Lynne Mortimer: The Titanic is going down again thanks to an overload of Play Doh

Lynne Mortimer

Lynne Mortimer - Credit: Archant

The male colleague to my right fell silent. “What did you say?” he asked.

I repeated what I’d said.

He dived into his desk drawer and took out his digital recorder (ah, what happened to shorthand?).

“Will you just say that for me again?” he pleaded, positioning his small gadget a few inches from my nose and pressing the record button.

“No, I will not,” I said, crossly.


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You will be wondering what I said that led him to be so anxious to record my words. I’ll tell you. It was: “My husband is sometimes right.”

I thought my colleague’s intention was to let my husband have a copy of this utterance. My husband, I’m sure, is well aware how readily I defer to him on a number of issues (two, I think) but I wasn’t going to have my fellow worker (who shall remain nameless) collect oral evidence that might stand up in court.

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He has since assured me this was not at all his intention. He would, he says, have played it to his wife and daughter because, he sighs, in their opinions he is never right.

Never? He said his daughter had nearly wavered on one occasion.

I confess to some affinity with his womenfolk. In my long experience of sitting next to him, he has yet to be correct – about anything. (You’re talking about A****** aren’t you, Lynne? ED)

Do men feel they are always getting it wrong? I don’t think so, although far be it from me to try and guess what a man is thinking. Mildly interested, however, I Googled “what do men think about” and the internet offered me pages of suggestions – a lot of them suggesting the same.

But maybe women should throw men a crumb from time to time. And I don’t mean adopting a half-listening: “That’s nice, dear,” followed by an inattentive: “Of course, darling, if that’s what you want.”

Take care. They could use this abstraction to their advantage...

“I was thinking of taking a six month sabbatical.” (“That’s nice, dear.”)

“I’m going to be the token man in an all-female party of Miss World contestants trekking to the North Pole. We’ll have to share sleeping bags.” (Of course, darling, if that’s what you want.”)

It’s the sort of information they could nonchalantly throw into their customary practice of reading aloud from the newspaper. The reading, probably about the leadership of some political party or another, will precede a Hamlet-like soliloquy riddled with rhetorical questions in which they bang on about what’s wrong with the world and whether it is better to suffer slings and arrows or to stop reading the paper and sleep perchance to dream.

You reflect that it’s good to talk although, normally, this would involve more than just the one person.

Meanwhile, grandson George is making great strides in his use of English. He was staying with his other grandma overnight and when she said it was time for bed he said: “I can’t go to bed because I’m stuck to the sofa.” This is the sort of thing that can happen when a nearly-three-year-old grasps the usefulness of conjunctions. “Because” is a handy escape clause.

The format: “I can’t... because...” and “You must let me (eg stay up until 4am) because (all my friends’ mums let them)” is a constant feature of childhood and teen years. George has also come to appreciate how “and” can work for him.

“George would you like an apple drink or an orange drink?”

“An orange and an apple drink.”

“Please.”

“Please.”

He is also starting to develop acute reasoning powers. We relented on three-week No Play Doh diktat and said he could play with it on condition he didn’t eat it. Well, he kept his promise but we probably should also have asked for an undertaking from George that he would not push Play Doh down all four funnels of the Titanic model (a beautifully-crafted prop used in a production of the musical about the ill-fated maiden voyage of the liner). George’s soulmate, Grandpa, points out it was white Play Doh and thus could have been intended to represent smoke.

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