Saturday, 21 January 2012


can never work out whether my lawfully wedded is consciously funny or whether she provokes hilarity through some genetic mesalliance.

This week we have been setting the burglar alarm. Like most things she does, this begins with her unshakeable belief that all things are sensate and – worse - malevolently so.

Thus the burglar alarm has its eye on us. It waits to mock us if we put a foot wrong. It knows if we are trying to trick it by remaining in the house when it has been set. It is not enough for my lawfully wedded to set it, step outside and return. I have to put on my duffle coat, the dog has to put on its body warmer and we all have to troop outside. The alarm is set and gives of the self important bleep which tells the world that guard mounting is taking place. All well and good.

Well, no, it isn’t because it continues to bleep as we stand shivering on the garden path. It knows, in my lawfully wedded’s view, that we are attempting a subterfuge. It senses we are standing in a shivering knot on the other side of the front door and continues to bleep to warn us it knows exactly what we are up to and it is one too many to be so easily duped.

So we go in again and remove the dog’s lead, have a cup of tea and go to the lavatory. Over the day this becomes a ritual, much to the confusion of the dog who cannot work out why its daily walk has been shortened to two strides down the path. He whimpers uneasily. My lawfully wedded feels she must reassure with a lengthy explanation of what we are doing and why. None of which the dog understands, even when she repeats it. We go in and out so often we resemble the old couple in the weathervane.

A well ordered family at this point would summon “Tich”, our Italian electrician. No use. “Tich” is the son of a Sicilian POW whom centuries of Mafia domination have taught wariness. When he hears the sound of our alarm, by Pavlovian response he switches off his mobile and hides.

When we finally reach him he is totally baffled but he does tell us there is no need to leave the house to test the alarm. He says you just have to stay still. No problem because by this time I am frozen stiff.

What is particularly provoking is that the house is only rarely empty and then only for the length of a statutory dog walk, which is the only time I ever leave it.

Trips? Not on your life. My lawfully wedded joined my daughter on a visit to the da Vinci exhibition. I stayed at home and was not even safe there. As regular readers will know, I am too fat to fit into a scanner so that my inside is still a mystery to the medical profession.

My wife returned from her visit to Town triumphantly waving a copy of the Evening Standard which told how London hospitals are coping with the obese. They are sending them to London Zoo to put them through giant scanners which will take elephants. It is not very nice that when one’s lawfully wedded has home thoughts from abroad elephants spring to mind.

Holidays????? I assume you are joking since wherever one looks liners are overturning. It’s obvious why. They are built like me. There is not enough below the plumb line to keelhaul Tom Thumb and a great deal too much above the line just waiting to tip over.

In any case I hate cruises. The nearest I have been to one is an overnight voyage to Sweden. I had more fun in an army prison and a great deal more freedom. Cruise ships are S.S. Stalag Lufts with punishments like deck quoits and dancing.

Not that there is much fun at home what with the burglar alarm, the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee. The London Olympics will be a health minefield according to the Lancet. We can look forward to stampedes, heatstroke and mass infections. We are all paying a fortune to get cholera.

Queen Victoria refused to pay the cost of her diamond jubilee in 1897. As Arthur Bigge, the Queen's private secretary, told the Treasury, "the Queen may abandon the whole celebration if she finds that the Privy Purse is likely to be called upon to again pay as in 1887."

He continued: “Her Majesty is not personally desirous of any festivities. They are going to take place solely because the nation evidently expects them. It would certainly be ungenerous to mulct the Queen for the cost."

As it was the Prince of Wales cut the Diamond Jubilee celebrations to just 10 days so he could go to "an important Newmarket week". The queen refused to offer bed and board to foreign royalty: they had to be put up by the public purse.


Bigge wrote: "The Queen has spoken so very strongly to me about what Her Majesty had to pay 10 years ago for the last Jubilee and everything has gone so well that I shall indeed be sorry if Her Majesty is annoyed by a disagreeable finale to her efforts to please her subjects and the world at large."

In the end Parliament agreed to fund the whole party.

Oh that Our Majesty would take the same view. No such luck. An MP in pursuit of a knighthood has suggested we bribe her with a new Royal Yacht. It’s not the cost I worry about. I have turned down one invitation to party on the royal yacht when it visited Holyhead. A second refusal might block me forever from the Birthday Honours.

I wasn’t being anti-monarchical. Some years ago a dining club of which I was a member had a function on a liner in Liverpool where I was awakened from a post-prandial drunken slumber by a Lascar steward. Convinced we had sailed, I believed I had been white slaved, bound for the harem of some pederastic Eastern potentate. No foot of mine has touched a deck since.