I have what you might call a stubborn and determined personality. I get hold of an idea and like to see it made real, whatever the challenges, objections, cries for mercy from small children or other obstacles in my way. Like the Terminator, it’s one of my strengths because I never give up, ever. But unfortunately, there can often be collateral damage.
As a young man, I was convinced I’d be a millionaire by now and live in a renovated brick loft apartment, drink expensive north african coffee, wear immaculately-pressed white shirts and have time to read the morning paper while laughing to myself at obscurely intellectual observations in the book review section. I was urbane and untouchable. In no place did children, their smells and suicidal chickens feature as part of the plan.
Surprisingly, I can’t even blame where it all went wrong on the French or Belgians. The culprit is much closer to home. It’s all Emma’s fault. No seriously, it is.
Now before you go getting all upset and leaping to her defence, hear me out. Like a female Blofeld with a penchant for evil cake baking and slightly more hair, Emma wove her dastardly plan from a tender young age. She has used her wiles to keep me, like a toddler with three Cream Eggs, two hands and only one small mouth, in a state of befuddled paralysis since we met. Off guard, I was helpless to resist her Machiavellian guidance away from my dreams of millionnaire-hood and New York exposed brickwork and into a dark world of avian hegemony and organic agriculture.
My evidence? She loves The Good Life which first aired on British TV in 1975. Basically that means from age 2 she began hatching her evil scheme and waited for me to fall into it. I can only speculate that it was because of a fascination with Penelope Keith, that her lifelong aim became the re-enactment of that subservice lifestyle. All she needed was a man who knew which was the business end of a shovel to initiate her plans and unwittingly unleash an irreversible and cascading counter-cultural effect that if left unchecked, will eventually engulf the western world and topple governments.
After a mere six years together, she casually said “let’s watch River Cottage, it looks cool” and promptly signed us up for an allotment knowing fine full well it would be me who got up close and personal with the mud. By playing on the only thing that trumps my stubbornness – an irresistibility for ever more difficult challenges – she knew I would be compelled to Go Big and buy a 100 acre farm. Now she has a hidden country retreat from which to scheme her next move.
You need more evidence? It was again Emma who said, “we’re having children, now.” Of course I realise now that she needs heirs to continue the legacy of her dark machinations. At the time there wasn’t much debate or planning and while I did what any bloke would do and say “fine, but we go to Greece and Nepal first for an extended vacation, oh and then we emmigrate to Canada”, I finally agreed to have one.
We’re now a happy family of four. The only reason we’re not ten strong and cosy in a Ford Transit van is because I went to visit Dr. No. while she was too tired to resist.
But her schemes haven’t ended people. Oh no. They’re only just beginning and I’m helpless to stop her. We’ve been discussing what do to now we have the farm. Hah! We?
After forcing myself to step back from grand plans for global agricultural domination in 12 months, on her urging I had swung the other way to adopt a more lassiez faire approach. A kind of Belgique nod to farm planning that says “I might get around to it, but then again, I may just eat croissant and laugh at you instead.”
But Emma wasn’t satisfied. Like the eternal trickster she is, she introduced the idea of goats. Just one or two, where’s the harm? True, they’re more boss-eyed than a Scotsman trying to knot a tie without sticking out his tongue and have about the same aesthetic appeal as a smacked arse, but goats produce good milk and don’t cost much. Who could argue against goats? Except she knew I don’t have much affection for them. Other than curry that smells of goat, you can’t really eat them and I’m old enough to know without a doubt that it would be me running after them in a Benny Hill stylee as they step daintily over our crappy fences and trip-trap down the lane into the neighbours cash crop fields.
So preoccupied was I about the impending Great Goat Chase that I didn’t understand what was happening when she slipped Dexter cattle into the conversation. Dexter’s are Irish and a fairly small breed, nothing scary there at all. We could eat the meat and get the milk too, not to mention butter and hard cheese. But then I fell into her trap and Went Big. Why stop at Dexters? If you’re going to talk cattle, then is there really any other choice than a Highland Cow?
I mean, they’re massive, have coats that Elton John would happily sell his mother for, eat anything that isn’t a rock (good for our scrubby bottom pastures) and don’t need much in the way of shelter or support (great since we don’t have any and can’t provide much). They yield low cholesterol meat, have rich milk and rather awesome horns. Not to mention my other golden rule which is, if you like it, get the mad one with extra hair and convenient handles that the kids can hang onto.
Emma agreed way too fast to be the result of anything other than her original evil plan. Only now have I realized that even a modest sized Highland Cow wouldn’t fit into a loft apartment. So I finally have to surrender my adolescent dreams and like Darth Vader (just in Wellington boots), embrace the dark chaos of The Good Life. In the end, that’s ok, if only I could work out how two tonnes of bull factors into her dark designs for global anarchy.