Mrs H's wedding ring is missing!
Mrs H looked at me with an expression of abject horror. Nothing new there really; but this wasn't one of her “What on earth have you done now” looks.
Mrs H looked at me with an expression of abject horror. Nothing new there really; but this wasn't one of her “What on earth have you done now” looks. Besides, we were in Sainsbury's at the time so unless I'd done something really awful, like pick up the wrong yoghurts, I had nothing to fear.
“Where's my wedding ring? It's gone!” she exclaimed, proffering an empty finger which she fiddled with as if rubbing it would cause the missing ring to reappear.
I could see she was worried so I stifled smart Alec replies like: “Is this an omen. Shall I take mine off?” or “My goodness! We've stumbled into a fourth episode of Lord of the Rings.”
But then it sunk in that this was actually rather serious. And being in a whacking great supermarket the prospects of finding it were not good. Suppose it had slipped into a freezer cabinet and was languishing among the frozen fish or got buried in a heap of potatoes. We'd never find it.
And what if it had been missing for some time and she hadn't noticed. Perhaps she'd lost it when we planted all those wretched bulbs. It could be overseeing the germination of irises, daffodils and crocuses. Imagine digging up that lot - especially after all the trouble we went to planting them in the first place.
We talked through where we had been with the trolley. The most likely place was the fruit and veg. It could easily have happened when she was stuffing courgettes into those fiddly little bags or waging her quest to find the firmest tomatoes in the store.
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“Perhaps we better go to Customer Service first and see if it's been handed in,” Mrs H suggested.
I could imagine their reaction.
“Oh no, another couple had a row! Threw it at 'im did you? I'll put a tannoy out: 'Good evening; here is a customer announcement. If anyone has found a wedding ring could they please come to Customer Services? It's not worth a lot - well, they couldn't afford much at the time. Thank you for shopping at Sainsbury's'.”
Then I had a thought.
“Could it have slipped off when you put something in the trolley?”
We burrowed away and, sure enough, there it was, lying on top of a bag of bananas. I must admit there was an overwhelming feeling of relief. With something like a wedding ring, it's not the value that's important. We could easily buy a replacement but it would never be the same.
I know what you're thinking; did I do the romantic thing and slip it back on my beloved wife's finger? Er… no. In fact, Mrs H grabbed it and began sliding it on and off her finger as if to prove it had dropped off and she had not deliberately dumped it.
“Look at that!” she exclaimed. “If anything I've put on weight so why is it so loose?”
It was time for the schoolboy humour.
“Well,” I said, “perhaps someone is trying to tell us something. Shall we divide up the contents of the trolley? And what about everything else? You can have the Mog.”
But Mrs H ignored me; again, nothing new there. She was fiddling with her wedding ring; something she continued to do on and off for the rest of the shopping trip. Anyone spotting her doing this might well have thought that here was a wife wondering if it was time for its permanent removal.
I wear a symbol that the ball and chain is attached. The chance of my ring falling off is nil. It would involve the intervention of the fire brigade if it is to be removed. As I recall, when we got married, my wedding ring had to be adjusted for size. We must have been late getting it because it was touch and go whether it would arrive in time for the ceremony. A friend collected it from the jeweller's on the morning of the wedding and thrust it into the hands of the best man as we were heading into the church.
I'm now beginning to wonder whether Mrs H had it adjusted in size so I couldn't pull it off.
Over the next few days I kept an eye on the fourth finger of her left hand. The symbol of our betrothal remained in place. I asked her if she had had any more scares with it.
“Oh no,” she said, I don't know what happened there. It's ok now,” she added as she went through the motions of pulling it off. Suddenly, it slipped over the joint in her finger.
“Well, it's still a bit loose,” she said in a way that made me think she was keeping her options open.
I remember when my brother got married. He said he wouldn't have a wedding ring; he worked in electronics and didn't want to connect himself to a circuit and get an electric shock. Well, I don't work in electronics but believe you me, once the band of gold was in place, the shocks came thick and fast anyway.