Hunter-gatherer’s four-slicer keeps him from being toast

Innocent smile:  Andy Crookes thinks he's got it sussed as he heads for the till with a host of gifts he's selected for fianc�  Philippa Leddingham.
Innocent smile: Andy Crookes thinks he's got it sussed as he heads for the till with a host of gifts he's selected for fianc� Philippa Leddingham.
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“It only took me 35 minutes,” he says, beaming ear to ear.

Philly and I exchange knowing glances. How long will it be before that proud and innocent smile is wiped from his face?

The hunter-gatherer displays his “purchases” one by one with a flourish.

“Pyjamas!” he cries, presenting grey and pink spotty bottoms (£15) and a plain £8.50 co-ordinating top. “I know you like to slouch.”

Philly’s face is a picture of torment. How not to crush him? He’s almost got it right...

“The bottoms... Yes, they’re OK. I’d wear them - if they weren’t too small,” she says. “But the T-shirt top is way too pink. Marks out of ten? I’ll give you seven.”

The man struggles to comprehend the difference between pink and too pink and desperately tries to point out that the £26 dressing gown she ‘bought’ for herself is purple with BRIGHT PINK spots on it.

He’s sure he’s onto a winner with gift number two, though. Like a lamb to the slaughter, he presents her with a beautiful, dainty cream party dress.

The softly pleated skirt falls from a be-ribboned waist; the bodice is adorned with black beading. At £50, it’s a steal.

Philly’s face doesn’t even try this time: “Nope. Three out of ten,” she says. “I don’t like the beading, I don’t do pleats, it’s two sizes too small and I don’t like the colour. Wasn’t there a blue one or something?”

Andy is gutted. He could see her in that dress. “I thought I’d done so well,” he says, dismayed. Besides, it’s the same colour as the evening jacket she’s fallen in love with. “But Andy,” says Philly, “that jacket will go over lots of black things.”

He tries to retaliate with a “Well I’ve never seen you wear a jacket like that.” But he’s just digging an even deeper hole.

“Actually Andy, I have several,” she sniffs. “You obviously haven’t noticed...”

Undaunted, Andy proffers gift number three on outstretched hands. Immediately, he sees she doesn’t know what it is.

“It’s a nice new purse,” he says proudly, tweaking the appliqued flower on the side of the dainty black £17 offering. “I thought you needed a new one.”

“I don’t like that, either. I especially don’t like that flower.” It’s another 3/10. She’s on a roll now. Never before has she been able to be this honest with him.

“I like plainer things... like THIS,” she exclaims, pulling out her favourite thing from the accessories department - a glossy, quilted patent handbag with chain straps. It’s not exactly plain. “Why do you like that, then?” He needs to know for next time.

“It’s the perfect size,” she trills. “I can get in everything I need for a night out. And I would know if it went missing; little bags are so easy to lose.” Now I’m as confused as him.

Perfume next, though. He’s confident. He takes aim with a bottle of Lacoste Touch Of Pink, £45. He squirts... he scores.

It’s 7/10. Philly likes it better than her Be Delicious impulse buy. She’d only bought it because she thought it smelled nice on someone else.

“Philly,” he says sagely, you really should try before you buy. Have a go with a few testers. Spray some on your skin...” She actually listens.

The £32 dainty black ballerina flats with glittery toes he’s found for her earn him another seven. (She’s beginning to sound like Len Goodman, but he’s not complaining). She likes them, but prefers the similar but much simpler, unglittery flats she had found for £28. He’s saving the best until last, though. Gift number six gets 10/10 - for all of ten seconds. Philly’s favourite gift - a toaster, would you believe - slips half a point because it’s red, not cream (she may not like cream dresses, but she LOVES cream toasters).

While most women would turn their relationships to toast if their partner presented them with a small kitchen appliance, Andy knew this would win her over. “She’s always wanted a four-slice,” he whispers knowingly.

He’s given her a toaster before. Bless him, it made toast with the words “I love you” on each slice.

The best presents of all, though, came from Next: store manager Dan Hill generously gave the couple £50 each to spend on themselves. Andy actually volunteered to buy a rug for their living room.

And Philly? She got the mixer. Obviously.