I have been married for a while now, so realise that hints about birthday presents are useless. Hints don’t have any husband Velcro. They just don’t stick.
A better outcome is achieved by telling one’s husband that 1. your birthday is coming up and 2. this is what you would like and (possibly) 3. this is what you’ll be ordering for yourself from your husband.
November the 19th came around. I had asked for an ice cream maker. He likes to eat ice cream, I like to tit about making stuff, he knew where to get the ice cream maker from. All good.
I’d lashed out on cider making equipment for his birthday so was looking forward to a Christmas of appley wooziness while operating not very heavy machinery.
Not to be. Not even a card (frowny face).
I got up all birthday-ish: nothing. (He’d been busy – true – we had made an abortive arrangement to go and shop for the ice-cream maker – true too).
He then suggested we go to A PUB for a birthday dinner. Er no.
Where can you buy a bludgeon, I thought, a thing for bludgeoning people….
The day wore on. He bought himself some presents – cycle helmet, light and tyre pump for his bike he’d got for his birthday with money from his mum, while I waited in the car.
I asked if he was enjoying all his PRESENTS to be told he needed them for his bike. Of course.
Then I stood by the trolley in the supermarket while he selected a card for me. #notsospecialnowareyouyouoldbaggage.
We got home and, like the good man he is, the rusted penny clunked down the chute of shame. He said: “I need to book a restaurant”. No argument from me.
JF likes to eat, he has a good appetite and he is fit and active. ‘Mucked about food’ – as he calls it -isn’t his thing. This is the man who suggested, for our wedding, that his construction canteen concession people catered our wedding ‘Pies like yer Mam used to make’ he said, eyes moist. FYI that didn’t happen.
Bless him he booked one of the most expensive and standout restaurants in the city and agreed, grudgingly, that we’d also go in a taxi. I was almost faint with gratitude.
The call was made. They couldn’t do a table till 9.30pm ‘and that would be too late wouldn’t it?’ he asked.
‘No that would be perfect’ I said.
‘OK, yes we’ll book that.’ he said in a rich and confident baritone.
‘They do a tasting menu for £65 a head’ he frowns.
‘That would be lovely’ I add.
Off the phone, all booked and tail wagging he adds, ‘let’s go into town early and have a couple of drinks in a bar.’
FYI the man eats like a bear and drinks like a fruit fly. This was going to be interesting.
In the bar I bump into an old paparazzi acquaintance. The beers flow. We’ve consumed scrambled egg on toast at 10.30am that morning and stuff all else. I have 2 large glasses of Sav Blanc, husband has two pints. Somehow the pap pal elicits 3 pints from us.
We leave the bar and get to the 23 storey building that houses the restaurant. We’re pointed toward the lift. We’re giggling and we keep pushing the call button. There are clearly cameras in the lobby, someone comes in and turns us toward the actual lift. We’re pressing the buttons on the service elevator, not the glossy mirrored thing that we should be poking at.
We get into the lift and faux-pounce on each other hoping to cause a CCTV outrage.
We get to the top of the world and are seated at a table, spectacular view. It’s everything I love. Beautiful view, linen, nice glasses, interesting food that doesn’t over-face and isn’t delivered in slices shaved from a rotating triangular mass under a 2 bar electric fire.
The attentive hostess suggests the seven-course tasting menu is served with matched wine, for just £95 a head. JF agrees and smiles his 2 pints smile. We’re chatting to the manager, a spoon with an abused mush (as it’s known in Liverpool) is brought. Johnny looks a question. I drink mine and he follows suit. Well ‘swallow’ would be a better description. We drink the glass of wine that comes with it, a fizzy affair, very lovely.
Next course comes out. It’s roughly the size of half a sprout with 3 blobs of something of ladybird proportion, accompanied by a different glass of wine.
There are no bread rolls. Johnny is getting louder and his stomach is rumbling.
We plough on through another five courses – and their accompanying wine. It is delightful I think as I concentrate on tuning out the moaning; and the rumbling.
At one point I donate half my (quarter of a KitKat-finger-sized) pudding to JF and give up with the pudding wine. JF eats the pudding and drinks the dessert wine, his and mine. Oh dear.
We have a row. John wants fish and ‘bloody’ chips on the way home. We think he may be sick in the cab. By now we have spent £300. This figure will be bandied about for a further 3 days (keeping step with his receding hangover) until I finally snap.
‘Look, date per date for 2016 – if we ever went on dates – £300 is a bloody bargain,’ I yell unnecessarily loudly into his face, enjoying the wince.
Two days later I receive a Kitchen Aid hand held blender and my bike has been restored and fixed up. The card had a fox on it.
PS that picture of the Happy Birthday thing at The Panoramic didn’t happen, just found it on Google, and that’s a very generous portion compared with what we were served. However – Panoramic – I loved it, just perfect, thank you, do you do a table for one?