Married, happy,oxymoron…

Wife puts up with a lot. A stressful job and a life in a different country. Possibly the toughest challenge she faces is putting up with me. She copes well with being married to me. To this end and to help everybody survive marriage, I have decided to give you my ten rules for a long marriage. ( I said long, not happy…..)

1) Listen to your wife. Well, actually we are men so we do not listen. You must learn to fake it.

2) Women like romance and stuff like that. You must rid them of this idea as soon as you can. Carry your new bride over the threshold, look her in the eyes and tell her to go and get you a sandwich. When she returns with a plateful of food ignore her and watch the football on the TV. Do not let your wife think she is more important than the TV.

3) Be prepared. A well stocked first-aid kit is very useful for when you are caught faking listening and regarding the TV as more important than your wife.

4) Your wife will like to shop for shoes and handbags. You must learn to stand for seven or eight hours outside a changing room and say things like “That looks nice dear”and “I prefer the other one”. Of course using the latter is a really good idea. Brownie points and credits are issued at this point. Heavens above you may even be permitted to visit the pub!
Of course if you are feigning interest you will be interrogated like a prisoner at Guantanamo bay and if you are suspected of faking a reply… well at least the first aid kit is well prepared.

5) You should find a woman who can cook, a woman who can earn beer money,a woman who looks like a million dollars and a woman who is your best drinking buddy. The secret is then to make sure these women never meet each other…

6) Your wife should be your best friend. Forget all the romantic rubbish, you need a wife who wants to stay up untill three AM to watch the Grand Prix and actually knows who Lewis Hamilton is.

7) For a long marriage, your stock phrases should consist of “yes dear”, “No dear” and ” I`m sorry”.

8) Do not argue. It is a waste of time and it means you might not get any dinner.

9) It does not matter who`s fault it is, accept the blame and apologise. You might get dinner and beer.

10) Marry a woman with a sense of humour. It works for me. Wife comes home and asks what I have done today and she laughs when I tell her. She laughs when I tell her that I am the master of the house and she laughs when I tell her that she must obey me. I conclude that a humour is important in a long-term relationship.

Itchy, scratchy,horrible and nasty….

I have decided to show my support for Movember. This involves growing a bit of face-fungus on the upper lip. Yes, a moustache. Last time I decided to have a go with facial hair I grew a wild beard for several weeks. It went through the scruffy look straight to the Robinson Crusoe look without once pausing at looking slightly nice look. I was supposed to start cultivating on the first of November but unfortunately on the third I forgot and shaved it off! I started again and now have a “thing” under my nose that is both irritating and as attractive as uncontrolled wind. Wife smiles sadly at me in the morning and suggests that I come to work with her. “That way I don`t have to kiss you goodbye!”
I have shaved since I was fifteen, despite not actually having anything worth shaving until I reached nineteen. I would put bits of toilet paper on my face to try to impress girls with my “manliness”, a tactic which had as much success as my Ferrari badged bicycle clips. Shaving is a morning ritual that marks the start of my day. As I stare, bleary eyed, into the steamy mirror I wonder who crept in overnight and stole some of my hair and then dyed the rest grey. Of course Wife has more use of the bathroom in the morning as she berates me for “getting in the way”, “making me late” and of course “breathing”. I am normally hustled out of the way as she gets herself ready to go and earn my beer money.I try to keep out of the way as she rushes hither and thither and refrain from asking if she can do some overtime this week as my bar bill has crept up a bit this month.
Once peace has descended I return to the bathroom and whisk the five bladed turbo bionic XL super battery power nuclear energy razor across my face. Mind you last time I was in the supermarket there was a SIX bladed turbo bionic XL super battery power nuclear energy razor available, maybe I should have one of those next.
I do know one thing for certain. December is not Movember and this blasted moustache will not be seeing Santa!

The Download diaries…part three

June.Flaming June! The rain was still pitter-pattering on the fabric of the tent as the greyness of summer penetrated the interior of our accommodation. The interior of the tent looked like an explosion at a camping shop. Waterproofs,jumpers and trousers were scattered around the interior at random and hidden under it all was a quilt, a sleeping bag and two bodies. The warmth that attracted me to stay in bed was being rapidly counteracted by the urgent desire to unload a couple of pints of beer.
After risking life and limb I put the kettle on. A cup of coffee later and Wife emerged, her usual morning humour fully intact. “You woke me up.I hate you.Where is my coffee. I hate you.Is it raining? your fault. I hate you.”
She skipped happily off to the toilets with all the vigour of a three-week old corpse. Wife has never been at her best first thing in the morning….

Later, much later, and fortified with a artery-blocking full english breakfast we headed off to the festival`s main arena, only to be told by the security chaps at the gate that there would be an hours delay due to the mud. Not what you wanted to hear on the first day of a festival really! Still, RIP has it`s perks and we headed off to the RIP area at the bottom of the hill to the right of the main stage. A teepee wigwam sort of thing that featured a bar and dryness. I was more interested in dryness than anything so we dived in and bagged a seat.
As is the case with Download, we soon fell into conversation with a couple from Newcastle and before we had realised it the arena was opened.

We squelched our way into the arena. The grass was visible in some places but the rain was settling in to a steady drizzle. We figured to go to one of the small stages that are covered to watch a few bands to start with. Gosh! about 60,000 other people had the same ides! It was a bit crowded to say the least!
We did, however, finally get to see a band I have heard so much about but never seen,Lawnmower Deth. They are a comedy type death metal band, a sort of cross between Bowling for Soup and Napalm Death. A good set and loads of fun, although when they were brandishing a lawnmower about I suspect that they would have struggled to find a blade of grass to cut.

Then there was a disaster! No Hobgoblin! Panic set in until Wife studied the map and spotted a bar serving real ale. I engaged four-wheel drive and skidded up the hill to the bar. Yes! Beer! I grabbed a couple and we settled down. The main issue had now become that although my beer seemed to be lasting for ages, it was getting progressively weaker. My addled mind finally realised that it was the water dripping of my hat and into my glass!
The rest of the day passed in a slither and slide through the cold and the mud. Finally, at nine at night, we saw one of the bands I had wanted to see for ages, the Prodigy. They did not disappoint. I like the Prodigy because they fail to sit in any sort of classification with an almost wilful smile. Firestarter and Breathe are two of my favourite tracks.
We splodge out of the arena and hit the pub in RIP for a final drink. We are cold and wet and finally get into the tent at just gone midnight. We are now starting to party! The rain continues to patter on the tent as I doze off and dream of dry feet and suntan lotion.

A valuable guide to saving money.

I have just eaten a rather fine lunch whilst overlooking the South China Sea. As the waiter approached with my third ( second if the wife is reading this) beer, I got to contemplating life and how to get the most out of it. It dawned on me that making your (wifes) money go as far as possible is always helpful. So here it is, the Wheelmonkey`s guide to saving money!

1) Shop online! It sounds like a daft idea as you must now pay delivery charges for buying your groceries, but if you calculate how much fuel you use to get to the supermarket it is not that bad a deal.Of course the other advantage is that you no longer drive to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and return with a dishwasher,four packs of firelighters and a pressure washer.

2) Do not shop at supermarkets! Now i realise that this contradicts point one but if you go to a local fruit and veg market you will save money.

3) When you go to the supermarket ( yes I know, contradicts points one and two..) never, ever use a trolley. Always use a basket. Once it gets too heavy to carry you will be forced to head to the check-out as you cannot carry anymore therefore saving valuable cash.

4) When you are at the supermarket and invoking rule three, head for the beer aisle first. Stock up on as much beer as you can get away with. You must remember that beer is a staple food item so money spent here is never wasted. The big advantage is that your basket becomes too heavy very quickly so the milk and bread will have to be sacrificed.

5) If you are shopping at the supermarket and your wife starts to scowl due to your sensible cost cutting exercises, give her the basket to carry. Checkout here we go!

6) Beware the false god of BOGOFS! As a careful shopper it is too easy for your eyes to be drawn to the ” Buy One Get One Free ” tickets. If you had the intention of buying one of the items, fine, you have got two for the price of one. You must be aware, however, that just because cat food has a BOGOF it does not really make it a bargain, especially if you are not a cat owner.

7) The food that is close to it`s sell-by date is always a good bargain. If it is blue cheese that was originally Wenslydale, perhaps not such a good bargain. ( Although if you can eat it, then be seriously ill you may have a claim for compensation from the supermarket, your call really.) Again, if you are lactose intolerant, then perhaps you should not really have bought fifteen cartons of yogurt for half price on the basis that “It is a good deal”.

8) The best way to double your money is to take it out of your pocket, fold it in half and put it back again.

9 ) If it sounds too good to be true, it is!

10) Buying beer at Happy Hour is good as it is half price, so you can have twice as much.

I hope that these few helpful hints will ensure that your hard-earned cash goes a bit further, perhaps even as far as next pay day!

Being English…Sorry!

I was born in Yorkshire, which many say is the heart of England. I am English through and through and love the English way of life. An advert for British Airways many years ago featured a bemused American who wondered why we invented a complicated game and then let the rest of the world beat us at it. That is true. England led the way in so many areas but suffered the consequence of doing something first. The golden rule when dealing with technology is never to buy the first version. Betamax anyone? England started the industrial revolution but was passed by so many nations that saw what we had done and went for steam power V.02. The one thing we still lead the way with is pubs. Despite many pubs in the UK closing down there is nothing like a british boozer. I have travelled around the world a bit and have never found a good pub. I have got perilously close on several occasions…I am sat in a fabulous place in Hong Kong now…but never like the Bulls Head or the Red Lion.
I used to enjoy going to a fantastic pub in an equally fantastic village and drinking the well-kept beer. The fun was when there was a hiss of air-brakes and the tourist bus would stop outside. In would pour the American tourists. Their whistle-stop tour of England featuring a medieval battle ground and an old pub. They would stream in and sit down. Then wonder why no-one came to take their order! I found these Americans wonderful company.They had normally only been in the UK for a few hours and were still jet-lagged but could always be relied on to gasp at our warm beer and old buildings. It is hard to assign a trait to an entire nation but I always found the Americans I met to be an extremely friendly bunch. They did not, however, understand poor service like we did. I go to a pub and order my beer at the bar, pay for it on the spot and sit down. Should my glass fall empty I need to get on my feet and go to the bar again. Why should the poor hard done to landlord or his staff come around and ask if I need more beer? I know when I need more beer the glass is not full. The advantage of such poor service is easy to see. At the point at which I can see two doors out of the pub and the bar is in motion I do not need to catch anybody`s eye to pay the bill. All I need to do is haul my carcass to it`s nearly full height and wobble to the door. I do not need to calculate tips or even say goodnight, I merely point my head at the door and as sure as kebab follows beer my feet will trail behind. Pubs feature such wonderful things as real ale and pub bores, old men and newspapers and of course dry roasted peanuts.
I love my new life in Hong Kong and am spoilt with a choice of beach bars and city bars. Public transport means that I can be whisked to my choice of bar without a consideration of who will drive home.I am happy propping the bar, reading a newspaper and boring people who are daft enough to engage me in conversation. I still miss an English pub though. Perhaps when the England is forgotten for its manufacturing it will still be noted for its pubs.

Going back in time.

I am starting to get like my father. Hair going,waist expanding and starting to grumble a lot. In a lot of ways I am not like my father. I like heavy metal and beer, he prefers jazz and wine. In one respect, however, we are similar. I have discovered one of the joys of a past generation. I am a house-husband which means I spend my time cooking and cleaning whilst my Wife goes to work.She allocates me money to spend on the house which I divert to beer with a monotonous regularity. The benefit to having one person playing house has become apparent. It is time. You cannot buy time or even trade it, yet since we arrived in this foreign country we seem to have gained an abundance of it.
When we were both out at work from seven in the morning until seven at night, our evenings were a mad rush of cooking and cleaning. A meal was something that went “splot” on a plate or went “ding” from the microwave. The weekends were when we hit the supermarket to buy next weeks supply of “splot” and “ding”. If I could manage a swift visit to the pub it was fitted in to a timetable of shopping, visiting and chores. Financially we were OK. We were neither rich nor poor. Our lifestyle involved us both working and enjoying ourselves in short bursts. Now we our leisure time together starts when Wife gets home from work. The meal is ready for us to consume once she arrives home and after that, the time is our own. I wave goodbye in the morning as she heads to work and do the mundane chores before deciding which bar to spend her money at.
We were money rich but time poor. I often consider our parents lifestyle to be a better balance. The main problem is that it has taken a six thousand mile journey to realise it