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How to Be a Husband

Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      How to Be a Husband
Tim Dowling

SUNDAY TIMES HUMOUR BOOK OF THE YEARBelieve me, not a day goes by without me stopping to ask myself, ‘How the hell did I end up here?’Twenty years ago my wife and I embarked on a project so foolhardy, the prospect of which seemed to both of us so weary, stale and flat that even thinking about it made us shudder. Neither of us could propose to the other, because neither of us could possibly make a case for the idea. We simply agreed – we’ll get married – with the resigned determination of two people plotting to bury a body in the woods.Two decades on we are still together, still married and still, well, I hesitate to say happy, if only because it’s one of those absolute terms, like ‘nit-free’, that life has taught me to deploy with caution. And really, I can only speak for myself in this matter. But yes: I am, at the time of writing, 100 per cent nit-free.This is the story of how I ended up here, and along with it an examination of what it means to be a husband in the 21st century, and what is and isn’t requiredto hold that office. I can’t pretend to offer much in the way of solid advice on how to be a man – I tried to become a man, and in the end I just got old. But ‘Husband’ – it’s one of the main things on my CV, right below ‘BA, English’ and just above ‘Once got into a shark cage for money’. ‘Husband’ is the thing I do that makes everything else I do seem like a hobby.But, I hear you ask, are you a good husband? Perhaps that is for my wife to judge, but I think I know what she would say: no. Still, I can’t help feeling there’s a longer answer, a more considered, qualified way of saying no. I’m not an expert on being a husband, but what kind of husband would an expert make? If nothing else, I can look back and point out ways round some of the pitfalls I was fortunate enough to overstep, and relate a few cautionary tales about the ones I fell headlong into.


COPYRIGHT (#uc88cc8e2-5773-59b3-a9cc-ddb4bd9954cc)

4th Estate

An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

1 London Bridge Steet,

London SE1 9GF

www.4thEstate.co.uk (http://www.4thestate.co.uk)

This eBook first published in Great Britain by 4th Estate in 2014

Copyright © Tim Dowling 2014

Tim Dowling asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

Seven of the Forty Precepts of Gross Marital Happiness made their first appearance, in slightly different form, in an article in Guardian Weekend magazine from February 2013

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Cover photographs: (man) David Levene/© 2010 Guardian News & Media Ltd; (wallpaper) Hudyma Natallia/Shutterstock

Chapter illustrations © Benoît Jacques 2014

Jacket design by Keenan

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780007527663

Ebook Edition © June 2014 ISBN: 9780007527670

Version: 2017-03-08

DEDICATION (#uc88cc8e2-5773-59b3-a9cc-ddb4bd9954cc)

To Sophie; who else?


Cover (#u9b88e420-7561-5ffe-affb-f5c6f5b1b7b9)

Title Page (#ulink_18b49023-89e0-5dfe-ad14-383a1cba2f99)

Copyright (#ulink_470a9579-848b-57bc-894f-d886adf63afd)

Dedication (#ulink_625a4a25-64f8-5677-9982-6c670d681472)

Introduction (#ulink_39052361-6501-5077-81ab-0974a688ddfd)

1. The Beginning (#ulink_8f26a713-a016-5072-ada7-d658fa684b6d)

2. Are You Compatible? (#ulink_859498ba-082e-5f37-9a86-2fc37e77ea87)

3. Getting Married: Why Would You? (#ulink_5826baa6-9034-5669-9189-8b0b66bb4eb0)

4. How To Be Wrong (#ulink_4beaf576-ae89-57a9-b5d6-9a58e5534e49)

5. Am I Relevant? (#litres_trial_promo)

6. DIY: Man’s Estate, Even Now (#litres_trial_promo)

7. Extended Family (#litres_trial_promo)

8. The Forty Precepts of Gross Marital Happiness (#litres_trial_promo)

9. Bringing Home the Bacon (#litres_trial_promo)

10. A Very Short Chapter About Sex (#litres_trial_promo)

11. The Pros and Cons of Procreation (#litres_trial_promo)

12. Alpha Male, Omega Man (#litres_trial_promo)

13. Coming To Grief (#litres_trial_promo)

14. Staying Together – For Better and Worse (#litres_trial_promo)

15. Do I Need a Hobby? (#litres_trial_promo)

16. Fatherhood for Morons (#litres_trial_promo)

17. Keeping the Magic Alive (#litres_trial_promo)

18. Head of Security (#litres_trial_promo)

19. Misandry – There’s Such a Word, But Is There Such a Thing? (#litres_trial_promo)

20. Subject To Change (#litres_trial_promo)

Conclusion (#litres_trial_promo)

Acknowledgements (#litres_trial_promo)

Also Available … (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

INTRODUCTION (#uc88cc8e2-5773-59b3-a9cc-ddb4bd9954cc)

In the summer of 2007 I was asked out of the blue to take over the page at the front of the Guardian Weekend magazine. I say out of the blue, but I’ll admit it was a possibility I’d considered long before the invitation was extended. I therefore received the news with my usual mixture of gratitude and impatience – shocked, thrilled, immensely flattered, and not before time. There was no question of turning down the offer; just tremendous apprehension at the idea of accepting. If I’d thought about wanting it a lot over the years, I hadn’t really given much thought to doing it. What would my weekly column be about?

‘I don’t want you to feel you have to write about your own life,’ read the only email I received from the Editor on the subject. Perhaps, I thought, she doesn’t want me to feel constrained by a particular format, or maybe she was wary because the only time I’d ever stood in for my predecessor, Jon Ronson, I’d written about an ordinary domestic event, and the magazine subsequently printed a letter that said, ‘May I suggest that the mystery smell in Tim Dowling’s house is coming from his own backside as he emanates his natural air of smugness and pomposity?’ Whatever the reason, I felt I had my instructions: write about anything you like, except yourself.

The Editor promptly took maternity leave, and I heard nothing more. The only additional information I received was a date for the first column, in mid-September. As the deadline approached I panicked, and wrote a piece about the dog and the cat following me around the house all day, precisely the sort of thing I’d been warned against. As I hit send I pictured myself having to defend it (‘It’s true! They do follow me!’) at a hastily convened crisis meeting.

Nothing was said, and the column appeared as written. I wondered if the ban on domestic subjects had even been passed on. I decided it didn’t matter, because now I had a full week to get my shit together.

The next column was a tightly wrought spoof apology taking in some recent scandals dogging the BBC, which had the twin advantages of being extremely topical and almost exactly the right length. Two weeks later, however, I suffered another failure of imagination, and at the last minute I wrote about my wife’s amusingly callous reaction when I got knocked off my bike by a taxi. I wondered if it was possible to get sacked less than a month in.

Already I was beginning to feel the pressure of a weekly column; on the following deadline day I found myself in South America on another assignment, jet-lagged and bereft of inspiration. After a lot of handwringing and hair-pulling, I concocted a parody of those book group discussion questions you find at the back of paperback novels, based entirely on the only reading material I had with me.
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