THE successful management of the shopping list is very important to the success, or otherwise, of our 32-year-old marriage.

The list is always on the go. It sits by the bread-bin, with a pen handily provided alongside, and my wife has done her best over the years to train me in how to use it.

For example, if I’ve had the last piece of battered cod, I must never – ever – forget to write down “battered cod”.

I use this example because I did, indeed, fail to write down “battered cod” when I’d had the last piece with some chips recently. Unfortunately, my wife fancied home-made fish and chips shortly afterwards and, although there were plenty of chips left in the bag, there was no cod. She had to make do with egg and chips and, quite understandably, made her disappointment with my shopping list indiscipline abundantly clear.

Another complication is that I sometimes don’t see things, so I often end up writing things down that don’t need to be on the list. I honestly think I have a better chance of spotting Lord Lucan than a jar of mayonnaise, or bottle of ketchup, hiding in the fridge.

And yet, when my wife looks, they’ve miraculously jumped right to the front – just sitting there in all their glory.

The fact that we have a fridge and a freezer in both the kitchen and garage makes it doubly difficult. How long should a man go on hunting for items before deciding to commit to the shopping list?

I added “baked beans” to the list recently, only to be told there were plenty stacked up in the garage. Honestly, I checked the garage several times, so I can only imagine they were camouflaged.

Anyway, I’m delighted to announce that the shopping list has finally been consigned to history. Yes, we’ve binned the pen and note-pad, and moved into the world of artificial intelligence.

Our son has set us up with something called Google Assistant, installed on a mini iPad, perched on the bookshelf in the dining room. We just shout instructions and it does it automatically.

It’s proving particularly useful with the shopping list. I say: “Hey, Google, add sausages to the shopping list.” And the reply comes back in a rather sexy voice: “Ok, I added sausages to the shopping list,” before updating it on my wife’s phone.

It’s made me start wondering if we might invest in a “smart fridge” that knows what’s hiding inside itself, but I have to master the Google Assistant first. I somehow managed to add “mental block” to the shopping list the other day when I forgot what I was trying to add.

In the meantime, I’m finding it fascinating to watch the battle of wills that’s developing between my wife and the artificially intelligent woman who now lives inside the mini iPad.

My wife had used Google assistant to set the alarm for cooking a few nights ago, and this is word for word how the conversation went:

Wife: “Hey Google, stop alarm.”

Robot: “Ok. There’s no need to say ‘Hey, Google’. You can just say stop.”

Wife: “Hey, Google – don’t patronize me!”

Robot: “I’m sorry about that. I’ll do better next time.”

Believe me, there’s only going to be one winner there…


AFTER years of having my sense of style criticised by my children, I admit to a certain amount of glee watching my granddaughter turn her scorn on her dad’s wardrobe.

The latest fashion crime was an old fedora my son found in the back of the cupboard.

“What do you think, Chloe?” he asked, trying it on and striking a pose he presumably thought was reminiscent of a young Humphrey Bogart.

“Well Daddy… you look a dickless,” came the unimpressed reply. He keeps insisting she meant ‘ridiculous’.

IF there’s one story Chloe loves to hear time and again, it’s the story of the night she was born.

If I’m honest, it’s pretty standard stuff – labour pains, hospital, baby – with one exception Chloe considers highly important.

“What you do after you left me and mummy at the hospital, Daddy?” she asked the other day as they were driving.

“I had to go home Chloe, but I was very hungry, so I got a McDonald’s on the way.”

McDonald’s means just one thing to Chloe: “You get a Happy Meal, Daddy?”

“No honey, I didn’t need one because I didn’t have a little girl with me then.”

Chloe paused while she considered the implications of this.

“Daddy? You have a little girl with you now…”