Things have been a tad tetchy in the household as of late. Eggshells are being walked on, petted lips are being soothed and feathers remain carefully unruffled.
It’s like living in a remote Cold War Soviet-era missile bunker, just waiting for the other side to kick off, with nothing to listen to but The Archers on the BBC World Service.
Yes, things are tense. He’s given up smoking and I’m on the Cambridge Diet. The cat’s a wreck – and for good reason, as you will discover.
The husband is bedecked with patches and has taken to poring over a book about not smoking. It’s become a sort of biblical text to be quoted from frequently. I’m surprised that the family haven’t been summoned to hear readings from the Sacred Book every four hours.
There’s a spray. I don’t know what it does, but I know it doesn’t kill spiders. Well, not unless you hit them with the canister.
But the main thing is he has stopped smoking. He used to make a strange sort of racking noise in the mornings, like a 1956 Morris Minor turning over on a cold day, but he doesn’t now. He had this sort of grey/blue effect under his eyes but that’s gone now too, which is a shame because I was thinking of doing the hall in that shade.
Then there’s the snoring, which was a regular reason for the British Geological Survey to call up saying: “We’ve recorded a 5.3 on the Richter, Susan. Any ideas?”
“Yeah, sorry, it’s himself. Should have called you earlier, I’m registering major seismic activity in the glass of water beside the bed.”
That’s stopped as well.
Started, though, is DIY on a scale which can only be described as epic. I had failed to spot that we really, really needed shelves. Everywhere. Stand still and the man will nail you to the floor, give you a brisk sanding down and finish you off with two coats of varnish which, given my wrinkles, isn’t a bad thing.
My husband doesn’t smoke now. I’m utterly chuffed. Those shelves will come in handy one day, I’m sure.
Post box confusion shows diet needs a shake-up
ON a rainy day on Great Junction Street, whilst clad in my trusty red sailing jacket with my hood raised against the deluge, an elderly lady with myopia shoved a letter into my eyes, in the mistaken belief that I was, in fact, the post box.
Small, squat and scarlet is not a good look at any age.
Now, I am utterly rubbish at diets. Like a lot of women, whilst I shy like a startled thoroughbred at the mere sight of a Mars Bar, I’ve convinced myself sparkling white wine is a calorie-free zone, like soda water. Well, they look roughly similar.
So before I reach the stage where a Channel 4 documentary team follows me about, drastic action is demanded.
I’ve gone on one of those mad diets that involve shakes. I didn’t realise I was the one who’d be doing the shaking. I suppose it burns more calories. . .
Sully’s started sulking since Gertie skulked onto the scene
For some time, Sully the cat has been the master of the household. He is a pedigree, you know. He knows.
He was a deeply satisfied cat. He strolled round the house like a senior civil servant content that he has a secret safely kept from the minister.
Until last weekend.
A cataclysm has ripped Sully’s world apart. Her name is Gertie. She is a coal black kitten with no respect for pedigrees, breeds, or older cats called Sully.
She is a moggy, and they fight their corners. Two hissing matches in and it’s two-nil to Gertie.
Seton was original gallant sea captain
A man in the queue asked me if I knew the origin of the seafaring tradition of women and children first. It’s been in the news a lot recently. . .
None of you believed that, did you?
OK, I told the queue. Matters maritime are my bag, man, I love to share and it’s Leith, you don’t need an excuse to start talking.
A troopship, HMS Birkenhead, since you asked. 1852. Struck a reef – oh ho, this sounds familiar – but this Captain didn’t engage in a screaming match with the coast guard. Captain Salmond (yup, read into this what you will) gallantly loaded the women and the children onto the ship’s boats.
Aboard was Lieutenant-Colonel Seton, one of Scotland’s forgotten heroes, on his way to a new command. He ordered the troops on board, many from the Black Watch, to stand fast as the ship sank. They did.
Seton did not survive, neither did Captain Salmond, the first recorded captain to utter the line “Women and children first”.
Seton has a memorial up at St Giles, if you fancy a wander up. Salmond may only have the sea, but no-one had to tell him to get back on board.