Mrs H objects to my pigeon English

Neil HaversonA trait of the Haversons is clumsiness. We trip, spill and blunder our way through life. My father passed the gene to me and I have handed it on to Brat Minor.Neil Haverson

A trait of the Haversons is clumsiness. We trip, spill and blunder our way through life. My father passed the gene to me and I have handed it on to Brat Minor. If a paving slab is a millimetre higher than the rest, I'll find it and go sprawling.

The other evening I took a glass of water up to the bedroom and placed it on Mrs H's dressing table - or so I thought. Having done this so many times, I know where the glass stands so I didn't bother to put the light on; instead I marched boldly into the darkened bedroom and plonked it down.

Unbeknown to me, the glass from the previous evening was still there. Result? Water, water everywhere. When such things happen, fortune is never on my side. Not only did water find its way under trays of makeup, Mrs H's plethora of aide memoirs and other odds and ends, it soaked a till receipt she'd kept in case some goods were faulty.

A soggy till receipt may not sound much of a disaster, but it was from a well-known DIY store that prints out its receipts on bright orange paper.


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I switched on the light, inspected the damage and let go a serious rant. For some reason I seized the orange receipt, shook the water off and flung it on the bed. I cleared up the mess as best I could, then I remembered the abandoned receipt.

Oh no! It had transferred some of its hideous hue to the duvet cover.

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Cue another rant.

I whipped the cover off and established it hadn't gone through to the duvet. I sucked in a deep breath and went in search of Mrs H to confess. She was aware that something was up thanks to the cursing and lumping but had decided not to get involved.

Of course, in spite of soaking it, applying stain remover and at least two blasts in the washing machine the stain refused to budge. On more than one occasion I overheard the loyal Mrs H telling someone: 'We've got to get a new duvet cover. My husband got an orange stain on the other one.'

When I have incurred her displeasure Mrs H refers to me as 'my husband'.

In addition to the clumsiness gene there is a Haverson gene which has spawned other habits which Mrs H finds equally annoying.

There is, of course the odd bout of snoring; particularly post sherbet. But what really winds her up is when I've heard a song on the radio and whistle, hum or sing it persistently. She tolerates it for a while but then politely requests that I desist as she can't then get it out of her head.

Last week, I arrived home from work and announced: 'I've been out in the car three times today and each time I heard the same record. It was…'

'DON'T TELL ME!' Mrs H yelled. 'I won't be able to get it out of my mind. I've had enough trouble with you and the pigeons.'

All right, don't let your imaginations run away with you. I don't have a dodgy habit that involves pigeons. This refers to something an aunt told me when I was a child. A few months ago I made the mistake of passing on this pearl of wisdom to Mrs H.

My aunt reckoned that the woodpigeons call was: 'My toe bleeds Betty,' and when it stops the chant the final chirrup on the end: 'Look.'

'Every time I hear a pigeon,' Mrs H wails. 'I can't get those damned words out of my mind!'

Now somebody help me out here. When I first told Mrs H looked at me with utter bewilderment. Surely someone else has heard this.

Maybe it's an old wives tale. Whatever it is, it gets on the chimes of a certain er…old wife.

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