43.5 is a magical number. It’s the world record for cell efficiency in a solar panel. It’s Google’s share of US online advertising spend. It’s the top speed in mph of a camel. And, as it just so happens, it’s the proportion of my time on earth spent with the missus.
It’s been a spooky number all the way through our relationship. For example, when I first met Emma I was a student at the University of Sheffield. Every Friday night I went clubbing with my mate, Steven Hayward. We scammed cigarettes from the Marlboro girls, pretended to be budding music producers and danced until the early hours in the hope that our sweet moves would overwhelm an onlooking pair of drunken beauties.
One cold February Friday night my mate turns up exactly 43 minutes and 50 seconds late with some bird. I remember the time distinctly because I was watching Noel Edmunds on TV on our crappy blue-screen box and timing how long until the picture switched to yellow-screen. I was that rock and roll.
I was also 43.5% of the way through my Goblin Meat Pie which for those of you who aren’t familiar with the brand, is low-grade dog food wrapped in suet and steamed. It’s as cheap a source of protein as is possible to consume without getting into a fight with kitty and a blender. It is also so heavy that it rarely decides to evacuate should a man drink his own body weight in cheap lager.
The source of Steven’s tardiness was Emma, brazenly stood in my room in a turquoise faux-leather rain mack, fishnet tights and para boots. As classy a first impression as that was, I remember thinking that she didn’t speak much, but then I wondered whether she had to. Stevie had obviously scored early and was bailing on our night out, leaving me on the bench with only 56.5% of a meat pie left.
Disappointed, I decided to spend my GBP4.35 to buy a packet of smokes and the nastiest tasting white wine I could find. Thus armed, I walked the spookily precise 435 yards from my house to hers and sat between them for the remainder of the evening….you guessed it, 4 hours and 35 minutes.
Only when I was satisfied I’d pissed off my mate sufficiently that he wasn’t getting any action that night, did I retire and deem it sweet payback. As it turns out, Emma quite liked a man who wasn’t afraid to buy white wine in Sheffield and so we turned into an item. The rest as they say is history.
We spend 43.5% of the time wondering what happened, weathered 43.5 arguments over the last 17 years and have worked out that each of us get our own way about 43.5% of the time. The kids win the other 13% although that’s on a steep curve up.
Here’s to another 17 years. I might even be able to stretch to some better wine by then.