Why my wife finally lost it with me | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

This may come as a bit of a shock to absolutely no-one I know, but on occasion, I can be quite neurotic.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:48 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:51 pm
NO CANDLES: The correct way to stack cutlery in a dishwasher..!

I don’t set out to be, it’s simply because the filter between thought and speech is somewhat thin in places.

It always has been and, on many occasions, it’s proved to be incredibly helpful. It’s also landed me in hot water.

However, it’s been with me all my life and someone who has been along for the ride has been my wife.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As we’ve now been married for more than 300 years, we’ve got to know each other quite well.

I’m not sure if my wife often copes with being together by dissociation. Red wine. Working longer than her paid hours to stay busy. Or possibly a combination of all of those.

She’s never really indicated that she’s had enough of my constant plans, thoughts and counter thoughts.She’s been very much the steady rudder of the good ship Newman.

However, this picture of the laid-back calm that I paint came to the end of her tether. Not with the children. With me. Not comically but seriously.

It centered around the dishwasher. As I was dumping another load of knives and forks into that cutlery-basket-thing Mrs Newman finally lost it.

I was accused of several misdemeanours including, stacking the machine like a lazy, bored teenager, once being competent at this task and now being incompetent and also, the final nail in the coffin, putting the knives and forks in the wrong way.

Well, I was of course shocked and burst into floods of tears (internally).

In reality, I stared in a calm compassionate way, knowing that one false move, noise or comment and it could be my last.

In fairness, I had been told on numerous occasions that unless the handle of a tea-spoon is so thin it falls though the basket, everything else must go handle down first. Otherwise, they don’t clean properly.

What made this dressing-down particularly funny was what happened next? It was unbelievable.

My wife gets out from the cutlery drawer a selection of knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons and holds them in her hand.

She demonstrates which way up they are to go in the machine.

She does this clearly and slowly. Not laughing. Like a stern, terrifying, Floella Benjamin, teaching a naughty child on Play School.

I watched the demonstration and held my nerve.

Joking aside, I couldn’t mess this up because we’re in a pandemic ‘lockdown’.

I have nowhere to go to for a man-sulk. I have no easy 'out' options. We’re stuck together.

The next bit was brilliant and this story is absolutely true.

My wife then jumbles up the knives, forks and spoons in her hands and then says: ‘Now you show me how they should go in the dishwasher basket’. She then passes them over.

This was extraordinary, I was in a test scenario similar to the Crystal Maze but without any prize at the end.

I completed the task, one small mistake but I really was panicking.

The training session finished with confirmation that I know what I’m doing and we left it there for the day.

I was saved slightly by the fact that it was Mothers' Day and thankfully the children stormed the kitchen armed with a few gifts and some hastily created home-made cards.

In reality, I was just saved by a tradition that was started in the 16th century, possibly with the sole purpose of getting me out of a dishwasher tutorial with a wife who’d simply had enough.


Everything felt a bit lacklustre in our house last weekend. God has slowed time and we’ve all done the same things so often it feels like life’s on repeat. So I came up with a brilliant plan.

It’s widely known that smells can stimulate memories and feelings at lightning speed. For example, for me, cut grass equals spring. Fish and chips means its Friday. Walk past the Indian takeaway and it’s Saturday night. Petrol reminds me of my days as a mechanic. Paraffin, 1970s’ fence panels. You get the picture.

Here’s the plan and it’s simple. It was Sunday morning and the house was beginning to stir. I’d been up for a while and finished watching Match of the Day on iPlayer. I dug out a nearly finished bottle of essential oil called Smells like Christmas. It was £3 and I bought it a couple of years ago when I tried and failed to make aromatic dried fruit out of oranges.

I got the oil burner going, added water and Smells like Christmas. It’s a heady combination of cinnamon, cloves and ginger. It smelled like Christmas. I made sure the heating was on adding a sense of surprise warmth. I turned up some Christmas hits. Mariah Carey did the trick.

It worked a treat. Anyone who came into the kitchen was smiling. Even my son said ‘it smells like Christmas’. Obviously, I’m not sure that’s what was said as I’m still learning ‘Teen Grunting’. But I’m pretty sure it was. I recommend it. It lifted the mood for at least eight minutes.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, with 70 per cent fewer adverts for less than 20p a day.