BBC RADIO SOLENT’S ALUN NEWMAN
It brings me great pleasure, when the moment arises, to make my children jump.
They call them jump-scares, I call them ‘living on the edge surprises’.
It’s a Clouseau v Cato-style training programme.
This week, when my daughter was in the downstairs cloakroom, I lie in wait on the stairs – on my side, facing towards the ground floor, inverted, poised like a mantis.
As she appeared from the wash room I pushed my arms through the gaps in the banister and made the noise of a disgruntled, mildly threatening clown.
She jump-scared, got cross with me and vowed to get me back, tenfold.
I explained to her, as I always do, that it’s not possible.
I have experience, I come from a large family, I’m premier league, box office.
She’s still starting her ascension from the Southern League Division One, she lacks discipline.
What followed were regular attempts to shock me throughout the week.
Behind doors, under crumpled dressing gowns, leaping from sofas.
I praised her commitment, however, her understanding of the target was misplaced.
Or so I thought.
It was at our family meal-time while we were unpacking the day’s events when my wife expressed, with some restrained passion and frustration, that when she had taken the dog for a walk she was left with no option but to return early.
As my wife revealed the story it would seem that all the dog poo bags had holes in them.
She was furious with the manufacture and appalled that she was forced to walk home and wrestle the back door open with her elbows. Before there was a chance to talk about a letter of complaint, laughter was silently arising from the dinner table in the form of shoulder shaking.
‘Sorry mum, that was meant for dad.’
In a new attack strategy, and assuming that I was on the usual Wednesday morning dog walk, my daughter had sliced small holes in the first few dog bags. My wife was not impressed and recounted, among other details, that it can be dangerous – not sure why – and also highly unpleasant. Acts of wilful vandalism are unacceptable in this home, apparently.
This latest move shows a greater understanding of the game on my daughter’s part. I have work to do.
I, of course, stood shoulder to shoulder with my wife. The joke had gone too far, the nonsense had to stop. This was getting out of control.
(I was hugely impressed. My training is paying off. The game is on.)
Some things are better left unsaid
I have been married for a long time. Yet there are still occasions when things spring to mind that I’ve never shared.
Habits that I may have that go largely unnoticed by everyone but my own mind.
It was an innocent moment one evening when my wife asked me to refill her bedside water and at the same time remove a spider. For I am the unelected, reluctant head of insect removal.
I used her empty glass and a piece of paper to remove a spider from our bedroom. I then refilled the same glass and placed it by her bedside. As I clambered into bed I shared that ...‘I never wash a glass after removing spiders’.
My wife erupted, ‘Tell me your joking! That’s disgusting. How long have you done this?’
Answer: Over 20 years.
It went on and on as I explained that I use the glass for its intended purpose or simply return the glass to the cupboard. How much dirt can a spider carry?
They’re not exactly messy eaters. They weren’t responsible for the plague, they're off the radar when it comes to infection risk.
None of this was enough to sway opinion and a family vote insisted on a change of behaviour.
I have learned an important lesson. Even if you’re disgusting, shocking and irresponsible, you still can’t shake off the role of chief insect remover.