The Bloke, September 16: We’re packing for a trip and seeing how long we can go before it erupts into a screaming match.

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MY wife isn’t in a good mood. This could partly be due to my joke last night about her lack of cooking when I told the children to ‘thank mummy for warming up your food’, but mostly I think it’s down to the fact that we’re going away for a few days.

In every other household, the thought of being in a scenic, non-working environment for a period of time would be appealing. In our house it means only one thing. PACKING.

Packing was always a sore point. Packing has caused untold stress from day one of our relationship when I realised that ‘travelling light’ for my wife means taking only two swimsuits to a weekend in Scotland in November.

And by the time I lift my bag into the car it has always developed a few noticeable bulges and gained an extra kilo or six, on account of the fact that she has stuffed the overflow from her bag into mine.

Having children has made the packing experience ten times more harrowing. It is now a question of how long we can manage to go before the whole thing erupts into a screaming match.

The record so far is about two hours – and that still left another hour before we finally crammed everything into the car and set off.

So this time I decide to take the initiative and start the packing myself, ignoring my wife’s demands to stop and let her do it right after she’s had her third cup of tea.

I start with the children’s clothes, allowing for toilet-related accidents to work out how many changes of vest, pants, tops, blouses, leggings, trousers and socks they will need.

Satisfied I have everything necessary, I move on to packing my own things.

This is a lot easier for the simple reason that I have neither the time nor the money to buy clothes nowadays.

Digging through my muddled drawers, I realise I only two clean pairs of boxer shorts for our three days. I find 33 black socks but not a single pair among them.

When my wife eventually comes through from the kitchen, she empties the bag of children’s clothes I have carefully packed so that she can ‘check to see if everything is there’.

Just for good measure, she adds another three changes of clothes for each of them and then breaks the zip on the bag doing it up. Even with this interference, we still manage to get on the road in record time.

“You have got the children’s toothpaste and toothbrushes, haven’t you?’ she asks when we’re 30 miles down the motorway.

“Of course I have,” I smile. “Don’t worry.”

I haven’t, of course, but there’s no point admitting that now. What I have remembered, however, is a bottle of wine from the kitchen.

I just have to hope that once we reach our destination and she’s had a couple of glasses of that she won’t care.

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