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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

ImageThis summer a terrible thing happened. My wife became friends with my Chinese teacher. They go shopping together in the mall. Serena has been trying to get my wife to wear the same tantalisingly short skirts and hot pants that she wears to my lessons. They talk about diets and Chinese parents and men. Men! Yes, and women, too. And women’s legs!

It used to be that my Chinese lessons consisted of me telling my teacher things about my wife and my teacher telling me things about her husband.

Then I would go home and tell my wife things about my teacher.

It worked well for a while and I suppose I should be glad that I’ve known at least some happiness in my life, however briefly. Now I try as much as possible to say nothing to either of them, although the talk at home is all of Serena.

The first pair of hot pants Lanying came home in were so short she couldn’t sit down. She had to take them back to the shop the next day and get a more comfortable pair. I told one of my colleagues about it. He shook his had sadly. “I can’t say anything,” he said, “that one of us won’t regret.”

Lanying talks every day about my Chinese teacher. Yesterday she told me something Serena’s husband had told her. “He likes looking at legs,” Serena told her. “He thinks there should be a law against women wearing long trousers.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard!” I said. “But that doesn’t mean he likes other men to look at Serena’s legs.”

“No, of course not. He likes looking at other women’s legs.”

“Not that Serena doesn’t have good legs,” I said diplomatically.

“Serena has great legs.”

“She does. But, you know, in general, a man doesn’t like the world to see his wife’s legs.”

“Exactly,” said Lanying, “no matter how good his wife’s legs may be. ”

“Between a man and his wife, of course, it’s quite all right. But in public, it’s a different thing.”

“But I suppose a man gets bored of looking at the same legs all the time,” she said, “and needs fresh legs to look at.”

“Fresh legs. Indeed.” I’m always happy when I can agree with my wife.

“She is still very young,” Lanying said. “She wants to please him.”

“Yes. I’m sure that’s the reason she wears hot pants all the time.”

“But, really, I think her skirts are too short.”

“So you won’t be buying any short skirts?”

“Definitely not. I’m not a teenager any more.”

Once again I was able to agree. “I’m glad you understand men so well,” I told her. “You don’t try and please me, at least.”

“I dress only for myself,” she told me.

We were walking along the River Thames at the time and I noted that although winter was well under way, the day was exceptionally fine.

“It’s going to be cold on Thursday,” she said.

“Oh, that’s a pity. I suppose you shall have to put away your hot pants and get out your winter clothes.”

“You shall have to get out my winter clothes. The box is too heavy for me.”

“I will be only too glad,” I told her.

And I felt gladder than I’ve felt for a while. The warmth of the sun was very pleasant on my face and the rolling of the waves in the river made a beautiful sound that covered our words and seemed to promise a beautiful English autumn ahead, leading into an even more beautiful English winter.

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A wet summer

The only time I get to sleep with my wife is when her ex-husband comes to stay. Last time she gave up her bedroom and slept with me in mine. This time I’m the one making the sacrifice. Matthias will have my bedroom for a few nights.

At least we didn’t have any trouble with the stairs this time. We’ve moved to a ground floor flat. Matthias finds it much more convenient.

He even had lighter suitcases.

One of the reasons for this was that Matthias forgot to pack any warm clothes.

Lanying told him off for being so thoughtless.

“But now is summer!” he exclaimed at the airport. “It is hot in London, I am thinking.”

We drove back through the torrential rain discussing where you can buy a cheap raincoat. Matthias was getting chilly in his short-sleeved polyester shirt, so I turned on the heating.

Matthias has been living in Kuala Lumpur for the past two years where it’s regularly 30 degrees.

“They don’t have any seasons in Kuala Lumpur, do they?” I said.

“They don’t have seasons in London, either,” said Lanying. “It’s cold and wet every day of the year.”

“You only think that because you spent all day yesterday in a darkened restaurant,” I told her. “It was glorious sunshine all afternoon.”

“People think it’s hot in London when it gets to 24 degrees,” she replied. “Everyone strips off and lies down half naked in the park. But 24 degrees isn’t hot. They’ve got no idea.”

I got a little lost on the drive home from the airport so Matthias had to direct me. He repeated the instructions from my satnav. First I got the sensual Welsh woman directing me. “In 400 yards go round the roundabout and take the fifth exit. Then stay in the right hand lane.”

Then I got the broad Swiss-German of Matthias. “You see, you need to go right round it again and take the fifth turning onto that road that you were on before. That must be the road. You came off it. And now you need to back on it again. Yes. One. Two. Three. Four. Now it is this one. The fifth turning. You see the motorway is sweeping round like that. Yes. It must be the same road we were on just a moment ago. Perfect. Now we are OK.”

He moved the suitcases easily into my room while I went alone into the underground car park.

“There’s been a problem,” Lanying told me when I came back up to the flat.

“What?”

“Matthias had some herbal drinks in his suitcase and one of the tops is sort of crushed and broken.”

“You mean it leaked all over his suitcase?”

“All over his clothes. Now he hasn’t got anything at all to wear.”

“That would explain why he’s sitting on my bed naked.”

“What, is he?”

He was.

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