Saturday, July 10, 2010

Clare's Top Five Hot Buttons

Just for the record.

1. Bins: in the street for roadside collection

Clare has a thing about bins in public view. When we were in Andover, our house was the one by the street: all the neighbours had to leave their bins outside ours for collection. Needless to say, they were seldom prompt in retrieving them afterwards. This provoked Clare to insensate fury.

Once I drove home from an assignment arriving back around 5 p.m. in torrential rain. Clare had moved the uncollected bins into a barrier completely blocking the entrance to our cul-de-sac ("that'll show'em"). I rapidly pulled them back to our wall, re-opening the gap just before our first (and coincidentally blameless) neighbour drove in from work. I got absolutely soaked so he didn't have to, thus preserving whatever remained of our already-fragile relationships with our neighbours.

In our new home the neighbourhood bins are kept on people's drives, out of the way. Her blood pressure has somewhat subsided except when we drive around and see streets less fortunately arranged than our own.

2. Blokes in big rigs using their mobile phones while driving

As a cyclist and owner of a small eggshell-like car with the capability to be crushed, Clare is understandably nervous about big rigs at the best of times. Their erratic behaviour when the guy in charge is calling back to base for further instructions (or whatever) fills her with dread which rapidly turns into aggression. One day she is just going to jump out of the car, reach up to his door and drag mobile-man out, then stamp on his head.

3. Faffing around

Clare is of the persuasion that if I want it, I want it now; I tend to be more event-driven. In the old days when we would drive as a family to the (distant) seaside we would get loaded up; buckets & spades and kids and Clare, and then it would occur to me that I hadn't checked the oil and water. Can you imagine with what patience Clare and the kids sat in that hot car while I did this lengthy ritual? And how she's never forgotten or forgiven?

4. Flies in the kitchen

Anyone who has followed our love-hate relationship with flies on our holidays (they love us, we don't reciprocate) will not be surprised that the most valuable possession we currently own is a fly-swatter (they're remarkably effective) and that I am called to kitchen duty more often than foot patrols go out in Helmand province.

5. Babes bearing babies by bad-boys

... at taxpayers' expense, naturally. In Clare's view the economic incentives are all wrong and it should be down to the family to train the girls right in the first place and sort out the mess if it all goes horribly pear-shaped (sic). Clare is rather traditional in this view but it doesn't make her at all wrong.