For the record: We’ve been together for nearly 25 years. So I must be a person easy to get on with. And certainly tolerant.
The Nymph rolls her eyes. Twice.
‘Why twice?’ I ask irritated.
‘One for the ‘easy to get on with’ and one for ‘tolerant,’’ she replies.
I decide to ignore her. She doesn’t know what a marriage can be like, if one partner has good taste and the other… well …
‘You’re being unfair.’ Peirene again. She always takes my husband’s side. ‘He writes beautiful poetry. And as a first reader of your own novels, his editorial advice is often spot-on.’
‘Ye-es,’ I admit reluctantly. She’s beginning to take the wind out of my sails.
So let me tell you what has recently happened in our back garden, and you can judge for yourself.
Two years ago we spent our family summer holiday cycling through Romania. There my husband fell in love with the traditional carved gates that stand at the entrance to villages and farm houses. After much research he found a Romanian woodcarver online and ordered a custom-made gate to put into our backgarden. ‘It won’t be big,’ he promised me, ‘We will have a work of art in our garden.’
Last week the gate arrived in a van from Romania. In six separate parts. The Nymph opened the door and let the men carry everything through the house. I wasn’t there. Which was lucky. Because I might have refused to accept the delivery. The roof alone is huge – totally out of place in a North London backgarden – and it’s already clear that it will look more like an alien spaceship than folk art. But my husband is determined. ‘Its pillars represent the tree of life, ‘ he tells me with sparkling eyes.
‘I think the Salon guests will love it,’ Peirene now says, as we are standing side by side staring at the still cellophane wrapped roof.
‘Yes, ‘I sigh. ‘As a curiosity and because they don’t have to live with it day in day out.’
‘You will get used to it,’ she puts her arm around my shoulder.
‘I guess I have no choice.’ I pause for a moment. ‘But you have to admit, Peirene, you can’t any longer accuse me of not being tolerant.’
The Nymph squeezes my shoulder.
Image by Nan Palermo, creative commons.