You know what it’s like when the family’s grown up and you have the house to yourself and peace to watch a detective film without a son barging in (several times) to ask where you keep the butter and can he have three slices of bacon so you miss the denouement? Explaining to him that denouement means the whodunnit is pointless as he’s already off on his “tablet” wearing earphones the size of a Second World War pilot
Well, just when you’ve got used to that peace and quiet the phone rings and he’s needing to hole up with you for a week or so and love him though you do, your heart sinks.
First stop will of course be the supermarket as he is now on his gluten and fat-free diet. You will have to scan the packages for the small print when the word “wheat” consigns it back to the shelves. It’s easier buying for the cat, who’s just as choosy in his own way.
Next you must brace yourself for the picnicking which will take place on the rug in front of the fire and the telly. The channel switcher has also been repossessed by him as have half the cushions from the sofa now propping him and his meal up on the floor.
The fridge is soon cleared of produce and next it is the freezer. After all he is burning all those calories as he cycles to and from work leaving the muddy bike in your narrow hallway as evidence. And where did all the milk go? Actually the same way (not quite) as the toilet roll. Liberally applied. Of course, he leaves one leaf of toilet roll for you as then, technically, it is not fully used and it is your job to replace it.
Staying in the bathroom, he occupies it for what seems hours and when he emerges you enter Amazonian rainforests as moisture runs freely everywhere. Good for the orchids not so good for the walls and windows. That is unless he has jammed the one window wide to let in gale force winds (this you discover later as you shiver by the radiator). The sodden towel is left where it fell on the floor among the pools of water.
As you go up to bed, ready to drop off to the evening news bulletin, he meets you on the stairs, coming down. Eleven o’clock and he is off for a night on the town with the words not to wait up for him. You don’t but can’t sleep listening as the hours chime past and you have only just dropped off when you hear a noisy key seeking the keyhole with the words “Are you awake?” Your words “I am now” miss the target.
Breakfast of course is well into midmorning as you find yourself grilling the bacon, poaching the eggs and serving it up on gluten-free toast.
His yesterday clothes are already on the line outside. Then one glorious day, he meets his match, his love match and before you can say “gluten free” he is off for good being a husband and father. But, you know what, when the chips are down for you, he is there to lean on and you can write about the shambles and chaos he brought to your comfy life, and smile.
Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale