You can’t give a mediocre diamond

MY wife’s birthday is looming.

Normally one thinks of danger looming, not birthdays. In my wife’s case it’s the same thing.

I have a week in which to come up with an idea for a birthday present. I even asked her.

“You shouldn’t have to ask me, we’ve been married 26 years!” said my wife.

But that’s the problem. In 26 years I think she’s had every gift known to humankind.  

The iron, the microwave, the sewing machine… you name it, she’s received it.

“The diamond necklace?” she asked.

Well… er… no, actually. But what’s the point in giving a mediocre diamond necklace? I mean, I love my wife. I don’t want her to have a diamond necklace that winks at her. I want her to have one that is blinding in its brilliance. But I can’t afford that.

I can afford a bloody good fridge, though.

I don’t understand why she’s gone so quiet. If she bought me an electric saw I’d be delighted.

So… ideas please.

Flowers? No good. Got a garden full of those.

Clothes? No good. It’s a rule in our house that birthday presents have to be a surprise. A pleasant surprise. Which means you can’t take the recipient with you to buy it. A dress that is five sizes too big and the wrong colour is not a pleasant surprise.

Ornaments? We are all ornamented out. I have been there before.

When your wife unwraps a little crystal elephant and says: “Oh, how nice,” (not, mark you, “Brilliant!” or “Oh, how nice!” With the exclamation mark) you know the ornament season is over.

Besides, there’d be nowhere to stand it. We don’t have that kind of house. We have a house in which the surfaces are mini-compost heaps, with old letters and envelopes and the brochure inserts from the Townsville Bulletin decaying from the bottom up.

And I’ve already thought of a filing cabinet. If you thought a fridge would get me into trouble, I leave it to your imagination what a filing cabinet will do.

So it looks like the holiday after all. Frankly, that’s a bit more than I can really afford. She wants to go to Tasmania and the airfares alone would buy something diamondy that would at the very least give you a healthy squint.

I said as much to her the other day. I didn’t exactly say I was thinking of a holiday in Tasmania, because then it wouldn’t be a surprise.

I kind of sidled up on the subject, as if I was really talking to myself more than anything.

“We should take a holiday,” I said. “Tasmania would be nice. I thought maybe I’d give it to your for your birthday. Trouble is, we can only really afford the air fare for one.”

“Brilliant!” she said.