The Last 24 Hours of Jeremy’s Marriage
There is a clause in marital arrangements of an abrahamic nature that assures both parties of the temporary nature of enduring companionship. That is to say, if your dearly beloved is hit by a falling piano or found to have perished in a freak arsenic accident, one is not obliged to continue considering oneself married and, therefore, bound only onto them.
This will no doubt come as a relief to many spouses throughout the globe, as one seldom finds oneself delighted at the thought of eternal company with the woman who believes her strawberry meatloaf to be your sole delight, nor the man who has decidedly taken to playing death metal in the garage. Indeed, it is rather rare to find any husband or wife that would find much joy in the knowledge that they were doomed to spend eternity on a cloud with the partner they had agreed to marry while drunk in Barcelona.
Which is why, dear reader, Mr Jeremy Summer of 23 Harecourt Drive, Surrey was, in the news of his impending demise, quietly relieved.
Mrs Summer, that is to say, Alison, was not the blushing damsel he had swept up in 1994. She was quick to anger, quick to finish the biscuits and even quicker with a saucepan. To all intents and purposes, Mrs Summer was as welcome to Jeremy at the end of the day as a bulldog is to a haemophilic thief.
Surely, now though, he didn’t have to go home to 23 Harcourt Drive, he thought feebly to himself as he got off the bus. I mean, it was sort of not the done thing to spend your last day in your current carbon form with a woman with all the easy charm and sex appeal of a traffic warden.
But now the end was nigh, he felt a curious prickling of a very CofE sense of conscience. Or, if not conscience, a very English sense of disgust at himself, as one might having cut the queue in Sainsbury’s, or not said sorry to the woman who just trod on your foot in a hiking boot. What if, he wondered, this was a test? What if he decided to go wild for the last few minutes of his life and doomed himself for it? Or had he failed that test just by thinking about it? Bothered, he wiped his brow with his ugly linen suit sleeve and sat down on the bench.
The facts that led up to that moment, dear reader, are as follows.
- Russia, in somewhat of a disagreement with the United States of America as to whether the USA should continue to exist, had set a launch day for several thousand nuclear weapons the following day in the general direction of North America.
- The United States of America, rather taking issue with position, had promptly announced a similar offensive in 24 hours involving a similar arsenal of weapons.
- Iran had insisted that it was important enough to have a say in the matter and had politely informed both the American and Russian ambassadors that they planned on annihilating both nations using a water rocket, a firework and a dubious looking sparkler.
So now, the world was ending and, in a rather traditional British fashion, Jeremy wondered whether he could face Alison’s leek soup tonight. The general population enjoyed a slightly longer lunch break at the news to sigh and shake their heads, before quietly deciding that actually they had a lot of paperwork to do, so really it would be best to finish the work day so as not to leave a mess.
Jeremy had got the No.11 bus to Tweston and was now uncomfortably warm on the bench, wondering whether to have the aforementioned soup with Alison or engage in wild promiscuous extramarital activity and a great deal of LSD.
Of course, where one could acquire hallucinogenic drugs as a fifty something accountant posed something of an issue. Jeremy felt unnervingly illicit holding a glass of mulled wine, let alone Class A drugs. Besides, he doubted he’d enjoy the experience of feeling out of control. He’d probably end up in an intense existential nightmare about whether he’d trimmed the hedges to council requirements.
Women, then? That was the other thing that was allegedly enjoyable about life. He thought about it, hard. He quite fancied Margot from HR, but he didn’t really like the idea of potentially facing up to a sexual harassment tribunal in the last two hours on the train to eternal oblivion. Lizzie from next door certainly would be up for it, but he didn’t particularly like the idea of committing a cardinal sin with a woman who reminded him of a tangerine with a peroxide coloured badger on her head.
No, he sighed, he’d spend the last moments of consciousness with leek soup, textured wallpaper and Alison. Getting up, he took off his jacket and swung it over his shoulder.
Still, he thought. At least I can have a lie in.