When your husband’s away (and you ask the neighbour to take your top off)

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3 hot water bottles to replace husband

Let me describe my life to you. My husband, Si, announces he’s being deployed by the Army to, wait for it, not Syria, not Sudan but Swindon, leaving me in our military quarter near London with two children under three (Sienna, 2.5, & Vita, 6 months), working part-time as a country lifestyle journalist (yes, in London) with limited childcare whilst he lives with my parents in Wiltshire (to apparently save money), coming back to visit at the weekends.

Like WTF?!

Did he rohypnol me? How did I agree to this? Which gets me thinking, how did I agree to any of this? He gets me pregnant consensually twice, with me knowing about the grave risks to my undercarriage, all for five minutes of fun, followed by intense muscles contractions, twitchy toes and grimacy sex face.

Cut to the consequences: The first (Sienna) was like landing a plane without the wheels down and went on and on for 56 hours (for the Mummies out there she was back-to-back and came out sunny-side-up.) My second baby (Vita) arrived like the Italian Job, blowing the bloody doors off. The midwives had me standing up in the birthing pool for a change of position when Vita decided to do a Tom Daley off the high-board and torpedoed into the water sending the whole maternity ward into chaos. All I can say is thank god the window was closed or else she’d have been hanging from the 5th floor by the umbilical cord.

I’m typing this one handed as Vita is suckling away, whilst my two year old tweaks my other nipple wondering if she can ‘have a go’ like her friend Zanthe (bless you, sounds like a sneeze) who is four and still getting ‘Bitty’ from her Aussie strange mother.  It’s precious moments like this one when I feel brimming with love but also have a very strong urge to go travelling. Right now. With or without the kids I just want to get on a plane. Of course, bloody Simon’s seen the whole world. I say I’d like to go to Borneo, Africa, see the Northern Lights one day. But he’s been there done that. Bastard. Oh to escape the seventh circle of hell with spectres of the Pontipines and the evil Pinky-ponk haunting my dreams, my internal monologue permanently narrated by Derek Jacobi… Sienna is now pouring the contents of her potty over the bathroom floor and Vita is screaming like a flaming Banshee. I’ll be back.

And, yet, despite of my monumental sacrifices, the death of my burgeoning career and the fact I now wear my body like any oversized coat, Simon skips merrily off to Swindon without a care in the world, leaving me with an empty fridge (and no means of paying for food – we still don’t have a joint account, don’t even go there), no hot water and no central heating and it’s been like Lapland in London of late. And for someone with my dodgy circulation – I get chilblains sitting at my desk any time after August – not to mention a poorly bairn, Vita has Hand, Foot and Mouth, it’s the actions of a total pillock.  [Si: Oh yeah, I thought there was something wrong with the boiler.]

Last night I wonder why after throwing a temperature of 104 Vita is now reading around 93. Is the thermometer broken? No – it’s because she’s FREEZING TO DEATH in her own bed! I’m always cold and assume the Yorkshire terrier’s (Si) been at the heating controls again in a bid to save 30p so I yank the thermostat up and then realise the boiler’s not running at all, which explains why there was no hot water at bath time. Si said it was because I had a rock star bath earlier that morning and took all the water. What a crock of…

I wrap Vita (Simon hates her name because he thinks it sounds like a waxing product) up in extra layers and cover Sienna with every blanket in the house, adding a couple of winter coats for good measure. Then I remember my Cath Kidston hot water bottle.

Except I can’t get the effing top off.  My husband has lots of useful muscles and his PSI grip strength is seriously impressive. He can take lids off, turn stiff taps on and unlock things BUT he is also the reason why they are stuck in the first place. Like, for example, my hot water bottle top. I try and try until my fingers ache and the fleshy part of my hand is bruised. It’s 9.30pm – I could ask our neighbours but I’m in my pjs and Anna is away… So Doctor Nick is on his own and, given the fact he’s a 6ft 2 silver fox, I have an unhealthy interest in older men and am seething with rage at my chronic a***hole of a husband, it’s a tempting idea. He’s also a doctor and I’m a hypochondriac; it’s a very tempting idea.

I brush my hair, put some make up on and ring Dr. Nick’s doorbell, clutching my bottle.

V: Hi, sorry to bother you, Doctor… just wondered if you could take  

my top off - my hot water bottle top. It’s really stiff. And wedged  


(Stop talking right now)
N: Sure, I’m always available to take my neighbour’s top off. Ahaha.
V: I’ve got a back up hottie somewhere.
N: Does Simon know? (Twisting the stopper) One top off. Can I help 

you with anything else? No ‘rash of death’ tonight?
V: Nope, the cream seems to be working. Thank you, Nick.

I fill the hot water bottle and put it in Vita’s bed. She snuggles like a little bunny into the warmth. I consider whether to take it back later. Would she notice? I am literally going to freeze and the midwives say you have to look after yourself first and then your babies. Then I remember The Donald hottie, formerly known as Rod Stewart.

As I wait for the kettle to boil I stare at the boiler. I don’t need a man to fix it. I can do it myself. And I ruddy well do as well. I turn the effing thing on and off, off and on, hitting reset 19 times and bingo, it cranks up. The heating engineer later tells me: “You’ve already done half my job, love. It’s an engineer’s secret that turning it off stops the pump and gets the air out and doing that repeatedly clears it out completely.” (You heard it here first folks). The boiler-man turns my thermostat to 30. (Yeah, that high Si, you Yorkshireman!) He then turns on all my radiators. Nice. “All sorted. That’ll get rid of your goosebumps.”

I ask him to take my top off before he leaves. Just in case.

6 thoughts on “When your husband’s away (and you ask the neighbour to take your top off)

  1. Brilliantly vivid, I felt like i was sitting at your kitchen table while this happened! Wonderfully written and heart wrenchingly comforting to know one isn’t the only one where life looks like an episode of league of gentlemen combined with Motherland!

    • Thank you so much, Ellora. Really appreciate your feedback. It’s rather daunting putting yourself out there, so to speak! X

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