I am full of sympathy…usually.

SMITHY has been ill.

I’ll state for the record that I have been full of sympathy, always on hand with paracetamol and lifts to the doctor’s surgery, and not once (well…maybe once) have I told him to stop whinging.

But between him and our daughter, it’s been like taking care of two small babies this week – with one valiantly trying to soldier through a difficult few days and the other, obviously, being my husband.

“I’m just so iiiiiiiiill!” is a refrain I have heard hundreds of times, as Smithy has summoned me to his bedside with requests for painkillers, glasses of juice and that well known cure for an ear infection: sausages, potato waffles and beans.

“I just feel soooo poorly,” he has said, injecting a slight quiver into his voice.

“But even though I am death’s door I think I could still manage a cup of tea and a small – no, medium – portion of shepherds pie.”

I looked at him agog.

“Shepherds pie? You do know if you want shepherds pie I’ll have to take the baby out into the cold and drive to Tesco to buy the ingredients and then come home and make it while simultaneously trying to occupy a nine-month-old who is just beginning to crawl?”

He did ‘puppy dog eyes’ at me.

“I think it might make me feel better,” he whispered.

I began to suspect, after he asked me to ‘whip up’ a roast dinner on Sunday, that perhaps I was being played.

Especially after he became well enough to go back to work, but his temporary deafness continued.

“Please will you change the sheets on the bed?” I asked.

“Eh? What?” he said, gesturing to his ear.

“Please will you…”

He continued gesturing at his ear, while backing quickly out of the room.

I don’t wish to pollute the pages of the Gazette with bad language, but let’s just say at that point I made a few gestures of my own.

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on November 26, 2015

Marriage: a lesson in perseverance

SOMETIMES talking to my husband is incredibly infuriating, but never more so than when he doesn’t do exactly what I want.

Call me unreasonable but sometimes all I want is for him to read my mind, see the world exactly as I see it and then follow the script I’ve already written in my mind.

Am I asking too much?

Over breakfast a few days ago I told him sorrowfully: “I had a bad dream last night and I lay awake for ages afterwards.”

I obviously expected sympathy and soothing noises, and for him to put down his toast and listen intently as I told him all about it.

“Oh no,” he said through a half-chewed mouthful of brekkie, sending crumbs across the table.

Then he picked up a cereal box and started to read the ingredients. Out loud.

I persevered.

“It was horrible,” I said. “I was crossing a road and…”

He looked up.

“Was there a chicken?” he interrupted. “Or an egg?”

Then he laughed loudly, high-fived the baby and went back to reading the cereal box.

I persevered.

“No, there was no chicken or egg. It was actually really scary because…”

He looked up again.

“What was so scary about a chicken? Do you have a phobia of chickens you’ve never told me about?”

I took a deep breath. And persevered.

“No, I don’t have a phobia of chickens. There were no chickens. There were no eggs. There was just a busy road and I was walking across it and…”

This time Smithy sighed.

“Alright, alright. Is this about those brown boots you were looking at the other day? Okay, hint taken, I’ll buy them for you!”

I almost fell off my chair in shock, mainly because the conversation had nothing to do with the lovely brown boots either.

Instead I kept a straight face and said: “Yes, it’s about the brown boots. Maybe we could go and get them today?”

(As soon as Smithy went to brush his teeth I also high-fived the baby.)

Like I said, sometimes talking to my husband is incredibly infuriating.

But sometimes a bit of perseverance pays dividends.

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on November 19, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen – my daughter, the interior designer!

THE Smiths’ mini-break in Edinburgh continued in much the same vein as it began (ie. with a constant, low-level vibe of ‘badly planned’).

We’re currently weaning our daughter onto solid foods using the ‘baby-led’ method so a sensible plan would have been to stay somewhere we could make and eat our own meals.

This is because, as far as I can make out, this style of weaning seems to involve very little actual eating and more meals being thrown, shot put-like, at some distant point on the other side of the kitchen.

Of course, at home it doesn’t matter if she gets spaghetti bolognese all over the cupboard doors, porridge all over the walls or if she smears handfuls of banana into the clothes of a passing parent (or the cat).

However, as we are not sensible people, we decided to go on a holiday which involved four full days of eating out.

And, shockingly, it turns out that restaurateurs aren’t overly keen on having their dining rooms redecorated in that nice shade ‘penne arrabbiata’, nor do they like their waitresses having mashed potato flung at them.

I think it’s safe to say the Smiths are now on the blacklist of several Scottish eateries.

In fact, as we crossed the border back into England, I could almost swear I heard a sigh of relief.

A trail of devastation followed us around as the baby (a smiling assassin) grinned while depositing handfuls of food anywhere she could reach.

The carpet underneath every table we were seated at became a graveyard for rejected food.

At one point, while subtly trying to gather up the thousands of crumbs which had once been a cheese sandwich, Smithy genuinely suggested I ‘run to the nearest Currys’ to see if they could sell us a hand-held vacuum cleaner.

So next time I have an urge to do something nice with my family I will suppress it. 

In fact, I will remember the look that appeared on one waitress’s face as she realised there was spaghetti hanging off what had once been a very nice lamp – and then I think the urge should go away all by itself.

Article first published in the Westmorland Gazette on November 5, 2015