Monday, 7 February 2011

The Unexpected Consequences Of Aversion Therapy, Age Gaps, And Marriage.

Oh, bloody, bloody hell. Now Dad's in hospital and I'm sure it's all Dinah's fault. (I told her her supposedly-salutary lessons never worked.)

I've just got off the phone to Richard Levinson, who's complaining about how overpaid some Council officers are, when my mobile starts ringing.

"Shit, Mol," says Dinah. "You won't believe what's happened."

"Oh, I probably will," I say. "I work for an MP, remember. Nothing much surprises me any more."

"Yeah, well," she says. "You won't have seen this one coming. Dad's got to have a heart bypass operation. First thing tomorrow morning."

Oh, dear God. I bet that's because Dinah told him that lie about Connie having a sixty-five-year-old boyfriend. The shock was obviously far too much - not that Dinah's taking any responsibility for what has happened.

"Coincidence," she says, when I ask whether she thinks her attempt at aversion therapy may have backfired. "More likely to be the effect of trying to keep up with the Thai bride that's done it. So what are we going to do? Someone'll have to go down to Dorset tonight."

Why is it that when someone says "someone", they usually mean, "you"?

"Well, who?" I say. "I've got to work."

"Yes, I know," she says, "But your kids are much older than mine, and Max will be there to keep an eye on things anyway. I am a single parent, don't forget."

Honestly, it's like a game of top trumps, which I am always doomed to lose. Maybe that's what Cameron's tax allowance proposals were designed to compensate married people for? There must be some benefits in return for all that hard labour at the coalface of marriage, but getting out of things definitely isn't one of them.

"All right," I say. "You win. I'll ask The Boss if I can take unpaid leave. That's bound to make me even more popular with him than I already am."

"But he's a socialist," says Dinah. "So he'll believe in treating his employees well."

I can't think of anything to say to that ridiculous statement, so I content myself with drawing loops of barbed wire on my notepad instead. Then I create cages around the loops. God knows what Freud would say if he ever saw my doodles.

"Maybe we were too harsh about the Thai bride," says Dinah. "Just think, if she'd been in the UK, you wouldn't have needed to go."

"If you hadn't freaked Dad out and nearly given him a heart attack, I wouldn't have had any reason to," I say, but Dinah pretends she hasn't heard, tells me to call her back when I've sorted everything out, and hangs up.

Once I've done a bit of swearing, I realise that, not only am I patently rubbish at guilt-tripping people, but I've also lost any sense of what's important. What on earth am I doing, trying to score points against Dinah and fretting about work, when I should be worrying about Dad? I need to get a grip, request emergency leave and go home to pack.

After all - it's not as if anyone ever puts "esteemed workaholic" on a headstone, is it? And, if Greg's right about the general uselessness of what we do at work, I doubt anyone will notice my absence anyway.


  1. Hope things go well with your Dad. From your stories he sounds as though he's got some fighting spirit ;)