The day after my wife's birthday party started in the same manner as it always does when I stay at my mother-in-law's house in Swansea, with the smell of partially cooked bacon. As much as love my MiL, cooking is not her forte. As such, she is a staunch advocate of the microwave oven. Personally, I think that there is a big difference in cooked food and hot food, consequently I neither use, nor own, a microwave oven. I got out of bed with, what I had a fairly good idea would end up being, one of the sort of hangovers that you assumed were a wild exaggeration by your older friends when you were in your twenties. From experience I knew that I had about two hours of feeling 'surprisingly good, actually', after which I would feel awful for around two days. This 'window of wellness' used to regularly give me false hope, but now I realise that it is but a fleeting moment of relative happiness, to be followed, with depressing certainty, by an overwhelming sense that death would be a sweet relief, so I don't allow myself to enjoy it for one second. I have just realised that my hangovers have become a metaphor for my life.
Anyway, I dragged myself to the dining room, to confront my breakfast ordeal. I was treated to the typical 'cooked' breakfast of translucent eggs, floppy pink bacon and volcanic beans. I took care not to rest my arms on the table, not out of politeness, but to avoid inadvertantly touching the glowing crockery. I think that my MiL must buy her plates from NASA, as they would appear to be made from Shuttle re-entry grade ceramic. The glass place mats are not for decoration, but to stop the table bursting into flames. After breakfast I drank the coffee my MiL had made me, containing, as always, 200% of the sugar that I had requested, and went back to bed to rest my eyes.
After waking up for the second time I headed to the sitting room, and was appalled to see that it was three-thirty in the afternoon. My wife had left to do the rounds of the Swansea relatives, so I sat eating Jaffa Cakes, drinking too-sweet coffee and trying not to think about my stomach cramps, until she returned. The cramps were caused by the fact that my MiL lives in a bungalow. This means that the toilet is on the same floor and, crucially, within earshot, of the sitting room. This fact means that I am unable to make proper use of the toilet facilities if anyone else is in the house. I am aware that this is not norml behaviour.
On getting back to Cardiff later in the evening we stopped at the Star of Wales Indian restaurant for dinner. The food was quite good, but my wife's powers of reasoning were simply world class, and I feel the need to share them with you. After poppadums she leaned over the table to ask me whether she could ask me something without me thinking she was stupid. I always say 'of course' to this, and I am rarely disappointed. She pointed at a painting on the wall behind me and whispered,
'Is that why it's called The Bay of Pigs?'
I looked around to see the painting of a seaside scene, then looked at her, perplexed
'Look. In the sand. It looks like an upside-down pig, don't you think?'
I looked again. There was a shadow cast by a dune that, if you used a degree of imagination, resembled an inverted pig, as a six-year old might render it. I replied that I suppose it did look a bit like a pig.
'So is that why it's called The Bay of Pigs?' she asked again.
I though I might be missing something. So seeking clarification I asked,
'Do you mean is the 'Bay of Pigs', in Cuba, so called, because, in a poorly executed painting in a restaurant in Cardiff, the shadow cast by a moving sand dune on an anonymous beach in India looks a little bit like an upside-down pig?'
She looked offended. Apparently I was trying to make her 'look stupid'. I apologised and assured her that Table Mountain in South Africa had nothing to do with a table depicted on another painting also hanging in the restaurant. The rest of the meal passed without incident.
On arriving home I began to wake up, suffering, as I was, from drink-lag. My wife could happily sleep for days, so she went to bed. I, on the other hand, watched three NFL games back-to-back. I eventually went to bed at around four thirty in the morning, having forgotten that I had agreed to help mt friend Adrian with a building project and that he would be ringing my doorbell in approximately three hours time.