Today is the official 2 year anniversary of when I asked Jen to be my girlfriend (and she said yes).
To celebrate this we booked a day off work to take advantage of the bank holiday weekend and have 4 days away on a sunny foreign beach for a relaxing holiday.
We missed out celebrating properly last year as Jen’s school friends booked a group weekend away on the only date they could all do so we were determined to make it special this year.
Unfortunately Jen’s Grandpa died rather unexpectedly a week ago. He was a lovely man who she was very close to and it was all a rather horrible surprise. The funeral was on Friday near Manchester so we originally adjusted the plans to fly on Saturday, in an attempt to salvage some of our weekend away, before discovering that there was a big family meal planned on the Sunday, today.
The plans were officially broken. So, instead of the Seychelles, this evening we are staying in a Brittania Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent.
We’re in Stoke-on-Trent as a necessary evil because tomorrow we’re spending the day at Alton Towers for super fun times and it’s only a short drive in the morning. The downside of this, however, is that we’re in Stoke-on-Trent.
On the plus side, if you want to buy a sad looking wedding dress, eat a curry or stare listlessly into the canal contemplating why you’re in Stoke-on-Trent then your desires will be well catered for.
By way of a celebration of our 2 years of glorious relationship we visited Stoke-on-Trent’s second best restaurant. The best restaurant is closed on Sundays. Armed with a carrier bag of Tiger beers, we took our seat in the Indian restaurant, officially doubling the number of diners.
After 5 minutes, 2 families came in and were sat on either side of us, ignoring the 20 other empty tables, and both then got their food first because our waiter had forgotten to take out order to the chef. The small child to my left was playing on his Nintendo 3DS whilst his mum talked about how the “Chechnyan” bombers were brainwashed to be soldiers of God and his dad shot me suspicious glances.
The true delight of this restaurant, however, is the combination of ’80s power ballads drifting around the half empty room accompanied by the silent visuals of Bollywood music videos on the 40″ TV. Jennifer Rush’s “The Power of Love”, Celine Dion’s “Think Twice” and George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” all followed each other as a succession of Indian women and men coyly danced behind fluted pillars, teased suitors and hung off the back off tuk-tuks, hair flowing in the desert wind and somehow all in time to the music.
The whole thing was so hilariously miserable that we almost choked on our bottles of Tiger with laughter. I asked Jen if this was where she’d imagine being on our second anniversary.
Finally, Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love Yous” finished off our will to live so we left our half eaten currys and sloped back to the Britannia.
Perhaps we should have been having a romantic break away, basking on a white sandy beach, but I’ve just given Jen my last Rolo and we’re going to be to watch Breaking Bad. It may not be what we chose for this weekend but what’s most important is that I’m spending tomorrow with the woman I love eating as many giant hot dogs and ice cream as possible then getting violently spun upside down and possibly vomiting bright orange sugary drinks.
And on that note… play ‘em out Sexy Sax Man!
There are lots of things I really love about living with Jen:
- She brings home surprise booze and chocolate on a Friday night.
- She humours my increasingly obsessive behaviour with feeding and housing the birds in the garden (and hushed exclamations of “LOOK!!!” every couple of minutes when a tit lands on the window feeder).
- Lazy weekend lie-ins ’til mid-day.
- Doing decorating together (basically giant Lego).
- She organised a surprise Rock Band birthday party for me in the garden under a gazebo, like playing to a really tiny festival and plastic instruments.
- Having my Partner in Crime on hand every day for adventures, My Little Pony and serious high-fives.
However, as the tides ebb and flow and the moon waxes and wanes, so there is also a darker side to living with my girlfriend.
This particular darker side is that she is convinced our house is trying to kill her. Girls are mad.
This manifests itself in a number of ways. Initially it was the belief that the house is maliciously costing her money; the electric shower breaking; the leaking boiler; the doorframe falling apart, the mouse in the kitchen.
It then progressed to an insistence that the house is actively trying to kill her off;
- Trying to freeze her during the snowy weather by euthanising the heating
- Poisoning her by setting the drill battery on fire whilst charging.
- Tripping her up on the gate so she skinned her shin AND cut her face.
- Crushing her toes by moving the landing ladder in the night and making her fall over it.
- Gouging a chunk out of her leg with the stationary Workmate that is propped up against the wall.
The last of these happened earlier today and the first I knew was a banshee cry of “I FUCKING HATE THIS , FUCKING HOUSE!” and a teary Jen looking at a bloody hole in her jeans. To be fair it was a nasty gouge and I would be pretty upset too. Once Dr. Biscuit had cleaned and plastered the wound we had to have a little chat about how the house isn’t really trying to make her life hell, it’s just an unfortunate series of unrelated events.
Once she had calmed down we decided to make banana bread.
10 minutes later the garden hose exploded in her hands, all over the kitchen.
There’s been a lot of big news coming from Toast recently and you’re possibly wondering what’s happening on this side of the wager.
Will Billy escape from the abandoned mineshaft?
Will Susan discover that Jake is her brother?
Will anyone work out what that smell coming from the patio is?
There have been on quite a number of adventures, mishaps and ensuing hilarity but that’s not what you want to know, is it? Well most of it has been pretty awesome (even though it revolves around a girl, who’d a thought, eh?) but some of it has been really hard to write about, which is why I was dodging it for so long.
When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious shit
Let me take you back in time 9 months…
<flashback>Toast and I were living together in the 4 Xbox household. For reasons that I won’t go into we were faced with a deadline of either moving out in 4 months or buying the house we were living in. With the opportunity to expand the technological empire further we decided to go for it. In retrospect I can see how limiting this would have been on our developing relationships, but when man is blinded by the idea of a robot man servant, or even a robot DINOSAUR servant, it’s easy to get carried away.
This is the first time I had tried to buy a house and it turns out that it’s quite expensive. We spent about 4 months weighing up the pros and cons of Ponzi schemes, life insurance scams and train robberies (although I’m not sure that 13 boxes of Doritos, enough chocolate and fizzy pop to bring on instant diabetes and a train conductor’s hat would have helped us buy a house). Then our deadline was pretty much up.
This is when things got tricky. Toast finally realised that this was out of his reach and decided to make the big move in with TP. This is a pretty pragmatic and sensible decision and is probably what we should have been discussing earlier, however it came totally of the blue and the following day I found myself the sole occupant of the house.
It was a bit of a shock. I was reeling and wasn’t really sure what my next steps were.
With the previous prospect of becoming an eligible home-owner, I had obviously spent time musing about when Jen and I might move in together. In my head, her and TP would eventually move in and sitcom style hilarity would ensue. No… I hadn’t really thought it through. We probably needed at least one ferret and a drag queen to make it sitcom material.
Jen and I hadn’t actually talked about living together at that point. She was living in a shared house with two friends and her contract wasn’t due up until October. I knew that I’d love to live with her properly and we both thought it would be great, although October was a long time to be in limbo before we could find our own place to rent. It was time for some a serious huddle to talk strategy. Jen’s housemates were very understanding and were happy to let me stay for a while to give me a chance to find my feet again.
After a bit of heart-to-heart Jen and I came up with our ultimate plan: WE would buy the house, like motherfucking GROWN UPS!
There are some exciting decisions in life where you get to make grand gestures, big announcements and celebrate decisions by denting the kitchen ceiling with a poorly extracted champagne cork. Unfortunately, when the decision is forced prematurely due to circumstance it kind of takes the shine off the glory.
This is something that we both wanted to do and agreed that we would have been considering moving in together around October anyway but we’d had no time to even get used to the idea before we needed to make a massive grown up decision. It was definitely a much better plan than Toast and I buying together but we would have much preferred to have some time to talk about it, get excited and make the decision ourselves. There wasn’t any time for celebration as we were instantly thrust into the stressful logistics and finances.</flashback>
This is a lot to fit in to one post so I’ve had to skim most of the detail but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about this decision. It was big and scary but we both really wanted it and were really excited. Having a deadline isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole point of this wager was to make Toast and I get off our posteriors and get us some o’ them there WIVES! Without that to motivate me I wouldn’t have learned so much about myself over the last couple of years, had such memorable experiences or met Jen.
DECORATE ALL THE THINGS!!!!
We’ve now been ‘officially’ living together for 6 weeks and it’s amazing. It feels like it’s been months. We’ve got some formidable relationship tests ahead of us including IKEA (the bane of lesser couples) and some mega decorating. Seriously, EVERY wall, ceiling and floor needs to be decorated but I know that we’re gonna lay a tag-team SMACKDOWN on that motherfuckin’ woodchip wallpaper like the Partners in Crime that are!
All our monies are now being poured into this project, which means that grand expensive life events (like expensive jewellery or parties where you dress up in pretty dress and 3 piece suit and get all your relatives and friends together to get drunk and dance to the Grease Megamix) are now FIRMLY off the cards for the foreseeable future.
However, this is the WED or Dead wager, not the ENGAGED or Dead wager.
In an unrelated conversation a friend mentioned that they had heard that Vegas do weddings with pretty much no notice. There’s no reason I mention that, I’m just saying in case someone else might feel like a Star Wars themed wedding but couldn’t wait for a Death Star wedding cake commission to be ready.
That’s the only reason.
Right, next important issue: does anyone know how to remove horrendous ‘70s gas fireplaces without a canary and armed with only a hammer and a roll of gaffer tape??
Jen has just informed me that it is one year ago today we had arranged our first date and were just riding out the time before we could actually meet, as it would be several weeks of waiting.
The interim time can feel a bit like meeting an old friend in the supermarket, having a big catchup then saying goodbye, only to keep awkwardly bumping into them the rest of the time and sheepishly smiling. In dating you can only do so much preamble before you need to meet or you learn so much that you have no starter conversation for the first date.
To kill this awkward phase,she decided that it was best if we were friends on Facebook first. Normally I would have sheid away from this but I liked her ballsy attitude so much that I acquiesced. Obviously this was a ploy on her part to do some prime stalking before we met. Something she’s very good at, as I’ve learned since when she discovered this wager before I told her about it.
In retrospect it’s probably very good that she is a skilled stalker as it saved the peril of breaking difficult news to her when it came to outing myself.
I have to say that I’m really pleased that she’s good at reminding me of important relationship dates as I am so bad at remembering. It’s a bit like having a sexy diary, albeit one who is really good at amateur detective work. Maybe I should buy her a deerstalker and a pipe, that’s a classic look for ladies, right?
Silly spontaneous presents are brilliant, whoever they come from. Unless the present is a secret scorpion in your pants drawer or a restraining order.
A great thing about relationships is that you have someone to get silly presents for all the time. They don’t have to be deep and meaningful or expensive to be a good present. They just have to make you grin or cry (in a good way, like when you get a new best gun in Borderlands).
The cool thing about them is that the better you get to know someone, the more the presents relate to a personal joy, secret pleasure or just appease the 5 year old inside.
I recently bought Jen a Lego minifigure. It was sealed in a pack so I didn’t know what I was buying and was in pieces so you couldn’t even stand at the display squishing all the packets to guess what it was. I remembered that I had it in my pocket when we were on the tube so gave it to her.
Disproportionate glee isn’t the phrase to use here! It made me think that I should get her a Lego engagement ring, one with one of those little transparent square one-block micro bricks as a diamond. It would be a lot cheaper but I’m not sure if that’s the sort of area where girls appreciate a quirky gift.
It’s fair to say that she got her money’s worth out of it.
After taking about 3 minutes to open the packet, she then spent about 5 minutes assembling the 6 pieces. Some of this seemed to involve throwing bits of the man on the floor. The figure was one of those soldiers with the massive bearskin hat that guards the queen. The kind that tourists try to get to move.
Eventually, after some gentle coaching on how to fix the gun into both his hands simultaneously the piece was finished and later took pride of place on the bedside table.
Because Jen is awesome, I picked her up yesterday and she said “do you want your present now?”. As I didn’t know there was even a present to be had I said “YES!” through the gritted teeth of excitement, closed my eyes and held out my hands.
On opening I discovered in my hand a packet of mother-loving Star Wars lego!!! YES!
I wanted to play with it then but didn’t think that I had time to put the spaceship together. Jen did say that it wouldn’t take long but I pointed out that a single figure had kept her occupied for about 10 minutes.
In conclusion, Lego is amazing. Girls who buy me Lego are amazing. Girlfriends who buy me surprise Lego are the best girlfriends of all.
Do you reckon that anyone has ever had a Lego themed wedding before?
There have been many things I have been meaning to write about over the last couple of months; going to Reading Festival with Jen, my birthday night out where we (well, I) got utterly mashed and eyed up a strange woman then ate Jen’s food; meeting the parents… all of them.. everybody’s; however this is too important to leave languishing on the ‘to do’ list.
I told Jen about this blog.
I had really wanted to tell her for a long time. As the Theatre Producer knew, and My Love Life In Your Hands knew, and Fleet Street Fox knew and too many people in too many situations knew, I felt really duplicitous for not telling her.
Even all without all of these other people in the equation, it was well past time. We operate a full disclosure policy and this was the only thing I haven’t been disclosing.
Breaking the news
Jen was staying over on Thursday because it was my birthday the next day and we were going to hit town. Despite having to work the next day we decided that it was imperative to drink large quantities of cider and watch 500 Days of Summer.
Languishing on the sofa, we gradually got pizzled whilst watching the tragic love/non-love scenes play out between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Afterwards, rosy with the chilled cider and intoxicated with the tale of broken romance and ensuing hope, I decided that it was time I had to tell her.
B: I’ve got something to tell you. It’s basically the last thing that you don’t know.
She looked on, slightly pensive…
J: uh huh.
B: Well, Toast and I sort of had a bet going, from long before I met you. Well… we sort of had a bet over who could get married first, and the loser has to sing at the winner’s wedding”
J: (comprehending what she’s hearing). Riiiiight.
B: Well, we also have been sort of… logging it. Well, “blogging it”. So you’re kind of… in it. I mean, I’ve been really slack for the last couple of months but yeah… I mean… it’s actually kind on nice to be able to look back and really remember our early days because I’m really rubbinh at remembering and tend to get all the details confused so actually it’s really kind of a good thing but yeah… err…
I trailed off as she was looking at me somewhat impassively.
When I’ve been naughty and I know it, I tent to smirk and then giggle, even when it’s entirely inappropriate and will make things worse, but it’s involuntary. I hid my mouth behind a cushion to stop my expression interfereing in my clumsily crafted explanation.
It seemed like a really long wait. It was probably only about 5 seconds but I genuinely started to wonder if I had just made a mistake.
Keeping calm she looked at me and answered.
The she broke into a cunning, smug grin.
Girls are cunning
I’d had a suspicion a number of times that she’d found it. Numerous references to danger territory such as My Love Life In Your Hand’s column, twitter, marriage and a multitude of minutia that I reasoned were just paranoia.
It turned out that she had found it about 6 weeks ago. She had found it exactly the way I had warned Toast that she would but he dismissed: via My Love Life In Your Hand’s twitter feed, linking to ours.
Executing some champion detective work (this is the polite way of saying ‘stalking’) she had stumbled across this very blog and sat reading, noting the similarities with amusement; until the amusement turned to a horrified realisation.
The whole thing was a bit of a shock for her. Most notably because she suddenly had a detailed account of all hte other dates I had been on since meeting her.
Reaching out to several friends for perspective, they read and reflected that I’ve said only glowing things about her, that I’ve not been mean to anybody I’ve dated and that it was going on long before we met. That calmed her down and she set about reading her way through most of the rest of it; and telling her friends. All her friends.
As it turned out, this really was the best possible outcome for me because she was a bit cross for a while about all the American ladies I met in New York, but by the time I told her she had put it all in perspective.
Lessons learned: ladies are far more cunning than men and would make much better detectives. That’s probably why Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher had such successfull careers. Although I wouldn’t want to hang out with Jessica Fletcher as everyone was always getting knocked off around her.
This is a bold new frontier but it is an exciting one because I don’t have to feel like I’m sneaking around any more and I won’t excitedly tell her something I’m supposed to keep secret, like I nearly did several times.
Marriage percentage: 74%. Finding out and managing to keep the secret from me until I told her and keep cool about it earns some major respect.
Then she said to me: “Right, we’re gonna fucking WIN THIS!”
Updated marriage percentage: 76%
A quick apology. I’ve been in a downward spiral of absence from here. Much like when you fret about your bank balance so don’t look at it, thereby compounding the problem, so have I been hiding from all responsibilities in a similar way.
Anyway, the excellent Allie,writer of Hyperbole and a Half, explains this so well that I shall simply defer to her and take solace in the joint feeling of overwhelming failure.
More regular service to resume shortly.
(Click this graph, click it now!!)
Bank holiday Monday, Jen suggested that we go to Thorpe Park. We set of from hers early(ish) in the mornin after she had cooked me excellent eggy bread for breakfast. The journey provided an amusing insight into girl logic.
We were angling to get there just as it opened so left fairly early on Jen’s promise that it was only 20 minutes away. She needed to stop off at the start of the journey so she could grab some fags and cash so pulled into a garage before hitting the motorway. She was also low on fuel but decided not to get any. Obviously any man would think ‘need fuel… tank empty… buy now’, but this is a not man logic.
5 minutes down the motorway she decided that we needed fuel so took a 10 minute diversion to find a garage. I was incredulous! Proper open-mouthed amazement! Thankfully it’s charmingly mental so I’ve just filed it under ‘endearing idiosyncrasy’
An hour after setting off, we arrived at Thorpe Park and set about the serious business of riding roller-coasters! If it was a game we would have won a gold medal at it. We made the front of ALL the roller-coasters with impressive efficiency. There was a lot of pulling fierce animal faces for the cameras so I bought her a fridge magnet of our speed face-lifts as a memento.
All the spare moments between making ourselves dizzy in the rides we spent stuffing food into our face holes. Foolishly we left the Tidal Wave until dark clouds had covered the sun and a chilly breeze picked up. As you may guess from its name, the tidal wave makes you wet. Very wet. In retrospect I’m not sure why I thought otherwise.
The force of the water when we splashed down was so strong it took Jen’s sunglasses off her head, which meant I leapt head-first back into the car after everyone had got off and fished around in the footwell until I found them floating.
I may not be able to conquer citadels for her, or name a new species of flower after her, but I can fish around in murky water for her much loved floral sunglasses and that makes her happy.
Being wet on a cold day can put a bit of a dampener on things (literally) so we decided to call it a day and retire to the warmth of the overpriced coffee bar for steaming hot chocolate. Even when she’s half drowned I still fancy her. Even when she banged her head in her car door after calling me a retard, I still fancy her.
Marriage percentage: 70% – She loves riding the front of rollercoasters AND stuffing her face all day long. I can see this being a very fruitful partnership.
The day after taking Jen and her chum to my favourite night out, we had her friend’s birthday party to go to. Faced with 9 hours of people I didn’t know I went prepared with my usual social crutch to make friends: balloons.
Thankfully Jen’s chirpy Irish friend from the rock club the night before was there with his boyfriend who was German and lovely. Jen was awesome at introducing me to to everyone. After doing the rounds I settled with the person that I seemed to be most on a level with: the small child who wanted ALL the balloons.
I taught her all about static electricity by sticking all her balloon swords to the celiing where every one was safe from their squishy jabbing.
The party was mostly in one largish room with the usual inexplicable crowd also in the kitchen and an area in the garden for lounging in the sun and supping chilled summer wine. The weather had another idea and had instead prepared a chilly and cloudy day with a brisk wind.
There was even a hookah, with strawberry tobacco jammed in and some charcoal balanced precariously atop. They taste nice, a bit like eating an invisible strawberry made of dry, and as long as you don’t try to talk whilst exhaling you wont spend the next few seconds spluttering on the smoke.
Jen had been great and had been cuddling up for warmth in between putting cigarettes into her face. Since there was a big game of kickball on the tellybox most of the people crammed themselves into the party room for 90 minutes of men in shorts chasing a toy round a field and left me to manage the firepit.
Suddenly I had a purpose. I was no longer at a polite suburban barbeque but was the very emboidiment of Cro-Magnon man, tending the fire for vital warmth and to roast the day’s slaughtered mammoth. Our mammoth’s may only have been marshmallows but that’s not the point.
At one point I smeared soot into warpaint stripes on my face. I can’t remember why but it was very important at the time.
I got chatting to the German boyfriend who was very intelligent, well spoken and entertainig. In fact he was so well spoken that I didn’t realise he was German. This may explain how I blundered into a conversation about the Nazis.
There really is only one topic of conversation that you should avoid with Germans and somehow I had grabbed it firmly by the scruff of the neck and dumped it into the middle of our rather pleasant dialogue.
It was at this point that I sudenly realised he was German.
In my attempts to backpedal and force an implausible segue to a friendlier non-Nazi conversation, I was making things worse and infact talking MORE about Nazis.
Thankfully only one of us was embarrassed.
After that the kickball finished and the people came back outside. There was a man with a guitar who sung songs that all the other people knew and joined in with. Not long after this I, Jen, her chum from the rock club and his boyfriend all left for the train.
Hairy Irishment are surprisingly insightful
On that journey back there was a telling conversation. There was some talk of exes and Jen’s chum asked me how long it had been since I had been with my last girlfriend. I told him it was almost two years and he said “wow, she must have really hurt you”.
This caught me off guard a little but he was right. I was just very surprised that he drew that conclusion so quickly.
After the seriousness there were more japes involving secret text messages and high fives. It was a saisfactory end to a day that had been very low key due to all the drinking the night before. Jen’s two chums from the train are like little teddy bears of fun and I really looked forward to seeing them again.
It’s important to get on well with at least some of your girlfriend’s friends because you’re likely to be spending a lot of time putting booze in your face with them.
Marriage percentage: 68%