The better half likes to sleep late when she can. I will be working away in the morning, preparing Notes for the director of one of our successful TV series perhaps, just in earshot, and I will hear her lovely voice:
This morning I was working on another new project, Bunanza! This is an exciting one. Someone pointed out to us that there was a gap in the television schedules. There are no series that are competitions for members of the public who like to bake: cakes, buns, bread and so on. There is Masterchef, of course, but that’s for cooking generally; there’s nothing just for baking. I see two judges, they said, and someone to introduce it, bond with the competitors and so on; I see a lesbian comedian, to make to edgy, less WI. The judges throw out the useless ones and the lesbian comedian sympathises with them.
And that was when I had my brainwave. Not a lesbian comedian, I said, but Dame Jenni ™ Murray. You can’t get more cutting edge than Dame Jenni ™ Murray. Everyone of course agreed at once and the lawyers are in touch. Bunanza! is already fast-tracked to the nation’s heart.
I was engrossed in annotating the script for a ‘rap’ which Dame Jenni ™ is, lawyers permitting, to make about gender bias in baking, and I’m afraid to say that the better half had to shout twice:
Is anyone making my tea?
This was a rhetorical question. There is only me and the dog, and the dog for all his very positive and indeed inspirational qualities cannot make tea, not having an opposable thumb.
She has it black and I wait to have my first cup of the day with her; mine is green. I hurried up the staircase with two steaming cups, some dried fruit for her and two pickled eggs for me. I was still excited about Dame Jenni ™ and the buns and I started to tell the better half about it all as I entered the bedroom. She was on the phone, however, so I sat on the bed and waited for her.
It was one of her regular callers.
The better half is slightly hard of hearing at present, a persistent niggle with her sinuses, and the caller was having to speak up, to the point that he was quite audible from the other side of the matrimonial pillow.
Are you wearing a bra?
A bra. Are you wearing a bra?
What! I can’t hear a word you say.
Are … you … wearing … a … bra?
Don’t be so silly, Thumper. Of course not. I’m in bed.
A little sigh escaped him and he hung up.
Why do you call him Thumper, I asked once, or is that his real name?
There are such strange noises on the line whenever he calls me, she said. It must be his phone. I think he needs a new contract.
Of course the better half knows perfectly well what Thumper is up to. Where we differ is whether it is right for him to do it in our bed.
It’s good for him, she says, not answering my point and moreover taking a diametrically opposed view to that generally held not so long ago, when it was thought to lead to insanity, blindness and an early grave. Of course in those days there were no mobiles and that may make a difference.
Who is he, I persist. Have you met him?
Not so far as I know.
Why don’t you just hang up then?
She looked at me in disbelief.
That would be rude.
I changed the subject gracefully.
Are these pickled eggs Waitrose? They don’t half repeat.
She gave me to understand that she pickled my breakfast eggs herself. She said a little sharply that she was surprised that I hadn’t noticed her doing so in our kitchen, so I changed the subject again.
The dog is much improved. He has finished his course of anti-biotics and we now mix his ‘intestinal’ hard bits judiciously with regular hard bits. He no longer pauses to catch his breath on the stairs. However, the stress of his illness seems to have taken its toll on his mental powers.
In the bedroom, we have a wooden figure of Christ on the cross. It is Sixteenth Century from Spain and I inherited it from the painter Carel Weight. At some point in its long life it has become scorched, and another friend guessed, fancifully or not, that someone condemned to be burnt at the stake by the Spanish Inquisition was clutching it at the moment of his death. So it is an object full of resonance even to sceptics who question the literal truth of the Resurrection.
Yesterday I came across the dog standing over this piece and growling.
So, I said to the better half, changing the subject again, the dog has always, like you, been inclined to question the literal truth of the Resurrection, but this is a step change. I see the hand of our Great Enemy here.
The same. I think he’s been turned to the Dark Side.
She thought for a moment.
The vet will be no help, spiritually.
No. I’ll have a word with Father J. He may be able to exorcise the dog.
Not before the daughter’s wedding though.
No. One thing at a time.