Tag Archives: Humour

The Gown

I knew from Sarah’s desperate call that the situation was urgent.
“Tom, has it arrived or not?”
“Yes, the courier’s just been.”
“Right, let’s just hope it fits. We have to be there for seven!”
The Chairman’s annual dinner dance is the highlight of our social calendar (the other important dates being Christmas and my Mum coming for Sunday tea) so what to wear is a stress known only to the fairer sex. I on the other hand have no such conundrum, needing only to dust down my penguin suit (Although sometimes the previous twelve month’s over-indulgence can result in a fight to the death with the trousers).
So my problems were as nothing compared to Sarah’s. Rushing in from work, she ran upstairs to our bedroom, where on the bed lay her nemesis – the ball gown. I was half way up the stairs when an ear-piercing scream froze me to the spot.
“Tom!”
I burst in to see my beloved stuck inside an oversized merengue.
“They’ve sent the wrong dress!”
Immediately I went into damage limitation mode. “It’s not too bad. Here, can I pin it?”
“Since when did you become a seamstress? It’s ok, I’ll just wear the black one. Thank goodness you never stuck it on eBay.”
My grimace gave it away. “…Tom?”
“If it’s any consolation, My feedback score is excellent.”
Right well that’s it. I’m not going. I can’t go.”
“I’ll tell you what, let’s ask our daughter.”
I shouted Hannah, our sassy, fifteen year old fashionista. My eyes bored into her as I nodded furiously and said,
“Doesn’t that dress look lovely on your Mum?”
Hannah, glancing up momentarily from her smart phone, took one look at her Mother and said, “Have you not got anything else? What about that black one?”
Dragging the Apple of my Eye out onto the landing I said,
“Word of advice, don’t ever apply to be a diplomat, will you?”
As Hannah rolled her eyes I heard Sarah call from the bedroom. “Right that’s it. I’m not going, you can go on your own.”
Disaster loomed. I had to think quick.
“Look, let’s see what Debi says.”
Debi was Sarah’s best friend and my last hope. Hurriedly, I took some pictures.
“You could at least smile darling.”
“Listen David Bailey, there isn’t time.”
With Sarah in the bathroom, I seized my chance as Debi’s messages pinged through. “Sorry hon, that dress is awful!” (delete) “Is there nothing else? What about that gorgeous black -” (delete).
Beep! The taxi arrived. Bustling Sarah into the back of the cab, I handed over her phone.
“Debi hasn’t replied, but I’m sure she loved it.”
Outside the hotel, Sarah made a final adjustment to her dress as she looked me up and down.
“Have those trousers shrunk or something?”
“Let’s just go in shall we?”
Shuffling into the lobby, we were greeted by a glitter ball on legs – The Chairman’s Wife.
“Mrs Hughes, don’t you look…nice?”
“There you go, she loves it.” I whispered through my fixed grin.
“You’ve a lot to learn about women.” Replied Sarah through gritted teeth.
The night wore on. We danced and drank our way through it. Eventually it was late enough to make our excuses and leave. Sarah poured me into the taxi and we headed home.
“Be honest. Do I really look nice?”
“You look absolootelee dee-vine dahling (hic!) and I down care what Debi said.”
“Why, what did she say? You said she didn’t reply. Tom?”
Then, our chauffeur, a skinny young man with a pierced nose decided to chip in with his two penneth. “Take no notice love, my wife has the exact same dress and it looks great on her. Mind you, hers isn’t white, it’s bla-”
“Just here thank you!” Testily, I cut him dead.
Sipping coffee in the kitchen, I saw Sarah busy on my phone.
“What are you doing?”
Im just ordering myself a new LBD online. It’s a bargain, only £200. And isn’t PayPal so convenient?”
“But you haven’t got a PayPal account.”
“I know. But you have.”
And so, the wheels of married life turn endlessly onwards….

The Intervention

For husband and father Tom Hughes, last Sunday morning began like any other. Hot Tea and warm toast to the ready, I sauntered into the lounge looking forward to a double helping of Broadchurch on catch up only to discover my dear wife Sarah and my teenage daughters Hannah and Emily sat in wait. Wearing a benevolent, concerned expression on her face, Sarah gently relieved me of my steaming mug and buttered Hovis, sat me down and said,

“Tom, What we are about to say is said out of love and concern, nothing else.”
Then I realised what was happening, it was a family intervention! But an intervention about what? Was my customary Friday night pint of mild down the Paraffin Lamp getting out of hand? Was my chocolate habit becoming a cause for concern? What could it be? I decided to confront the issue head on.
“Listen, if anyone is wondering why all the cream eggs keep disappearing, I want you all to know that from now on I promise to share the value pack with everyone else.
A confused silence descended. My three precious girls all stared at each other. Chocolate Eggs it seemed, were not the issue. Sarah pressed on.
“We are gathered here today Tom to tell you that, well, you are a bit of a scruff.”
“A what?”
Next to pipe up was Hannah.
“Yes Dad, look at that jumper, look at those jeans?”
“What’s wrong with them? ”
“Dad, who wears hiking socks, walking shoes and a snood to the gym?
“Yes Tom, the girls are embarrassed. Their friends are talking. You need a new wardrobe, urgently.” Said Sarah.
“Well ok, I’ll go through my stuff and – ”
“Too late we’ve done it for you.” Then, to my dismay, Sarah produced a black bin liner full of my precious old clothes. My sweatshirts, my jeans and – horror of horrors- my Bruce Springsteen 2005 tour t-shirt.
“Not the Boss ! Please?”
“No Tom this lot is off to the charity shop in the precinct. Now, grab your coat and let’s go shopping! Er, on second thoughts, leave the coat, let’s just go.”
In the vast Outlet clothes store I wandered aimlessly around, fingering the rails without a clue what I was doing. Eventually I held up a pair of jeans with the pleasing price tag of £24.99.
“Sarah, what about them?”
Sarah examined my choice suspiciously.
“You haven’t just grabbed the cheapest have you?”
“Not at all I-”
“Right put them back and go try on these.”
I examined the pair picked by Sarah. To my untrained eye, they looked identical to the jeans I had just chosen. Identical that is, except for the price. Sarah’s were fifty pounds dearer .
“Why would I pay seventy-five pounds for something I can get for twenty-five, I don’t- ”
Grabbing the seat of the expensive jeans, Sarah pointed to a yellow logo stitched onto the rear pocket.
“Look! That’s why. They are designer!”
“So, they sew a little squiggle onto the pocket and they charge you treble the price? Are you being serious?”
The look from Sarah told me that yes, she was indeed being deadly serious. She picked out a second pair from the rack, handed both of them over and pointed in the direction of the changing rooms. I sloped away to the curtained off area where a glum-faced child gave me an orange circle on which was printed the number two.
I battled with the first pair for what seemed like an age. Eventually I gave up, deciding that, in the words of my Auntie Joyce they “wouldn’t go near me.” The second pair I actually managed to heave myself into. And a more uncomfortable pair of pants I couldn’t imagine. Baggy round the crotch and barely covering my posterior – clearly this particular “Designer”, in his hurry to stitch on the magic money squiggle had stamped them with the wrong size.
Outside I informed Sarah of the manufacturer’s error.
Sarah shook her head in defeat and flung back at me the cheap pair I had originally chosen. I tried them on. Of course, they fitted perfectly.
The next day Sarah arriving home from work, found me sat in my new jeans and sporting another, different purchase.
“Tom! What are you doing wearing that tatty old Bruce Springsteen t shirt? I thought I gave that away?”
“It’s very simple darling, yesterday afternoon, decided to go and do my bit for cancer research…”

Nice

The Story of Our Five Days in Nice (France).

We flew to the South of France on an Easyjet Boeing 737. The desperate shuffling of passengers to get to the front as the ground staff announce the start of boarding has always baffled me. I think it’s the English urge to get “settled”. Why rush to get on? They wont leave without you.

Anyway, after shouting at Sarah to hurry, I was pleased to find us at the front of the queue (Well, I like to get comfy you see).

Our seats were at the rear of the plane. I read somewhere that the back of an aircraft was the safest place to be (apparently, planes don’t reverse into mountains).
As our fellow travellers boarded, my breathing became shallower, my hands felt clammy, my heart began to race. But it wasn’t the terror of being entombed in a silver tube burning gallons of kerosene in an illogical attempt to defy gravity, rather it was the fear of my ultimate flying phobia – a brat in the seat behind me.

Sarah was settled in next to me debating which variety of microwaved toasty she would like to scald her mouth on as I fidgeted and craned my neck to scan for the dreaded infant. She bid me to remain still.
“Tom, just relax. We will be off in a minute.”
“Look, there’s one coming now, it’s getting nearer.”
“Tom, just calm down, they look a perfectly nice family.”
“The parents seem ok, it’s the red faced urchin I don’t like the look of.”
The smiling thirty-somethings parents scanned the row numbers as they squeezed themselves inexorably nearer. Twenty eight, twenty nine….thirty two, thirty….three – there, perfect. And where do you think they ended up? You know it sister.

The smiling cabin crew snapped the overheads shut and fussed everyone into their places as the Irish burr of the pilot reassuringly purred our route over the PA system.

I closed my eyes. Maybe the kid with the E numbers smeared over his sticky intemperate mush would be perfectly behaved, maybe he would just nod off in his mummy’s arms? What did it matter that he was directly behind my head? The flight was short, it didn’t – thump! Oh god, we hadn’t even taken off and it had started. Thump!

It isn’t the actual kick that drives you insane, it’s the anticipation of the tiny toes tapping the back of your seat that’s unbearable.
“Tom, just ignore it, we’ll be there before you know it, read your guide to Nice.”
“I am trying to ignore it (thump), but it’s not easy when you’ve got parents who can’t control their bloody kids (thump).”
“Tom! shush, they’ll hear you!”
“Good! “(thump).
As the big tin bird eased herself into the stratosphere, the blonde terror behind succumbed to fatigue and fell into a fitful slumber. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. Unfortunately, the racket from the fat lady to my left shattered my attempted cat nap. Her vast paw swirled inside her plastic cashew tub, like Trevor Brooking choosing the FA Cup quarter finalists.

After a moment or two, the pasty white claw pulled another catch of nuts out of the tub, her elbows nudging me with each swirl like a JCB digger excavating a drain. The chubby old dear then daintily threw them into her pie hole with the skill of a serial grazer. This might not have been so bad if she hadn’t been forced by some unknown sinus condition to to breath exclusively through her mouth.
This dual use of her gob meant her mastications were amplified by fifty percent.
I leaned over to Sarah and whispered
“Do you think she’s coming to Nice to sample the gastronomy?”
“Shush Tom, she’ll hear you.”
“Good!” (Nudge)
To make a point I put my fingers dramatically in my ears . Sarah dragged them back out.

Then thankfully, my ears did some popping as our pilot pointed the nose towards the Med and we began our descent. The aircraft banked steeply to the left and, just above stalling speed dropped altitude in ever greater increments until tarmac began rushing past my window.
Do you hold your breath just before the undercarriage smacks onto the blackstuff? There is always that two second moment when I think – is he going to make it? then there is the bang! another smaller bump then a final little skip before the anti locks and reverse thrust decelerate us into taxi speed. And there we were – Nice.
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The Opticians

“Tom, I’m sick of wearing glasses, I want my eyes lasered. You should get them done too.”
“Listen, the nearest I’ll get to a laser is watching Star Wars.

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Anyway, have you seen how much they charge?”
“Ok what about contact lenses then? And I’ve booked us a double appointment tomorrow at the opticians.”
Opticians give me the creeps. Sitting in the dark with all that equipment, I always think of Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.

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Walking into the opticians we were greeted by a pleasant young man in reception. I shook his hand and said,
“Hello. I’ve just been next door to Co-Op Travel asking about my eye test and they told me to come in here.”

“Tom stop it, he won’t get your silly joke.” Said Sarah.
“Very we’ll sir have you an appointment?”
“Yes. Mr and Mrs Hughes.”
“One moment please.” Sarah took her seat while I went to examine some frames.
” What do you think of these darling?
“Put them back, you look like “Michael Gove.”

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(For anyone outside the UK Michael Gove is an unpleasant member of our Government.)
Then a chubby little man with a built up shoe limped into reception “Mr Hughes ?
I nodded, gulping nervously. A fat index finger beckoned me inside.
“Come with me dear.”
Dear? I looked at Sarah, who urged me to follow saying,
“Go on in, we haven’t got all day….dear.”
He paused at the door to his torture chamber, looked me up and down and said, “I’ve not….tested you before, have I?”
“I don’t think so.”
“No. I’d have remembered. Come in then.”
Through his enormous lenses his big saucer eyes bored into me. Sat in the hot seat, I watched as he removed his glasses and began cleaning them with his tie. He looked up at me once more. His eyes had disappeared! Then back on went the glasses and…zoom! The huge pupils returned.
“Now relax while I dim the lights…”
If I wasn’t nervous beforehand, I was now.
Letters appeared on the whiteboard opposite. My torturer settled in besides me and, I have to say, a little too close for comfort.
“Now can you read left to right, top to…bottom.”
I’m sure it wasn’t the right way to do an eye test but I just started guessing
“K no, R”
“Now Tom, don’t guess.”
Then he did something really weird. He grabbed a hand held light, put his face right next to mine, as in right next, and shone it in my eyes. All I could hear and feel was his breath on my cheek. When, for a second, our noses touched it was all I could do to stay seated.
Outside in reception I found Sarah, relaxing after her ordeal.

“Well I won’t be going in there again . I nearly chinned him. I thought he was going to throw the lips on me.”
“Tom, he uses an ophthalmoscope to test for high blood pressure, you dope.
“Oh…. Well he could have told me.”
Then it was time for our contact lenses. The nice lady demonstrated the technique for putting them in. We followed suit. After handing over a fortune we both stumbled outside, now with our twenty-twenty vision supposedly restored.
As we groped our way to the car park, I could hear people tutting and oh-dearing as we passed.
One elderly lady stopped me and taking hold of my hand said,
“Whatever tragedy has happened my loves, remember, time is a great healer.”
I looked at Sarah, she looked at me. Our eyes were both red and streaming.
“I can’t see a bloody thing.”
” Neither can I.”
“Look this is ridiculous, let’s go back.”
We retraced our steps down the high street, doing our best to avoid the lamp posts.
“Listen mate, can we change our minds? We just need to buy some normal glasses.”
“That’s no problem sir, but I think you’ll have to try next door, er this is Co-Op Travel?”

Chapter XXII

Living together, that’s what it’s all about.
I have been married before, it didn’t really work. I remember our car got broken into in the middle of the night. The police apprehended the miscreant and knocked at my door in the early hours to see if the house had been broken into as well. The officer walked in, saw the mess in the front room and sighed,
“sorry mate, looks like you’ve been burgled too.”
“It’s ok sarge, it always looks like this.”
Its amazing what you will put up with if someone tells you its normal to live in shit.
I remember the first week I lived with Sarah. I opened my t shirt draw and all my t shirts were immaculately folded in neat little rows. I stared at them for a few seconds, unable to comprehend the enormity of what I was seeing. I picked one up. It was washed ironed and folded on top of his brothers. I felt it, smelt it, pressed it to my cheek. And there was another, and another, in fact every t shirt was the same. But it didn’t end there. there was the sock draw too.
In my previous situation, nothing peed me off more than trying to find a pair of socks to put on just to go to work. In the end I’d either put the old ones on or make do with cousins rather than identical twins.
Once, in the dead of winter I had to be in early for a big meeting in work. It was a feisty battle between the accounts and marketing departments. Budget and re-organisations and other boring rubbish which seemed so vital at the time were up for debate. Things were getting personal. I cleared my throat and called the meeting to order. I crossed my legs and in a laid back informal manner lectured the meeting on how everyone unprofessional everyone was behaving
I noticed that some eyes in the room were gravitating to my shoe, perched nonchalantly athwart my knee. Fearing a wardrobe malfunction I picked an imaginary thread of cotton from the hem of my trousers and saw that covering my ankle was a pink and black sock with an image of one of the Bratz dolls (I think it was Sasha). My other sock was brown. I had got dressed in the dark. I folded the offending ankle behind the other and pressed on, my authority in tatters.
So it was that I came across the sock drawer. Little bundles of furry animals curled up together, all snug and cozy. My sports socks on the right, work socks on the left. But where were the odd socks, the socks with holes in? The grey socks that used to be white?
A feeling of disquiet came over me. This had to be a one off, this couldn’t happen every week ,surely? What superhuman effort was required to wash, clean and iron all this and run a house and go to work? This achievement was more than amazing, it was a miracle. There was only one answer. Somewhere, in some unseen corner of this house, out of sight from the humans, a little fairy was hiding.
“Sarah! Sarah! Come and see this!”
“Yes, what of it?
“Look! Look at it all! isn’t it amazing? Where have you hidden her?
“Who?
“The fairy who did all this!
“You’re looking at her.
I gave her my “what you talkin’ ’bout Willis?’ face.
You?
Of course its me, who else?
“Why?
“Why?
she looked at me like id just asked her why she doesn’t steal lamb chops from the butchers
Why? because I love you I suppose.
That’s what happens when you fold up socks.
But, don’t forget what they say about fairies, if they don’t get looked after, they get quite difficult
Of course I was delighted about my new discovery. I couldn’t wait to tell my mates down the pub, were they being looked after in the same manner to which I just couldn’t become accustomed to?
The next saturday, we were all in the bar gawping up at the tv as some over paid Premiership beauty collapsed onto the turf holding his broken eyelash. There was a break in play while the effete little pixie was airlifted to Geneva, and I thought this was as good a time as any to share my good fortune.
“Listen lads, I’ve got an announcement to make.” Pints were held in mid sip, conversations were paused, what was their old muckers’ news? Well?
“….I’m living with a fairy.”
Now, I think men today are a little more pc than they were say, ten years ago, however, before i could clarify the true identity of this heavenly body i could see them all recalibrating their relationships with yours truly.
Eventually, Hugh, the titular leader of the pack, spoke for them all. In a gruff voice he mumbled,
“Well, if that’s what you want we all support you, but what about Sarah?”
The mix up was explained without too much fuss, although I suspect even to this day Malcolm behind the bar holds the tiniest candle for me.

Chapter XVIII

Saturday morning after the Friday night. So, it was about 8.30 in the morning, and – hang on, never mind about 8.30 in the morning, don’t be so nosey! Let’s see er…9.30 in the morning. There, that’s better. So we went down for breakfast at half nine, hand in hand (aww).
David was there to greet us and show us to our table.
“Did we sleep well madam?”
I think that was waiter speak for “Were we at it like rabbits, madam?”
“Yes the beds are very comfy thank you David.”
“And what can I get for you this morning madam? Can I recommend the full English? The sausages are delicious”
I put my spoon down and glared at him. His gaze did not waver . His ball point poised, his lips pursed.
“I think I’ll just help myself to some melons and yoghurt.”
“Don’t you start.” I said. “I’ll have egg and bacon .thank you”
I snapped my menu shut. David dramatically plucked it from my hand and sashayed back to the kitchen, while Sarah and me settled down to the serious business of making moon eyes at each other. After the moon eyes were over, it was time for a good dose of smiles and giggles, rounded off nicely with a smattering of “sorry, no you first – no really, after you.”
Have you ever had that at the start of a relationship? Complete togetherness then suddenly back to a weird politeness? No? Maybe its just me then
David returned with my eggs. They went cold. I wasn’t hungry. It was bliss.
I think it was that Saturday morning in that fantastic hotel, that I began to think about the possibility of maybe contemplating the chances of me and Sarah having some sort of future together.
Then the phone calls started. “What time are you back? Can you pick him up after training? I’ve got to go out. We had to go.
We packed quickly and checked out. David waved us off. He seemed genuinely sorry to see us go.
The drive back was agony. I thought about how this would probably never happen again.
I felt really down. Back to reality, no less the logistics of being with Sarah. Kids, exs mothers mortgages, it was impossible.
“This is impossible. We cant upset the kids.”
“Don’t worry Tom.” Sarah squeezed my hand. “I have a plan.”
And even Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf couldn’t have come up with a better plan than Sarah.