Be me for just one moment. I’m in bed, just into the lucid-dream phase, where I get to be the man who walks Ms Scherzinger to her Monaco apartment. With a greasy take away in one arm and her on the other, I allow myself a small laugh of self-satisfaction. I’ve just made a mockery of Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelsen at the poker tables. I smile again as I remember how Nicole’s eyes lit up in the car park when I ran her keys down the side of Felipe Massa’s Ferrari for a joke, tickling the mean streak in her.
Then from out in the night sky, a voice cries out (it may as well belong to God): ‘Phil? Are you asleep? Phil, are you asleep? Phil, turn off the light in the kitchen. The light bulb is making a buzzing noise and your nose is whistling and I’m too hot and I feel dizzy.’ Thrown mercilessly back into the real world, I slip out of bed on a mission that should merely involve the flick of a switch. But there’s more to come. Because she’s a difficult woman and I know I’ll be issued with three, even four more missions by the time I make it out of earshot.
In between fetching her a glass of water, Fritos from the petrol station, checking the cats are still breathing and performing some pointless task, like taking an accurate tyre-pressure reading from the neighbours’ cars, I’m wondering how I managed to end up with a woman with the ears of a bat. But the strange thing is – and this is something most men won’t understand – I love this lifestyle. (Although I am always amazed how someone so small and of such a polite demeanour can possess the forcefulness of a drum-thumper pushing galley slaves to row themselves to death in the bowels of a Roman warship.)
You see, I grew up with difficult women. My mother couldn’t be more neurotic if she lived in a paper house next to a match factory, and my sister, well, she’d have Genghis Khan picking his pants up off the floor, even after a hard day burning Russia.
There’s something right about a woman who, after a full day’s work, marches home and finds the energy to think up stuff to keep me occupied, to challenge me, to make a fuss and show she cares. I’d hate to have a partner who didn’t threaten me with a rolled-up copy of COSMO (a formidable, weighty weapon) every time one of my flirtier female friends calls. The day I pick up the phone to find Minki van der Westhuizen wants to go to lunch and my woman doesn’t consider it a precursor to a no-holds-barred slap-and-tickle session will be the day I realise our relationship is starting to fizzle out. She makes me feel I belong, like I have a home to go to, a place where I’m needed.
I’m not alone. My best friend wakes up every morning to find his partner has set him the kind of hip-breaking itinerary old folks endure on one of their ‘Europe in 40 seconds’ coach trips. Like me, he moans, emits silent screams, but realises he’d feel utterly lost without the fuss.
A man with nothing to fetch or carry, repaint or throw out is a man who has lost the hunter-gatherer instinct of his ancestors. In an age where work has evolved into largely undemanding tasks involving the blinking light on a fax machine and a bit of shouting, I’ve realised my job could be done by a spider monkey with a sharp stick. I need to go home and be utilised. I need to hunt and gather (Pick ‘n Pay) and build the nest (Timber City).
So if you’re a woman who knows what she wants – ‘No! Not like that, Phil! I wanted to scoop my own vanilla choc chip. No, I don’t want that scoop, I want to get my own scoop. Aw, there are no more chocolate bits, can I have yours?’ – and your man complains about it, know this: he wouldn’t have it any other way. But don’t tell him I told you. More hassle is the last thing I need.