Today is the Dark Lady's Birthday. She claims X. However, it is patently obvious to anyone who sees her that she is lying through her teeth and she is ten years younger than that. I have detailed the dangers inherent in guessing a woman's age on this blog before, I am sure. Guess exactly and they will be disappointed. Guess over and you are dead, and guess under and they think you are being facetious.
After the fantastic job she did on my big day in May, the bar was set very high.
A little effort was all that was required and the thing that guys don't do very well - "The Listening". Luckily for me the DL is not wildly keen on shopping so it is possible to accompany her when she needs and wants to go, without feeling your life forces have been sucked out of you and that knocking nails into your knees would be an experience preferable to leafing through every frock in the shop. In fact I'm not allowed to go clothes shopping with her, which suits me just fine.
So for birthday ideas I have to pick up clues along the way. Bits of conversation. An admiring glance at an item that is deemed too "silly" or "trivial" or maybe even "expensive". We vowed not to get into a financial battle when we met and we have stuck to it pretty well, although I think she is leading me in the expenditure stakes to date.
For one birthday she bought me a driving course which I loved and wasn't a bit put out that it may have impugned my manly status.
After all, in the battle of the sexes blokes mustn't ever mention previous girlfriends or the size of their partner's bottom. Women on the other hand should never criticise their bloke's sexual technique nor his driving, as it is a given that they are both devastating.
So as well as getting the obligatory funny/rude/romantic card I set out to track down something we had remarked on in a shop a few weeks earlier. Would it still be there?
The DL, like many women, likes handbags. She is not nuts about shoes like some. However, you can't beat a good bag. We had been wandering around Hastings Old Town which over the years has changed. The junk shops and the ones that sold useful stuff like hardware and food have been replaced by ones that sell clothes, bags and junk which once would have attracted junk prices but now is classed as "antique" or "classic" so is a lot lot more expensive. Although to all intents and purposes, it is still junk.
First of all, could I find the shop? Many of these retailers, having misjudged the market for driftwood and dreamcatchers, only stay open for a few months before they collapse. Others are run by "hobbysits". These are people who like the idea of having a shop but not the hard work that goes into running a viable business, so they have erratic opening hours and a hearty dislike of people actually purchasing their stock. This is particularly prevalent among the antiques fraternity, I gather.
Eventually I found the shop. Yup, it was closed on Mondays. I would have to wait for the following weekend and hopefully pounce. Pounce I did, and hid it in the wardrobe for the next three months.
I am very pleased to report that it went down a treat, although with hindsight I know I have made a rod for my own back. It is larger than her usual one which means it can contain more. Bearing in mind she can never find anything, particularly her phone when I call her so I get her voicemail then a returned call shortly afterwards:
"Sorry I heard the phone but couldn't find it. It was at the bottom of my bag."
Doubt I'll ever get a communication from her again. However, the important thing is it was what she wanted and I hope helped to wish her a happy birthday.