Magpies Friendly Fire
Magpies Friendly Fire

‘Friendly fire’ is a term generally used to describe an incident where you are hit by ammunition fired from your own side. As far as I’m concerned there isn’t a household in Ireland that is safe from friendly fire. Having spent a great deal of my life in pubs, I could write a book about the level of friendly fire exchanged between couples – and often when they have an audience.

I have been hit many times by such shots – and in fairness to myself, I have returned fire – or more often waited for the opportunity to retaliate. Let me give you a few examples of domestic friendly fire at its best … or worst? Is this what they mean when they talk about ‘the battle of the sexes’?

The other morning I was looking out the window of the back bedroom, when I spied an amazing scene of nature at work. Two magpies were building a nest in the silver birch outside the window. I called Mrs Youcantbeserious to witness the birds at work.

One magpie was perched on the building site whilst the other carried the twigs from the ground, passed them one by one to the builder, who laid them into position. ‘Isn’t that beautiful’, I gushed. ‘A couple, male and female, setting up home and building their own house.’ ‘And we know which one is female’, sez the wife. I fell for it. ‘Which one?’ ‘The one doing all the work!’ See what I mean, Lads?

Magpies Friendly Fire
Magpies Friendly Fire

She owed me that one for yonks years. One night I was closing up the Squash Centre. The rain was lashing and there was this little kitten mewing at the front door. I tried, but I couldn’t bring myself to ignore the cat’s plight. I put it in the car and brought it home.

There I mixed a dish of milk and tasty morsels and put the cat and the food out in the garage. Next morning the dish was empty and the cat was gone. ‘At least we found out its gender’, I ventured. ‘What do you mean’, asked my puzzled wifesheen. ‘Easy to tell; it’s a she; ate the fancy meal the man gave her, used him for accommodation … and disappeared in the morning without a word!’

I was collecting Mrs Youcantbeserious from Dublin airport late one night. We try to time it so that I don’t have to park the car – instead opting for a ‘pick and go’ from the departure zone. You cannot loiter there, so timing is everything. I got the text that the plane had landed and I glided into position a half hour later – but no sign of Precious.

I was beginning to seethe a little when txt number two came through. “Waiting for baggage”, it read. I couldn’t help myself Girls: I knew there would be a price to be paid, but without giving it a moment’s thought, I txd back; “me too!”

A number of years back, Pamela had trouble with her foot, which eventually necessitated surgery. But in the early stages of the problem we tried everything for a cure. I met a German couple in Spain who were venerating the healing powers of the salt lakes outside Torrevieja . People came from all over to lie in the mud baths and bathe in the salt water to cure pains.

I loaded the wife into the car and headed for the lakes, where we both proceeded to walk in the shallow salt water. The salt crystals are very sharp, so you need to wear footwear in the water. Also, we needed to take containers of fresh water in order to rinse the salt off the skin after the immersion.

Pamela thought her foot felt better and we promised to come out again next day, but unfortunately she had …let’s say, a ‘Turkish tummy’ and the trip had to be abandoned. This is delicate, Girls, but it wasn’t so much her tummy that was affected … if you get my drift, like!

On the third day as we prepared to set off again, the wife discovered a problem with her runners. Because she hadn’t washed the salt out of them, the shoes were set solid and as hard as rock. Another pair had to be located.

After paddling around for an hour, the foot felt much better. ‘This really works, I said … if only you had come out and sat in it yesterday, it would have cured that other problem as well!’ I chuckled, pleased as hell with that one, until, like a shot, came the return fire. ‘No … it’s you who needs to sit in it … when I see what it did to my shoe!’

Up until that moment I always felt I had been ahead on points. But when you get a knock-out punch like that, what can you do but take your beating! That’s how friendly fire works …

Don’t Forget

The best thing about women is that there are so many of them