Tomorrow, my wife Karen returns from an eleven night sabbatical at her childhood home in the County Durham town of Birtley. A sojourn undertaken to help care for her recently widowed octogenarian father.

Although not a hiatus requiring passport, Hawaiian shirt or the SPF 20 sun cream, on her return my spouse will be required to change her watch to reflect Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Her hometown utilising the time zone of Birtley Baths Time (BBT), which runs slightly behind GMT – Thirty years behind if you listen to my wife.

My understanding is that Karen plans to return to our modest three-bed home in her sister Sue’s 180 break horsepower chariot. Her twin sibling dropping my missus off prior to heading further south to the Newark home she shares with her family…… I’m just glad I don’t have to facilitate the feeding of the 180 horses, who’ll no doubt be famished after their 150 mile trek.

Being bereft of my betrothed has resulted in a much-needed post-cardiac arrest serenity around the Strachan home. Respite from not being nagged about wearing my undies inside out to get two days wear out of them, or exposure to recurring spousal disputes about the unacceptable fat content in Old Porky’s lard sandwiches.


My wife means well, however her zero tolerance policy at me enjoying myself in any shape or form does wear thin at times. Still you’ve got to smile haven’t you, although if I do that I’d probably receive a spousal admonishment for the downright audacity of experiencing mirth without first running it past her.

To clarify, my japes about my wife’s controlling nature are merely that, japes. In reality she’s a deeply caring individual. In fact, while the ambulance drove me to Leeds General Infirmary during January’s heart attack she selflessly whispered to me “Don’t worry, Gary. If required, I’ll carry out the autopsy!”

Although well-meaning, it was unclear whether she meant undertaking the procedure post-mortem or while I was still expending breath. Consequently, the offer was politely declined. This decision also heavily influenced by the fact I wasn’t confident Karen had the necessary medical wherewithal to undertake an autopsy.

To my knowledge, the only dealings Karen has had with dead bodies was with our two pet goldfish Harry and Speedy, who both died in the late 1990’s. Admittedly she provided them both with a touching ceremony of committal. However, I aspire to a more dignified post-death experience than my wife flushing me down the toilet, as undertaken with the pair of freshwater vertebrates.

I like to think of myself as a thoughtful, selfless man and as such I’d be mortified (pardon the pun) to badly block the toilet for those I left behind.

That being said, though, we’ve three toilets in the house so if the worst comes to the worst there’d still be two loos to patronise. Karen would just have to seal off the blocked convenience, or alternatively have me removed from the bog and committed into the after-life in a far more dignified manner…… Preferably the latter!