“Darren’s got a trial” Janey ended this rather earth shattering sentence by sticking her head out of the window and advising the doddery old Ford Fiesta in front of her to “move quicker for God’s sake!”. She drew her head back into the warmth of the car and we continued to snake our way into Bluewater Shopping Centre. “A trial?” I asked, thinking Boys in Blue, handcuffs and “being sent daaahn”. “Yup, for a proper football club” she said, tapping perfectly manicured nails on the steering wheel. “Oh, I thought…..” I said, trailing off when I saw the murderous expression on her face. “Yes, dad thought the same. Honestly, you don’t like Darren do you?”
I kept quiet and wondered if, at this rate, we’d be back in time for Eastenders. Janey was reluctant to tell me the name of the team who had offered her hulking man mountain a trial but assured me it was a “proper” one. “What league?” I asked as we screeched to a halt into a parking space. She refused to tell me in case I “jinxed the whole thing, I’m going to watch him on Saturday, would you have Scatty?”. My answer was lost in a flurry of screeching as a tiny blonde dressed in a fake leopardskin coat threw herself at my cousin. “Janeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” she squealed. “Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh!” Janey squealed back. It was obviously a meeting of WAGs. “I had to drag Tez here today but I said to him, winter wedding’s don’t plan themselves do they?” Meesh said as she ran an appraising eye up and down Janey. “”No they don’t honey, they don’t” Janey agreed, looking Meesh up and down and shuddering imperceptibly. “My cousin” Janey said, throwing French manicured nails in my direction. “Oh right” Meesh said before turning round and bellowing “Okay, Tez, I’m coming!”. Tez (sitting glumly in a souped up Mini) hadn’t spoken, gestured, looked or glanced in our direction but he jumped at his fiancée’s yelling and hit his head on the roof of the car.
“She’s such a scuzz bag” Janey hissed as we bustled our way into the busy shopping centre. “She’s modelling herself on Daniella Westbrook but it’s not working”
Armed with my present list I was filled with enthusiasm. Janey needed “a pee and a coffee before I even start thinking about doing anything” and so my impetus was lost. I often find that, I’m all fired up with doing something but, when I actually start to do it, find I can’t be arsed.
“What are you doing for your anniversary?” Janey asked as she spooned the froth off her skinny latte. I admitted that we had nothing planned except a nice bottle of wine on the sofa. “WHAT?” she boomed, causing the elderly lady at the next table to drop her muffin. “What?” she added in a lower tone of voice. “Why?”. I cited lack of baby sitter, lack of input from husband and, rather worryingly, lack of oomph on my part. I was really looking forward to the wine and I’d got him a card but……well. Oh I don’t know. At what stage do you have to rely on others to make sure you keep the romance in your marriage? After seven years of marriage I guess – it’s that why The Itch sets in?
“I’ll have Mac for the night, and take him to school” she said, clutching my arm. “You could have a really lovely evening, cook a nice meal, drink your wine…..” she said witheringly “……and just really have a lovely time. It’s easier if you stay in rather than go out I’ve found, you’re in a restaurant, you’ve ordered something that sounded amazing on the menu but it’s like eating old socks and you daren’t complain to your husband cos it costs twenty five quid and he’s paying for it and you daren’t complain to the waiter in case he spits in your dessert so…….”
I tuned her out and tuned into what was quite a good idea. Yes. Dinner a deux, romantic music of the stereo instead of the TV, time to eat a lovingly prepared meal that didn’t include baked beans, cheesy potatoes and the words “no you can’t, not until we’ve finished eating”. Yes. I like the sound of that.
Onto the next stage.
“Scuse me, do you know what the symbol, you know the thing is for a seven year anniversary?” Janey grabbed hold of a passing waitress who didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. “You?” Janey directed this at a man who was waiting for a hot chocolate with cream. He shook his head and looked quite scared at being spoken to by a glossy, overly tanned blonde woman wearing a T-shirt that read “Don’t worry, I’ve got weeks to go yet!”.
“I think it’s tin?” said a woman at the adjacent table and glanced at her companion for confirmation. “Don’t be RIDICULOUS Dora, it’s wool for a seven year anniversary, Wool!” her companion barked, looking as if she could give my mother in law a run for her money.
“Wool. There you go. You could get him a nice……jumper” Janey sniggered before delving into her bag and going into a flurry of texting. “There, I’ve just told David, it’s all sorted.”
I returned home at half past eight to find David sitting on the sofa poring through a recipe book. Whilst he looked a bit confused at being told by his wife’s cousin that he was to enjoy a romantic anniversary dinner with said wife, he had tackled it gamely. “You do the main course, I’ll do dessert!” he said.
Our anniversary is on Monday and I’ve got just the three days to perfect David’s choice of main course (Beef Wellington) while he goes shopping for ice-cream for our dessert. AND he’ll get raspberry ripple which I detest. And I didn’t even buy him a jumper. Great.