Home Short Stories Can't Cook, Can Play Darts
Can't Cook, Can Play Darts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sarah Crabtree   
Saturday, 01 April 2006 00:00

Everybody's got something they're good at, haven't they?  I may manage to make bangers and mash look like last week's leftovers, but I can throw a bullseye with just the blinking of an eye.  I'm not bragging, believe me.


My mum-in-law thought I should stay at home and practice baking blind or cooking something without charcoaling it.  I was quite happy to live on takeaways and stock up on all these 'buy-two-get-one-free' TV dinners which I could whack into the freezer.  Even if I'd wanted to improve my culinary skills, I just didn't have the time.  I was on a roll.  I was working my way up to the National Championships.  Nobody was going to stop me.


It's not as if my husband, Mark, didn't know about my darts playing.  We actually met at a darts tournament.  We were playing in rival teams, his office against mine.  He didn't seem to mind that my team beat his; truly slaughtered them.  He congratulated me, bought me a drink, drove me home, and the rest was history.


When we married I didn't exactly scream out for a dart-shaped wedding cake.  In fact, during that first week of our honeymoon I found myself - rather foolishly - saying I'd try harder with my cooking, if he'd put the same effort into learning D-I-Y.


But later, when the honeymoon was over, I was itching to get back to my darts.


When I announced I intended pursuing my darts career, Mark went quiet, but his mother hit the roof.  "You're a married woman now, Tina," she snorted.  "Darts matches are for beer-bellied, chain-smoking males."


I looked to Mark for support, but he'd already got his nose stuck in a D-I-Y manual.  After she'd gone, I reluctantly flicked through the cook book which had come with my new oven.  I'd start with something simple like an omelette.


Just as I was nervously cracking an egg, the phone rang.  Mark answered it.  "It's your mate, Helen," he muttered, plonking the receiver down on the hall table.  "I'm off down the pub for a quick pint.  Then I'm going to get cracking on decorating the spare bedroom."


Helen sounded very excited.  "You must come to the next darts' evening," she screeched.  "There's going to be a television crew there.  Evidently somebody's doing a documentary on role-reversal."


"So what had darts got to do with it?" I asked puzzled.


"Darts was traditionally a man's game.  You know.  Beer bellies and smoky pubs.  That sort of thing."


Now where had I heard that before?


I'm no fool.  I leapt at the opportunity of appearing on telly.  But how was I going to manage to get away with it without Mark, and more importantly his mother finding out?


I told Helen my dilemma.  Being a woman, she came up trumps, of course.  "Just tell him you and me are going to cookery lessons."


What a doll she is!  "See you Tuesday!" I shouted with delight.


True to his word, Mark had his quick pint and was soon letting himself back in the front door.  When I told him Helen and I were going to learn how to cook properly, he gave me one of those silly grins which usually preceded him sweeping me up into his arms and staggering up the stairs with me.  This time he made a grab for the paint pot and brushes and staggered up the stairs with them instead.


Tuesday evening came, and I was just snatching up my car keys when Mark piped up from the armchair in front of East Enders, "You don't look as if you're going to a cookery lesson, Tina.  Where are your ingredients?  My sister used to have to take loads of stuff, flour, that sort of thing."


I stopped dead.  Oh, no.  He'd found me out.  Then I had a brainwave.  "It's just theory tonight.  The teacher is going to do a demonstration.  That's why I don't need to take anything."  I was just about to dart out the door - sorry about the pun - when he jumped out the chair and said, "Tell you what, love.  I'll give you a lift.  I wasn't too happy with the way the engine sounded this morning.  I'd hate you to break down in the dark."


That was it.  My cover was blown.  He'd guessed, of course...Then I had a brainstorm.  "Oh thanks, love.  Tell you what.  Just drop me off at Helen's.  We were going to go in her car anyway."


I'm lucky Mark is slow on the uptake and Helen is very quick-witted.  As soon as she saw us arrive, she guessed I was working on a decoy.  She even managed to charmingly persuade my husband that she'd drive me home.


"Phew!" I breathed a sigh of relief as she and I drove off to the darts' match and that exciting TV documentary filming, which went superbly.


I'm sorry to say my cooking didn't improve.  Well how could it when I was playing darts every Tuesday evening instead of brushing up on my shortcrust pastry?  Mark suggested I ask the cookery teacher for a refund.  Then when the documentary was due to be shown on television, I knew I had to come clean.  I braced myself for a terrible scene when I told Mark the truth and nothing but the truth.


"You daft thing," he laughed, wrapping his arms around me.  "I hadn't guessed about the telly bit, but of course I knew what you were getting up to."


"And you're not mad at me?" I said, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.


"Course not.  Now let's watch this documentary."


And in case you're wondering:  I won the National Championships.  After seeing me on the telly, even Mark's mum rallied round to cheer me on!  Soon I'll be having to defend my title.


And Mark?  Good old, darling old Mark.  He's revelling in my success.  Oh, and he sure cooks a mean omelette!


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