I made him do his first serious writing yesterday: the week's shopping list, since that's now his job. His chin dropped as the list got longer and he asked questions like: "Do we really need all this? Where exactly do I find waffles?"
Tuesday: Yesterday at school wasn't so bad. I have two part-time assistants and I'm actually enjoying myself but I'm not telling him that. I arrived home to find him exhausted in an armchair.
Yes, he had done the shopping but he couldn't open the plastic bags at the fruit counter. "Bloody things kept sticking."
He couldn't open the carrier bags at the checkout. "Yes, I did wet my fingers and rub the bags like you told me to, but they were bloody stuck as well. "
His pride was dented when a 16-year-old he used to teach came to his aid.
"And the bloody trolley wouldn't go in a straight line."
He informed me there was a chicken in the oven. He hadn't done any potatoes -we could just have some nice bread.
"You mean sandwiches?" I asked. I poured a large gin, my worst fears confirmed.
Wednesday: His menus must observe two criteria: (a) deliciously easy and (b) short, with few ingredients.
Was this man really in charge of a large budget? Was he really computer-skilled and into accounting procedures? Did he really make major decisions, control people's lives and work all hours? Given the chance, he'd be buying ready-to-cook stuff but I remind him of his retirement plans, which included "doing some real cooking".
Tonight there are cookery books strewn everywhere, my kitchen is in total disarray and there is something in a dish he apologetically describes as lamb rissoles. Lamb it may be . . . rissoles is debatable.
My own day in reception was wonderful. I love it. but I'm not telling him that.
Thursday: He was strangely silent at breakfast. I knew what was coming.
"Might not be able to cook tonight dear." Pause. "Dog needs grooming and I'd like to varnish the garden bench."
I was close to feeling sorry for him. In his sleep I've heard him muttering about Delia Smith and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
"The dog will take five minutes and you've done the garden bench three times," I said, tartly.
"Tell you what," he replied, perking up. "How about a Chinese takeaway and I'll do the crackers?" I tell him that I will be fine. "It's just so nice to have your help while I'm struggling with a new class."
They're a bunch of little dar-lings and it's been a piece of cake. But I'm not telling him that.
Friday: "I've got news," he cried, beaming ecstatically. "We're eating out tonight, to celebrate. I've got supply work at a pal's school next week. "
He looked at me with beagle eyes. "But it means I won't be able to help you in the house."
Thank God for that, I thought silently and then told him, "But, darling, you've been so wonderful this week.
You've groomed the dog and re-varnished the garden bench. You've learned how to open the bags at Tesco, how to load the washing machine, where all the pots and dishes live, how much a pint of milk costs. But now you've got to stop. "
"And you're having such a hard time at school... I feel I'm letting you down," he replied.
"Well, pour me a gin then and take me out," I said, "but don't forget in a week's time, it's back to wobbly trolleys.
"By the way, when are you making Sticky Toffee Pudding?" Harriet Thomas lives in Leeds