A person could drive themselves mad pondering the “What ifs…” and the “If only I hads…”. For example, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d left that open pack of cocktail franks at the back of the fridge for another six months. Or if only I’d stopped at just one piece of chocolate rather than the whole ruddy block last night, whether my “apron” would feel a little less inflated this morning.
My husband no doubt has had some “What ifs” on his mind since we caught up with The King and his lovely wife (The Queen?). The King and my husband had worked together for a major British newspaper when we lived in London and The King had gone onto Great Things, whereas my husband had been dragged kicking and screaming back to the colonies by his wife, along with his four month old son, who also did a good line in screaming and kicking all that long long journey home. It all could have been so different, though. In our final months in the UK, my husband had gone for a promotion at work and we agreed that, if he got it, we’d stay in the UK and if he didn’t, we’d go to Australia where he could languish away in a dead-end academic job for five years before finally getting himself a “proper job” where he’d get to wear a fancy-man suit, start a campaign for “International Sean Connery Impressions Day” and end up running from his desk to throw up no less than six times the morning after a big work party. Well, we didn’t know that’s what Australia had in store for him at the time, but that’s what ended up happening. Fact.
If you ask him what life might have been like for us had we stayed in London, he would no doubt paint you a picture of himself cycling about on his trusty bike through the beautiful green parks of that fair city, putting in a hard day’s graft on a world-class publication, slipping in a pint (or three) at the pub with the lads after work and eventually coming home after closing time via the kebab shop. Which is pretty much what he was still doing up until the time we left. Life for me, of course, had changed considerably with the arrival of Mister Justice and my days were largely spent waiting for my husband to cycle home with the smell of lager and garlic sauce on his breath.
But enough about him – it is all about me, after all. What would have happened to me if we had stayed there (other than waiting around for my drunken husband to come home)? Would financial necessity have driven me back to the arms of a rubber chicken in my manager-minding job (see “Chicken of Persuasion“)? Would I have gone on to churn out two more children in the home counties or I still be passing myself off as part of a “hip’n’happening London couple with a child”? Or, if I had managed to swing a Stay-At-Home gig, would I have found myself a mothers’ group full of gloriously boozy women with which to while away those long long afternoons (see “The Hostest with the Mostest” as a stirling example of this worthy past-time)?
For the answer to that last question, I’ll quote my friend Fee S in the UK, who had the following to report:
My usually breezy and very funny friend B—- (four boys 2-7yrs years) had a face of lead when I told her about your mother’s group, which sounded all fab and modern. She practically screamed at me “Have you been to a mother’s group here? Have you? Have you? It’s shit! Shit!”
Fee then went on to regale me with some horror stories of cold cups of tea in dank church halls – with not a hint of cheap bubbly or a schmancy hors d’oevres to be found. In an instant, I realised exactly what my life would have become had we stayed in the UK: I would have found myself on that Road Not Taken either drinking mournfully by myself of a Thursday afternoon or – worse yet – stone cold sober. Oh the humanity!