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Posts Tagged ‘MIA at the pub’

There’s not much to be recommended about starting work at 6am, except, perhaps, the possibility of knocking off early.

“Why, I can be home by 2:30!” my husband recently said, trying to look at the upside of his working hours.

“You can but you rarely are,” I corrected him. More often than not he’s not home until 4pm, conveniently after the school run. Funny, that.

“Okay, okay,” my husband said. “So I can be home by 2:30 if I have to.”

“If you have to? Is that what you think of your life here at home – as something you only do if you have to??” I was quick to accuse. My poor husband. Conversations with me must be like running blindfolded through a minefield while being chased by rabid she-dogs with PMT.

Still, it must be said that my husband and I have completely different concepts of time. I don’t feel like any of the time I take away from my family duties ever really feels like my own – it’s simply feels borrowed. And my husband? Well, let’s just say he has a greater sense of ownership over ‘his’ time.

Here’s an example: the other day he was supposed to be working a half-day – finishing at 10:30. He’d arranged to have ‘an early lunch’ with a colleague who leaving work forever that day. At 3:15pm, I rang him, asking if he was almost home. 

“Um, almost…” he replied. There was a lot of noise in the background. 

“Are you still at lunch?” I asked.

“Oh, no. Of course not!” was his quick response. “That finished ages ago. But here’s the thing, see… I was at the bus stop waiting to go home when [another friend] rang and asked me out for a beer.”

“So you’re at the pub,” I said.

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

“And not, for example, about to meet me at the school so that we can attend the meeting with Pixie’s teacher that you, yourself, arranged?” 

“Ah, no. No, I’m not,” he admitted, before adding cheerfully: “But you can go and show that at least one of us is a responsible parent!”

As you can imagine, when he got home over an hour later, I had a few words to say on the subject.

“All it takes is a phone call,” I said, sulkily. “I think you take it for granted that I’ll just look after the kids and do all the responsible things while you go do whatever the hell you want.”

“You know I’m always happy to do the same for you!” he replied with the air of somebody who’d just spent the afternoon at the pub.  

Now it’s here that I should give my husband some credit: he applies the same standards to my time management as he does to his own. He’s always saying “Go out and have fun! Don’t come home unless you’re completely shit-faced or in the back of a paddy wagon!” – partly because he knows the chances of me doing it are negligible. 

He decided to reiterate that point: “You know what’d I’d say if you rang me, saying you’d just taken a bad acid trip and were stuck at a rock festival for a week with Mzzz E?”.

“I don’t know. What would you say?” I asked. 

“Um, I’d say something. I just have to think what…” he mumbled. “Anyway, you’re off duty now for the rest of the evening. I’m here! I’m in charge! You can blog, sleep, read, whatever you like!”

Which is exactly what I did until one hour later, when I heard a little tap at the door.

“Um, have you finished blogging yet?” he asked in a small voice. “I was kind of hoping I could have a little lie down…”

In his defence, it was the 4am start and the 10km power-walk to work that was catching up with him. Not the four glasses of wine he’d had in the middle of the afternoon, of course. Not that. Never that.

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What’s with a world where a girl can’t wear a brand new pair of underpants and be confident of having the Best Day Ever?

I mean, I slipped on a spanking new pair the other day and I felt great. Like really great. Merely because I wasn’t wearing something that made my bum resemble an elephant’s arse: all saggy, baggy and grey.

Yes siree. Those new undies should have automatically reserved my right to have a Great Day. And not just a great day but a “Fucking Great Day” – you know, one of those days that earn you the right to swear, it’s that great.

And certainly not the kind of day where I end up in tears on the phone to the police because my husband appears to have gone missing.

“How does something like that happen, NDM?” I can hear the people ask. “How does a grown man, riding a bicycle home in wet weather, leave work at, say, 2pm and neglect to ring his wife before, say, 7:20pm? For example.”

My husband had said (he said!) he was going to do some Box Ted on his way home that fateful afternoon. At about 5:45pm, I thought “Sheesh? How long does it take to draw that stupid talking cupboard? It’s just a square!” and I began to worry. I rang him on his mobile: it was switched off. I rang his work: he’d left at the normal time. I rang KT. 

“I’m worried,” I said, having explained the situation.

“I’m worried, too,” she said. 

Now I was really worried. I usually count on KT to counterbalance any irrational anxiety I have with a “it’s all okay” or even a “get your hand off it, NDM”.  

“Ring me back if he’s not home in an hour,” she said. 

I agreed but an hour seemed like an impossibly long time to wait. I couldn’t concentrate and began pacing around the house. I kept going out to the now-dark street in the hope of seeing his bicycle light coming along the street. All those bloody “Work Safe” ads started playing in my head and, with them, that Dido song. And it certainly didn’t help that the kids kept asking where daddy was Every. Five. Seconds. 

At 6:43 (not quite the full hour), I rang KT again. With her help, I set myself a new target: ring the police and/or hospitals if he wasn’t home by 7:30pm. 

At 7:15pm, I cracked and rang the police. I’ve never had to ring the police before. My phone call started well: “Uh, good evening. I was wondering if you could help me. [voice modulates a few octaves higher at this point:] My husband hasn’t come uh-uh-uh-uh home: Blabhblblbabh blabhalllbaahhhh waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

The young policeman (he was young, they’re always young when these things happen on the telly) dealt with me very sensitively. They must get training for this, right? Dealing with women hysterically sobbing because their husband/child/handbag/car/ability-to-talk-in-a-normal-tone-of-voice appears to have gone missing?

The policeman took down my husband’s details and gently suggested that I check his usual route home in the car, ring the hospitals and then ring the police again if he wasn’t back until morning. 

I hung up, thinking I’d literally stop breathing if I had to wait until morning. And what could I possibly see along his normal route home? Would there be a chance he was sitting by the road, in the dark and drizzle, just having a little think to himself? Or did he mean to check actual places along the way where he might have stopped such as cafes, shops, opium dens, houses of ill-repute and…. pubs

As if on cue, my mobile rang and it was at last my husband, telling me he’d gone to the pub with one of his more notorious workmates, had his phone switched off and had “lost track of time”. 

At which point, I became one of those women who express their relief and love by shouting very loudly indeed and dropping an F cluster bomb or two, with their children well within earshot. 

For the record, my husband was incredibly sorry when he got home. And for the record, too, I was very nice to him, my anger having dissolved into pure relief and the happy knowledge that I had just earned myself a two-week artist-in-residency on the Moral High Ground.  So, in a strange kind of way, it was a New Underpants Day after all.

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