Monday 31st May

Awoken early this morning by the shrieking of another birthday girl, only this time the girl was my Mother and she wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination shrieking with delight. My Father, it seems, had made the rookie mistake of attempting to buy her a present that he thought she would like.

Why, my Mother demanded, would anybody think that she would like a fridge for her birthday?

My Father, his confusion evident, claimed that he had listened to her constantly moaning and bitching (his words, not mine) about how old, ugly, decrepit and small the current model was. He had resolved to both surprise and delight her this year, with a demonstration of his ability to stealthily cater to her every whim.

After 40 odd years of marriage, I would have thought that my Father would have cottoned on to one very simple fact. Where my Mother is concerned, whenever she is heard expressing a desire for something, the chances are that she has either already bought it or is currently hatching a devious plan to go ahead and do so. The only way to successfully get in on the process is to provide her with the means of purchase mid cycle.

In other words, give her a gift token for John Lewis and let her get on with it.

As I tried to explain to Dad, kicking the fridge on Christmas Day because she can’t shove the remains of the turkey into it isn’t a hint for him to turn up on her birthday with a new appliance and a red bow.

Narrowly averted further bloodshed by persuading Dad that, however much she may love gardening centres, taking her for lunch on her birthday in one wasn’t a good move.

In the end we all headed off to see Russell Crowe, man in tights (yep, second time around for me). Worked out splendidly due to the unassailable fact that where women are concerned, Russell thundering around the countryside on a huge, white charger, truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

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