I recently embarked on a new relationship. It was never meant to be a long term thing, I must confess; more of a stop-gap, if I’m brutally honest. He wasn’t really what I had in mind, but he came along at the right time, and somehow… he stayed.

His name is Alfie, and we are genuinely happy together. He’s no spring chicken, but he’s cute, reliable, and has yet to let me down despite my initial concerns about his stamina. He was actually with The Sister first, but she dumped him for a younger model. He doesn’t talk about it, you know, but I think I’ve helped him to move on.

For Valentine’s Day he took me to Belfast to see a concert, leaving me safely home again afterwards. In return, I got him some shiny new hubcaps, as he was bound to be feeling humiliated, hanging around in the car park all day with only one rusty old hubcap, surrounded by all those other cars with their superior sneers.

Mind you, this was quite an embarrassing experience for Yours Truly, being a bear of very little car-brain. I need those silver things you put on the wheels, I explained to the guy in the auto shop. What size? he asked, as you would probably expect him to ask if you had a clue about such things. He looked at my blank expression, possibly guessing that the next words out of my mouth were about to be “wheel-sized”, and politely asked if the car was outside, as he could go and check for himself.

He returned a few moments later to inform me that I needed size X (obviously I have absolutely no memory of what should be in place of that X), and led me to a wall display of shiny new hubcaps. These ones here are the most popular for wee Clios, he was explaining, but I was not listening, as I had become oblivious to everything but the price tag on each hubcap: all of them around 25 quid!

My helpful and patient assistant observed the look of horror that had crept over my face, and paused in his sales patter, presumably trying to work out what was wrong. Um… are they all about the same price? I asked nervously. He nodded. Ummmmmm…. I didn’t realise they were so expensive… The guy looked surprised, telling me that they were very reasonably priced and I wouldn’t find them cheaper anywhere else, but the sale was now off. In my mind, I was figuring out a get-away excuse that would get me out of paying a hundred pounds for 4 bits of plastic. Alfie could just keep right on being shabby and inferior, for that price.

The assistant hesitated, and you could see in his face that he was trying to work out how much common sense I possessed, lest he offend me by assuming I didn’t understand something perfectly obvious. Evidently he decided that it had to be said. Erm, he said politely, you do know that that’s the price for four, not each? Ohhhhhhhh right.

I sheepishly selected the recommended hubcaps and went to the payment desk, where the man there asked if I knew how to put them on. The young fella who’d been helping me didn’t even give me time to answer, perhaps fearing for the car, the tyres, and the safety of the general public if I were to attempt this task. I’ll just go ahead and put those on for you, he said quickly, almost snatching them out of the cashier’s hand and running from the shop.

And so Alfie has his hubcaps, and he looks “spiffing” according to The Sister. Tough! He’s mine now! Mwahahahaha. Look at him there, with his sexy, sexy wheels. IMG_7242

Pork Scratchings

Granny and Granda are watching a genuinely bad sitcom on TV. I am not watching it, mainly because it is genuinely bad, but also because I am doing a jigsaw puzzle.

This is the latest event in my gradual spiral into Crazy Old Cat Lady territory: spending a Friday night on the sofa with my grandparents, doing a jigsaw puzzle. I started it with Granny earlier in the week, but she lost interest after a few nights. I, on the other hand, cannot leave something like that unfinished, and am therefore utterly incapable of continuing with my life until I have completed the damn jigsaw.

Anyway, I’m half-listening to the woeful dialogue on the TV as I wrestle hopelessly with 6 million identical pieces of blue sky. Two characters appear to be trapped in a lift, having one of those conversations where they take turns at beginning to speak about a different subject while the other one thinks they’re still talking about the first one, and then vice versa. It is terribly unfunny, but I hear Granny give a cackle as it happens for the dozenth time, one character saying something serious and profound only for the other one to say “Eh? I was talking about the pork scratchings!”.

They’re like us!  she says to Granda. It is quite true. Sometimes I think one of them could start talking about flesh-eating giant caterpillars, in a different language, and the other one would respond with “yes, it’s a cold auld night!”. Granny’s observation is, after all, very astute.

Yes, pork scratchings, says Granda, rather brilliantly.

Talking past each other, I mean, adds Granny.

Yes, we used to eat them, agrees Granda as I focus desperately on a piece of cloud, trying not to laugh lest I interrupt the splendor of this conversation.

Eh? says Granny.

Where was it we bought them? muses Granda, lost in a memory of pork scratchings gone by. What’s that place called?

Benidorm, says Granny, possibly referring to the location on screen as opposed to the pork scratching vendor. One’s talking about one thing and the other’s talking about something else.

Was that down Church Street? asks Granda.

Is that Church Street in Benidorm as well as here?! asks Granny, surprised by the coincidence.

It wouldn’t surprise me, says Granda, nodding wisely.

Both of them become distracted at this point, as I am in hysterics and can’t explain what’s so funny, so have to pass it off as excitement at being almost finished my puzzle. (It’s not until my amusement has passed that I will realise how tragic it is that they accept this as a plausible explanation. I’ve got to get out more.)

If I could put my family on TV, it’d be the comedy hit of the decade, seriously.

Sample office conversation

I got into the bath with my socks on last night.

I wasn’t trying a novel money-saving method of doing laundry – it was more a case of trying to have a thought process at the same time as functioning as a normal human being. This is apparently something of which I am almost completely incapable.

I tell my colleagues about this when one of them mentions that the week has dragged in and she’s tired and stressed. It seems as good a time as any to mention my alarming lapse in mental ability. I was thinking through an entirely separate issue as I got undressed, I explain feebly, and I was exhausted and tried to simultaneously have the thought that it was cold and I would keep my socks on in bed. Somehow everything got mixed up and I realised I was sitting in the bath with my thermal socks on.

Most of my colleagues laugh in an almost concerned sort of way, but one of them tells me not to worry, as she went a step further the other week and threw her socks down the toilet. Apparently it was a similar sort of thought-jumble confusion, as she had toilet roll in the other hand at the time. We don’t ask for further details.

Other toilet incidents come to light from various people in the office, most commonly the irritating dropping-a-whole-roll-of-toilet-paper-into-the-bowl-and-having-to-fish-it-out-and-dry-it-on-the-radiator and the heartbreaking I-have-to-dry-my-iPhone-in-a-bag-of-rice.

Ever thrown anything interesting down the toilet? I ask a fellow tutor as she walks back into the office. I do love it when you ask a question like that and get an answer without any hint of surprise or confusion about why you’re asking such a thing.

No, she says, but I did go to the toilet in someone else’s house once and there was bread in the toilet bowl.

That’s someone with either a serious lack of storage space or a very worrying digestive problem.