I’ve decided to turn this into a weekly diary. My everyday life is so boring that it would be pointless making it a daily one. If I’m lucky I’ll just about cram enough into a full week to make a worthwhile entry. There is also the fact that The Grump might find it strange that I’m spending so much time on the laptop. I normally only go onto the Internet to order new refills for the fridge, water filter, or buy the odd book from Amazon. If my life story should suddenly become more entertaining, I’ll start doing twice weekly updates. I can always tell him I’ve joined Mumsnet.com. He’ll think I’ve gone all radical.
I suppose I’d better start by introducing myself properly. You’ll need to know a little bit about me if we’re going to be sharing my innermost thoughts.
My name is Isla Ferry and I’ve been married for eighteen years to The Grump, aka, Gary Ferry. (He tries to make out he’s distantly related to the singer, Bryan Ferry, but his mum told me the first time I met her that he isn’t.) When we decided to get married, I fully intended adding my maiden name to The Grump’s in order to make a posh sounding double barrelled name. The problem was, my family name is Whyte and it didn’t take long for me to realise the years of torment I’d be letting myself in for if I were to become Isla Whyte-Ferry. I had enough jokes made up about my name when I was at school without adding to the misery.
I’m thirty-nine years old and rapidly approaching forty. I have no idea how this happened as the last time I looked I was twenty-seven. Life crept up behind me one morning and screamed ‘Hey, it’s time for a midlife crisis.’ I’ll never forget that moment, I was cleaning the toilet bowl at the time.
I’ve tried desperately to think where the last ten years have gone. One minute I was crying over taking my four-year-old Lara to school for the first time, and the next thing I know I’m half way to a pension. What happened there? Did Dr Who whisk me off on a time travelling adventure in his Tardis and drop me off ten years later?
It came as a huge shock to realise that my entire married life could be laid out as one small flowchart. All I’ve done for the last fifteen years is give birth, cook, clean, organise the school run and read Hello magazine. I did once take part in a sit-in on a pavement near the school to demand a new crossing but that’s the closest I’ve come to being a rebel.
That morning in the bathroom, I sat for an hour and thought about my life and what might lie ahead.
I worked out that if I was lucky and lived to be eighty, then my life was already half way through and for the last twenty or so of those remaining years I would be a pensioner. Twenty-five years ago, I was Lara’s age and just starting out on life’s great adventure. During those twenty-five years the only adventures I have witnessed have generally all belonged to other people. Apart from bringing two children into the world I haven’t left a mark on it. If I’m not careful I’ll be one of those sad people who live their own lives though their children’s exploits. That will never do, I refuse to end up in a Post Office queue, flashing photos of my future grandchildren to other women who are desperately trying to do the same thing to me.
It’s not like I’ve explored my sexuality either. I never had time to get up to much when I was a teenager. If I wasn’t at college studying for my Certificate in Office Studies, I was serving up cod and chips, working part time at the chip shop. I vaguely remember a couple of heavy petting sessions with Roger Sands in the back of his dad’s Rover, but that was about the sum of it. Maybe I should have married him? I might have been able to have my double-barrelled name if I had. Isla Whyte Sands is bad, but doesn’t sound quite as daft as Ferry.
Roger is a milkman now … Roger the milkman? Ha! That sounds like one of The Grump’s kinky fantasies. He actually asked me once if I’d do it with someone else while he watched. I told him to sod off. If I was going to do it with the milkman, I’d want to enjoy it. It would really turn me off seeing Gary perched on a chair with his Sony Handycam in front of his face every time we changed position. He said I was no fun.
I don’t know why I ended it with Roger. He was a handsome lad, athletic, and good fun. He used to play rugby and tennis. The only remotely sporty things The Grump has ever played is pool and darts.
For years, Gary tried to get me to dress up for sex. He got a thing for it after watching those free, five-minute samples on a soft porn channel on Sky. I finally gave in and he ordered a French maid’s outfit from some pervy site he’d found on the internet. I had visions of being dressed in a sexy, black silk dress with stockings and high heels, maybe tickling him with my feather duster. What turned up was a PVC monstrosity that was about two sizes too small and made my body bulge out alarmingly in all the wrong places. They should market those things toward people who suffer from water retention. I sweated so much the first, (and last,) time I wore it, that I must have lost half a stone. Gary, of course, blamed my shape for the disappointing end result and told me I should go on a diet.
We have two children, Lara, (14,) and Toby, (8.) We share the house with a mad Springer Spaniel called, Spencer, a cat with homicidal tendencies, called Sasha, (aka Slasher,) and an African parrot called Squawk. We also have a pond full of enormous Koi who share their watery kingdom with a plastic mermaid called Priscilla, Princess of the Pond. Lara began to have conversations with Priscilla when she was three and stopped talking to her when she was seven, but I’ve kept in touch ever since. Sharing a gripe with Priscilla has become part of my daily routine. We share a moan when I’m hanging out the washing or feeding the fish. She’s a good listener.
I drive a Ford Ka, which The Grump got cheap from a bloke he met in the pub. So far, it’s had replacement brakes, clutch, passenger seat, alternator, battery and three tyres. Gary refuses to admit that he bought a pup and his new best mate, Oggy, the owner of the scrap yard where he buys all the second hand, replacement parts, agrees. He would, wouldn’t he? We actually got a Christmas card from him this year. The Grump was going to invite him round on Boxing Day but I put my foot down. It’s bad enough having to put up with his bloody mother and mad Aunt Bessie. The last thing we need is to listen to Oggy trying to flog him a second hand exhaust while we’re playing Monopoly.
I’ve just remembered why I finished with Roger. I wanted to go to the pictures to see some daft film or other but it was his training night. I must have been premenstrual because I told him that if he was going to put rugby before me then it was all over and he wouldn’t see me again. That night I met Gary…why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut?