As well as making my tea each night and ensuring that each morning I am ready for school, it appears the two wives feel themselves responsible for my general presentation.
Last night, as we ate the chicken-and-noodles-and-chillies-and-yum that Wife 2 had made and while Griff Rhys Jones enthused about Betjeman, Wife 1 tried to explain that if you’re wearing groovy brown trousers, you shouldn’t wear tops that are blue.
And that white stripes on the arms are not cool.
And that anyway it looks like a cardie.
This is unfair on two counts: firstly I’d asked for her unforthcoming opinion while compiling the day’s costume, and second, you should see what she’s happy putting on, the Goth freak.
Anyway, I ventured, such silly fripperies as fashion are below a fellow of my breeding. You decide these things on a sensible, evidential basis, asking will they last and do they fit and can you avoid having to iron them.
Wife 2 suggested that no, knowing what colours go well together is a universal. Pah, said I, that’s what fools told the Impressionists with their punky clash of blue-against-orange and purple-on-yellow that made their stuff so vibrant and exciting.
(Anyway, we know all about those men who are good with colours, don’t we? And if we don’t, we ask Lee.)
The wives countered that an arty sort like Monet would have known better than to wear a mismatching cardie. At least he knew what he looked like.
“Have you seen pictures of him?” I blathered. “He looked like an old tramp! His wife wouldn’t be worried about how his white stripes looked council. She’d more likely say, ‘Oh zut alors, Claude! Did you put that on so you could spill paint on it, or have you been out on park benches sucking shit through a sock?’”
I’m quite content looking a bit grubby at the edges. Neglecting to shave is as much a guilty thrill as not getting out of bed. At school there was one teacher who used often to jeer that, “You’re a shambles, Guerrier.” I was always too timid to shout back, “That’s the point!” – though sometimes I would bravely dare think it.
This Betjemanesque admission much amused the cackly wives, who thought “You’re a shambles, Guerrier” would look good on my tombstone. Yes, they are already planning, and said how they’d plant the grave with an appropriate great clash of weeds.
“They’re not really weeds if you plant them on purpose,” I said, and then had to explain: “Weeds are your unplanned-for growths.”
Forget the lure of the reaper, “Unplanned-for growths” can be the name of my memoirs, in which will appear the further unbosoming of my bigamous exploits. And anyway, this dishevelled thing is what gets me two wives in the first place.