Wednesday, 11 June 2014
The Untold London Story
"You should," said B.A. "It's a good story."
So now I'm going to tell you the story about Benedict Ambrose and the London Bobby, not only because it's a good story but because it is illustrative of one of the great realities of married life, which is that sometimes your spouse will drive you nuts.
Naturally, though, I will have to preface this with a hymn to the greatness of B.A. so you don't get the idea that I'm oppressed or downtrodden. When I calculated that our London jaunt cost us approximately 678 squid, he didn't get mad or huffy. He just said, "That's all right, darling. It was a WONDERFUL fortnight."
"Ha, ha, ha," I said sourly as he snickered away, but I was vastly comforted that he thought the high price of our weekend amusing and not some horrific fault that I will never, ever atone for and that I will have to hear about it until Kingdom Come. Some husbands are like that. Not mine, thank heavens.
Whenever possible, B.A. will choose to joke rather than complain. The one exception is when some real injustice has been done by one person to another. However, when it comes to the weather, economic circumstance, airport layovers, illness, etc., they are just more fodder for jokes. And puns. B.A. loves puns. If he ever falls silent, it is because he is working out a pun, and no matter how bad it is, he will lob it at all hearers.
Female hearers are wont to say, "Oh, that's terrible. How can you stand it, Seraphic?" And I smile in a pale, long-suffering way although sometimes the puns are so good I write them down and embarrass B.A. with them years later. And if I make a pun, everyone around says it's on account of being married to B.A., so he gets the blame.
The loud and frequent throat-clearing is much more annoying, but I reflect that if I am ever a widow, I would give my remaining teeth to hear that characteristic khhhhhhuuuuhhhh again.
And then there is the television commentary, which reaches fever pitch when we watch "Master Chef". B.A., who taught philosophy at the university level for many years, sits before the television making positive statements for which he has no evidence whatsoever.
Contestant (presents dish to Greg, quivers): I hope you enjoy it.
B.A.: Oh, it's going to be awful. It's tough. It's stringy. It's completely under seasoned.
Greg (tastes dish): Cor blimey, mate. That is absolutely DELICIOUS! It's tender. It's juicy. And the seasoning! Perfection!
In short, B.A. makes a lot of noise. The noise increases according to emotional circumstances, but particularly when B.A. is excited and happy. And this is why--revelation!--I get so cranky when we travel together. When I am in a new place, especially where English is not the first language, I need quiet to adjust, think, locate the exits, summon the remnants of my foreign languages, and write down any instructions I have managed to wring from officials in my pidgin French/Italian/Polish.
B.A., on the other hand, needs to talk. "We need to go there! Oh! No, we don't. And we need to buy this ticket! Wait! No, we don't." What makes it worse is that after making two incorrect statements, thus dashing my faith in his judgement, he is right the third time, which makes me feel like a disloyal, unreasonable ass.
B.A. will also read me the inscriptions on plinths. The English inscriptions. I believe many husbands do this, and surely it is not because they believe their wives have suddenly been struck illiterate. It could be their joy and excitement. As when watching "Master Chef."
I suppose there have been times (Italy) when I have wished a policeman to rescue me from B.A.'s torrent of happy, instructive chatter, but Saturday afternoon was not one of them. We had just had a splendid meal at Ognisko (my choice) and we were on our way to sell my book (my childhood dream). The sun was shining; it was delightfully warm; Hyde Park was to our left; stately embassies were to our right. B.A. may have been talking; I do not recall. I was wrapped in a blissful post-prandial cardigan of joy.
Then we spotted a crowd of demonstrators, mostly of Middle Eastern appearance, to our left, across the street. And we noted a number of policemen on our side of the street. The demonstrators were apparently aiming their protest at one of the embassies to our right.
"They're protesting Iraq," said B.A. "No, Lebanon. Syria."
We squinted at the plaque beside the door of the embassy as we passed.
"Syria!" shouted B.A., oblivious to my contradictory murmurs. "That's it! That must be the Syrian embassy!"
"Excuse me, sir," said a London bobby, turning. "That's the Libyan embassy."
B.A. was momentarily struck dumb.
"Oh," he managed to say. "Thank you very much, officer."
Afterwards, B.A. told Polish Pretend Son this story three times, and Polish Pretend Son enjoyed each telling.
B.A. loves jokes so much, he relishes even the ones against himself. Which is why, thank heavens, I will get away with this post.
Update: "No!" said B.A., at home to get lunch. "I keel you! I keel you!"