THERE was an incident, years ago now, with an Irish stew.
She spent an hour after work buying the ingredients and a couple more cooking them. And I’ve spent ever since suffering the consequences of what unfolded.
We were supposed to be toasting the fact the next day we were flying to Dublin.
The only problem was the deputy editor wanted to toast it with me too.
“Come for a Guinness,” he said at 5pm.
There were a few people heading out. Couple of sub-editors, internet editor, reporter or two, half the design team.
It would have been unsociable not to, wouldn’t it? Rude even. And just one wouldn’t harm. You could even argue it was part of the job. A team building exercise.
I mused for, ohhh, two minutes before texting her.
“I just can’t get out of this,” I said. “But I’ll definitely be home for seven. No way I’m missing that stew.”
I write texts like that. Proper grammar and spelling. Capitals. Punctuation. Numbers written in letters unless it’s 10 or higher.
Seeing ‘u’ replace ‘you’ is one of those things – like war, genocide and Eastenders – which makes me despair for humanity.
I digress. The text went down fine.
“See you at 7,” she texted back.
“Seven,” I corrected, and off I went for a Guinness on the deputy editor’s expense account.
You probably know what happens from here...
I probably don’t need to explain how one turned to two, two turned to three, and three turned into me thinking the stew was all right on the hob a while longer.
“You’re being unreasonable,” I text when she refused to agree to my proposal to rendezvous at the dinner table at midnight.
In any case, by the time I got home, the stew had long since been made intimate acquaintances with the bin, and an acrimonious flight to Dublin awaited.
But what I didn’t know then (although perhaps what half the chaps reading this could have warned me) was I’d still be hearing about the dinner hundreds of years later.
To wit: this weekend, as I met her work colleagues for the first time, they already know two things about me: I’m a journalist and I’m the drunken loser who once missed a specially-cooked stew.
So it was, as I attempted to defend my actions (“it was the deputy editor”), I experienced one of those moments of enlightenment which come as you get older; a sudden lightbulb; a fizzing *ting* of discovery.
And it was this: it doesn’t matter what ever 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. She will always remember it, and so too, therefore, will I.
It is a black mark against my name to be referred to ad nauseum, and the only thing is to accept it.
Because with fellas I reckon we just forget rather than forgive - it’s not, for example, that it doesn’t annoy me any more that she once smashed my favourite tea cup (don’t pretend you don’t have one), it’s just I can’t really be bothered to remember it after a while.
But lasses forgive, then don’t forget.
“I could have told you that years ago,” my old man says, as I tell him about Stewgate.
Well, I ask, why on Earth didn’t you?