I’ve just done a terrible thing.
I’ve lied to a friend.
She invited my husband and me to dinner with some pals of hers she thinks we’ll like.
Always a tricky one, this business of meeting other people’s friends. It’s fraught with danger.
Will we have to sublimate our political views? Bite our tongue when it comes to talk of religion or cars or Coldplay or call centres?
Way, way too much stress.
And we’d have to retaliate. I mean reciprocate. And I haven’t got the energy right now.
I told her that we were busy.
Sounds ungrateful doesn’t it? Maybe it is. But the night she suggested is a ‘Protected Saturday’ in my diary.
It comes to something when dates in the diary sound like part of a witness protection programme, but that’s where we’re at.
I want a Saturday night in.
Not going out has become increasingly important to me. My life has been busy forever and I’d like to cut myself adrift from some of its excesses.
Plus I really like my home. I mean, actually just being in it. And now that I’ve got a new boiler, I want to spend some time with it.
We’ve been in the habit of entertaining or going out all our married life.
Weekend nights are often spent hosting dinner parties. We are like a well-oiled catering machine when it comes to feeding our friends.
Because we both work on Saturdays, we plan menus and launch our offensive days in advance.
The spherificator goes on on Tuesday, the ice cream maker on Wednesday, the oven on Thursday and the sous-vide machine on Friday in preparation for a multi-course fine dining experience.
I’m just going along with my foodie husband’s passion for recreating Master Chef in our home (but never actually applying) complete with gadgets and foodstuffs I don’t know the names of.
Honestly, I’d be as happy with peanut butter on toast, but I know better than to voice this.
By Saturday I’m banned from the kitchen.
Someone has to vacuum the sitting room, light the candles, lay the table and aim some Toilet Duck at the downstairs loo, right?
That someone is me.
And then the guests arrive and it’s my favourite bit. Cocktails and crisps.
A drop of brandy in a glass of prosecco and I can forget about the indecent amount of calories I’ll be consuming.
We all have lots of fun and lots of food and then the crowds depart and it’s just me and him trying not to smash things as we stack the dishwasher. Then we’ll fill the sink and the outlying areas with other food-encrusted stuff before staggering up to bed to spend a profoundly uncomfortable night digesting ingredients unknown to us thirty years ago.
And, while going out to other people at the weekend is fun, it too has its stresses.
I’ll get in from work at 6.55pm. We will have to leave by 7.15pm to get anywhere by 8ish.
‘Ish’ is a thing we’ve become known for.
Turning myself from haggard, exhausted wretch to playgirl in twenty minutes is a big ask.
Sometimes, dry shampoo is involved. (I hate myself.)
Invariably, I won’t have eaten and this, along with the effect of the adrenalin I will release as we drive at breakneck speed to get where we’re going, means that by the time I’ve knocked back a glass of something fizzy on arrival, I will be barely coherent.
So, I’m having a night in. It has been planned.
I will make the bed with clean sheets ready to slide into.
I will run a bath and listen to a podcast (at the moment, I’m very much enjoying ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’. I wish my dad had written a porno and that I too was touring Australia talking about it for money).
I will eat toast and peanut butter in front of the telly.
I will doze off on the sofa, a hideous picture of drool with a loud snoring accompaniment.
And then I will haul myself off to bed to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the boiler below.
I am not going out.