So, back to our epic quest to get to Rookery Hall on that Friday. The Friday to end all Fridays. The Friday that I would have surrendered the riches of Croesus for. There was no other Friday, this was the Friday.
“Listen, you know next Friday? Can you do me a favour?
“What? Have the kids, so you can carry on with Robert Foster’s Mum?
“That’s ok Tom, take your time.
In the long and troubled history of Western civilisation, states of all political persuasions, be they democratic or totalitarian have all had their secret societies, covert agencies and department X’s. The KGB, FBI, the Stasi, even our own MI6. But of course, non of these clandestine organisations can hold a candle to the information gathering skills of the most frightening, most subversive most controlling group of them all – the playground mums.
We’d been spotted in the coffee shop in the precinct and the jungle drums immediately started to beat.
Imagine great big bubbles of gossip hanging over our parish “You’re Joking! Well I never! No better than she should be, he’s a fine one. Well I never did! (that’s enough gossip quotes, ed.)
Sarah was on the phone. “We’ve been rumbled. We’re the talk of the playground. If I get anymore women giving me a false smile I’ll start thinking I’m at an awards ceremony. What do you think Tom?”
My response was measured, concise and to the point. “I’m not really arsed.”
“You don’t care?
“If you want me to care then I will. I’m trying to care but to be honest, I’m just not feeling the hate. More to the point, I can’t get the kids minded on Friday.
“Oh well, that’s that then, it was a nice try.
“No, I’m going to have to try harder. I have come too far, I am not going to take this lying down. I’m going to ring the ex back
“And what are you going to do?
“I’m going to pull out my secret weapon. I’m going to steamroller her with the force of my iron will
“And what does that mean exactly”
“I’m going to beg.
Some men cross broken bridges to save their lady. Some heros rush into burning buildings. But I am made of stronger stuff. I was off on my hands and knees to plead. But I was determined that I would keep my head held up high at all times. And if that meant a slight crick in my neck, then so be it..
In the end she relented. I offered to have them for an extended period the following week. It’s terrible bartering over the time you spend with your kids. They get caught up in the mess. But most of the time I did what lots (but not all ) men do. Give in for a quite life.
I lost the battle, but won the war - Friday was on!
Or so I thought. Sarah rang back. Her ex was off the wagon. Again.
Vodka.... are you being nice to me because my name is 'Mucky', does it hold various imaginative connotations for you? Or is it just good old fashioned sarcasm?
Sarah split with her ex because of his drinking. The super-complex intenicine battles within the merry-go-round of a co- dependant relationship, where the unwelome third party is the covert bottle of booze, would exhaust the even the most stoical of partners.
Even though they were separated, Sarah still fretted over him. He was a good man, crippled by his demons. His undoubted intelligence seemed to weigh heavy on his shoulders. On the one hand aloof and distant, on the other craving normality and friendship; the quotidian tasks of modern life simultaneously beneath and beyond him.
Hannah was less and less inclined to stay over. He was becoming more and more erratic. The christmas tree still up in June, the bleached hair, the odd hours he kept and the company he fell in with.
Nevertheless, Hannah agreed to stay over. Rob was at his mates. We were set. Now there was no need to scuttle about, I called over to Sarah’s to pick her up. I pulled up outside. Ignoring the Tourette- like twitches from neighbour’s parochial parlour curtains, I rang her doorbell. She opened her door.
Well, be still my beating heart. Tell the bailiff of love to bring back my breath. A vision, a mirage of feminine beauty shimmered before me. (What do you mean I’m getting carried away?)
As I’ll ever be.
We set off. We sped through the Cheshire countryside. The corn fields bordered our road like a fantastic yellow brick avenue, on our way to our secret city. I should have felt elated, but something was niggling around the edges of my anticipation.
Are you ok?
Yeah fine, the sat nav says two minutes.
T minus two minutes and counting
Are you being funny?
No. What’s up?
Are you nervous?
Don’t flatter yourself
So she felt it too. Silence. We pulled up at the hotel.
Rookery Hall is late Georgian converted pile in the middle of Cheshire. It’s wide façade and original mullioned windows greet you as you crunch up the drive. We booked in. The friendly smile at the desk announced our upgrade to the superior room.
This room is more generous, and you get the bigger bed sir.
Sir, sir? Can you come back, your room key?
I had wandered off in the general direction of the broom cupboard without waiting for the means of ingress to said boudoir of carnal joy.
Sarah was looking away and out of over the fields. She couldn’t speak because she was too busy pissing herself laughing.
Dave the concierge showed us to our room. Tipped and thanked, he reversed out as obsequiously as he had entered. The heavy door clicked shut. I looked at the vast bed, with the myriad pillows lined up like little munchkins. I turned to Sarah. Her arms were already around my shoulders. We kissed.
Her phone rang.
“Hang on it might be the – hello? Ok sweetheart. Ok. Don’t worry.”
“She hung up.
“She doesn’t want to stay at his. She wants to come home. I can’t relax Tom. I’m sorry”
The early summer sky went black. Only one word would do.
So let’s pause Tom and Sarah c2005 once more and talk about something slightly more prescient.. Now, girls please be honest with me. I know what I am about to write about is bothering you all greatly. I know most of the threads on here have been on fire every time this subject has been posted. But here goes. On Saturday, on the big day, do you think we should leave Rooney on the bench or play him in the hole?
Seriously though, this post will have to be quick because the game kicks off at 9.
If someone told me what was involved in this wedding business before I saved the day (actually Tom, it’s save the DATE, ok??) I may have decided to go away to get married. (As in go away to the garden shed ) . That reminds me, I must relay a conversation I had last year with my beloved:
“So we have sent out the invites? Right that was easy enough.
“Save the date cards, yes.
“No! Save the date cards. The invitations are something else.
“Tom! I have told you, save the date is so that people are prepared, people can arrange things, make plans.
“Right, so if I say to Greg, ‘Listen mate, are you busy on Saturday 25th October next year ? And he says ‘I’m awfully sorry Tom, I’ve promised Rosie I’d creosote the fence ’ - the wedding’s off?”
“Don’t be funny. Save the date isn’t for that. Save the Date is so that people can check their diaries and wait.
“Wait? For what?
“For their invites
“But….if they get a card in the post saying when the wedding is, then is it not unreasonable to assume that they may in the future get in the post –
“An invitation? Yes of course.
“Why don’t we send out loads of these save the date cards and then not invite any of them?
“Why would you do that? That’s just a wind up.
“Yes…it would be a great wind up wouldn’t it?
“Tom, why don’t you save all that wind up business for when you go on your stag?
“Oh that’s a point, have you got that card for the dial a stripper service?
“Yes, here it is, they do discounts for the older staggerer. Anyway, here is the running total of our wedding thus far.
(Tom digests the cold hard numbers before him)
“What is our theme by the way?
“Up to now, it’s ‘Modern’, or possibly ‘Elegant’”
“Well looking at this running total, may I suggest a different theme?
“Which is ?
“Well I’ve got an even better theme for our wedding Tom
“And what’s that?
“Our wedding is going to have a Divorce theme?
“If you don’t stop being a mingebag, yes.”
Lets stop there Bridezillas because it’s 8.39pm. Right I haven’t got much time so listen up.
I have a mate of a mate who is serving in Afghanistan. He stepped on a mine. The hair trigger went ‘click’. His pal heard it and screamed, “DON’T FUCKING MOVE!!”. (The device only detonates if you step off it). His pal then spent the next three hours intricately slipping a zip tie through the tread of his comrade’s boot, then around the mine, thus keeping the trigger in place. He stepped off it and they ran like hell to safety. The interesting thing about that story is that the soldier who stepped on the mine remembered what raced through his brain when he knew the device was under his foot - his childhood
everyone he ever met, his family, his first job, his first girl, his first funeral, his whole life flashed before his eyes. It’s not a cliché, it really happens, that’s what you think about.
Back to Sarah’s angry repost. Divorce. For a tiny moment in time, life without her flashed through my head. No laughter, no love ,no companionship. A meaningless life, a life without purpose. Life without Sarah was no life at all.
I handed over my credit card and was more than happy to do it.
I guess that’s love folks.
I wonder what just went through the Brazilian players mind a few minutes ago as he scored an own goal?
I know you have done the wedding thing once before so seem to know when to give in, my hubby never learnt 'how much' and 'why' were not acceptable answers to wedding related matters!
sarahs got a can of that vanishing spray. she uses it when we have a row .
youve just crossed a line Tom!
Mingebag - Hahahahaha! Xx
what do you think will go through your mind when you are asked 'Do you Tom take Sarah?
as for wanting a troll of my own only if it's you darling!
I'll tell you exactly what will go through my mind
theres no way that was a penalty
Well, he won't be able to say anything.... through his sobs. I'm just presuming he's the emotional type....
Listen guys I have to be quick with this post because I have three eps of “Say yes to the Dress” to catch up on and I’ve lost count of how many “Don’t tell the bride” are on my planner. World cup? What World cup?
Anyway, back to Rookery Hall 2005. The phone went down. That was that. It had ended before it began. I stood at the window and stared out across the darkening fields. We didn’t speak for a few seconds then Sarah turned round and in a flat, determined tone said.
“Tom, why don’t you go down to the bar and have a drink? I’m going to make some calls.”
The look on her face was a look that I have, since 2005 grown to know and love. This look was one of, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”
I have a similar “Trust me, I know what I’m doing” face. Usually, when we are driving somewhere and Sarah is insisting that we are lost. Then, after driving past the same pub for the fourth time I sometimes put on my “I know what you're thinking but I never bought this stupid satnav anyway” face.
Then Sarah will fold her arms and put on her “I’m saying nothing” face. Then I will turn round and …
Ok, I know what your all doing, your all doing your “Get on with the story Tom!” faces.
Don’t you just love it when your partner takes control ? (stop it). I hadn’t known her for that long but I was getting to understand her personality. Shy but at the same time nobodies fool . A pragmatist. Give her a problem and she could sort it out. Although I had resigned myself to an early bath, I knew that if we were going to rescue the situation, Sarah could do it.
I sauntered down to the lounge – a cosy oak lined snug with high back leather chairs and dried flowers in the hearth. David, the guy who showed us to our rooms was behind the bar. I Leaned against the counter, flicked a toothpick into my mouth and ordered a shot of bourbon. I took a sip. It was bloody horrible.
David looked over to the door “The lady not joining us yet sir?”
“No she’s on the phone to her husband”
Now, I don’t know what face David pulled next, but it definitely wasn’t a “have a nice day” face.
“Well, ex husband, well when I say ex I mean soon to be, er..”
“I’m sure everything will be sorted out soon sir.”
I think that was waiter-speak for “You nasty little weasel”
I tried to make small talk but David turned his back on me and started slicing his lemons. The snap of the knife on the chopping board the only sound to puncture the terrible silence.
I Looked at my watch. I had been in the bar only seven minutes. It felt like seven hours. A middle aged couple strolled in hand in hand. David span round and with a simpering smile dripping from his lips said,
“And are you here to celebrate anything in particular sir?
“Yes, its our anniversary.
David glared over at me. “Oh isn’t that lovely? How romantic.” Then returned to his lemons
What do you do when you are alone in a bar without a smart phone to make you look like you’ve got loads of mates? Here were my options;
It was another ten minutes before Sarah reappeared. She sat down next to me and smiled.
“Are you going to just sit there or are you going to get me a drink?
“Why? Are we cool?
“As a cucumber. She’s gone to my Mum’s.
“What about –
“We wont hear from him again tonight. Trust me.
“Right so we having a drink or what ?
“Yes. Excuse me, can I see the menu?
David was over like a shot “Of course madam”
“Have we got time to order?
She put her hand on my leg. Don’t worry Tom, we’ve got all night.
I looked up at David, who smiled and gave me a wink.
And if you click on the link below you will find out what happened next
Ha, I can't believe you've got me clicking on youtube links!
Fingers crossed for Rob.
I remember my days of training to be a teacher with lots of fun memories and exciting times but the exams and waiting for results was a nightmare.
As a mum I've been through it all again with my son and have empathy for Sarah. We try to protect our children from being upset/hurt but at this stage all we can do is give support. Knowing Sarah I know she will give this to Rob.
I fully support your view regarding hair and shoes (post you replied to)
For me my hair has to be just right for any occasion, so much so that if it isn't then I'm not a happy bunny!
Shoes...well of course they have to be just right!
I have many shoes to go with different outfits, probably not paid the price that you paid for Sarah's but nevertheless they are important to me. It's not just a case of them being a specific colour but also the style, including heel height has to be right for the outfit.
So good to see a man appreciating how some of us feel about how we look. This is who we are.
Wow, just read the bit about your friend serving in Afghanistan. Amazing.
I can remember a friend from uni who slipped from rocks in to the sea and thought she was drowning. She too said that her childhood flashed before her.
In your last post, the link didn't work, so being resourceful I copied and pasted the link.
Hope I got the right You Tube link which was a firework display.
Suffice to say that after leaving the bar and going back to your upgraded room, there was activity which resulted in the feelings/sensations of a fantastic firework display
abbapanda thanks so much for uour comments xx
We have been doing some more Wedding planning. We have been discussing flowers.
“I was thinking Tom, should we get your mum a Corsage?”
“I think she’s quite happy with her Fiesta, to be honest.”
Sarah closed her eyes, let out a little sigh and moved onto the cake.
“Tom, I think we should have a sponge.”
“I thought you said Uncle Ken wasn’t coming?”
“Tom, do you realise how exhausting this is ? Please, can you be serious for five minutes?
“I’m trying, I’m really trying. Now, what’s next?”
“Favours. Now traditionally, they are sugared almonds, but I think we should be different .”
“I agree, how about buttered parsnips?”
At that point Sarah chose to leave the room, nearly taking the door off its hinges on her way out.
A pause. I ventured into the kitchen where I found Sarah scrubbing her Jersey Royals
“Right, let’s get these invites sorted. I have a mate who –
“Forget your mates Tom, the last time we left things to one of your mates look what happened. Remember the couch ?
She had a point. When we moved in together we needed a new settee. I had a mate who I had done a big favour for. He was forever thankful and promised to make us a couch in his workshop as a moving in present.
I annouunced our good fortune in the soft furnishings department of a leading retailer, just as Sarah plopped down on a soporific leather pouffe comfy enough to send even the most dedicated insomniac off to see the Sandman. She bounced up and down on the soft, forgiving hide and pleaded, “Tom, this is a display item, it’s only £450 . Sit on it, it’s lovely.”
“Listen, Gordon is making one for us, and that’s free, so we have no need of this.” She eased her self back off the leather.
The problem with favours is that when they don’t arrive, you feel like a complete heel for getting on to the donor. “Listen Gordon, how is the settee coming along?
“Hi Tom, I’ve not forgotten, the lads have been pulled out the place so can you bear with me?
“It’s ok, if you’re busy it’s not problem, we can just go and buy one.
“No don’t be doing that, I owe you fella . It’s on its way, like I say, just bear with me”
I reported back to sofa HQ
“Well? Where is it?
“He owes us big time and can we bear with him?
“I don’t want to bear with him thank you. When I go into DFS and point at a sofa the salesman doesn’t say, ‘ I owe you big time and can you bear with me?’ does he?”
“He might. If there’s a Christmas rush..
“Look, ring him back and tell him if it’s not here before Monday I’m just going out to get my own.
Monday came and so tragically, did Gordon’s sofa.
Have you ever tried to get cosy on a park bench? I’m not saying that you might be a tramp, but maybe if you’ve fallen on hard times? But anyway, a park bench would have been comfier than the iron girder that Gordon and his chinless nephew turned up with. After playing the “to you, to me” game for twenty minutes they finally managed to jam it into our front room. I plopped down onto the shiny leather. My back was sore for a week after. It’s now In my cousins allotment shed. I think he hides his bourbon in it.
Anyway, the invitations. I had already asked another friend’s sister to do a mock up for us. I presented it proudly to Sarah. She glanced at it as she was rearranging the knife drawer
“Aww, that’s sweet, has your little niece done us a pretend invite? Aww. Look at the litte ribbon.”
“No these are our actual invites, my mate’s sister –“
The card was out of my hand and in the bin quicker than you can say Save The Date.
In the end, Sarah got the invites off Deb at beehappydesigns.co.uk and everyone loves them.
So that was the invites. Now for the dress. Now that was something that i was happy to stay out of. Although nothing and no one could have prepared me for the story of "The Dress"
A story that would have more ups and downs than a Ronaldo free kick. How did I know that a roll of silk chiffon would bring about a near nervous breakdown?
The invites look stunning!
My invite has "pride of place" on our focal shelf, for all to see and admire. x
you're very sweet x
I am a one off, an aberration, a freak of nature. In all honesty - and I make no bones about this - I think I am unique. "And why do you think that Tom?” I hear you cry
I am all of the above and more because I must be the only straight bloke in Britain to have sat through every single episode of “Say Yes To The Dress!” on TLC.
It all started one evening when I was sorting out my Sky planner. I am, it has to be said, ruthless with my yellow button. “What’s this rubbish? Who’s put this crap on series link? Emmerdale? That’s going. Say yes to the dress! ? Well you know what–
It was at this point in the evening that Sarah recreated a fight scene from flying daggers hidden dragons “ or whatever it's called. She raced into the lounge in her stocking feet and launched herself at me, yelling in slow motion as she span three foot above the settee - “Noooooooooo!.”
The remote and my brew were sent flying as her open palm sliced through the air.
She landed in a heap next to me. She brushed her hair away from her face and smoothed down her blouse
“Er keep those darling if you don’t mind.
“…ok” I trembled.
“Thank you. I’ll tell you what, why don’t we watch one now?”
“Well can we just have a quick look at the European Cup Final instead? Just see how Real Madrid are doing in their quest for La Decima?
Sarah wiped the tea off the remote. “Oh not more football. Now, what do you think of that style of dress?”
I stared at the screen. There seemed to be some American women lost in a kind of interior fluffy snowstorm. I put my glasses on. A chubby lady hiding inside a giant meringue was stood on a plinth whilst her in laws sobbed.
I turned to Sarah, “What, in the name of all that is holy, is this?”
“Say Yes to the Dress? It’s about brides to be choosing what to wear on their big day.
“What do you think of that one?
I looked at the screen. I looked at Sarah. I looked at the screen again
“Er, well, a lovely hourglass figure like hers would be better suited to a fishtale.”
Sarah looked at me agog.
“I know you don’t think I listen darling, but I have been paying attention.
Sometimes getting in touch with your feminine side has unexpected benefits.
But the quest had only just begun....