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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Day Four

With Alex away for work the next few days, Kat and I had the whole house to ourselves. We were ourselves again, the way we were nine years ago when I was a child and she, a little more streetwise than I. Perhaps it is from the years she was in the US studying music and travelling alone. Perhaps I am just a sheltered child, over protected by my parents out of the goodness of their hearts.

We were in the kitchen, standing next to my most favourite electrical equipment in the mornings – the George Foreman’s Lean Mean Grilling Machine. I sliced 2 mushrooms, added 2 Cumberland sausages and a bacon slice onto the sizzling hot non-stick grill. That was just breakfast for me. Not much preparation necessary for Kat’s breakfast. She had some soymilk with cereals and some fruits.

She bought nine more violins and my house is littered with them. Some prettier than the rest but that does not matter after Kat gives it a good scrub. One should never underestimate what a little restoration and polishing can do to these old wooden string instruments.

And what did I tell her? I told her the week before. The week when Kat was in Vienna, Prague and Frankfurt while I was at Tatton park as a flower girl.

“You don’t look old at all. Come on, tell me how old are you,” he asked.

“Thirty,” I said, pursing a smile from the corners of my lips. “I am not that young.” I laughed. I am having this conversation way too often in the last few months. I am fine with my age and I am much happier at 30 than I ever was in my early 20s.

“So how old are you?” I asked. I panicked in realisation where this conversation was going to lead us to. “Tell me that you are 19 or 20 and I will go and die now.”

He had a sheepish grin. That is not a good sign, is it?

“I am 20,” he said, clearing his throat and stretching himself to appear a little taller.

“Ok I am going to die now. Bye.”

I was amused. I do not know if he was too but I surely was. How things have changed along with the times. Men much older came to court me when I was a much younger girl (that is under 25). I noticed a role reversal as I approached the great THREE ZERO. It was not a sudden change. It was quite subtle to say the least. All the boys were younger and they are getting younger by the day.

I was frustrated with Alex. Actually he has successfully pissed me off more since I arrived in the UK this year than all the four years we were together previously. That would be four years versus the last two months. I never wanted to believe the cliché “men change when they know they have you” but I am sure that I will convert if this goes on for some weeks more.

There are many subtle examples. Tiny little encrypted messages that told me that he no longer loved me as much as he used to. Naturally I hid this niggling doubt somewhere deep in my heart, so I do not need to review it too often and that was what I did. I just refused to acknowledge the fact that maybe, just maybe, Alex is like all other men. He will take me for granted after he feels satisfied and secure in his relationship.

The mornings were particularly stressful. He would instruct me to run some errands for the stock table. We had to restock the table and make sure that all the flowers looked fresh and clean. I carried trays full of pots, starting with four tiny pots and increased the quantity as the days rolled by. By Day Four and Five, I was carrying eight pots but that was still not good enough for Alex. He said I carried too little and that I was not as quick as he or his mother.

“Of course I am not as quick as you or your mother!” I screamed at him when I snapped. “I did not grow up carrying pots! I had maids that carried my things for me, ok!”

On most days, I stayed in the stock table while everyone took the opportunity to walk around the show ground. Almost each evening at 4 p.m. Alex would fetch me to walk around the show ground but they were hardly a treat for either of us. The metal plates laid on the grass as footpaths reflected the sun into our eyes. The weather was too hot and humid for us to cuddle up. We were hot and bothered.

And of course, I remembered how it was to take this daily walk with him. We walked through all the boy’s toys section from JCBs to diggers and tools when we were at the Birmingham flower show the month before this. Now at the Tatton Flower Show, there were many more girly treasures. When I found something I liked, I received the “Alex lecture” of how I do not have the money to spend on these things or in the case of the rescued pages from old 1940s Alice in Wonderland, Alex said that I should go to car boot sales and search for the old books.

So each morning, I left the stock table and took a long walk around the show ground on my own. It was my very own private time, just for myself, where I can do what I want and just be with myself. I resented feeling resentful towards Alex but I was beginning to resent him and what I deemed were dictatorial ways.

On Day Five, he asked me to clean some huge pots of day lilies. Instead of storming off, I stayed behind and did as instructed. I cleaned the pots and trimmed off the dead flowers and dying leaves. I stormed off for my morning walk when he came over and told me that I did not clean them. I insisted that I did and he insisted that I did not.

“I did not grow up doing this, how am I supposed to know that there is a standard that I have to achieve when cleaning the pots?!”

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