Winning the numbers game

Lynne is a bit over 9 stone,,,, in his dreams. Picture BB

Lynne is a bit over 9 stone,,,, in his dreams. Picture BB - Credit: Archant

My husband’s revelatory dream may provide the new answer to life, the universe and everything: thirty twelve (formerly 42)

My husband came downstairs and announced: “I had a strange dream.”

I instantly switched my brain to auto-response mode. This is when I appear to be listening and make suitable noises at regular intervals. In fact, I am paying no attention whatsoever.

If there is anything more tedious that listening to someone telling you about the dream they had last night, I don’t know what it is... (no postcards mentioning Brexit, please).

I rarely remember dreams, although Freud (Sigmund not Clement) would probably insist that I that I do have them and they are probably something to do with my deepest unconscious wishes and desires.

As one of my few recurring dreams is standing at a bus stop and the bus never comes, I can only assume I have an unrealised yearning to live somewhere in the remotest reaches of the East Anglian countryside.

“I had a strange dream,” said my husband again.

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“Oh, yes?”


He knows me well enough to realise when I am not going to offer any further encouragement. He does not let this deter him, however.

“It was really funny.” He looked at me to see if he had piqued my interest. But he continued anyway.

“I weighed myself on our scales (we don’t have any) and I was 11 stone 17lbs.”

Now he had my full attention. I disengaged auto-pilot. For those familiar with imperial measurements, there are 14 pounds (lbs) in a stone.*

“I don’t know where the 17 came from,” he said.

I applied the principles of Freudian analysis and decided it was unlikely to be anything to do with his mother.

“Maybe, you’re actually 12 stone 3lbs and your dream was giving you a better way of expressing it,” I suggested.

We don’t actually know what my husband weighs. It was, after all, only a dream but his reverie may have provided the answer to some of today’s most pressing issues.

Why should I admit to being nearly 13 stone when I could accurately say I am nine stone 53lbs. It’s not a lie, it’s just a numerical transformation. And I say this with all the authority conferred upon me by my grade 5 maths O level.

But why stop at weight?

Why shouldn’t I reconfigure my age as 52 years and 11. In this case, the 11 is years not months but it just feels a bit less 63, don’t you think? It’s not a lie, just a re-vamp. One of the advantages of getting older is that you can be more creative with numbers.

My auntie Millie, in Haddiscoe, always said she was as old as her tongue and a little bit older than her teeth. I thought this was nigh unto genius... although, to be fair, the author Jonathan Swift said it first. As a child of eight, awed by her wisdom, I never asked how old her tongue was. She died when I was about 19-years-old (15 years 4, if you will) and I never did find out her actual age. When I asked my mum, she told me auntie Millie was “as old as her tongue and a little bit older than her teeth”.

As it happens, I think auntie Millie may have been exercising numerical licence as she had false teeth, which would have made her considerably older than her Hampsteads.

* There are 16 ounces in a pound and 14 pounds in a stone. This is information that pub quizzers and Americans need to know.

More numbers. On a scale of one to 10, how tiring is Christmas?


It’s not the amount of stuff I’m doing, it’s the thought of what I have still to do. At least the cards are gone. The local ones went to the boy scouts to deliver and the others made second class post before the cut-off date (December 18). My local post office had kindly offered a stick-on service so I just had to pay for the stamps and they stuck them on to the envelopes and put them in the sack. One less thing for Lynne to do... not that she’s done much.

I can still remember the taste of the glue from back in the days when we had to lick stamps. And the paper chains we made had to be licked too... in fact Christmas required a lot of gummed surfaces to be licked. There were even lickable gift labels. It was the true spirit gum of Christmas.

I’m going in. My son officially left home about 10 years ago, which how long his stuff has lain virtually untouched under his bed in his mum and dad’s house. I have mentioned it.

“I don’t know if there’s anything under your bed you want to take home with you, Mark?”

“Nor do I,” he said.

The time has come to put the whole lot in a big bag and take it over to Essex for him to look through (I’m not just pushing it out of county, he lives in Essex). Then he can do with it whatever he wants: throw it out, sell it on eBay; or put it under his bed.

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