D’ya hear yer man

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Noun-sense

I’ve been with Karen for so many years that rather than record the duration of our relationship by way of a figure, the timescale can be described by a single noun.

A decade. That’s how long it’s been since Karen and I first held hands.

After a further nine or so years of holding hands we upped our game, so to speak, and lo and behold we’re expecting a baby in roughly three weeks.

It’s been an amazing 10 years, not without its ups and downs, many of which have been well documented in this column.

Karen found me in a sorry state in 2001 - living a student lifestyle whilst attempting to adhere to the nine-to-five confines of a young professional. I was destined for burn out. Karen saw the effects of my partying and decided action was required. That action was to join in. Together we blazed a trail of adventure and discovery, leaving no stone unturned and no glass unemptied - unless it had Tia Maria in it.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. More recently we’ve been a little bit better behaved as we prepare for the patter of tiny feet.

We went out for a Chinese to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. After the meal we were given fortune cookies. The note inside mine said ‘You are going to fall in love’. The cookie itself was very tasty.

After I’d time to digest the cookie and the message, I said to Karen, “I wish I’d never eaten that fortune cookie. It said I’m going to fall in love. It must be nearly 10 years out of date.” Apologies to anyone who has just vomited due to my uncharacteristic romantic sentiments.

Back to porridge, and over the last couple of weeks we’ve been to a series of antenatal classes, learning what’s going to happen when Karen goes into hospital (lots of screaming) and what to expect when the baby gets home (no sleep).

I was handed a colour chart by the midwife. It contained lots of different shades of green and yellow and brown. I was told it was to be used to monitor the baby’s number twos.

As Karen and I enter our second decade together I’ve a feeling things are going to be very different from the first.

‘life is over

Westlife have split up. Well, they’ve sort of split up. To be more accurate, they haven’t really split up at all.

On the same day they announced their ‘split’ they also announced that they’d be embarking on a farewell tour. How can you split up then go on tour for a year? That’s like me and Karen saying we’re getting a divorce then booking a round-the-world holiday together.

Because of Westlife’s farewell tour it’s going to be at least the end of 2012 before they part company. Once the merchandising sales dry up, expect a few solo projects before Westlife announce their comeback and a 650-date reunion tour. It’s a tried and tested formula for boyband success - the dissolution and regeneration of Take That proved that taking a break helps to make a group a more elusive, exclusive and sought-after commodity.

So let’s not kid ourselves - Westlife have not split up. They’ve simply prolongued their pop careers and ultimately their ability to make money.

And let’s not kid ourselves any further - Westlife aren’t even that good in the first place. They sing other people’s songs, they stand up in the event of a key change and they grab the air whenever an opportunity to grab air presents itself. They keep their music safe and their suits well-pressed. Westlife are the musical equivalent of Cornflakes - loved by millions, but no one is quite sure why.

One person who has been devastated by Westlife’s manufactured demise is Lurgan Mail secretary Jenna Flynn. On Thursday morning she was a sight with sore eyes. I asked if she’d been crying. She said she hadn’t and told me to make myself scarce in no uncertain terms. The split has hit her hard. You’d honestly have thought she’d been bereaved. In light of her loss, I suggested a minute’s silence. If the alternative is listening to Westlife, I’ll go for a minute’s silence every time.

Weekly teaser

The answer to last week’s teaser was: The son is 22, his father is 44.

Here’s this week’s teaser: In front of you is a 10 pint jug filled to the brim with beer. Don’t get too excited - the beer is fictional. There are two further empty jugs - one holds 7 pints and the other holds 3 pints. There are no markings on any of the jugs. Can you explain how you would go about dividing the 10 pints of beer so that both the 10 pint jug and the 7 pint jug hold 5 pints each?