My wife is not just beautiful, she’s also incredibly generous.
She’s never happier than when she can hand me something – like a chore, a bill, or her personal morning favourite, frostbite…
Her hands are often so cold its like being cuddled by a giant arctic squid.
She’s also not content with freezing just one area… Oh no… When she’s really cold, I’ll suddenly end up entangled in one of her judo moves, half in, half out of the bed, trying to escape.
It might be a while since I went to school, but aren’t humans supposed to be warm-blooded?… and all those years ago, when I looked into her eyes and said “I do” , I’m sure I didn’t feckin agree to marry a member of the X-Men. If I had, I would have picked one with a proper superpower, and not just someone with cryogenic arse cheeks.
She might look sexy in her Victoria’s Secrets, but they certainly don’t provide me much in the way of thermal shock protection.
A couple of years ago I asked Bear Grylls for advice on spooning with a polar bear, but he just told me to man-up and sent me a link to the Damart Thermals site. I bet he’d would have been more forthcoming if I’d told him she could solve global warming with just her arse.
an offer i couldn’t refuse
One summer Sunday morning, I was woken up by Angela cuddling up to me.
Going by where she placed her hand, it could have been for one of three of reasons:
- Cold hands
- An opportunity for me to burn one hundred calories, rollover, fart, and fall asleep again
- An ‘insurance policy‘ for an idea she had
Unfortunately, it was number three… and she asked a loaded rhetorical question…
Angela: Do you fancy a pub walk?
My Brain: [WOO HOO! – the pub’s only 2 minutes away]
Me: That’s a great idea darling
Angela: We need to set off soon
My Brain: [bless her, she’s mixed up the big hand and little hand again]
Me: I love your enthusiasm darling, but the pub doesn’t open for another 2 hours
Angela: We’re going to North Yorkshire
My Brain: [MAYDAY MAYDAY]
Angela: The countryside is beautiful there
My Brain: [or… we could stay here and Google pictures of Kylie Minogue]
Me: I’ve got important work to do darling
Angela: You need the exercise
My Brain: [whoa – now it’s personal insults fat boy]
Me: I’ll wait for you in the pub
At this point she invoked the insurance policy and her grip tightened…
Angela: Do you ever want sex again?
My Brain: [TELL HER WE SURRENDER]
Me: Well, if you put it like that dearest, I’d love to go on a pub walk with you…
It’s a well known fact that I’m not a great fan of exercise, and I blame Angela for the fact we live in a stupid three story house. When we were looking for a new home, all I’d wanted was a bungalow, and an adjoining garage with parking a space next to the divan. Instead, I’ve got a hundreds of feckin stairs to climb every night.
The only good thing about living in a tall house is the hours of entertainment watching the short-arsed mutt having to zig-zag up the stairs.
Last year Angela came home unexpectedly, and she found me with another woman… “GET OUT OF HERE” she yelled at the woman… “HE DOESN’T NEED A BLOODY STAIR LIFT“. And she threw the Stannah sales rep out still clutching her brochures.
I’d like to point out I don’t actually need a stair lift, I’m just allergic to exercise. The only reason I work out is to make sure I can still outrun Kylie’s Minogue’s guard dogs.
But this was just a pub walk, how bad could it be?
The truth was, neither the word ‘pub‘, nor ‘walk’, were accurate, it would have been fairer if she’d said “we’re off on a beer free assault course“.
(I haven’t been that gullible since we first met and she said she could cook, but to be fair, I told her I did DIY too)
Angela had already picked a destination somewhere in the middle of deepest darkest Yorkshire – the part where only professional walkers go.
You can recognise real walkers by their floppy hats, pointy sticks, and liking for drab colours. They usually have access to a laminator too, going by all the plasticy shit dangling around their necks.
A couple of walkers turned up in Hornsea last summer… I’m not sure why they brought ski poles though, Hornsea is as flat as a fart, and snow in June is unlikely even here.
Maybe the walkers use their pointy sticks as protection from hungry West Yorkshire tourists. I’ve seen sea-front fights break out when they panic after realising we don’t have a Greggs bakery here.
Even the chippy has the suicide hotline number alongside their ‘CLOSED’ door sign.
the computer says no
Its never a great start to a journey when the satnav refuses to go with you. The computer said no… It had no clue where the pub was, so I ended up searching the car boot for my AA road map.
I’m old school, so I keep stuff in the boot of my car ‘just in case’. This was the moment that justified years of transporting all that useless weight around, and for once, I don’t mean the dog.
The old road map hadn’t seen the light of day for many years, It smelt musty, was well thumbed, and some of the pages were stuck together – a lot like my Kylie calendar.
It turns out the pub was near a place called Wass… That was quite a coincidence, as I was already wishing I ‘Wass’ back in bed Googling, but Angela wasn’t taking no for an answer.
With the damp smelling map in hand, we pointed the car North West and set off…
an infinite number of monkeys
An hour and a half later we were still bloody driving – our ‘pub walk’ had somehow morphed into a road trip. That wasn’t the worst thing though, Angela was navigating from a paper map – that’s never a good thing. Past experience has shown there was a distinct possibility one of us would be walking home or the authorities would be searching for a shallow grave.
There is only one thing worse than Angela’s map reading – and that’s mine. My crappy navigation technique even has a name – ‘Infinite number of monkeys‘, which also partly explains the direct correlation between my fuel bills and blood pressure.
To compound matters further, Angela has trouble giving directions. Most people use the universally recognised commands – go left and go right, but Angela’s preferred version was “go left” and, “no the other left“.
In large cities this tended to create a lot of tension in the car, and a surprising number of hand gestures from other drivers.
However, I found a solution to the problem…. We now use “go watch” and “go bracelet”. Granted, there’s a slight delay while Angela glances at her wrists, but apart from that, the concept generally works.
Unfortunately, her pre-turn warnings are still a work in progress… If we’re approaching a turn, she will point her finger at the junction and say “go that way” irrespective of whether their are two, three, or more options for ‘go that way’…
Please also bear in mind, that I’m sat four feet to the right of her, and trying not to kill us. I’m not really in a position to lean left, close one eye, and look down the length of her index finger attempting to see the subtle five degree nuances she’s pointing at…
From every other road users viewpoint, my last second watch/bracelet emergency cornering still leaves a lot to be desired.
driving, driving, driving
As time went on and I got frustrated with the drive up through North Yorkshire, so I went a bit faster… and a bit faster still…
My driving got a little reckless – a bit like my choice in navigators. The road became a blur, and some of the corners tried to kill us – it was like being on a Spanish water park slide.
Luckily, those particular country roadsides had high hedges that were just wide enough to get one car through, assuming you’re not that precious about keeping the paint on your wing mirrors. It had the added bonus that drifting slightly right or left created an audible reminder that I was going to have to buy yet another paint touch-up kit from Halfords.
It was a bit like when you go ten pin bowling and put the lane bumpers up – even with my crappy driving, ending up in a field would have been tricky.
they aren’t fluffy dice
Angela reached across to my crotch, and just for a few milliseconds, the primeval side of my brain thought that I might be in luck. That was cut short when she invoked the insurance policy once more and hissed “slow down or else“… If we had crashed at that point, the coroner might have wondered why my bollocks had been found dangling where the fluffy dice should have been.
Fortunately, we didn’t see a lot of other road users, just a lot of suicidal rabbits; I do like bunnies, but not necessarily when they’re shrink wrapped around your exhaust pipe.
one of our pubs is missing
Eventually, we located the pub – the starting point for the walk. But we’d arrived a little late, twenty feckin years too late to be precise. It wasn’t a pub anymore, in fact it hadn’t actually been a pub for any part of this century.
This screwed the plan… Not that we actually had a plan, but I did assume that we could purchase a few survival rations – maybe a coffee and some nuts – especially as I hadn’t gotten either in bed that morning.
An equipment check revealed all we had was a semi flat iPhone, a guide book, and a handbag just big enough for Angela’s emergency lipstick.
I don’t ‘do’ walking… If I have to walk anywhere, I expect food, water, and a phone… I wouldn’t say no to Sherpas and Red Cross food drops either
The only preparation I’d done was to bring along my wallet. Funnily enough, that’s how Angela prepares too – by bringing along my wallet.
We were not exactly dressed for a hike either – Bear Grylls would have been mortified.
Angela’s walking gear consisted of her all-terrain flip flops and a boob tube. Plus, with my pale blue-white legs, bald head, and no sunscreen – I would shortly look like a Japanese flag.
I also had my brand new trainers on. Up until this point I wasn’t worried about them – what were the odds on getting them dirty walking across a pub car park?
So we’re about to journey through strange foreign lands, with no compass, inappropriate clothing, no comms, and a feckin useless dog. We can’t even speak the lingo – have you ever tried talking to a Yorkshire farmer? What the hell does ‘ee-by-gum’ actually mean?
At this point I heard a strange ‘hmmm-hmmm-hmmm‘ noise, and then realised it was emanating from me as my stress levels rose.
I thought that I should leave the keys in the car’s ignition – at least someone would get some use out of it after I’d been beaten to death by a flip-flop on a remote hillside.
It turns out that the dodgy guide book that started all this nonsense was supplied by my father-in-law. He’s a true Yorkshireman, which translates as ‘he really likes bargains‘; The book might have been old, but I guarantee he STILL negotiated a discount. Some of the pages had gone missing too – Noah probably ripped them out when he designed his boat.
Each featured pub walk had a description of the area, and a few instructions saying which way to turn. Angela excitedly piped up with “look, there’s a map too”… I looked… Ordnance Survey would have been horrified… It was less ‘map’ – more sketch with ‘here ye be monsters’.
My feeling of impending doom intensified when I saw Angela twirling the book around like a majorette on acid, clearly trying to work out which way was up.
By agreeing to all this madness I had obviously lost my mind, so I though fuck it – the rest of me might as well join in too.
As we set off I realised that I hadn’t actually read the guide book, I was completely relying on Angela’s ability to interpret out-of-date navigational instructions and her random finger pointing. At least she was wearing her watch and bracelet.
At that moment those immortal words of Private Fraser from Dads Army sprang to mind…
The books instructions were somewhat vague… It said things like “follow the road around the profound bend”… What the feck is a ‘profound bend‘? I’ve used a few dodgy travel adjectives before, (usually when I’m gripping the seat belt and Angela’s driving) but I’ve never used that particular one to describe a corner.
We were already screwed, and we’d only got to the first waypoint. Nevertheless, Angela’s enthusiasm, and complete disregard for anyone’s safety drove us onward.
Our next waypoint was “Go past the new housing development on your right”… Hmmm… A navigation reference based on the age of a building in a conservation area – WHERE ALL THE FECKIN HOUSES HAVE TO LOOK THE SAME!
Yeah – we’re screwed!
ayup luv, theear be strange folk owt ‘ere.
As we stood there trying to work out what to do next, I saw the curtains twitching – the locals weren’t the best looking people – the village could definitely have done with DNA refresh. It certainly wasn’t the type of place you knock on the door and ask for a drink – they might ask if ‘O negative’ was ok.
I’m guessing they were trying to work out what the strangers were doing in their village… They probably didn’t recognise us as pub walkers – probably because we didn’t have any dangling laminates and there WEREN’T ANY FRIGGIN PUBS NEARBY…
After we’d left the village of the damned, Angela informed me the next stretch had a bog. Although I was disappointed by her choice of language, I was pleased that I could go for a pee, and I certainly hadn’t wanted to get my tackle out surrounded by the cast from ‘The League of Gentlemen”.
Unfortunately I had misconstrued her vernacular, and almost lost one of my new trainers in the bog of eternal stench crossing the next field.
As if the lack of directions and equipment wasn’t bad enough, we also had the mutt with us. Of course the ‘dog’ isn’t really a dog…
Angela insisted the thing had to be carried at various points of the journey; reasons included: “there are too many brambles”, “It’s too hilly”, “she looks tired”, “she might fall down a rabbit hole” (I’m just not that lucky).
She kept asking me if the dog was alright – I couldn’t hear it whining, so I assumed it was ok behind me. Unfortunately I had forgotten it just had stumps for legs and it was currently stuck in mud about a hundred yards behind us.
In the distance I could see it was floundering like a BMW in the snow… the wheels were turning but nothing was happening – a bit like Angela trying to do a crossword.
I tried to be pragmatic, and said “Oh well, never mind, we can go get a proper dog now”, but I was dragged back to where the bog monster was stuck.
I found a long stick I could use to ‘rescue it’ from the mud whilst I stayed on the safety of dry land, but I got the look from Angela – the only thing colder than her arse is her stare… Hmmm… That would be a ‘no’ to using the stick then…
Instead, my trainers and T shirt were sacrificed to the mud gods, and my stress levels increased once more.
The next little directional gem on our ‘pub walk’ was “go past the observatory”… I didn’t need Professor Brian Cox to tell me they don’t build observatories near nice convenient pubs… they tend to build them near the tops of feckin hills where there is: A) less light pollution and B) fewer hikers in flip flops.
The hill that we had to climb wasn’t too high, however we struggled to find the top. (Whilst writing this story, I was strongly advised by the person who had the map to say that these minor navigational errors were no ones fault).
It turns out this particular observatory was protected by trees and shrubbery that Sleeping Beauty’s Wicked Witch would have been proud of.
There was times I was wading nipple deep through pointy, stingy foliage that only fairy tales are written about. I was scratched and scraped just like my wing mirrors earlier…
I bet she hadn’t even done a risk assessment – there could have been anything wandering these woods, wolves… bears… tigers… Maybe this was revenge for me putting bacon in her rucksack when we were in Yosemite. I don’t know why she got so upset though, the bear didn’t get anywhere near her.
I had also been told to carry the mutt. At first I kept it held up high , but I realised by lowering it and pointing its arse forwards, I could use it like a snow plough through the vegetation. Plus, in an emergency, and I’d been ambushed by anything with pointy teeth, I could also throw it over my shoulder and use it as bait or a decoy.
The ‘thing’ finally had a use!
When the architect designed our old house, he must have stuck the blueprints to the fridge door and got them mixed up with his kids ‘school art‘ – our house was so square and boring it looked like a kindergarten Lego house…
To make matters worse, Angela painted the inside of our house yellow – even the ceiling… It was like living inside a giant block of Edam. I knew Angela liked her wine and cheese – this probably explained why she bought her wine by the box too.
One day – in our block of cheese, we had an argument about some wall photos. Angela got arsey, stormed off, and returned clutching a claw hammer. Even for Angela, battering me to death seemed a bit of an overreaction to some photos she didn’t like.
To make her point, and still in her angry strop, she proceeded to rip out all the picture hooks from the walls – not just from one wall, but from the entire house…
But her retaliation spectacularly backfired when the plaster came away with the picture hooks; and she didnt have the right paint to touch up the holes in walls again. She had to repaint the entire house, and I laughed all the way to Hull Royal Infirmary…
When we got to our last waypoint at the base of the observatory, Angela had another ‘picture hook’ moment, and an evil grin appeared. She looked at me, then the roof, then me again… I felt like I’d accidentally stumbled into an assassin’s convention… She’d already killed my trainers, now she was going after the body parts north of my ankles too.
She suggested we climb the stairs up to the roof – “to get a better view“, but she said it in a kind of ‘with some fava beans and a nice Chianti’ way.
At this point I wished I was wearing ruby slippers – but all I had was some muddy Reeboks… Luckily, the tower door was locked…
happy I’m alive
Just like all my previous relationships, our journey ended with a descent down a steep slippery slope and some tears.
My new trainers were ruined, and Angela was filthy, but not in the nice 100 calories way….
Before we had set off, and In my naivety, I had assumed the only risk would be if I’d had a couple of pints and Angela had to drive the car – I never even thought about swamps, freaky natives, and demonic shrubbery.
But yet again, and despite Angela’s best efforts – I survived. I didn’t drown, get eaten by critters, or fall from a high tower.
When we got back home I put the old guide book to use again – to light the funeral pyre for my ruined trainers.