Our colum­nist’s wife is away and he’s mis­er­able... but love’s got noth­ing to do with it.

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My wife has been out of town, and I have a con­fes­sion to make. Or sev­eral, ac­tu­ally. For one, I haven’t had a de­cent cup of tea in a while. I watch her make the tea ev­ery morn­ing. English break­fast dip, dip, dip. I se­cretly count the num­ber of times she dip, dip, dips. And now, given a chance to dip, dip, dip on my own, I do ex­actly as she does.

The same amount of hot wa­ter in the tea mug, the same tea from the same bag, the same num­ber of dip, dip, dips. She does it while watch­ing the tele­vi­sion in the kitchen. Not wish­ing to be dis­tracted, I do it while watch­ing the dip, dip, dip do its job. No dice. It doesn’t taste like any­thing known to man.

I had a vis­i­tor, and wish­ing to show off my tea-mak­ing skills, I made him a cup. He drank it el­e­gantly and didn’t say any­thing. ‘Hope you liked my con­coc­tion,’ I ven­tured, with elab­o­rate casualness.

‘Ah yes, lovely cof­fee,’ he said. True story. Will­ing to swear in court.

The other ter­ri­ble thing I have done in my wife’s ab­sence is laun­der money. Now, there’s some­thing I never thought I’d in­dulge in. Money laun­der­ing. What is your tech­nique, you ask? How did I stum­ble upon it? Why did my wife have to be away be­fore I did any­thing? Well, it’s quite sim­ple, re­ally. In my con­tin­ued ef­fort to demon­strate that I am as well house-trained as the next man, I de­cided to do some wash­ing.

Jeans, T-shirts, whites, colours all went into the wash­ing ma­chine in the ap­proved fash­ion (or at least, I think it was). The usual rings and bells af­ter the ap­pro­pri­ate time lag in­formed me that the deed was done. My clothes were washed and dry.

Ex­cept that I had for­got­ten to re­move money from the var­i­ous pock­ets. The jeans came out clean, and the money was laun­dered. A friend of mine once did the same to his pass­port, so I feel slightly bet­ter than he did at the end of his wash cy­cle.

I know friends who come into their own when the wife is away. They cook, they clean, they rear­range the rooms, they take the car out for a walk and put out the cat (or vice versa), they in­vite friends over for a bar­be­cue, they plan ex­ten­sions to the house, they build ex­tra rooms to keep the wife’s jew­ellery in. All so ro­man­tic. I give up tea, stop shav­ing, laun­der money, starve the cat and let the plants die. And pos­si­bly poi­son vis­i­tors when they ask for tea. Hell hath no in­ep­ti­tude like a hus­band left alone.

I know FRIENDS who come into their own when the WIFE is away. I give up tea, STOP SHAV­ING, laun­der money, starve the cat and let the plants die. Hell hath no IN­EP­TI­TUDE like a HUS­BAND left alone

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