My husband always works hard, but during October and November, he tends to be particularly busy attending exhibitions, occasionally on Saturdays, and anywhere in the country. On such days, he may need to set off at 6am or 7am. He can be late home, or he may have to stay overnight. On a normal day, when he is going to the office, he leaves the house at 8am and returns at 7.30pm. It generally takes him an hour to get to work, but it's not unusual for the journey to take longer if there has been a road accident, for example. One morning last week there were 2 road accidents and his journey lasted for 5 hours.
Last Thursday afternoon, my weekly email to my student son was interrupted, when I received a telephone call from a friend I hadn't seen for a while. It was quite late by the time I had caught up with my friend's news and finished my email, but I realised that I would still have to go to the supermarket, as we had nothing for our evening meal. I wasn't feeling well and I suspected that I had man 'flu. It had obviously crossed the species barrier, and now that I had caught it, I finally understood that it was no laughing matter. The colour of my nose could only be compared to that of Rudolph's, and, at my age, I had certainly never expected to be this close to death's door. I decided that it was safer not to drive in my current fragile state. It was a 10 minute walk to the shops. I could drag myself there, and get an ambulance back if necessary.
On arriving at the supermarket, I headed for the fresh fish counter, but suddenly remembered that my husband was meeting some friends for a meal. It occurred to me that I could buy a ready meal for my son and myself. It would be quick and easy to do in my current ailing condition. I glanced around furtively. I couldn't afford to be seen by any of my friends in the process of buying convenience food. The majority of them were already immersed in Christmas food preparation. Some were clearing the supermarket shelves of dried cranberries, after pouring over stuffing recipes in the Good Food Magazine and others were buying nibbed almonds and cognac in anticipation of making Christmas puddings.
I examined the 'as good as eating out' range of ready meals on the chilled food shelf, choosing a poached salmon and pasta dish. My husband disliked salmon, so it was an ideal opportunity for my son and myself to enjoy it in his absence. I picked up a small tin of vegetables and put it in my basket, covering both items with 5 healthy portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, in case I bumped into anyone I knew. After 27 years of living in the South, I was beginning to understand how to fit in here. Never give anyone the opportunity to feel superior. They will always take advantage of it. I made a dash for a checkout manned by no-one I knew and within a few minutes I was heading outside, to be swallowed up by the darkness.
My son and I decided to dispense with formality and we ate our meal, sitting on the sofa, whilst watching our favourite tv programme - That 70s Show. (Hooray for Sky TV!) Naturally, we only watch it when there is nothing good on the History Channel or the National Geographic.
We both agreed that our ready meal was delicious. I perused the cardboard sleeve after we had eaten, wondering which zingy additives had made the food so tasty. I couldn't find any listed, but the red circles on the front of the sleeve, denoted that the meal was high in saturated fat. That explained a few things then.
As we sat on the sofa, chatting, I heard the front door open and realised that my husband had, seemingly, arrived home early. I clapped one hand to my mouth and stared at my son, with mounting horror, mingled with the vaguest tinge of amusement. 'I've got the wrong night!' I said. 'Dad's going out tomorrow night, not tonight!'
Fortunately, my husband saw the funny side of it, or at least he said that he did.
A good bit of gossip
13 hours ago