I'm as keen as mustard when shopping

When Mrs H starts a sentence with: “I read the other day…” it's always time to worry. Often it means an update is coming through. Either something that has been part of daily orders for years is about to be changed or a new clause is about to be enshrined in the Fortress constitution.

When Mrs H starts a sentence with: “I read the other day…” it's always time to worry. Often it means an update is coming through. Either something that has been part of daily orders for years is about to be changed or a new clause is about to be enshrined in the Fortress constitution.

I remember when the buzz was to drink two litres of water a day. Mrs H signed us up for that and a jug was put on the work surface to make sure fresh water was always available. It's best drunk at room temperature not chilled.

And that was when the “run the tap rule” was stringently enforced.

“I read somewhere that it's not good to drink water that's been sitting in copper pipes overnight.”


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Mrs H's store of useful facts came into play when we were shopping for paint and carpet last week. I slipped up here and allowed myself to be sucked in by one of her oldest tricks.

“Since we're so near the city I want you to look at a pair of shoes I saw. I need something to wear in summer instead of these boots.”

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The fact that she wanted me to have a look was a huge clue. My lack of knowledge where clothes and shoes are concerned is well known so I should have realised I was being buttered up for something.

Of course, once we were surrounded by shops there was no stopping her. In addition to shoes, we looked at tops, trousers and underwear.

I even fell for that old chestnut: “We'll take a short cut through Marks.”

There is no such thing.

In the space of about two hours we looked at so many carpet samples that they began to merge. Throw in the clothes shopping and my brain was numb. Then Mrs H revealed her latest gem.

“I read the other day that there is too much choice these days and it causes no end of stress. If we only had a couple of things to choose from we'd have to pick one or the other and we wouldn't get nearly so stressed.”

I should think there is some truth in this. A limited choice would certainly reduce the marital friction when we drag round endlessly and she winds up with the first thing she saw.

Mind you, even if Mrs H was presented with just two strappy tops to choose from it would still be a major dilemma. And then, when she'd finally bought one, she'd be back the next day to change it for the other.

On the shortcut through Marks, Mrs H announced that we would “just pop in to the lingerie department to see if they've got those knickers in my size yet.”

She had been in during the week and wanted the only pair they hadn't got in her size. You might think this would be a two-minute job but even this took a good half-hour - and part of it was down to the wide range available.

Honestly, even buying knickers has become a science.

Before I go any further, I should say that yes, I know I have written before about forays with Mrs H into the mysterious world of ladies underwear departments. I don't want you to think there is anything here that requires me to have some form of therapy. It's just that I find it most educational.

I mean, there were loads of choices of knickers - bikini, high leg, something called Brazilian and full thong and other bewildering designs. All were illustrated with a picture of a model who could slip into any one of them without straining the elastic.

During my 30-minute tutorial I learnt which are comfortable and which ones pinch where. And I was introduced to a design that proudly boasted “No vpl”.

That was a new one. Does that mean they are made from something environmentally friendly? Biodegradable perhaps.

“It means 'no visible panty line',” scoffed Mrs H as if I had spent the last 10 years down a coalmine.

Actually, I am due for an update of the underpants. I've reached that stage where one or two of them have elastic that has passed its 'stretch-by' date. This is one of the few garments I am authorised to shop for on my own. There aren't so many designs as there are with women's. I know what style is comfortable so it's just find the size and grab a multi-pack.

Well, yes, there is one proviso. Colour. Many of you still comment on the time I returned home with, yes, the mustard-coloured underpants and how, suddenly, they were no longer in the drawer. Mrs H had surreptitiously dumped them in the bin.

I've never fully understood this. After all, assuming I didn't go under a bus, they weren't going to be seen in public. All she had to do was turn her back when I was changing and think of England when she stuffed them in the washing machine. They could have been tumble-dried if she was embarrassed to hang them on the line.

M&S could help me out here. Perhaps they could print on packs: “No mcu.”

No mustard-coloured underpants.

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