My wife has a terrible habit of talking over TV programmes I am trying to watch. She possess the unique skill of being able to blurt out her everyday opinions during crucial, plot-defining moments.
It is Thursday night, and right on cue, she flops onto the couch, at a game-changing point in my programme, opens her mouth and throws out one of her regular observations, ‘You’re so boring,’ she says chirpily, like she’s reading out a list of characteristics she’s found on my CV.
I tut and rewind the programme.
“What are you watching?” she asks with indifference, as she flicks through Homes & Gardens magazine.
There is no decent exit strategy for me here. Whatever I say she will rate my viewing choice as mundane. “It’s a documentary about the National Weights and Measures Department,” I say, sitting forward to graphically illustrate that her chatter is drowning out the documentary. It’s a technique that I have perfected over the years observing my wife trying to watch Grey’s Anatomy.
Sensing that she is getting nowhere, she ratchets up the pressure.
“Is there anything else on?” she asks, and slowly lets the magazine slip from her grasp. It flops down on the couch and splays out awkwardly; much like my wife.
“Yes, there are lots of amazing, thought-provoking programmes on all the other channels, but I decided to fry my brain watching this rubbish instead,” I replied sarcastically, tightening my grip on the remote control, just in case she mounts a surprise attack.
Silence breaks out, so I make the bold decision to un-pause and let it flow. My wife is now slumped in a defensive posture with arms folded, and her legs soon join the party. I find myself wishing the documentary would throw out an amazing weights and measures fact that will soften her outlook and unravel her limbs; it doesn’t transpire, in fact, the worst possible thing happens; I start to lose interest myself.
I offer my wife the remote control. She smiles and says: “You’re weak,” and then starts flicking ravenously. She eventually lands on an episode of Murder She Wrote, an episode I know, for a fact, that she has seen before. To celebrate, she smugly pops a chocolate into her mouth.
My son walks in, stands right in front of the telly and just stares at it as though he has been hypnotised. My daughter shuffles in and does the same.
“Move,” orders my wife. They both move away and then slowly drift back. They repeat this choreography several times. They’re like a pair of cuckoo clock figures revolving around the room. “Move out of the way of the telly,” she repeats, this time with more teeth on show.
“What are you watching?” asks my son.
“I’m watching MY programmes,” stresses my wife.
My daughter aggravates the wound by gyrating towards the forbidden zone in a hula hoop. As the hoop shimmies to the floor, she looks at her angry mother and says: “Mum, I’m hungry. Can you get me some butter toast?”
Rage is gushing out of my wife at an alarming rate, so I try and calm her down by saying: “You’ve seen this episode before.”
“I know,” she screams, “but this what happened last time.”