|This is NOT how it works. Nope.|
My husband's faith in my abilities would be moving - if it weren't so annoying. He regards me as his personal Filofax ("When did Dirk and Michaela get married?" "Where did I leave the screwdriver?" "Do we need to buy rubbish sacks?") and an Omniscient Presence. In fact, my actual lack of omniscience annoys him. He won't accept it. He bombards me with questions beyond my abilities and is annoyed when I can't answer them.
For example: last night I received a worrying e-mail from my mother. My aunt had returned from her holiday and found her house ransacked and her jewellery gone. I gasped as I read the mail.
"What's wrong?" said my concerned husband.
"I've just received an e-mail from my mother. Listen, she writes:
Just a quick note to let you know that Auntie Gingerbread came home from Spain yesterday and found her house ransacked and her jewellery gone. Love, Mammy'"
Mr Gingerbread appears at my side, his face a picture of concern.
"Which jewellery did they take?" he asks.
"I don't know - it just says 'jewellery'."
"How many thieves were there?"
"I don't know."
"And how did they break in, anyway?"
"Seriously? I don't know."
"Did they take anything else?"
"Look, I read the e-mail to you. I really don't know."
"Was the house insured against theft?"
I tap the e-mail on the laptop screen.
"Husband," I say, "I DON'T KNOW. This is all the information I am privy to. I might be close to my mother, but we're not telepathic. That is the sum total of my knowledge on the subject, I swear."
He looks at me, indignant. I still think he thinks I know more than he's letting on.
But I don't. Really. Now you, dear readers, know as much as either of the Gingerbreads know, honest.
To be fair, I demand all kinds of information from him, too - information HE COULDN'T POSSIBLY KNOW (he thinks). We are in the middle of a season of fertility - within our circle of friends and family, sprogs are being popped by the new time (oopsie. My pregnant sister says that I do not give The Mirkul of Birt its due deference, so let's re-phrase that:) women are a-glow with the joy of their blossoming bumps. One Gingerbread sister has just had a baby, another sister is due in October and my sister-in-law is expecting her first. The announcement of the first niece/nephew on my husband's side of the family came after he'd had a loooooooong conversation with his sister.
"My sister is pregnant!" he said.
"When's she due?"
Blank face. "In ... 2012?" he volunteers uncertainly.
"Are you asking me if it's spring?" I ask.
"I think it's spring," he says.
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"You know, I didn't ask."
"But it's not twins, is it?"
"I don't think so."
"So she didn't say how many weeks pregnant she is?"
"She might have, but I've forgotten."
"But she's okay - she's healthy and enjoying the pregnancy?"
He scratches his head. He's been on the phone for half an hour with his sister but the question renders him bewildered. "I suppose so."
"What on earth were you talking about?" I ask him. "Did you ask her about the pregnancy at all?"
"Yes," he says, injured. "I asked her if she was puking in the morning. She is. And most of the rest of the day as well."
You see what I mean? I had to phone the sister-in-law to discover that, apart from the technicolour morning-slash-all-day sickness, she's fine, everything's progressing as it should, the baby's due in February and they haven't been able to determine its sex yet.
I think we've been spending too much time together in these summer holidays. It's about time I got back to work.