A quick glance out of the window confirmed it. All nine planets were in line. Or to put it another way, I had a day to myself on Saturday.
Yep, after 20 years of being a Dad the Heavens have aligned. Tom and Jessica are in their respective university libraries busily revising. (Yes they are – have some faith in the modern student.) Ben is trekking across the Moors on a D of E practice expedition. And my lovely wife is driving her Mother to Manchester.
So I have the whole day to myself.
And there’s the rub, as my old mate Hamlet pointed out. Not that Ophelia had dropped any thinly-veiled hints about wallpaper stripping…
My wife, however, has. She hasn’t said anything. She didn’t need to. Not when I stumbled downstairs to make my early morning cuppa and fell over a strategically placed steam-stripper.
But look, I need to write my book on blogging. I really ought to creep furtively into the office and make a start. And I need to do a seriously long walk: my appointment with the Pennine Way is drawing ominously closer. Speaking of which, a trip to Walking-Boots-R-Us would be a logical move.
Then again, it’s Saturday. Why don’t I ignore everything and spend an afternoon on the sofa? Five hours of football and the Scottish Grand National…
Is anyone old enough to remember playing ‘Careers?’ I rolled the dice a few times when I were now’t but a nipper. From memory you had to yomp round the board collecting money, fame and happiness points. They had to add up to 100 – and wasn’t going into space a sure fire way of winning?
That’s exactly where I am now. I can collect happiness points (strip the wallpaper: stay married). I can potentially rack up some money and fame points by making a start on the book. Or I can avoid some couch potato penalty points by reaching for my trainers.
A dilemma. I spent Friday afternoon taking soundings in the office. “Wallpaper stripping,” one wise old soul counselled me. “Women like to see you’ve made an effort. When Jane comes home and sees how much you’ve done she’ll cradle you in her arms and stroke your hair. You might even get some nookie.”
I did some counselling in return. I pointed out the chance of ‘nookie’ after my wife had driven her Mother across the Pennines and driven back via a Saturday afternoon traffic jam was several miles below zero.
Let’s see what my coachload of friends on Facebook have to say. Go to the pub for the day was the first reply, clearly from a man who’d watched Death Wish too many times. Do nothing came next. No thanks, I’d rather not spend a month in protective custody.
Ah, the lovely Cara. Newly-married. Presumably still gazing at her husband with wide-eyed adoration. Apparently not…
Wallpaper stripping in the morning; walk at lunchtime; book in afternoon. If you have to watch sport, watch it on catch-up.
What she said swiftly followed from several other people. All women.
But I wanted an ‘all of nothing’ day. A day where I achieved something spectacular.
I was still casting around for someone to tell me what I wanted to hear. “What do you think, Ben?” I said. “Wallpaper, walk or book?”
“How long have you been married, Dad?”
“Twenty years,” I said confidently.
“Twenty-three,” my wife corrected.
“I think that’s long enough to make a decision,” Ben said. “It’s up to you.”
It was. The bestseller would have to wait. Cara had ended her reply with a hashtag: one I may sneak a glance at in the future. #WhatWomenWouldDo…
Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and “very, very funny” to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here.