Rebecca Tyrrel: Days Like Those

'Matthew's in the shed gazing blankly into space. I said I'd call a doctor - but he won't tell me what's wrong'

Share
Related Topics

I knew the World Cup couldn't be far off when I found Matthew in his leather recliner chair, in his shed, gazing blankly into space. His television was off, Radio Five Live had been switched off (something that never happens) and his computer was in sleep mode - there was not even an internet Party Poker site up on the screen. I knew I should say something, but nursing a deep rooted hatred of football that goes back to early childhood, when my stuffed, ball-shaped hessian mouse was requisitioned by some uncaring school boys, I am always loath to trespass on the part of Matthew's consciousness exclusively reserved for the World Cup.

Still, he did look particularly lost, and while the championship preamble will often feature some depressed phases, these are usually quickly followed by outbreaks of embarrassing euphoria. But not this time. After an hour or two I ventured to ask him if there was a specific problem. I even offered to call the doctor, which is a prospect that always cheers. But Matthew either couldn't or wouldn't tell me what was wrong.

Later that night I mentioned the possibility of an ambulance, thinking that this would surely break the reverie. It did, but it wasn't a happy re-awakening because that was when Matthew first told me, in a chin-wobbling, head-in-hands, rocking-to-and-fro sort of way, about Wayne Rooney's broken foot. He said the World Cup was over before it had started.

* The second harbinger arrived two days ago. Matthew by this time had clearly decided that life and football will go on and had bought a new television. He does this every four years despite the fact that there is already a set in all the rooms in the house that could reasonably expect to have one. The model from the 1994 World Cup is in his shed, the 1998 version is in the sitting room, and the 2002 plasma screen is in our bedroom. There is a very old portable which is stored in the outbuilding adjacent to our holiday cottage in Devon and the set in the kitchen at home predated our marriage, so presumably it goes back to 1990. Added to these there are other ancient models stashed away in cupboards throughout the house that could well take us back to 1966.

The new television, the 2006 one, is still in its cardboard box and he was circling it, stroking his chin like a pretentious, bow-tied art lover pacing round a Tate Modern installation. Then he said in an irritating Jesus-y voice: "This television may not actually be for you, it is in fact for me, but I want you to know that I bought it with you in mind. It represents my love for you, and my deep respect for your sensibilities." I sat down then and composed myself fully before saying that I was deeply touched but I couldn't quite see how the purchase of an electronic, high-definition gift for himself could possibly benefit me.

Matthew then explained that knowing how much I hate listening to him shouting at the football on the telly, he intends to remain in his shed for the duration of the championship. This is only possible, he went on, if he replaces his 1994 set with this new, state-of-the-art model. I gain, because so long as I stay in the house, I should be out of earshot.

* In fact I am quite pleased at this new development. It means that I will have the sitting room and the 1998 model to myself. I am reminded of the episode of Steptoe and Son in which Harold installs turnstiles and partitions in the house in order to get away from Albert. The arrangement fails because they only have one telly. They sit either side of a partition to watch one half of it each and bicker as they switch between ballet and sport. Matthew and I are lucky. We have 10 tellies.

Later that day, as Matthew supervised the installation of the latest by a fully qualified electrician, I went to the sitting room to watch All About Eve with Bette Davis. And it was as Bette said: "There goes Eve. Eve evil, Little Miss Evil..." that I suspected there might be a flaw in the new television-watching arrangements. "But the evil that men do..." she continued, "how does it go groom? Something about... Game, shot and the leg. Phil Taylor. Fourth leg, Raymond Barneveld to throw first." Suddenly I was no longer watching All About Eve. I was watching darts on Sky Sports 117 instead. I grabbed the remote control. "You know why I forgive Eve? Because... Phil, you require 161." Clearly something was seriously wrong.

* Matthew says he has just spent a vast amount of money on a new television set and he is not about to spend even more having another Sky box installed in his shed. So for now, and for the foreseeable future, the shed television will be linked up to the Sky box underneath the 1998 television in the sitting room, which in turn is linked to the 2002 screen in our bedroom. It would seem, therefore, that the only way I can watch old movies in peace is to either dig out a circa 1970 portable from the cupboard under the stairs, or drive to Devon.

At the moment Devon is looking like the better option.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker