To celebrate my mum's birthday a while ago, we (I say "we", but I mean one of my better, more organised siblings) arranged for us all to spend a long weekend at Centre Parcs. For those that don't know of Centre Parcs, it is a large holiday village which caters for all kinds of outdoor and indoor activities - swimming, squash, falconry, bowling, cycling, archery, fencing, spa sessions, clay pigeon shooting. You name it, they probably do it.
"While we're there, we should go *cough*sailing." my wife said a week or two before we were due to go.
"I'm sorry, what? I didn't hear you properly - you coughed" I replied
"I said, while we're there we should go *cough*sailing" she repeated.
"Are you getting a cough?" I asked.
"No...yes...maybe. Look, that doesn't matter. Do you want me to book a session or not?" she said. Somewhat testily, in my opinion.
"Sure, why not? That would be great, actually." I said, delighted.
I was delighted because this would be only the second time that my wife had sailed in a boat with me. Our first time hadn't gone very well.
It was back when we were at university, and one weekend she organised for us to take a dinghy out at the seaside town a couple of miles from her house. I hadn't sailed for two or 3 years, and I was excited about being back in a boat again.
I found out afterwards that she had been looking forward to a leisurely sail around the bay. Maybe a nice chat. Perhaps even a little romance or whatever.
We weren't on the same page. In fact we weren't even in the same book.
I wanted to see if we could get the boat planing, but there wasn't enough wind. So I thought we should try roll-tacking and roll-gybing. And there was another boat on the water, so I wanted to see if we could catch them. And so I went on. You see, because I hadn't been in a boat for a while I wanted to see if I could still sail the way I used to. And (unfortunately) the competitive spirit in me is strong, and I'm not used to just pottering about in boats.
To really cap the day off, my wife had forgotten that when the tide goes out there is only one channel that you can sail to get back in, and (being me) I hadn't even thought to ask about such things. So, as the tide rolled out and we sailed in, we ended up getting stranded on a sandbank and had to anchor the boat and walk back in. Some poor fellow had to get up early the next day and pick the boat up (I did offer, but apparently I had "done quite enough for one weekend.").
You can understand my wife's reluctance to get back in a boat with me, but I was determined that this time I would be better. We'd do what she wanted - no planing, no roll gybes, no racing.
So the day of our sailing at Centre Parcs arrived.
"Are you nearly ready for our abseiling session?" my wife asked over breakfast.
"Yep, I'm lookin...Wait, what was that? Did you just say abseiling?"
"Yes." she said, innocently. "I asked you if you wanted to go abseiling with me and you said "Sure, why not? That would be great, actually."" And she took a long sip of coffee.
"No you didn't and no I didn't." I said. "The only thing you asked me about was...wait a minute...I'm sure you said sailing."
"Erm, no." she said. "I definitely said abseiling."
"No you didn't. You had that cough, remember? You said that while we were here we sh... oh this is unbelievable! You can't trick a man into walking backwards off a wall held only by a rope that was attached by a teenager. I'm pretty sure that is basically murder. There is no way that I'm going abseiling. Absolutely not. I'm putting my foot down on this one."
And so it was that an hour and a half later I found myself being encouraged by a very patient teenager to walk slowly backwards off a ridiculously high wall.
"Isn't this romantic?" shouted my wife before disappearing rapidly over the ledge next to me, bouncing happily down to the bottom.
If I didn't know better, I'd even say that it was revenge percolated over many years before being executed with laser-like precision and incredible cunning.
But my wife wouldn't do a thing like that.