If you have ever suffered from abandonment issues worry not. You are neither unique nor are you alone. I’ve been scraping by for the last five days myself. She left with a cheery wave last week to spend a week with her sister detoxing, (whatever that is), and promising to return, ‘glowing.’ ‘You could get out of a hot bath glowing,’ I muttered as she disappeared in a cloud of dust down the track.
So, it’s been just myself and the boys, (the dogs that is for the Crumble boys are well off and away doing their own thing). So we’ve been here on a boys-will-be-boys self-catering hell-raising week at the homestead. In a manner of speaking that is. Hell-raising in this instance is outrageous behaviour such as leaving the washing-up until the morning, leaving loo seats up all over the house all the time and listening to Radio 4 until I fall asleep.
As Mrs Flashbang was leaving she said, ‘I’ve left some things in the fridge for you.” That was a nice touch. Unfortunately, when I arrived home this evening I realised that all the ‘things,’ had been either eaten or binned because they were either unsuitably healthy or just morbidly tasteless. I had though, forgotten to go to the supermarket today. The resulting rummage around the cupboards and freezer was somewhat disheartening. Given there were things in the freezer labelled before the Internet was invented that was a big no-no. The cupboards revealed things previously unknown to me although I should be absolutely honest and say the last time I looked in there was around 1995. Really though, what in the flying fuck are Cannellini Beans, Bijoux Verts Lentils and Aduki Beans? Is she secretly trying to finish me off by covertly feeding me cat food? I can’t tell you how much my heart soared when I spotted a good old fashioned and honest tin of baked beans at the back. There it was, almost hidden in shame in the darkness when all of us boys know it should be at the front, gleaming with pride and shouting, ‘I’m a tin of baked beans and I’m proud of it.’
Then, the dilemma. Do I go for the failsafe backstop of beans-on-toast or do I risk the out of date chicken fillets in the fridge? “Well,’ I thought to myself, “I have two boys. They do scary, boy stuff all the time. I’m not going to let two chicken fillets that are two days after their sell-buy date turn me into a big Jessie. I need to look my boys in the eye.’ I did what every Dad on his own would do. I made the all time best ever-chicken sandwich, (or ‘stack,’ as us cool Dad’s know them).
Whilst I was chopping and cutting it took me back a wee bit to the days when I got seriously into cooking. When I was on my own it became slightly obsessive. I even did a couple of cookery courses and delighted in entertaining in what I like to think, became a culinary hotspot in Islington for good wine and food and all done from the smallest of kitchens. My flatmate at the time and I used to argue and bicker like two old queens over important matters like sauce consistency and the crispiness of our crunchy roast potatoes, (I’m a Delia man as far as they are concerned). The passion for cooking dissipated in time though, mostly because I married a better cook.
I do think, men tend to focus on single issue challenges, climb that particular mountain and then move on to the next. When for example, I rediscovered fly-fishing, which I had not done since my younger days I tore into it with passion, commitment and unrestrained enthusiasm. Having drained the bank balance somewhat, and having achieved a modicum of success I drifted away from fishing for trout in the chalk-streams and took on the bigger and more industrial challenge of salmon fishing. That had a whole lot more deleterious effect on the bank balance but the reward for success was commensurate with the challenge the Atlantic salmon present. Salmon fishing is just special and really, you do not have to catch a fish to benefit from the joy of chilling while standing in a river casting a fly, even badly, while embracing the peace and unending theatre of nature that surrounds you. It is so very cathartic.
Another example of a rabid obsession was the Annual Airfix Modelling competition at the boy’s prep school. I don’t think the Crumble boys had a losing year. They did the modelling but it was a great excuse for me to go and buy all the bits I wasn’t able to have as a kid. Front and centre was a paint spray gun. Oh how we all wanted one of those when I was young. You get a very nice effect with a spray gun rather than brushes. Your helicopter landing to pick up wounded soldiers on an LZ with flashing helicopter lights, a starlit sky and sound effects really comes to life with the spray painted cam work and the desert floor moulded out of plasticast. Not that I took it seriously or anything.
So, what will be my next challenge? Do you know, I am not so very sure. I started the year with a whole bunch of resolutions, none of which are even close to being started never mind completed. We are at the time of year when I start to feel the old familiar tight knot in my stomach, when my mind begins to wander and I find it difficult to concentrate. Those same feelings you feel when you fall in love. I can sense those big salmon are coming to the end of their long journey from the feeding grounds and are heading to the Tweed. I find myself watching clips on YouTube and checking out salmon fly retailers, (not that, like all fisherman, I need any more flies), yet I have nothing booked.
Is this the year I break the dependency and move on? It is, with such weighty matters as these, that we gentleman must grapple whilst our wives disappear to apparently, detox. I fear I have no answer at present but at the very minimum, this rambling post has allowed me a break from my more weighty posts which I’ve been playing with about Dunkirk and St Valery and I do want to get those right, if not this.