“What shall we do for our anniversary?"
“Oh God, when is it?” Alice couldn’t believe she’d forgotten. Jim looked puzzled.
“You’re kidding, right? Friday night, what do you want to do?”
Alice laughed. “I knew that,” she lied. “How about the theatre? Cabaret’s on at the Rep. That girl’s in it. The one that won the thing on the tele.”
“What girl? What thing? No, never mind. We’ll never get tickets at such short notice and I hate musicals.”
“OK, what do you want to do?”
“Anything you like, love. Your choice.”
“I’ll have a think and we’ll talk about it at lunchtime then.” Alice picked up her briefcase and left for work. Jim cleared away the breakfast dishes and took the morning paper out into the garden.
“I’ve got it. Let’s call Lucy and Steve and go to Luciano’s. We haven’t been out for Italian in ages.”
The silence at the other end of the line was just a little too long, then,
“Lucy’s a pain since she got pregnant. It’s all she ever talks about.”
“OK. Not Lucy and Steve, then. Paul and Babs?”
“Er, do we have to ask anybody else? It’s our anniversary, after all.”
“Just the two of us, then? But Luciano’s is all right?”
“Gotta go, hun. Doorbell. We’ll talk tonight.”
Alice replaced the receiver and returned her attention to her computer screen.
“You’re a great cook, Jim. That chicken was so good. Do you think we should make a reservation for Friday, or will they fit us in?”
“Fit us in where?” Jim was clearing the table. Alice sighed. It was always like this.
“At the restaurant, for our anniversary.”
“Do we have to eat out? I mean, you’ve just said what a great cook I am. I’ve got this new recipe I’ve been dying to try out. We could eat at home - a nice romantic dinner for two.” He was pleading. She smiled.
“OK. Then you can take me dancing after dinner.”
Jim loaded the dishwasher.
“You look drop-dead gorgeous.” Jim was grinning as he poured the last of the red wine into Alice’s glass. “Happy anniversary, darling.”
“And the same to you, now where are we going dancing, to finish off the evening?”
Jim took her hand.
“I know a much better way to finish off the evening than dancing,” he said.
Needless to say, he didn’t.
Go on - admit it. You saw the title "Duel Control" and your first thought was 'Stupid cow can't spell."
Well, think again. According to Wikipedia - that fount of all wisdom and knowledge a duel is ‘an engagement in combat between two individuals with matched weapons...’
Can you think of a better way to describe a relationship between a man and a woman?
Ever wondered who really wears the trousers? That’s where the control comes in.
Elementary, my dear student. Now please take a seat.
Explanations are over – it’s time for instruction. Please turn to Round 1, ( you can’t have chapters in a duel) and pay attention! I’ll be asking questions later.
Round 1 – Irreconcilable Socks
I once owned a tea-towel that bore the legend, “It starts when you sink in his arms and ends with your arms in the sink.” A truism, if ever I heard one. So where did it start? Oh yes, it’s all coming back to me.
They met at her twenty-first birthday party, back in the days when 21 was considered your coming-of-age. He came with mutual friends, a couple she’d known for years. He was ‘playing gooseberry’ as they used to call it back then; a single guy, dateless on a Saturday evening, tagging along as the spare wheel. Perhaps she should have read the warning signs. No, that’s not fair. There was nothing wrong with him. He was fun and they fell in love, and got married and had kids and all that, just like in the stories.
So, did they live happily ever after? Does anyone?
Years down the line, unloading the washing machine before going to fetch the kids from school, she had a revelation. None of his socks matched. They used to – she was sure of it, and hadn’t she been sorting them week in, week out for years? It was as if they entered the machine as couples and many of them came out single. That was it – the washing machine was a divorce court that produced a regular quantity of irreconcilable socks. Suddenly her life seemed like that. She sat on the kitchen floor and cried for a while, wondering when she had stopped being happy.
“Mummy, why are your eyes all puffy?” They were outside the school gate and Jason was struggling with the toggles on his duffel coat.
“I think I’m getting a cold, sweetheart. Now hurry up. The Juniors get out in 5 minutes and we don’t want Lizzie to think we’ve forgotten her.”
Outside the junior gate, Lizzie posed the same question.
“It’s just a cold, love.”
The eight-year-old was not convinced. “It looks like you’ve been crying.”
Ben hung his jacket on the back of the chair, loosened his tie and sat down at the table. He opened the evening paper and read until she placed his dinner in front of him. He looked up, as he folded the paper.
“Got a cold, love? You look a bit rough. Pass us the salt."
In silence, she passed the salt to the Prince Charming who had stolen her life.
After a hot bath, she decided to have an early night. There was football on the TV, so Ben would be occupied for quite a while. She picked up the romance she was reading and climbed into bed. Five minutes later, the bedroom door opened and Ben stood there, grinning. “I know how to make you feel better,” he said.
Needless to say, he didn’t.
END OF ROUND 1.
I woke up this morning with an original idea to revolutionise the world of blogging.
Everyone blogs nowadays, so I’m sure to be on a winner with my idea of a blogging technique for the technically-challenged. Heck, it’s designed for people who haven’t even got computers!
I’m so excited I rush through the morning routine: shower, dress, breakfast, meds. Then I’m ready to charge down to the High Street and pick up the equipment I need to start my new blog.
There’s a sale on at W H Smith, so I save £1.50 on my purchases – a pack of three spiral notebooks and ten ballpoint pens. (Black ink, fine point – so much more sophisticated!)
I’m about to race home, when a text message reminds me I’m meeting an old friend for coffee.
“You seem a bit distracted this morning, is everything OK?” Elaine has been talking to me for five minutes and I haven’t heard a word.
“Sorry. I’ve been caught up in a new writing project. It won’t get out of my head.” I take a gulp of my cold coffee and a swipe at the fly that has been making a meal of my doughnut. All I want to do is get home and start writing.
“Well, don’t let me distract you. I have to be at the hairdresser’s in ten minutes. Call me at the weekend, yeah?” We hug. Elaine leaves.
Back at home, I unpack the new stationery, make fresh coffee and take advantage of my cell-mate’s temporary absence to start the project.
No title - just the date, followed by a random recording of the day’s events so far and my thoughts and feelings. I write for half an hour and then Nature calls.
As I return from the bathroom, I discover that my son has stopped by. He is replacing my notebook on the desk.
“Sorry, Mum. I didn’t realise it was your diary.”
Diary? How could anyone think that my new computerless blog was a diary?
After all, a diary is a random recording of the day’s events often including the writer’s thoughts and feelings ...
...Oops! Back to the drawing-board.