My secret to a happy marriage

According to the actor Michael Caine the secret to a long and happy marriage is two bathrooms.  Unfortunately Guido and I have one and boy is it cramped.  I’m honestly not sure how Michael and his wife would cope in it.  I reckon they’d be filing for a divorce on the grounds of claustrophobia within a week.  There’s a sink and a shower unit and a bath with a spray attachment sticking out the top and that’s about it.  The water pressure in the London Bridge area is so extreme that when you turn the spray up it springs into life all on its own.  Every morning I’m like Mowgli from The Jungle Book shampooing my hair with a lively python. 

But, The Michael Caine Bathroom Problem is nothing compared to what’s suddenly developed around here, and what I‘m now referring to technically as, The Michael Caine Toothbrush Problem. 

I have four toothbrushes.  I know what you’re thinking.  They’re propped up by the window in a mug which has a smiley face on the side of it with the words “keep smiling and drop one.”  I have no idea what that means.  My brushes are colour coded for ease of reference.  Hard, medium, soft, and, a funny round spiky one which gets straight to the root of my problems.

About a week ago Guido dropped his Bugs Bunny shaped toothbrush down the tiny crack where the bath panel almost meets the tiled wall.  This gap is what I affectionately call, the black hole of Calcutta.  Items near it get mysteriously sucked into a vortex, never to be seen or heard of again.  I honestly think if I stuck a telescope up there NASA would probably discover a tenth planet made of old bits of soap, Dead Sea salt granules, and discarded Tom Ford face pack sachets.  

Sane people who misplace a toothbrush would go straight to the pharmacy and buy another one.  But regular readers of this blog will by now know, Guido is not in any way predictable.  Apparently it’s, why buy when you can borrow? around here now.  If Guido had bothered to tell me this change to house rules I’d have been liberally spritzing my boxers with his Givenchy.   Instead, there I was, squinting in the mirror at my reflection and swilling out Listerine when I got a very nasty shock.  I detected an unsightly blob of blue Gel on my pink polka dot Medium bristle brush – AND I HADN’T SQUEEZED IT ON THERE MYSELF.  Call me Sherlock. The shock literally made me gasp which is a bit of a problem if you have a mouthful of mouthwash at the time.  Oh and if you start to choke alone, here’s a little tip, don’t bother trying to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on yourself because it doesn’t seem to work.   

 I very much doubt that Michael Caine has the time to read this blog.  He’s probably far too busy filming a blockbuster or having a long soapy soak in his own tub someplace in Beverly Hills.   Nor do I expect that he actually personally suffers from a Michael Caine Toothbrush Problem as his wife will already have a toothbrush in her bathroom.  But if he is reading this I want him to know that Super Drug were all out of Bugs Bunny so Guido and his wife will have to make do with Minnie Mouse. 

In a relationship there do have to be some compromises you know.

 

Desparate measures

No matter how hard I try, posts on this blog will inevitably contain the following sentence – “last night Guido and I were in bed.”

Last night Guido and I were in bed. 

Earlier, Guido had torn open the cafe’s gas and electricity bills for the Autumn period. We got a nasty shock because it involved a lot of big black numbers infront of pound signs.  Our reaction?  What else.  We both shared a quadruple brandy and took immediately to bed.  And so we lay there, under the duvet, with the central heating thermostat turned to a notch so low it was rendering the boiler completely redundant. Only one bedside lamp burned for essential light.  This, I thought, is what it would be like if South London got invaded by those Living Dead Zombies and fuel resources were being rationed by evil vigilantes with oil drums on street corners. Guido and I would have no choice but to while away our evenings barracaded indoors with nothing else to do but have imaginative sex for hours on end.  Exhausting, yes, but a hell of a lot more entertaining than rubbing two twigs together in the dark.  

I pressed my icy cold toes on Guido’s warm hairy thighs.  He was propped up on a pillow wearing a black woollen balaclava.  You know the kind.  The sort you’d pull on to avoid CCTV if you were in the process of car jacking or robbing a bank.

“What can we do to turn The Spanish Onion into a food haven that will have customers flocking here?  Oh, and make us a whole shed load of money too,” said Guido.

“Well,” I said, “One of my blogging friends just wrote a post about delicious food from Roman times.   Maybe you could plan one of your famous themed nights in the cafe. Hey! Let’s insist toga wearing is compulsory for customers.”  

He thought for a moment.  “A toga?  In Bermondsey?  In the middle of Winter?” said Guido, “that’s plain ridiculous.” 

“That’s what Blogger Larry Muffin said!” Hmm.  Et tu Guido.  Okay so togas were out. Though I did think being picky about wearing an old curtain was a bit rich coming from somebody with a hat on in bed. 

“I read about a restaurant in London where diners eat totally in the dark.  Apparently it heightens their experience of the food.”  I sensed Guido thought I was clutching at straws.   Which of course I was.

Delivering food in the dark would certainly be a challenge for our waiters. They had enough trouble getting plates on tables when they could see what they were doing, let alone with the lights out.  And, it could save us a fortune on electricity.  But, okay so now dining in pitch black was out too.  What was I, made of ideas?

“I guess we’ll just have to pray baked potato sales stay buoyant through February,” said Guido optimistically.  Yet again our lives hinged on a stuffed King Edward.

I wondered if The Living Dead had any preference between a baked potato over a sandwich and if they did what their favourite filling would be and what  bread type they’d choose.

“Just for the record.  Would you ever seriously consider having sex with a deranged Zombie?” I said.  

I heard Guido sigh as he switched out the lamp.  He rolled on top of me.  

“Just for the record,” he said, “I thought I already was.”

Hot water

Our friends Gary and Ted came round last night.  As you know we usually play cards,  gamble and have a bitch.  But January’s a pretty lean month so, no poker.  Instead we ate nuts and olives and drank a whole lot of wine.  It felt like four friends on a double date only without the pressure for any of us to have gymnastic sex later.  Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  

We also got to talk about important social burning issues.  Like those pictures of Daniel Radcliffe’s stomach muscles and whether they’d been digitally enhanced.  Oh and, a lot of detailed discussion about whether Gary should have a back, sac, and crack wax.  Let’s not go there. 

“Imagine,” said Guido, “you just happen to own a small cafe.  Picture it.  A customer you’ve never seen before comes in and sits down in one of your booths.  All he orders is a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon.  Would you bill him, and if you would, how much?”

“A dilemma,” I said, “but if you remember we went to The Garrison Pub last week and I ordered a soda water and they didn’t charge me – and it had ice and a slice in it too.  So I reckon this should definitely be free.” 

“Yeah,” said Guido, “but if you also remember you bought me a Scotch and Coke at the same time and we got stung for almost £10.  You complete dummy.”

“Of course I’d charge,” said Ted.  “If he’d gone to Starbucks I reckon it would’ve been called Aqua with Lemontine and cost at least £2.50.  And a real slice of lemon would’ve been extra.”  Now you know why Ted is a successful banker who works on the London Stock Exchange and has a home in Pimlico.  

“This guy sounds like one of my grasping passengers who expects to be served free champagne even on a short flight,” said Gary dismissively. “I mean.  On a flight to the Isle of Man?  I mean.  On a turbo prop?  Would you just get real people.” 

Personally I never board an aircraft which hasn’t got a bar. So, I see nothing wrong with asking a flight attendant for free champagne, even if my knees are cramped.  Hell, I’d even ask for a packet Kettle Crisps.

“What would Mother Teresa do?” I said.  Everyone ignored me.

“My cafe wouldn’t be a soup kitchen, I’m thinking lots of French mirrors and an antique candelabra,” said Gary, “£2.00 is reasonable.”

“Is it snowing outside this hypothetical cafe and is this man ninety years old with leaking boots?”  I asked.  Everyone ignored me.  

“Business is business,” said Ted opening another bottle.  By the way, we never play him at Monopoly.

“You didn’t say what you’d do,” I said to Guido in bed later.  

“Oh I’d have given it for free,” said Guido, “but on the way out I’d remind him that we usually always charge and could I recommend a hot latte and pumpkin pie on his next visit.”  This probably explains why The Spanish Onion is always packed full of such odd people.  But I was glad we were both on the same page.  

I remembered my first visit to the cafe and how Guido had given me a free ciabatta.  I came back for more.  In fact within the week I was sleeping with him which just goes to show what I’ll do for a good chicken sandwich.  

I switched out the lamp and lay there trying very hard not to think about Gary having his crack waxed.  Honestly, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

Random thoughts on a bicycle

When I had eye surgery in mid-December my Doctor told me to avoid vigorous exercise of any kind.  Really?  I could’ve  kissed him.  It’s been a wonderful excuse these last few weeks to lay on the old couch in my shorts eating a worrying amount of Oreos.  Of course that was purely for medicinal purposes.  Didn’t you know?  Cookies aid recovery.  The Health and Safety Executive should issue an immediate dictat saying there must now be a biscuit included in every first aid kit.  You never know when you might need to nibble on one in an emergency.  As you can tell I’ve had a lot of thinking time.  I’ll probably be writing to the Prime Minister to suggest that supplies of caramel wafers should be handed to out patients every where.  I reckon it could save the National Health Service a fortune.  

When I’m not working, doing absolutely nothing is my favourite past time.  I never tire of staring into space.  I think it’s all those years being stuck in traffic jams on London transport.   However, something weird started to happen a couple of weeks ago.   I got, what some people call, bored.   When you know you shouldn’t be doing anything, that’s exactly the time you really want to do something.  It’s like scratching that itch.  So when I was alone I’d get out the vacuum and run the Hoover over the rug.  Spraying the bath with Cif No Rinse cleaner has been an odd but surprising pleasure.  One afternoon I even scrubbed the grill pan.  I’ve had to keep all of these activities completely under wraps.  Guido has been enforcing the “no exercise” rule with vigour.  He’s even started making the bed for me – sometimes I am still actually in it.    

Last night I lay on the sofa watching him kick boxing and karate chopping thin air.  It’s part of his New Year fitness regime.  Meanwhile I opened a packet of salted popcorn.  I figured any I dropped could possibly be a cathartic cleaning session between the sofa cushions later.  Had my life really sunk to that?  Apparently, yes.  

“I miss the invigorating high of fresh air and a brisk walk whilst simultaneously pushing other Londoners out of my way,” I said.  And I really meant it.  

“Hmm… Okay,” said Guido, “I’ve had an idea.”  He told me to get dressed and meet him at the front door in ten minutes.  “But do it slowly.  I don’t want you doing anything which constitutes exertion.”    

I slipped my duffle coat on over my Justin Bieber pyjamas and found Guido standing outside on the pavement next to his mountain bike.  He patted the saddle.

 “Get on,” he said.  

Before I knew it Guido was pumping the pedals.  We shot off down the street.  We crossed London Bridge at eye popping speed but I had air in my lungs   again.  Yippee!  I recall passing Mansion House and Charing Cross Station.  The London Eye came into blurred view with the familiarity of the South Bank.  I could see Guido’s man bun bobbing frantically up and down.  It started rain.  I didn’t care.  It started to hail.  I didn’t care.  We got soaked.  I didn’t care.  It felt terrific.  

Back at the loft Guido ran a hot soapy bath and we both hopped in it together.  Later in bed with the lights out I put my head on his chest and could hear his heart thump slowly.  I had one of those dizzy moments we all get from time to time.  That one where you feel, happy.  

Remember it?  The one where you just thank God you feel so alive.

A survey

I’m conducting a survey. It’ll be quick and painless and hopefully you’ll be getting involved in a terrific social experiment with diverse people from all around the globe.  Or possibly just the usual handful of devoted regulars who kindly read my blog and post highly thoughtful comments on it.  The survey includes one simple question to ponder about sleeping arrangements but don’t worry it definitely isn’t what you might be thinking.  Though it does involve a double bed.  

Okay here goes.  

If there were two people in this imaginary double bed which is part of my imaginary social experiment, and one of those people just happened to be you, then which side of the bed would you be sleeping on?  

Feel free to be be wearing bed clothes whilst visualising this, although that is not in any way obligatory.  Strip off totally nude if you like.  It’s entirely up to you but I can already guarantee that one person who routinely reads this blog willl have on bed socks.  

Stick with me the scientific bit is next.  

The reason I’m asking you is because yesterday I just happened to be reading an article in a tattered copy of Mens Health magazine in my Doctor’s surgery waiting room.  It categorically said that if you chose to sleep on the right hand side of the bed then it was a general sign that in life you were a complete and utter bossy boots.

“I’m guessing my dear,” I said in a cheery manner in the direction of the receptionist (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Miss Trunchbull), “that you almost certainly sleep on the right hand side of the bed.” Her look was withering.  I may have to wait a very long time for my next eye check up.

Later over meatballs I thought I’d broach the subject with Guido.  

“I want you to think long and hard about this question before you answer it,” I said, “but, do you think I’m bossy?”

“Yes,” said Guido barely taking a breath.  He stuck a slice of white bread into his gravy to mop it up.  As gravy goes, his was pretty damn good.

“What I’m saying,” I said, “is, would you say that I’m overbearing?”

“Yes,” said Guido without another moment’s hesitation.  

I called my mother.  She is the bossiest person I know.  She puts the freak into control freak.

“Hi, it’s me ,” I said. “I’m just calling to confirm you still sleep on the right hand side of the bed.”  I don’t like to think about my parents in bed together. It’s too horrible to contemplate.  From my recollection their nocturnal habits historically involved a hair net and a tube of moustache wax.  I hung up.  

I called my assistant Toby, who I think was actually in bed at the time.  I could hear him tossing his blanket.  

“What side of the bed are you laying on,” I asked.  Not surprisingly there was a long and tentative pause.

“I alway go straight up the middle,” he said.  This introduced a third and exciting option.  

I guess you may be wondering where I fall on the mattress with this one.  And, it may surprise you when I tell you that Guido sleeps on the right hand side of our bed and I sleep humbly on the left.  Though I reckon I do creep over to the other side in the middle of the night.  

I’ve got a terrific incentive to do so. 

Turkey, with eye drops

I have to share something very important with you. Trust me, you never know when you might need this one.  Here are my top five thoughts to think about if you just happen to be getting wheeled backwards into an operating theatre and want something to occupy or distract your attention. 

1. Why are white chocolate chip cookies invariably more soggy in the middle than regular chocolate chip cookies?  2.  Who is DonaldTrump’s hairstylist? 3. Pink jacket and orange shirt combo, fashion triumph or potential iaughing stock? 4. Why do Japanese fisherman find rare and beautiful sea creatures then have an overwhelming compulsion to bludgeon them to death?  5. Is it unethical to be sexually attracted to your anaesthetist?  Just to explain number five in a bit more detail.  Mine was called Pavel.  He comes from Poland.  He seemed a really bright and interesting guy.  He did have great hands.  In fact if any of you ever need an injection in your eyeball I’d say he is your go to guy.  

Christmas was naturally a complete blur.  Guido and I  take a diplomatic approach to sharing time between our parents each year.  Last year we went to my parents for Christmas.  Dining there is like eating in a monastic refectory.  The pickings are slim.  I remember looking down at the pile of bones on my plate and thinking a dingo must have already come for supper.  So, fortunately we went to Rosa and Juan’s this year.  They’ve never heard of the expression less is more.  

When we arrived in their kitchen on Christmas morning I felt just like Mr Magoo did.  I could almost make out the profile of  their two little bodies and a frighteningly large dark matter on the work top.

“Ez the turkee,” said Juan.  That isn’t a typo it’s the way he talks.  The turkey was the size of a Fiat 500.  “Ez 18 lbs,” said Juan.  I let my fingers fumble their way round the minute dimensions of Rosa and Juan’s oven door.  It felt like the opening on a letter box. 

“It’ll never fit,” I said.  

“Eet weel feet,” said Rosa.  That isn’t a typo either it’s the way she talks.  “Eef dee Romans can build the Colliseum then we can roast theez turkee.”

“Fine,” I said, “then all we’ll need are 5000 pagan slaves to help us out and it’ll be cooked before the Queen’s speech.”

Six hours later I was feeling more stuffed than that poor bird.  Rosa poured coffee and got out the fortune cookies.  I cracked mine in half and handed the little strip of paper inside it to Guido to read out.  

“You Will Marry A Very Rich Man,”  he said frowning.  That was probably being optimistic as I know Guido’s bank balance hovers around zero.

Back home in bed I lay there with chronic indigestion.

“Does it bother you that I’m not rich?” he asked.  I fleetingly visualised myself having hot sex in a sunken marble bath with gold taps and an unidentifiable  Russian oligarch.    

“Of course not,” I said, “money can’t buy you love.”  

But listen, any millionaires out there who can bake a decent souffle, and are remotely interested in a guy with temporarily having vision in only one eye, be aware, you could jump directly to second in line in my marital queue.