Home alone with a hat, a bra, and toasted cheese

Two whole nights home alone.

Occasionally, my husband has spent a night away but never two in a row; not in 33 years of marriage. Now he was off to a fort in Plymouth for the stag weekend. On the one hand, it offered a rare opportunity to eat things I like and he hates, on the other, who was going to make me a cup of tea? I was.

Fortunately my bad back had recovered sufficiently for me to indulge in a some serious shopping during the daytime – Cambridge with Jane on Friday and Bluewater with Ruth on Saturday.

And on Sunday I repented at leisure.

The bra fitting (Cambridge; Saturday) was a new adventure.

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“We don’t measure you,” said my... well bra consultant I suppose you’d call her, “we just look.” So she looked at me with her practised eye (her other one was a novice) and went away to find me something new and, inevitably, expensive.

Before she left the cubicle, she offered me a glass of water. It was not for a wet T-shirt effect, it was to drink.

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I eventually settled upon what I imagine must be one of the priciest brassieres in East Anglia if not the world but, frankly, I was past caring. It’s a wonder my credit card hasn’t melted.

Then we found the perfect hat in John Lewis. As I have a small head (hard to believe, I know) I left the tissue paper inside the crown when I tried it on. It was love at first sight. I had to have it and did. It is the size of a small country. If it was off the Suffolk coast I would have declared it an independent sovereign state, crowned myself queen and issued my own postage stamps.

So I am now fully togged out for the wedding except for a handbag and shoes. It looks as if I won’t be one of the naked wedding guests after all.

Back home to an empty house in Ipswich and there was no-one to admire my purchases. But hang on a moment... who could this be at the door?

(dream sequence)

Knock, knock.

“Who’s there?”

“It ees your window clean-errr.” (He’s French)

“Entrez, s’il vous plait. Voulez vous regarder mon chapeau nouveau?” (I think that would approximate to: “Please come in. Would you like to see my hat new?”)

“No, thank you. I will have the money next time...”

“No, don’t run. I’m perfectly harmless... come back... what about your squeegee? Vouz avez oubli� votre squeegee....”

In reality, no one called although our window cleaner is French.

Later, my husband rang to say he had arrived safely at the stag destination and that my son was dressed up as Richard the Lionheart and they were about to pour boiling oil on Martin. Not real boiling oil, of course. They used chopped carrots.

It occurred to me that if I’d had an iphone – hang on a minute, that’s the object of the sentence so it should probably be a mephone – I could have taken a picture of myself in my hat and sent it to my husband, if he had also had a mephone.

By early evening, I had run out of Su Doku and crosswords so I treated myself to three rounds of cheese on toast. He doesn’t care for cooked cheese. I turned on the telly. It was the night of Comic Relief but hilarity is best shared.

Eventually, I went to bed. I did my husband’s rounds, checking all the doors and downstairs windows were locked. Then I locked, bolted and put the chain on the front door and scuttled upstairs to the bedroom.

Then I scuttled back downstairs, grabbed my handbag and scuttled back up again.

Normally, I leave my bag in the sitting room but, for some reason I felt compelled to have it with me at all times. I popped it under my husband’s vacant pillow, then washed, brushed my teeth, moisturised my legs (they get dandruff), donned my pyjamas and slid under the duvet.

Then the house started to creak. It sounded like footsteps on the landing. I held my breath until I all I could hear was my heart thumping and breathed out slowly, straining to listen.

Did I check the door to the garage? What if someone very skinny had squeezed in through the redundant catflap and were edging his way towards the door to the kitchen. Then I remembered the state of the garage – no one could navigate it in the dark without sustaining a nasty lawnmower or white goods injury.

But I had to be sure. I stole downstairs and made a full security tour of the house.

Satisfied I was alone, I retreated to the bedroom, felt under the pillow – bag still there – and then read a rather scary crime thriller for about three minutes before settling down to panic under the covers. Now the creaking was overhead, in the loft.

I woke up tired on Saturday and hit the road with Ruth for more shopping. This time it was Bluewater, the not-quite-Essex shopping experience.

We found Ruth a wedding dress; a dress to wear for her brother’s wedding, that is and I began to feel the PNT (pre-nuptial tension) ease.

Back home, still alone, I partook of more proscribed substances – this time it was a slice of cheese and onion quiche and a peanut butter sandwich – before turning in for an early night of heightened creak awareness.

By Sunday, the novelty had worn off. I wanted him back.

Happily, at teatime, Raedwald Half-elven returned with his staff of power; home from his epic quest with the Fellowship of the Fort. (They played hide and seek)

“I will show you my staff of power,” he announced portentously and produced what I can only describe as a stick. Granted, it was a tall stick but it was definitely more stick than staff.

Something green coated part of its shaft.

“What is that green stuff?” I asked.

“Oh, that. It’s a really interesting lichen,” he said and laid his stick (staff) across my lap so that I might better appreciate the fungal outcrop.

“Put it outside, please.”

He looked a little crestfallen. “All right,” he agreed reluctantly, “but I’m not throwing it away, it is the source of great power.”

But that was enough about him. “I’ve got a new hat... and bra,” I told him, excited.

He looked curious: “Is it the hat of invisibility and the bra of invulnerability?”

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