'I don't like eating peaches,' I said to Paul yesterday as I bent over the kitchen sink trying to consume a fruit that didn't want to co-operate. 'It gushes juice, for a start, so I have to eat it in this undignified position. And it's got this velvety skin which keeps slipping about. I feel as though I'm noshing on someone trying to shrug off a posh jacket.'
He watched me as I struggled on. I thought, 'I wonder if he's finding this arousing.' But he wasn't, because he turned away to check through the spice cupboard to see what needed to go on the shopping list.
I'm not surprised. Plump woman with peachy face leaning over kitchen sink isn't a pose you see in 'Hot Ladies' magazine, I bet.
After I'd recovered from the peach-eating, which necessitated a full scrub-down - I may as well have gone for a shower - we had a tense conversation about another kind of drip.
'All these brown stains near the recycling bin,' I said to him. 'That's you, unable to stop a teabag from dripping on its way from mug to bin. Just put your hand underneath it, like I do, to catch any drips. I keep having to wipe them up.'
'I'm going to call you Jack the Dripper,' I said.
'Please don't. That's tasteless.'
'Okay. But do as I said. Hold your hand underneath the teabag.'
'I don't like the hot tea dripping into my hand,' he said.
'You're a wuss,' I said.
He's not, though. He's hypersensitive to touch. For instance, I can walk about the kitchen in bare feet but he can't. He has to put socks on, otherwise he hops about saying 'Oof, oof' as though our kitchen tiles are hot coals.
I can wear a teeshirt with long sleeves that tickles me in the crook of my elbows. He can't. He's just paid a sewing lady twenty pounds to alter some sleeves for him on two teeshirts he bought. He does the same with shorts that reach the knee. That lady does extremely well out of the alterations he sends her so that clothes don't tickle him.
|The sewing lady treats her friends to lunch with Paul and Fran's savings|
Special occasions are worse. If we go to a wedding, we have The Big Domestic about the Tie. He can't tolerate being trussed up at the neck. He wants to be able to wear a shirt, with no tie, and the top button undone, otherwise he feels as though he's being strangled. Chance would be a fine thing, I say to him, if The Domestic has continued for too long.
In fact, all his clothes are kind of baggy and unstructured, and most of them are pretty old and holey, because he's a gardener, so if I'm out in town with him, I have to stop people offering him a Greggs sausage roll, or prayer, or the address of a hostel.
'Please, no,' I say. 'He's with me.'
'How lovely of you to befriend him,' they say. 'You're a saint. I'll leave you to it, then, as long as he's being looked after.'
Still standing by the kitchen sink, I said to Paul, 'Well, to stop the dripping problem, why don't you squeeze out the teabags properly? You don't squeeze enough.'
'What?' he said.
He hadn't heard me. I'd just emptied something down the waste drain and it had gurgled so loudly, it had drowned out my words.
'I can't believe I've just been upstaged by a gurgling drain,' I said. 'Now that is humiliation. I bet Adele would feel the same if Bob Dylan sang over her.'
'What were you saying anyway?' Paul said.
But I didn't have energy for more nagging. It takes it out of me. I've been less tired after an exercise class. And that class was in 1972, so that's telling you something.