It's difficult to believe it, but Mrs Rippers and I were celebrating our first wedding anniversary this weekend. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then - in fact, it has been a bit of a tidal wave.
We have been on honeymoon to Cuba, moved in together in our little country cottage in Bristol, I've started a new job on the Screws and Mrs R has somehow managed to get herself with child. Amazing.
I think it had all got to her a bit and she had to take two weeks off because she was practically exhausted, but things have improved recently and it meant we could get away for an anniversary break.
I booked us into the Savill Court Hotel near Egham, Surrey. When I mentioned the destination of our anniversary break there were a few chuckles from some of the crew at the Screws, expecting me to announce I was whisking her off to Paris or somewhere. "Egham?" asked cockney Cliff, unable to surprise the smile on his face.
I am delighted to report, however, that it was an absolutely fantastic break. The tree-lined driveway led to a very nice country house in acres of grounds, and when we went for a wander we ended up taking in the air at Windsor Great Park just down the road. We must have walked about two miles, not bad for my pregnant wife though she was struggling a bit at the end and desperate for somewhere to sit down. It was rather bracing, too, the lovely warm weather having disappeared, typically, just before we went away.
After our walk we got dressed and headed into Egham for a meal at the Brasserie Gerard. These are a French chain of restaurants and are very nice indeed in a bistro sort of way. A bit pricey maybe but we certainly enjoyed our meals. Mrs Rippers had a demi poulet (or half a chicken for those Anglophiles with little grasp of the French language) while I enjoyed boeuf bourginon.
As a starter I had some lovely battered squid with tartare sauce while Mrs R tucked into a very nice cream of mushroom soup.
A pleasant change.
The following day I suddenly became aware of a new phenomenon. Apparently pregnancy, as well as causing cravings, cramps, insomnia and other minor irritations, also causes road rage. True.
After swimming 64 lengths of the hotel pool we set off for Runnymede, which was just down the road. It seemed appropriate to visit the home of democracy in the week of the general election and we had a short walk to the place commemorating where the Magna Carta was signed.
Then, after an aborted trip to Windsor where the cars queued around the block, we decided to visit Oxford.
By this stage Mrs Rippers had control of Ramsey and it was then that the trouble ensued. We were trying to manouevre our way through a packed long-stay car park when Mrs R politely allowed a woman to pull out in front of us.
But rather than drive on she immediately reversed into the parking space we had our eye on. Well, how dare she! I saw the red mist glaze over my mild-mannered wife's eyes and then, having finally discovered where the horn was, she gave five sharp blasts and shook her fist Tim Henman style.
I was a little bit perturbed (and scared) I had to admit, and tried to talk her down. But as we drove around the corner there was another car blocking our path. Now Ramsey might be a small car, but the gap between the car and a parked van on the right was no way big enough for him to go through. But, revving her engine in the style of a female Jenson Button, she lined up the gap and started to move forward. "No, no," I screamed for dear life, "What the hell are you doing?" Fortunately she stopped just in time as my knuckles went white holding on to the handle above the passenger door.
After that little episode I needed a stiff drink. Unfortunately, I couldn't have one because I fully intended to take over behind the wheel for the rest of the journey back to Bristol. So instead I settled for an orange juice in the Morse Bar of the Randolph Hotel, so called because apparently Inspector Morse himself used to drink there (though I can't recall seeing an episode where that was the case). There were plenty of pictures of John Thaw on the walls though, and we took the chance of an impromptu photo shoot ourselves.
A splendid day, but a salient warning. Don't attempt to park in a space if the car behind you is being driven by Mrs Rippers.