Tomorrow, in about 2 hours we've been married 20 years, known each other for 21, and it's her 50th birthday. All on the same day.
The Leader of the Opposition is a lovely, fine woman who I am very lucky to have married all those years ago. She has the patience, the understanding, the drive and the motherly love for our two wonderful children and for me. It truly is a blessing to be in her presence and to share the love we have for each other.
She's also the neighbourhoods' worst spendthrift.
On the weekend I took the children up the road to collect some last minute odds and ends for her. SWMBO was at an all-day rehearsal for an upcoming concert. The Princess had been talking about something called a Pandora Charm bracelet for weeks. I am sure now, as I write this, that there was some outside pressure happening.
It turns out that a Pandora bracelet is a rather nasty piece of work... why else would they name it so? You buy a "chain" and add baubles to it. But these baubles are either gold or silver, some with rubies, some with diamonds, some plain, some "exquisite" (read costalotta). You only buy the baubles for special occasions: big birthdays, child birth, wedding, special holidays etc. The reason being is that you have to spend a far deal so the reason better be a bloody good one.
Can guess what you're thinking?
So The Princess takes me to the counter and begins to point out the ones "Mum likes".
The first is in excess of $400.00. Apparently that one is for her 50th birthday. Then points our another... that one's for her 20th Anniversary ($230.00). My loud claims that it's a china anniversary NOT A BLEEDING SLIVER one is hushed up by stern looks she obviously learned from her mother.
"What about the chain?"
"Mum's family is getting that for her. And that one there.." she says pointing to yet a third bauble.
The Earl the pipes up to say "I'd like to get her one from me."
The little piranha fish from behind the counter is onto it and produces a tiny "boy" figurine in silver (only $30) to remind her of him. He hands over the money.
The princess isn't to be outdone, but unlike her fiscally sensible little brother she has no money.
"I'd like to get mum the one with the cross"
Seems I am sold out by a soft heart.
Nearly $700 later we leave with 4 impossibly small parcels with fancy ribbons.
Apart from that we pick up a few Miss Marple mystery videos, greeting cards, wrapping paper, ribbons, a bath robe "Mum just has to have one" and bits n pieces. Not much left from $1000.00. Thank the tax man I work two jobs.
I'm busted so we go to the best fish cafe on the North Shore and settle into seafood salad, fish n chips and calamari & chips for lunch. The princess then starts to mention "The Ring".
The story is that The Minister for the Dark Arts has picked it up the day before. It's well over what we've spent already; made to match her engagement ring and fit with the wedding ring. By the time she wears all three she'll be up for bandaids for grazed knuckles. Nothing in any of the rings is extravagant. No big diamonds.
Just a shit load of small ones.
What's more, get this, she only drew the ring, has never seen it, the jeweller has done a fitting but her eyes were closed. AND, blow me down, she collects the ring, again with the eyes closed.
"It's supposed to be a surprise!"
The chips had lost their crispiness.
It is quite a nice ring, and she deserves every cent of it.
Anyway, she has rehearsals each night this week (except Thursday) so we only see her in the morning. Tomorrow, The Princess and I are meeting SWMBO, her brother and his wife for lunch at the Royal Automobile Club in Sydney on, thankfully, her brother's tab. In the morning we'll present her with all the goodies, the hugs and kisses but we wont see her at night.
On Friday, if the Pope's is still up for it, she sings with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Gianluigi Gelmetti conducting Beethoven's Missa solemnis. We tried to get me tickets to join his next-to-godliness but he's having 2500 of his closest friends instead. So I'm going Saturday night.
Then, in the wee small hours of Sunday I sneak off with three mates for a weeks skiing. So it's not all doom and gloom.