Useless husband

I know I’m a useless husband but, in mitigation, it’s not my fault. It’s my genes. At least I hope it is and that there’s not something terribly wrong with me.

For instance, I don’t know the correct answer to “How do I look?” when actually the honest response might be “Not terribly good” but the most apt one would be . . . . . Well, what should it be?

And I don’t understand the importance of birthdays and anniversaries. After all, every day’s a celebration, isn’t it? Surely I wake up each day full of joy at being alive as well as married for another 24 hours to my darling wife? So why would one day of the year have to be more important, cost me money and make me have to go shopping for I don’t know what?

Before you think I’m an old scrooge you must remember that I buy my round, make the meals, put up shelves, cut the lawn, provide witty banter and do the map reading. My wife can actually cook very well and has quite a line in amusing conversation (usually at my expense) but as for the rest of the list she’s sadly inadequate. Or at least pretends to be.

But apart from not knowing the answers to fiendishly difficult questions a wife might ask her spouse, the other great mystery of life is that, despite being unable to decipher an Ordinance Survey or basic road map, how does my wife find her way unerringly to the baked beans in the supermarket? I can only assume it’s the years of practice put in by her, her mother and her mother’s mother into the modern leisure pursuit of shopping. Because surely she can’t be that much more intelligent than me. Can she?

I can read a map without turning it upside down despite heading south and confidently predict each bend in the road and junction. But I can’t find the tinned tomatoes and, before you suggest it, of course I’m not going to ask. I’m a man for goodness sake.

And being a man, I’m also programmed to like gadgets. So maybe a product by a company called Media Cart is the one for me and all my fellow male sufferers. In essence, it’s a sat-nav that sits on your shopping trolley and, according to the manufacturer’s blurb: “The system accurately anticipates and responds to the shopper’s needs – helping them locate products, check prices and product information, and effortlessly manage their shopping lists”. A Spokesman for the company said that it “offers a locator service using voice recognition”. It seems you simply tell your trolley what you want and it shows you the way to go. “Eggs?” you’ll mutter self-consciously. “Proceed ten metres and then turn right” will say an ethereal soothing – and I predict – female voice. Brilliant.

I can see one flaw. Based on the inability of my voice-activated phone to recognise most of my friends’ names I have the vision of red-faced men, bending over and screaming repeatedly into their trolleys. I mean, do we all know how to pronounce Prosciutto or Caerphilly?

But maybe this little invention will help cure at least one of my many failings. I’m not completely useless of course because I can at least read a map to get me to the shops. Funny how my wife, even in a new town, never seems to find that a problem. Here’s a thought: maybe I could get one of these gadgets to show her where the lawnmower is.

Previously published in the Northern Echo


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