The Yorkshireman Speaks
by Scott Bennett
Jemma and I have now been married a while. Fifteen years to be precise, or two mattresses as I like to think of it. I remember the first time I saw her, she gave me butterflies, which was a weird gift, but I liked it.
She’s an amazing person, the most honest human being I’ve ever met. She’s the only person I know who would get caught out with the “Have you got a valid TV license?” question on the BBC I-Player.
She is also front of house in our relationship and I am totally fine with that. Men need to realise that this is the answer to a simpler life, just let your partners take charge. Position yourself lower down in the hierarchy of the family, below the children but one up from the cat. Life is so much easier that way. I’m a bit like a capsized windsurfer on a lake, just letting the current take me, and honestly, it feels fantastic.
It means I can keep some space left in my brain for important things like, when the next bin day is, or what my favourite skip is at the tip is or what it would be like to combine Ricicles and Cocopops together.
Don’t get me wrong, I help out in my own little way. I ruin clingfilm. Seriously I destroy that stuff. I’m literally going through one roll per sandwich at the moment. I sniff the milk to see if it’s off, I got that wrong the other week so that’s gone, and I clean the bathroom. Well I say clean, I buff the taps and spray bleach on the porcelain.
Jemma however, she’s a powerhouse. She’s the PR, the director, the acceptable face of the organisation. The Bennett family couldn’t exist without this woman at the helm, it’d be like Amazon without Jeff Bezos, or Disneyland without Mickey Mouse.
I walked into town with her recently it took ages, she knows absolutely everyone. She stops and chats, she shakes hands, she knows all about everyone’s life. It was like taking a stroll with Mother Theresa. She’s so popular!
I’m just hovering in the background, like a bodyguard, holding the shopping bag and trying to keep her moving, I’m pathetic. “Come on ma’am, let’s keep to schedule, the butchers closes in an hour!”
She just takes charge of everything. We were going out somewhere for a meal and the organiser emailed the menu to us the week before. Jemma picked my food without even consulting me. I was sat there and the waitress came over:
“Who has ordered the burger!”
“He has” said my wife, like I was nine years old or something. I was annoyed that she didn’t ask me, but I was even more annoyed that she knew I wanted the burger.
When we go to friends’ houses, before we get to the door, she will fill me in on all the important things I need to know, like a president being briefed on their way to the war room. I get a potted history of their lives in record time.
“Right, he’s been having an affair but they are staying together for the sake of the kids, she’s just been made redundant and the dogs not well, so when we get in there sit down, shut up, smile, eat your food and don’t let me down!”
Sometimes just before the door opens she’ll chuck something else in:
“Oh also, she’s just had a nose job, so whatever you do, don’t look at it!”
“Good evening Helen!”
It’s great, I just sit there and enjoy a lovely evening in terrified silence. I always run things by her in the car on the way there too. Always best to check. After all my opinions are her opinions. When I start thinking for myself, that’s when things go off the rails. “Do we like these people darling? Just wanted to check before I invite them to ours for a BBQ.”
All the way through the evening she’ll give me pointers, I’m like a TV presenter with an ear piece and she’s the producer.
“Stop talking now you’re dominating the conversation.”
“No one wants to hear that rubbish.”
“Let someone else speak now.”
“Stop looking so miserable, cheer up.”
”Not like that, that’s too much, now you’re over compensating, dial it down!”
It’d be like being heckled by my own conscience! When I do make a mistake, she’ll let me know, she won’t tell me of course, no, I get the squeeze. All men are scared of the squeeze, it’s the most powerful tool a woman has. Sometimes I’m so frightened by it a little bit of wee comes out.
We’ll be there, set around the table. I feel her hand come out, it starts on my shoulder, I think it’s affectionate at first, then it runs all the way down along my leg to the knee, then she’ll give it a little squeeze and she just leans in…..and I think, “Oh God…”
Then she whispers in my ear, so close I could feel her hot breath on my cheek. All the time she was doing this she was still looking dead ahead. “Ok love, enough is enough, we have all had a laugh, a bit of a giggle, but that’s’ you done now okay……that’s you done!”
And you are done aren’t you. Even your mates know. “Scott looks upset I’ll go see if he’s okay.” “Leave him Dave, he’s had the squeeze, he’s a dead man now!”
I’ll know if I’ve had a bad month, because my leg is completely covered in bruises. Jemma is the man of the house too. I honestly couldn’t manage without her. She does everything. She went up a ladder to repair our house alarm because I’m too scared. I hate heights, my knees go wobbly and I feel sick. My dad was a fireman, and that clearly never came through the genes. Mind you my mum was a hairdresser and I can’t cut hair either, so I’m starting to think I might not be their child.
I stayed at the foot of the ladder, just shouting encouragement to her. She’s my hero, and also is available for guttering and roof tile replacement. On a romantic trip to Paris in 1998 she had to go to the top of the Eiffel tower on her own because I couldn’t do it. She took a selfie before it was even a thing, although that wasn’t a selfie it was more like a lonely.
Life is manic, especially with young children, and I often think we’re both only half listening to each other. After a while though it does start to get really annoying. I’ll say to her, “do you fancy a cup of tea?” – she’ll say back, “Shall we go prancing in the sea?” – it’s not even close!
How can she be that far away from it? That is how much she’s paying attention to me. I’ll say, “Would you like a glass of water?” she’ll fire back with, “Do you think I know your daughter?”
It’s madness. Jemma has a great temperament, she even believes you should never argue in front of the children. That’s an admirable belief although I don’t agree with that because if you don’t how do you know who has won? Surely someone has to keep score?
They say never go to bed on an argument, I say never argue in B&Q, you don’t want to annoy someone when they have a wall of hammers behind them. My advice, Dunlem, that’s the venue for a row. You can really wind someone up when you are surrounded by soft furnishings: “I’m not bothered love, what you gonna do, roll me in a duvet?! Use a fifteen tog, I don’t care, bring it on!”
We could argue anywhere Jemma and I, that’s healthy, that’s why I know we’ll be alright. We could be on an aeroplane, hurtling towards the earth in the crash position, she’d turn to me and say “…..oh god!” “I know it’s terrible isn’t it” “No, not that, I just can’t believe you are going to die in that jumper. You look like an old man! Quick, help me get this wedding ring off, I don’t want any connection to you!”
I’d say “Please darling, just hold me!” She’d snap back “Hold you, I can barely look at you. Imagine when they sift through the wreckage and find you wearing that jumper, they’ll think well don’t bother tagging this one, he was dead long before he hit the ground!”
But joking aside, we’re very happy, still together and still battling through life, with her leading the way and me in the background taking all the credit. So to all the men reading this, hand yourself over, admit defeat, it’s so much easier.
And just like that, that’s me done.
Scott Bennett Comedian
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