Wood is the square root of Silver

Or so the mad alchemists of wedding anniversaries would have us think. Great, I thought, casting aside some expensive inverted commas, I will find the boy a great wooden object to show him how much I love him. A horse of Troy, carved in those spare moments between hanging nappies and preparing puree. Or perhaps a matchstick representation of the Hrad and Karluv Most in Prague. Maybe I could even rustle up a chair or shelf or DVD holder of yore.

In reality a number of things happened, and they went as follows. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Lost Keys Day. The most interesting of these excuses is Lost Keys Day, which I will relate with brevity. I am even thinking of ignoring uninverted commas perhaps.

Two days ago I set off for my first day at college. It occurred to me the evening before to be well prepared and to pack my bag in advance. On the walk there it occurred to me that I had never been to work at college in day time, and had never visited it in term time when all the students would be about, unlike my brother and sister. It was very exciting. It did not occur to me that I had not brought keys with me. Mum had kindly come round to collect Lily and the boy was going to an exam that morning.

I had the kind of morning at college designed to induce crowsfeet, grey hair and blisters in equal measure. I discovered that my not-quite-strong-enough-for-GCSE-resit group are on the whole quiet, good at cutting and gluing and very forgetful. One girl took it upon herself to tell everyone where the second lesson would be after break, but forgot the room number. I did not mark lates this week. I also discovered that the brightest one of the group has a class A substance addiction and that one of the other girls hopes to be an astronaut or a fighter pilot.

We all had a good time, learning took place and I found out more about the college systems. After the lesson, I spent all of my lunchtime not eating lunch. There was a lot still to sort out, and I walked around to the copy shop to tease a few wayward pieces of A3 back into submission before giving up on my plan to be super-prepared and found that the chap who takes too long on the photocopier in the department had actually finished. I listened to a lot of chatter from colleagues, solved a lot of problems, entered a lot of people for exams and missed the BOGOF Baguettes by minutes (or was it minuets?)…

On the walk back up the hill, with my bag heavy with preparation still to take place, it occurred to me to find my keys. This was actually five hours too late. Never mind, I thought, I will go and see if my neighbour has the spares. My neighbour no longer has a spare key but kindly gave me a cup of tea, let me phone various important people and drove me to the farm shop near my parents to meet up with them. I had to cancel a doctor’s appointment and it turned out that mum and dad did not have a spare key either.

Well, I played with Lily in the afternoon – always a great thing, but it cost me the chance to go and buy something for the boy. Maybe it was a kind of sabbatical: after a tough week it did feel necessary.

Yesterday I felt like an awful wife for not getting him anything. He doesn’t need anything but I need to feel that I have remembered him and at least given a card. I had received flowers and chocolates. So in the afternoon, between racing around other jobs, I dashed into town. With minutes to go before we had to leave in the car I found just the thing. Good Woodworking Magazine, October issue. Interestingly, the boy was not in the least surprised (although also found it amusing), as he knows me well enough by now to know that’s the kind of thing I would get him. I wonder if there is such a magazine as Silversmith’s Weekly?


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