Who would have thought that in the week that we had National Bacon Day (one of my favourite days ever, only to be topped by International Crisp Week or National Green Handbag Day) we would have so many other celebrations? Dear Queenie became the longest serving monarch, I’m not surprised she wanted to keep it low key, all those tedious programmes about the comparisons with Queen Victoria! Wayne Rooney become the country’s leading goal scorer with fifty goals to his name, a real achievement that I am sure we all celebrated (although at this point I personally was still on bacon day), and Reg and Margaret reached their thirty sixth anniversary.
I am aware that the rest of the national has not had much interest in this particular event but it has been the talk of the street, namely because Margaret has gone on about it so much, after Reg revealed that he had bought her a very special present. Every few years he goes against his normal personality traits and buys her a gift that is associated for the year, this Margaret has admitted, is very thoughtful of him. However she has not always been impressed with the presents that are given to her. The year that coincided with stationery he bought her a giant pad for shopping lists and a pack of ten BIC pens.
‘I didn’t really understand it, I love beautiful writing paper and I always use an ink pen, it’s almost as if he got it wrong on purpose’. Jacinta and Suzy nodded in sympathy.
‘That’s nothing’, said Jacinta, ‘For my thirtieth birthday Prithpal bought me a salad spinner and a pair of secateurs, he’s very lucky I didn’t cut a piece of his vital statistics and spin it for him.’
‘Roger once bought me a fly swat and a double pack of walnut whip’, before Suzy’s friends could comment on the thoughtfulness of the sweet aspect of the gift she added, ‘Seven years we’d been together and he still hadn’t realised that I’m allergic to nuts.’
Margaret seemed determined to switch the focus back to her, after their twenty fourth anniversary when Reg had bought her a ukulele, because he had read somewhere that the gift should be a musical instrument, they had a heart to heart, the outcome being that any future gift would be purchased with the knowledge that it would be relevant to Margaret in some way.
‘I did keep the ukulele but I smashed it up when my present the following year was a special sausage he had made, which he named after me. In fact I think the ukulele played a key role in the barbeque on which the sausages were cooked.’
Jacinta and Suzy looked at each other knowing that Margaret had won the ‘most rubbish presents’ competition, they also privately wondered why she had such high hopes for this year.
The reason for Margaret’s anticipation was Reg himself. He had confided in Ken, who had confided in Catherine, who had told Margaret, that for the thirty sixth year he was looking at the gifts that would be given on the thirtieth and sixth year and combining the two. Reg would not reveal the actual present but was happy to state that he’d had it engraved with both of their names and a heart.
When Catherine told her, and also revealed that it must be a combination of wood and diamond, Margaret was beside herself, her face lit up with joy.
‘Engraved you say? This is it, he’s finally got it right. After all those years, putting up with his tempers and the sausages, his outrageous opinions and the….sausages. At last the reward I’ve been longing for.’
I could see that Catherine was concerned that she had raised Margaret’s hopes too high. ‘I don’t want you to expect too much, and I’m not being disrespectful in any way, but this is Reg we are talking about.’
‘No, I must be right, don’t you see, it’s a diamond ring in a wooden box, he’s had it engraved, it must be that, what else would it be, what else would he have engraved?’
Catherine wracked her brains, a tankard, an identity bracelet, a dog tag, there were so many things you could have engraved, but none of them wooden or diamond, perhaps Margaret was right, maybe it was time for the diamond ring in a wooden box.
I know their house is next door to me so I probably hear more than most, but I’m sure the whole street could hear the shouting early the next morning, I say shouting, it was more of a high pitched screech.
‘Marg heart Reg! On a rolling pin! Who would do that?’
‘Well, clearly I did, it’s for us, to celebrate our life together.’
‘On a rolling pin’, Margaret’s voice had become dangerously steely, 'and where, might I, ask is the diamond.’
‘Now’, said Reg, sounding decidedly uncertain, ‘that’s the clever part, it’s the name of the person who did the engraving, I found him on the internet, Lennie Diamond, he’s done a good job, hasn’t he?’
Reg’s voice trailed off at this point and I can only imagine that he ducked, because rather than hit him, the rolling pin flew through the window into the road. I have a feeling any sausages left in the house may be soon to follow.