Take my advice. Never buy flowers for your wife. Ever.

I am working at home, trying to finish a report. I don’t have a home office so I work on the kitchen table.

For the last couple of days, two things have been slowly nagging away at me like a dripping tap.

My wireless mouse sometimes loses the will to carry on working at such a frantic pace. It squeakily demands a cup of coffee or just half an hour of ‘Richard and Judy’. I stoutly refuse so the mouse pointer slowly descends vertically down the screen which is fairly irritating and virus-like.

So I took the poorly rodent for a ‘Well-Mouse Executive Health Check’ and the vet insisted that the mouse is in perfect health and the battery level is ‘High’. I changed the battery anyway to no avail so now we have to adjourn for ‘Richard and Judy’ with a coffee every morning. After that, the mouse works fine.

Secondly, there was a horrible, persistent odour disturbing my concentration. I opened the windows. I opened the doors. I even had a shower and used deodorant. Eventually, I capitulated and cleaned the downstairs toliet. But the lingering smell stubbornly persisted.

Finally, I gave in, summoned my daughter and cleaned the gerbil out. The full works. Clean water, new sawdust, change of food, full steam valet and high pressure jet wash on the windows.

Phew - that’s better. Sit down to check my email…

God - what is that damned smell ?

And then it struck me. Right under my nose (literally) for the past few days. A vase of (dead) flowers sitting in smelly, stagnant water.

So, next time, beautiful, colourful, fragrant flowers appear on the kitchen table and it turns out Julia brought them when she came round for coffee, don’t say ‘Oh - how lovely, darling’ but ‘Just make sure you chuck them out when they’re dead.’