green-veined White.