Relatively speaking

It never ceases to amaze who you can end up sitting opposite at a lunch table these days. Yesterday, in our cafe, I was innocently discussing the pros and cons of a toasted bagel with a shaggy haired and friendly young guy, and, guess what? He turns out to be a well known and published English quantum physicist.

Dominic lives in Denmark Hill. In between slices of smoked salmon and cream cheese he explained the theory of relativity. And as I’m a complete dummy he didn’t find that particularly easy, but he was a very patient man. As was I, because my minestrone soup ended up stone cold.

“The whole piece of time is a landscape,” he said, “and, although you might not always realise it, we’re all shifting through it constantly.”

I nodded enthusiastically. Who needs food when you’ve got gravitational time dilation?

“It must be really tedious dreaming up entertaining ways to explain the rules of elementary particles,” I said, “without sounding pedantic.”

I stirred some Parmesan cheese into my minestrone and watched it quickly melt. There was definitely a scientific analogy in that bowl, but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough or smart enough to explain it to Dominic.

“Most of us experience relative motion every day,” he said chewing his bagel. Against my better judgment it was untoasted.

“Oh absolutely,” I said, “in fact I was saying that just last week to my husband as I nudged him back over to his side of the bed in the middle of the night.”

I could tell Dominic was impressed by my grasp of force fields.

“So, imagine you’re sitting on a bus and I’m walking along a street,” he said. “Technically you’re perfectly still on that bus, but of course, moving. That’s because the bus is moving.”

I blinked. I suddenly felt hungry.

“Let’s say the traffic slows to a crawl and, although I’m still walking, I’m able to catch up with that bus.”

I sucked my spoon thoughtfully.

“This sounds just like the number 42 route to Liverpool Street,” I said, “it’s a bitch in the rush hour. If it’s relative speed you’re after, then please avoid it like the plague.”

I really didn’t think Dominic took the bus, he looked like he regularly skateboarded.

“And as I walk along next to the bus, you look out of the window, and I wave.” Dominic waved across the table at this point. And I’m sorry to have to tell you, I waved back.

“Whilst we’re are both separately in motion – because you’re on that bus and I’m walking next to it – to the naked eye it appears that we’re at a standstill because we are both moving, at exactly the same speed, at exactly the same time.”

After a while I could see Dominic’s lips moving but the only audible words I could hear were blah blah blah, interspersed with – Newton’s apple, Albert Einstein’s moustache, and microwave background radiation. It was at that point I decided to abandon my ambitions of becoming a physicist and just stay with wallpapering.

Later, as I was getting ready for bed, I told Guido that time becomes slower the closer you get to travelling at the speed of light. But I’m not sure he was that interested.

He said he had something far more pressing on his mind.

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About twelve inches

Our bed is six feet six inches long, and six feet wide. It’s got to be big. Guido’s a giant at almost seven feet tall in his socks. His ankles stick out over the edge like a diving board. Our bed is where we sleep but it’s also where we happily hang out and hypothesise about the meaning of life, where we have weird sex and where we eat vulgar quantities of pasta. This may sound utterly sordid but I unapologetically report it seems perfectly normal round here.

When we lived in the loft in Bermondsey it felt like our mattress consumed our entire bedroom. I guess it did. To get from one side of the floor to the other you had to pretend you were climbing onto a giant trampoline; you took a leap and then a jump. In a bizarre way, that could be a lot of fun. Especially if Guido was feeling fruity and I just happened to be doing the splits at the time. Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because although you know how hard I try to be magnanimous in everything I do – I have a guilty confession to make about bedtime.

I get territorial.

If you lived in London, surrounded by pushing and dodging, you’d know exactly what I was talking about. So in bed I like some personal space. And that means the centre button on our padded headboard marks the non negotiable point where the invisible border is drawn. It’s the line in the sand between my side, and Guido’s. Hey, if I was Donald – I’d build a wall.

Yet Guido has a sneaky ability to creep right over. He’s crafty. Just after lights are switched out I can feel his big toe twitching in eager anticipation. Then a kneecap might nudge me and, if I give him an inch, I can guarantee you a hairy thigh. That’s when he really goes in for the kill and makes his move. He sometimes actually pretends he’s sleeping whilst he’s doing this and thinks I’m fooled by that. He’ll even give a big snort in the darkness and he’ll try to distract my attention by rolling right over. The next thing I know, I’ve been displace to the chilly outer reaches of the sheets. Hanging on for dear life; next stop, the floor. That’s when he’ll settle and I swear he’s laying in the middle of the bed making a star shape with his arms and legs as a sign of victory.

Last night I climbed into bed. I counted the buttons on the headboard. I was exactly where I belonged. And so was he. Right after lights out I felt his toe twitch.

How laughably predictable. I stifled a tut.

There was a nudge. It wasn’t a kneecap so I lay perfectly still. What would President Trump do, I thought? Right on cue Guido snorted so I took my chance and flicked the lamp back on and pulled back the blanket.

”So you thought you’d try to out manoeuvre me, well Ha! Ha! the joke’s on you Guido Vasquez cos I was wide awake and I’ve still got loads of wriggle room.”

There was a short pause as Guido looked up at me naked.

”I see,” he said, “would you like a few more inches?

In your dreams

I’d like to share an exciting discovery I made recently. Depending on what you like to dream about, this could be a complete game changer in the nocturnal activity stakes.

I can confidently confirm that (and I accept this may initially seem unbelievable to some readers) corn fritters dipped in a chilli sauce will make you dream about Armie Hammer.

I am proof of his pudding.

Last Friday I just happened to randomly eat one and then right after I climbed into bed and fell asleep. When I shut my eyes it was like falling down a rabbit hole. I had one of the most amazing dreams I’d ever had in my entire life, and best of all it involved Armie Hammer with very few clothes on. It’s now happened twice in one week. Both times, corn fritters, chilli dip, strip all my clothes off, climb into bed and then, BAM! A nanosecond later and what d’you know? Armie comes a knock’n. Don’t tell me that’s a freaky coincidence.

I’ve still got to unlock the scientific link between the humble deep fried fritter and the guy who gloriously portrayed a bow legged Lone Ranger, but, let me reassure you – I’m working overtime on it. Corn fritters? I’m all over them.

All I can tell you is Armie’s a hell of a lot more persistent in my dreams than George Clooney ever was. In fact, if you’re reading this George – we’re through. You really can blow hot and cold. Sometimes I don’t see you in my dreams for weeks on end and then right out of the blue you’ll just pop up nonchalantly from under the blanket and expect me to pick up where we left off. Well listen up kiddo, there’s a new hunk on the block.

Honestly, Armie’s got great big hands that can get all over you. Given half a chance he’d knead you like a piece of pliable wet bread dough. In the middle of the night he’s got the ability to get me into positions I didn’t think possible. And here’s the best bit – he’s insatiable. Armie knows no exhaustion. He just keeps going on and on like a love machine so for two consecutive nights this week he just couldn’t seem to get enough of me. If pushed I’d say the feeling was mutual.

“You drive me totally insane,” said Armie, pulling back the sheets and tucking my heels neatly behind my neck. He told me just last night my chilli dip totally hit his spot. He’s making Guido sound like a right lazy bones in the sack – and that’s saying something. Especially if it’s a slow Tuesday in the kitchen and mayonnaise is on bulk buy at the market – if your catching my drift…

“Last night in the middle of the night when you shouted out – Give it to me Kemo Sabe – what exactly did you mean?” said Guido buttering my toast at breakfast time.

It was a tough one to try to explain away but just like Tonto I think I successfully covered my tracks.

”Maybe you should lay off those corn fritters just before bedtime,” said Guido, “I think they might be twisting your mind.”

So there’s a little bedtime homework for you folks on the fritter front. Get frying tonight. Oh, and please don’t forget, tell Armie I said Hello.

Looking, not touching

Guido and I spent Christmas at the farmhouse in Majorca. It was such a tonic to escape from the cold winter skies over London. It felt a little like Summer again. Guido would swim at the beach every morning and I’d wait for him at the Gran Café 1919. You can see the sea from there. And, as it turned out, it wasn’t the only thing to look at. The great thing about a warmer climate is, everybody takes more of their clothes off. You can probably guess where I’m going with this one.

Last Saturday morning I was quietly dipping an almond cookie into a cinnamon milk at the seafront. That’s when I clapped my eyes on an unexpectedly terrific set of biceps. They were sitting right next to me. They were bulging out from under the stitching of a white ribbed vest. It was one of those richly seminal moments in life which makes you put your glasses on. If I’d gotten out a measuring tape I reckon those beauties could’ve come close to the circumference of a generously proportioned Californian melon. It took all my self control not to reach out and check for ripeness. The best part of it all was they happened to be attached to a hairy arm with a barbed wire tattoo which belonged to a guy called Caleb. He had a dazzling smile. I didn’t know straight away Caleb was called Caleb. I only found that detail out when I struck up an utterly spontaneous conversation with him about his pancakes. That’s when I told him about the many varied and alternative uses possible for maple syrup. It certainly seemed to prick up his interest.

You’re probably thinking the premise of this whole post is based on my ongoing shallow objectification of men and their lithe torsos. And you’d be absolutely right. Some of you may think that’s wrong. Though I’m guessing your view could be skewed depending on what you do with maple syrup. Well, over the course of the following week I saw some terrific bodies. There’s too many to mention but here’s a stand-out few.

Carlos with the sizzling abdomen. Nils, from Sweden with by far the best washboard sexpack (his pronunciation not mine) this side of Stockholm. Mitch, who explained at great length to me about his overly developed pectoralis major. But, as it’s turned out, he’s never been able to achieve the same size with his pectoralis minor. Which has to be depressing for anyone. And finally; Miguel. The captain of a small local fishing boat. Here’s what I have to tell you about him. He had perfect buttocks. Outside the marina he showed me he had one leg marginally longer than the other. This could possibly explain why he walked like a penguin. Though it just goes to show if you’ve got a great ass nobody’s going to care much if you’re short of a few inches someplace else. There certainly appeared to be no anatomical reason for this to affect anything he did which involved a fish. Just in case you’re wondering.

But, I’m married. I only ever look at guys, never ever touch them. Thankfully I’m blessed with a husband I want to look at and touch. I just don’t think I’ve ever compared any of his muscles to a cantaloupe before.

Bad habits

Bad habits. I definitely know there are some of us who have more of them than others.

People (like me) have itsy bitsy tiny ones you’d barely even notice. They’re like a speck of moon dust up in the outer atmosphere of life. Then there’s other people (like Guido) who have great big ones the size of a space station orbiting earth. No matter how hard you try to ignore them they stubbornly refuse to burn up during re-entry.

There’s a hook on the back on our bathroom door and a steel ladder radiator for wet towels to dry out but Guido never hangs anything there. It must be one of the great mysteries of his life that after a soggy bath they miraculously pick themselves up and are back to hand the following morning to pat his face dry.

Need I mention underwear? Usually this blog will go into great, and I’ll admit gratuitous, description about how my husband and I peel our knickers off one another and then open a bottle of maple syrup just for the hell of it. But I can’t recall telling any of you how our boxer shorts eventually reach the Ali Baba laundry basket. Let me solve that one for you.

I put them in there.

It’s the same as when I replace the empty toilet roll holder, and close the dishwasher door.

Last night Ted and Gary and their super intelligent Jack Russell dog, called Brian, came over. Naturally I raised this in conversation with them.

“As far as I’m concerned the only person in our household with any bad habits,” said Gary, “is Brian.”

I looked at Brian and he looked at me. I could see this obviously came as a big surprise to him.

“He likes to chew a bone in our bed at the most inopportune of moments,” sniffed Ted.

Brian shook his head in complete disagreement but nobody seemed to notice. The whistle had been blown, as they say.

Later on our sofa (after I’d picked up the soggy towels, refilled the toilet holder and shut the dishwasher door) Guido and I sat on the sofa watching the sports channel. As usual, the remote control was strategically held between his legs in a vice like grip. I defy anyone to wrestle it free without the use of deep hypnosis or metal plyers.

“Can you believe Ted and Gary have no bad habits?” I said, “I mean, really!”

“None they were willing to tell you,” said Guido staring at the TV.

Poor Brian, I thought. I reckoned he was going to be far more careful where he chewed in future.

“At least you conceded I had none,” I said.

“Well, none I was willing to tell them,” said Guido. He had this annoying smirk on his face.

There was a long pause.

“I could have mentioned that you chatter on and on inanely for hours in bed after switching the lights out whilst I’m struggling to get some shut eye,” he said. “And you reveal intimate facts about our sex lives to persons unknown across the globe via your blog.”

There was another long pause.

I found myself thinking about the varied and diverse uses for maple syrup. Then I made a mental note.

I really must keep my mouth shut in bed.

At Guido’s table

When you live with a chef, sometimes, you can’t help but feel guilty. I think it’s something to do with all that relentless chopping and slicing and deglazing he does for me. Well, last night I thought, to hell with fricassee. Give the kid a break. Take over. Keep things simple but honestly nutritious.

“This is a genuine surprise,” said Guido laying the table nervously. “The last time you cooked it was definitely a meal to remember.”

And for all the wrong reasons folks.

I fastened on my apron with a fanfare like all the good chefs do.

”Oh don’t worry,” I said breezily, “I’m keeping things simple this time so thought we’d go for something really light – like a tomato soup.”

Guido sat down at the kitchen table. I could sense his anticipation.

“You know, the first item of furniture I ever bought was this table,” he said.

For some strange reason, he knocked wood.

“And a table seemed to me like the most important thing in my life. It talked to me. Food. Family. Friends.”

The first item of furniture I ever bought was a bed. Let me tell you it didn’t talk to me. And I wasn’t thinking of family or friends either, I was thinking about only one thing.

Hot Sex.

I was living in Camden at the time and I was dating an accountant called Coleman. He had a semi-detached house in Kensal Rise so we’d regularly rip each other’s clothes off in North London. I certainly don’t remember a lot of sleeping going on. Of course that relationship flatlined long before I’d met Guido. Which is a relief because if I’d written a blog about getting into bed with an accountant every night I’m guessing it wouldn’t be half as exciting as telling you about how Guido dips his crudités in the nude.

“I’m keeping this simple,” I said resting a tin of soup by the stove, “It’s a classic recipe… Heinz.”

I pulled back the ring pull and decanted the contents into a pan. I held it up and squinted at the instructions. Heat slowly and stir until hot. This sounded complicated. I was beginning to regret not going down the Chopped Salad route.

”Do you think you’ll be serving any accompaniments to go with it?” Guido asked hopefully.

I let out a sigh.

”Well, I was going to open a box of crackers,” I said, “but if you want to test me to my culinary limits I could try simultaneously buttering a bap.”

Honestly! What next, an Ox on a spit?

”Let’s stick with crackers,” said Guido smiling sympathetically. I guess it takes a chef to know pressure, with compassion.

“Voila!”

I poured the steaming soup into bowls and set one down infront of Guido. I watched him gingerly pick up his spoon and dip it in and then taste it.

“Well, what d’you think?” I asked.

He swallowed. He made a funny sucking sound with his tongue. He closed his eyes. He paused.

”You know, I think this might possibly be one of the best tins of soup I’ve had heated for me in my entire life,” he said.

I suggested whipping up something more exotic next week. Like a cheese on toast. But, Guido says I really shouldn’t try to run before I can walk.

A hole in my sock

This is what my blog has sunk to. Telling you about the state of my socks.

Well last night Guido and I were getting into our bed at Denmark Hill. The cafe downstairs was all closed up. The lights were switched off. The walk in freezer was making that annoying whirring noise like a jet engine on it’s final approach to the runway, and the street lamp outside our window had started flickering like a strobe. Honestly, it’s no wonder I’ve got insomnia.

As usual the only thing left to talk about with Guido before lights out was whether I’d flossed and if he was feeling horny.

”Why is it at this time of year when it’s cold outside you get into bed with more clothes on than you usually wear during daylight hours?” asked Guido. He’d flapped the blanket back waiting for me to climb into bed. “And will you hurry up please?”

Guido has this terrific ability to get under the sheets naked but still feel as warm as toast to the touch. He then heats up as the night wears on. It’s as if his internal thermostat has been cranked up at exactly the same time as mine has been switched to zero. If we get in there at midnight he’s all cosy and laid back but trust me, by three o’clock in the morning he’s metamorphosized into the human equivalent of a steam pipe.

”Hang on,” I said, “I’m still pondering what to wear.”

I already had my Justin Bieber pyjamas on. They’ve faded, and over the last twelve months I’ve lost two buttons from the jacket, but I’m still soldiering on. I reckoned I needed another layer so I wrapped a towelling bathrobe round me for luck.

“Ready?” Guido asked.

I could tell he’d lost interest in sex because he could work out how long it would take me to strip off again. Then, just as I pulled a sock over my icy foot, I stuck my big toe through the tip of it.

I let out a wail.

”Oh, what now for crying out loud?” said Guido sitting up again.

”I’ve just poked a hole through my sock.”

I said this in the same way a newsreader would announce a story about some horrible natural disaster.

”Well, just leave it sticking out like I do,” said Guido.

Whislt this sounded perfectly reasonable, in the dead of night it was going to be a constant distraction. There I’d be, waiting for sleep to wash over me, yet still having nagging thoughts my toe was at risk of frost bite. I kicked it off and got into bed with the other sock still on.

I’m really weird when it comes to socks with holes. I’ll throw out the bad one but keep the good. Which explains why we’ve a drawer full of singletons dreaming of the happy day when they’ll eventually be paired up again with a new and interesting partner. Only that never happens. Instead you’ll see Guido walking down the street blissfully unaware he’s got an Argyle golf sock on one foot and a candy stripe on the other.

I was going to tell Guido I thought our sock drawer was a metaphor for our lives – colourful, odd, messy, mismatched – but he was too busy pretending to be asleep.