By Gerry Moran
Around the middle of December most years my wife almost always says to me, over a cup of tea at the kitchen table or maybe a G&T in some cosy hostelry: “Gerry Moran, what am I going to get you for Christmas?”
To which I usually reply: “Peace and happiness and a surprise.”
But not this December. This year I had an answer at the ready: “I’d like a shirt, please.” She says: “Really?”, somewhat taken aback by my prompt, and definite, response. “Really,” I echo. “Any shirt in particular?” she inquires. As it happens, I tell her, there’s a lovely pink, check shirt in the window of Frank Walls, the Man’s Shop, that I’ve been admiring the last few days and that will go nicely with my navy jacket. And that was more or less the end of the conversation.
Come Christmas morning I open my presents and find, surprise, surprise, a pink, check shirt (among other gifts I hasten to add).”Ah, it’s lovely,” I say, “Thank you so much.” She says: “Don’t mention it. Even though you did mention it — the shirt that is.”
I check (pun intended) the shirt for size, spot on, but there’s a problem. “Now I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, darling (actually I didn’t say darling, I’m not a ‘darling’ sort of fellow, if you know what I mean) but, Kate, it’s not the pink, check shirt I was admiring.”
“‘Gerry, it is.”
“Oh no, it’s not.”
“Oh, yes it is.” (and it is Pantomime season after all).
And this was turning into a bit of a pantomime now. “Gerry I went into Frank Walls and asked specifically for the pink, check shirt in the window and this is what I was given.”
“You were given the wrong shirt.”
“I was not.”
“You were. The shirt I was admiring has a totally different check pattern.”
And now our children, and their partners, are listening in amusement to this rather surreal exchange as we exchange presents this Christmas morning, all calm, all quiet.’But not quite. Which is when we cop ourselves on and park the shirt conundrum.
Come Stephen’s Day, and having devoured the last of the turkey (always enjoy it more the day after for some reason) we hop in the car and make a beeline for, where else, but Frank Walls to try and resolve the mystery of the pink, check shirt.
“There,” says my good missus, standing in front of Frank Walls’ window and pointing: “There’s your pink, check shirt.”
“ Oh, no it’s not.”
“Oh, yes it is.”(oh, not again, says you).
“Oh no it’s not because it’s not the right window,” I calmly say. “What? she says.
“My pink, check shirt is in the other window.”
Over we go to the other window and there, lo and behold, is another pink, check shirt! The pink, check shirt that I had been admiring, the one with a different check pattern entirely. What are the chances, we thought, two pink, check shirts but in different windows. And we laughed.
“So, are you going to change it?” my wife wonders.
“I am not?”
“And why not?”
“Because I very much like the one in the other window, the one you got me. Furthermore, I might get a column out of it all, which I may well call: ‘The Mystery of the Pink, Check Shirt.’
“Agatha Christie would have got a novel out it,” my wife smiles.
“I’m not Agatha Christie; I’m just a columnist with a penchant for pink, check shirts.”
“Good man, Gerry,” my wife chuckles and, mystery solved, we head off, arm-in-arm, down to Syd Harkin’s for two hot ports.
And the epilogue to this ‘case’, in case you haven’t seen it coming, and I guess most of you have (Agatha Christie, best-selling novelist of all time most certainly would have) I now have two pink, check shirts!
PS: Scientists have created a shirt that can send a distress signal if the wearer falls down. The shirt, designed with elderly people in mind, has a built-in sensor that sends a signal to a family member’s mobile phone or to an email address in case of a fall or tumble. Wonder if it comes in a pink check?