Stewing over a lesson learned

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YOU’RE always learning in life, aren’t you?

That should be a good thing, I think. You can never know enough. Unless you know Adrian Chiles or something, obviously.

But, generally, knowledge? It’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Here’s what I’ve learned of late: some mistakes haunt you forever.

Not the big ones. Not the fact you bought your first house without checking for damp or named your first born Squire because you got giddy The Stone Roses were reforming.

You’ll get over those. The first born might not but, hey kiddo, we all have crosses to bear.

No, the mistakes that stay, I learned, are the ones you barely register at the time.

Let me recall a night years ago now. The facts are she had spent a couple of hours cooking a lamb stew and I’ve spent the rest of my life regretting it.

And let me blame my news editor because then I was young and stupid, as opposed to, you know, just stupid.

“Come for a drink,” he said.

It was a Friday. It was tempting. It was something I knew I shouldn’t do.

Better not, I said. She’s cooking. It’s An Occasion.

“Come for a drink,” he said

You can probably guess what happened from there.

You can probably guess one turned to two, two turned to three, and three turned to me thinking it entirely reasonable to propose a midnight rendezvous at the dinner table. You can probably guess by the time I got home the stew had made intimate acquittance with the bin.

And next morning, of course, I regretted it. She made sure it was so.

But what I didn’t realise then is years later I would still be hearing about that stew, still have it held over me as an example of the utter depravity which I am capable of sinking to.

Her friends know. Her family know. The guy who cold-called selling insurance the other night knows.

In fact, that last one’s a joke. The guy who cold calls selling insurance gets nothing except a pretty swift dialing tone.

But this weekend, as I met her work colleagues for the first time, I realised they all knew too. She’s only been in the job a matter of weeks.

And so it was, as I attempted to defend my actions (“midnight would have been a nice time for a meal”), I experienced a fizzing, stinging moments of enlightenment: it doesn’t matter whatever I do from here on in, I will never be able to take the stew from that bin.

I will never be able to outlive that mistake. It is writ large for the rest of my life. A minor misdemeanour putting me forever on probation.

Because with fellas I reckon we just forget rather than forgive. But lasses? They forgive then don’t forget.

“I could have told you that years ago,” my old man says.

Well, I ask, why on Earth didn’t you?

I guess at least she’s pretty understanding about the damp.