Today it would seem that my husband and children had the same idea as Carol Ann Duffy about not indulging in ‘traditional’ Valentine’s Day gifts: ‘Not a red rose or a satin heart. I give you an onion.’
I’d have settled for an onion. Instead, I got this unusual little ‘gift’: a nearly thirteen year old who had become so bored of tidying out his wardrobe and stomping up and down in protest of this slave labour that he decided instead to carry out an experiment:
Hypothesis #1: ‘Putting a plastic tightener around your finger will cut off the circulation.’
It turns out that this is a testable theory. The control group consisted of me and my two younger children, who, in the name of science (and basic common sense), DIDN’T put a cable tie around our finger to see how long it would take for it to turn purple.
Carelessly, none of us officially noted the actual time lapse but J, our ‘scientist’/numpty, discovered that ‘not very long’ was the answer to the above quandary. In addition, he found that this experiment also results in hysteria, a mother who, rather than offering comfort, tells him to ‘shut up screaming’, and a very real risk of a trip to A and E. The ‘control group’ (the ones of us with a few brain cells to rub together) tried unsuccessfully not to panic as I ran his finger under the cold tap to reduce the swelling.
And then, making the choice to risk cutting his finger a little bit or potentially losing it altogether, proceeded to carefully manoeuvre a pair of very large, very sharp scissors between the worryingly mottled white/blue bulging flesh and the increasingly shrinking plastic tie.
I finally managed to gain enough wriggle room to cut it and thankfully not him, although the imprint that it left was quite impressive and it took a while for it to resume its regular shape and colour.
N.B. and for future reference, son: they are called ‘cable ties’ because they are meant to tie cables, not sever parts of human anatomy. The clue’s in the name.
From one crisis to the next. ‘Not a cute card or a kissogram’, I give you an electric scooter that I have left rotting in the shed for over a year but I now want fixing IMMEDIATELY or you will ruin my life. Forever.
Hypothesis #2: ‘Bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and an old toothbrush will effectively remove rust from M’s electric scooter better than WD40.’
The control experiment would obviously have been to treat one scooter with the above solution and one with WD40, but, well, we don’t have any. So, armed with an old toothbrush (I think. It may or may not be my husband’s. I expect we’ll find out later), bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, M and I scrubbed at the chain. M with enthusiasm and total belief in a positive outcome and me, dubiously but figuring it would kill half an hour before I had to put on a another load of washing.
And would you Adam and Eve it? The back wheel now moves! Unfathomably, the rest of it still doesn’t and yet I feel like a regular Mrs Beeton despite my son’s heartache and bitter disappointment.
However, I’ve placated him with the promise of making brownies and cheesecake later and set him to writing out the list of ingredients. Baking on a weekday! You can tell it’s half term.
Duffy goes on to compare an onion to marriage: ‘Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring.’ Yep, and then, like a cable tie wrapped around the finger of your gormless son, it further shrinks to spending Valentine’s Day in your pyjamas, sporting three day old greasy hair and planning an exciting corned beef hash for tea and maybe sitting watching Emmerdale later when J gets home from rugby.
Hypothesis #3: ‘Washing my hair and putting on makeup will not result in being wined and dined this Valentine’s Day.’
To use another famous quote, though:
Well, despite a distinct lack of ‘a red rose or a satin heart’, ‘a cute card or a kissogram’ or indeed, ‘an onion’, I did get three beautiful (and occasionally irritating) children and a husband who loves me. And he did clean out the kitchen drawers last night. If that’s not romance, then I don’t know what is. Happy Valentine’s Day.