Plus Bim Adewunmi
I wake up on Saturday morning in the dark, to the sound of my wife cackling. I can tell that she is reading my column on her phone. I can also tell, from the particular throaty quality of the cackle, t that she is not laughing at the column itself, but at the comments p posted beneath. She laughs again.
“What?” I say.
“They’re not happy, are they?” she says.
“I don’t know,” I say. “What time is it?”
“It’s early,” she says. “Ha ha!”
“What?” I say.
“Nothing,” she says. “Go back to sleep.”
I roll over and stare at the wall. There is something about the look of the wallpaper in the glow from my wife’s phone that makes me think: where am I?
Then I remember: I am in the middle of a run of three gigs with the band. My wife attended the Bath gig the night before, but I only really saw her afterwards, at the merchandise stall.
“That was very good,” she’d said, before going on to critique the show in a manner that made it clear she’d missed the first half.
We are, I now recall, staying with the lead singer’s mother-in-law, who lives conveniently nearby and has kindly offered to put us up. She is called Susie, and she also takes in B&B guests, which is why there’s a kettle and two cups in the room.
“Ha ha!” my wife says. “Oh dear!” “What?” I say.
“Nothing,” she says.
By the time I get downstairs the coffee is on, Susie is cooking bacon and the kitchen table is set for six.
“I’m sorry we’re not eating in the dining room this morning,” Susie says.
“That will obviously be reflected in my TripAdvisor review,” I say. This strikes me as being hilarious, but also familiar. I think I may have used it the last time I was here, and possibly the time before that.
We are invited to stay for lunch, but my wife explains that she needs to return to London because she has hired our oldest son’s friend Eddy to do some gardening work, which she must oversee. She tries to blame me, because the gardening is something I should be doing.
“I’m a businessman,” I say. “I’m on a business trip.”
At lunch a man called John tells a very good story about being punched at his own
dinner party. I try to commit it to memory because it’s the sort of thing my wife likes, but it’s a complicated tale with a large cast of characters. Afterwards all I really remember is the last line, which is, “How could you? We’re finished in Somerset.”
The lead singer, the drummer and I leave lunch early to meet the rest of the band at the next venue. When we get there it becomes clear there are problems with the sound equipment, problems that will not be solved until perilously close to showtime. We sit in the dressing room, coats on, drinking tea and fretting. The gig turns out all right in the end, but I am bone weary by the time we get back to Susie’s house in the middle of the night.
The next morning I am up before anyone, except Susie, who is already in the kitchen.
“It’s only boiled eggs,” she says. “I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” I say. “As long as you don’t mind three stars out of five.” I think: it still works.
I leave soon after, eager to be home. By the time I’ve dropped off the drums, it’s almost lunchtime. I find my wife cooking in the kitchen. Outside the window, Eddy is weeding on his knees.
I sit at the table, reviewing events.
“How could you?” I say. “We’re finished in Somerset.”
“I don’t get it,” my wife says. “Which person is even saying that?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I’m so tired.”
“It must be nice for you, coming back to this lovely hotel,” she says, putting a plate of pasta in front of me.
I think of a hilarious thing to say, and then decide not to say it at all