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Saturday, 4 July 2009

Sometimes it is good to learn from your mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are a series of events and difficult to learn from, such as marriage. I do not consider my marriage a mistake. It happened, I did it and there is nothing I can do to change that - rightly or wrongly it got me where I am.

There are other mistakes that we would benefit from learning from. I would have hoped that 'It' may learn from some of his, but apparently not. It is now over 4 months since the teenager and 'it' had contact. The start of this arose the night 'it' wouldn't let the teenager stay the night and the fact that it became apparent that 'it' would rather stay at the PCS's die a death of tedium house. In an ideal world 'it' would have learnt that putting your son behind your priority of eating homemade fish pie in lights on timer land - was not a good choice. He has not.

This week saw the school leavers ball and his own inimitable style of leaving everything to the last minute, the teenager had no suit. With just 24 hours to go, even he was feeling a little alarmed and had decided on a dawn jaunt to Bristol's finest in a bid to secure the elusive outfit.

Now living in the country has some drawbacks and one is the lack of public transport. An early morning dash to Bristol involves a late night transport to a chum with more suitably placed accommodation. So in a bid to rescue the situation, I had a blinding flash of inspiration.

"Don't worry" say I, "Your father has a dinner suit and you are a similar size, we can ask him"

"What about shoes" asks the teenager

"No problem" I declare smug in my problem solving ability "You can wear his wedding shoes"

"He won't want to lend them to me" says the teenager, or words there about

"Don't be ridiculous, he won't mind at all" say I confidently

So I text It and ask if I can scoot over and collect. He texts back saying he is out and can drop them off in the morning. I text back saying I need them tonight to save the teenager staying in town. He texts back that he can drop them off in the morning. I text back to say that if he gets it tonight then he won't need to go to town tonight. He texts back to say that he can drop them off into town in the morning. I text back to say that he only needs to stay in town if the suit does not fit. He texts back.... and so on.

By this point it is abundantly clear that he is not going home that night and it is by then very obvious to both the Teenager and I where he is and that yet again, he is not going to put anyone elses needs above his own. Any Dad would have said to his PCS "I am going to have to go and do something for my son, I will be back in 40 minutes" but not this one. More importantly, he would have shown his son that he was prepared to put him before anyone else. Sadly, he showed his son that he was not going to. Sadder still was that his son predicted it.

So the teenager stays in town for an early rise to Bristol clutching a collection of £10 notes. By lunch time he hasn't called and I am getting a little stressed. By 2pm he has a shirt and a hat. By 2.30pm he has a hat, having lost the shirt. By 2.45 he has two shirts and two jackets, a hat and a pair of trousers - all mismatching, no shoes and 15 minutes to get to Bradford on Avon.

By 3.15 I am still waiting. By 3.30pm I am requested to find a white tie and a pair of shoes. I find neither but do find an Armani suit for £20 in the charity shop. By the time he gets off the train at 5pm, I have been waiting 2 hours and between us we have a healthy selection of outfits. We also only have 45 minutes to get home, eat and for him to be back in town at the 'get dressed together whilst parents drink' event.

I stop on the way to borrow a pair of shoes.

"Could you look after the little ones for a while" I ask the lender of shoes. When she says yes, I decide to push a little further

"Could you give them a bath" I ask. Standing there with two small children covered head to foot in mud and chocolate, clutching a pair of pyjamas, I am not sure she felt able to say no.

So we get to the party, the boys change - all the Mums and Dads drink sparkling stuff and the boys all parade in their finest. All except mine who has forgotten his shirt and is sporting a Nike number. A mad dash back to the village, small clean ones collected and teenager changed into shirt.

It arrives in the midst of collections to finally drop off middle childs lunch money. He has ignored my point that since the teenager still eats at lunch time, he still needs money. Teenager
clearly annoyed.

Still, he left a really nice note to say that he acknowledges that he failed to make any comment or wish luck in regards to his GCSE's, that he did notice the monumental point of him finishing school and hoped he had a fantastic time at his leavers ball. Actually, I made all that up - he made no comment. I bet on reading this that you were surprised that he would do that. No need, he didn't.

So the teenager finally leaves, courtesy of a neighbour on a heavily mirror clad lambaretta, looking very suave and grown up. After the very stressful 24hrs trying to sort out outfit, transport and ticket - I am £100 lighter and have a migraine. I then vomit.

By the morning I have a full blown migraine. Getting small children to school whilst trying to retain the contents of your stomach is no easy task and nor is completing a weekly session of physiotherapy

"You look like Victoria Beckham with those glasses" Say's the medic "I feel more like your personal trainer than your physio"

I give him the option; I can wear the glasses and look like VB or I can take them off and vomit on your Adidas, I tell him

"Victoria Beckham is working for me" he replies

I get home and find a letter from 'It's solicitors, informing me that their client 'it" has instructed them to contact me and they are pleased that we have decided to use mediation to resolve issues with our marital breakdown. It goes one to point out that 'It' has not instructed them to act further at this stage. This letter is not good for my migraine. For weeks he has refused to respond to any of my emails, for months he has refused to discuss money. As for the not acting further bit, am I to expect a divorce paper listing refusal to dress like his mother and make fish pie as a justifiable cause of marital breakdown?

The whole point in mediation was that we tried to approach the issues yourselves in a conciliatory manner. I try to think of any good reason why you would pay a solicitor to write you a letter when your wife had already said that dependant on your openness, she would go to mediation. I see none. Using a solicitor instead of simply replying to an email with 'Okay, I will arrange it' is indeed a hostile move.

Never go to war with someone that can contain their anger. Angry people make mistakes. Calm ones do not.

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