They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Undoubtedly so, but I’m happy with a fish supper and a jaunt to a disused nuclear bunker. This is what we did on Shug’s birthday.
It was his 49th. His last birthday as a 40-something. His last before the dreaded 50. I was prepared to do whatever he wanted – within reason, of course – as it was a special birthday, but Shug, as ever, was only keen to do what pleased me.
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‘But it’s your special day.’ I protested. ‘What do you want to do?’
Mocking him for his camp, theatrical nature, I said we could have a Liza Minnelli singalong or we could paint one another’s nails and talk about boys.
Shug waved this aside. He knew I had a hankering to visit this nuclear bunker out in Fife, so we packed the car with sweeties and Irn Bru and headed east.
There was no guilt about having Shug spend his ‘special day’ in a nuclear bunker as I had made it clear the day was his, and we’d do whatever he wanted. It just so happened that he wanted whatever made me happy.
I’d noticed this in him on our very first date: he had flatly refused to let me pay for drinks and when I tried to insist he seemed horrified at the very idea. Then he gallantly drove me home.
It’s followed the same pattern ever since; I am treated like a princess, and Shug doesn’t seem to need anything except to see my eyes gleam when another cocktail or sticky toffee pudding or tickets to Blackpool are placed before me.
It’s old-fashioned. In this bland age of equality, men aren’t supposed to do this. According to some feminists I should be insulted by Shug’s desire to treat me and look after me.
Well I say nuts to feminism. If it means no toffee puddings and no gallivanting around the east coast on a sunny day while Shug sings to me in the car then they can shove their feminism.
I’ll take the Vote and the Pill, thank you very much, but they can keep the rest. Let Shug lavish me with gifts. I like it. He likes it. A’body likes it.
Besides, Shug earns about three times as much as me. He has a juicy lecturer’s salary whereas I get paid in peanuts. Yes, I am actually presented, each month, with a small bag of peanuts by my employer. (And they’re not even salted.) So why shouldn’t Shug throw his money around?
When it comes to buying me presents and making insane statements about the crazy things he’s going to do for me, he’s at his most droolingly generous and suggestible following sex. In those crucial three to four minutes afterwards, I fully believe he’d do anything I asked.
I had joked about this with him, saying ‘twas a pity we couldn’t have sex in a shopping centre, right next to New Look or Waterstones.
‘Well, there’s always online shopping,’ he laughed. ‘You could just have the laptop in bed beside us.’
‘Hmmm, but I only have a few minutes.’ I grumbled. ‘I’d never have the time to start up, log on, google the shop, select the items and get you to enter your card details all before you drop off to sleep.’
Shug pretended to ponder this puzzler. ‘Well, you could create a list of favourites to be added to the online checkout…’
‘Yes! I could get you to fill my basket - ’
‘Are we still talking about shopping?’ he interrupted.
So, we explored the nuclear bunker in Fife then drove through Anstruther to sample their famous fish suppers. We were sitting on the harbour wall, munching our chips, when Shug coughed and announced he’d written a poem for me.
Inwardly I shook my head. Why does he always make romantic gestures when I’m eating? I’m forever coated in some kind of grease, chocolate, oil or sugar when he does these things, so I feel a tad self-conscious.
Apparently, so did Shug. He said ‘I feel a bit - you know - about reading this aloud, so I’ll do it in an American accent. Then I won’t feel daft.’
So Shug recited the poem he’d written for me. The fact that it was delivered with a comedy American twang didn’t really bother me.
I can only recall the last line which was ‘…and in love’s wake I am drowning.’ He finished and there was a pause.
Love? Oh dear, he’s mentioned love. How do I respond? We sat quietly, with the last line hanging in the air between us. Shug must have felt the awkwardness, as he jumped up and announced ‘I’ve written one about Ikea too!’
When we got back to Glasgow, we broke open some champagne and ate the birthday cake I’d made him. Shug kicked off his shoes, relaxed and, sipping his bubbly, began to tell me the things he wanted to achieve before he was 50.
‘I really want to see Japan,’ he said.
‘And I want to see my musical staged.’
‘And I want a baby.’