Grumpy came over the other night for some company and, more importantly, a grizzle. I don't know what he was grizzling about, I was face first in the Nutella jar and not really paying any attention.
"It's bloody primitive conditions, I tell you," he said and then, after a moment, he chortled.
"What's so funny?" I mumbled through a mouth of full cream hazelnut goodness.
"I wish Bloody Ern was around, I know what he'd say. 'Grumpy, cobber, I'm looking at the only primitive thing around here.'"
"'In fact, I'd say you're positively neanderthal.'"
Despite the constant abuse, Grumpy came to quite hero worship Bloody Ern. The number of times I'd come home to find him skipping around the house, informing me with a coquettish high-pitched giggle that he was just heading out to engage in fishing or some other manly pursuit with his father-in-law. It was a struggle to get him out of bed before 7am, but if Bloody Ern told him he had to be up at four to go crabbing, it was no problem at all.
Looking back, I'm surprised our marriage survived Ern's departure for as long as it did. I have to admire Grumpy hanging in there, but try as I might to fill the gap I was never going to be able to grow (that much) hair on my chest or wander round the place with just a sarong slung around my waist and nothing else. Absolutely nothing else.