Blues 2 Notts Forest 0 .. Ron's Report

Last updated : 16 February 2009 By Richard Barker

Geoff couldn't quite put his finger on it, but what once seemed to be a match made in heaven now appeared to be nothing other than a marriage of convenience.

What had once been exciting to Geoff was now just routine. They were both just plodding along, day by day, but there was nothing to it anymore - the spark had been lost. He couldn't help but feel that the love had gone.

As Geoff rolled over in bed and glanced across at the calendar, he noticed the date: "Saturday 14th February - Blues v Notts Forest". The significance of the date wasn't lost on him. "Today", Geoff thought, "today I shall make an effort. Today I'll try and give some love back and see if we can make it work again."

Geoff quietly slipped out of bed, grabbed his car keys and headed off to the local shops. In the florist there was another chap moaning about the price of the flowers and that it seemed that their best days were behind them. "Why should I pay over the odds for something that won't last?", he was whining at the young girl behind the counter. On any other day, Geoff would probably have agreed with him. Not today, though. Today Geoff was making an effort. Today Geoff was thinking, "well, in fairness, mate, you've left it all to the last minute - you're only going to be able to pick up scraps and the flowers that no one else wanted, aren't you? In that sense, you've only got yourself to blame."

A dozen red roses in hand, Geoff headed to the card shop. As he browsed the selection of cards and their sometimes witty, sometimes serious, but always well-intended messages, he couldn't help thinking to himself, "it's all very well saying it, but you actually have to act on it. I need to show her, not tell her. Words mean nothing, really - it's actions that count". As such, Geoff abandoned searching for the right words to explain the current state of lethargy in the relationship and decided to simply act on it instead. No more excuses - it was time to actually sort things out. Geoff had to take some responsibilty.

Geoff got home and Pauline still hadn't got out of bed. "Great", thought Geoff, "I can really make an effort and surprise her now". Pauline wasn't into big breakfasts with all the trimmings - it all seemed a little over-rated to her. What she did like though was a little bit of effort. It didn't have to be anything special, as long as what was served up was done so with a little bit of thought. Geoff prepared Pauline's favourite, scrambled eggs on toast, poured her an orange juice, put it all on a tray with one of the red roses in a little vase, and headed upstairs to the bedroom.

"Pauls", Geoff whispered, using the shortened, more loving version of her name that he'd neglected using lately. "Pauls, I've made you breakfast, love". Pauline stirred, rolled over, looked up at Geoff to see the tray in his hands and slowly but surely a smile appeared on her face. It had been too long since Geoff had seen that smile. "See", Geoff told himself, "it can still be done. All it takes is a little bit of effort, and we can still be happy".

After Pauline had finished her final mouthful of scrambled egg, Geoff looked at her and said, "Pauline, you're everything to me. For years we've been through thick and thin, and I know lately that it's mainly been thin..." (Geoff tried to shove the irony to the back of his mind as he looked at Pauline and her ever-increasing waistline - he knew she wasn't as good to look at as a few years back, but if you love someone, you have to deal with that), "... but I want to make things right again. I remember how great things were not that long ago, and although the past year has been tough, I know that we can get through it. Maybe we've taken each other for granted a little and things have gone stale, but things can improve. Well, they will improve - I just know it."

Pauline flashed Geoff another smile, and again, on this romantic day, Geoff realised that although things hadn't been great, he still loved her and he wanted things to work. "Today is the day", though Geoff. "Today is the day that things will get back on track".

A few hours later, as Geoff was getting himself ready to leave the house, Pauline approached him, pulled him close and gave him a big hug. "Thanks for making the effort, Geoff. I know I'm at fault too. If we both work together, I know we'll get through this. We've been through worse and we'll have bad times again, but when you look at other couples, well, we're not really too bad off, are we?"

It was Geoff's turn to smile this time. Was the love coming back? All it took was a little effort and the realisation of where things had been going wrong, and suddenly there were smiles on their faces again. "You best be off now. Say hi to Sid for me", Pauline said before Geoff made his way to the door.

After Geoff had gone, Pauline went back upstairs to begin to get ready. She couldn't help thinking about how much she appreciated Geoff just making that little bit of effort, rather than moaning at everything she did. He'd even booed her on occasions recently, and that hurt Pauline. Still though, Pauline began to realise that it wasn't just Geoff who needed to make an effort - she needed to too. She'd started to let herself go a bit, but hadn't really done anything about it. She'd grown older and as such her vibrancy had dwindled, there wasn't really a spark to her anymore and she could understand why Geoff may have become a little bored of her.

Pauline had always made a real effort for Geoff - she used to cook for him every night. She'd use all sorts of ingredients and produce wonderful meals. Geoff used to love it. Over the past twelve months though, the stuff she'd served up had been less and less exciting. She'd taken to the "quick fix" of ready meals, rather than spending a little more time planning things out and putting some thought into producing something. With little thought, the product wasn't as good, and no wonder Geoff didn't appear to enjoy it as much these days.

"Today", Pauline thought, "today I will make an effort myself. When Geoff gets home later I'll have a lovely meal ready for him, I'll make myself up and put on a nice dress. He's made an effort so I will too. We can get through this and make things good again."

Several hours later, Pauline was wearing her black dress that Geoff had always liked (although it was a little tight-fitting these days) and the necklace that he'd bought her in happier times. The table was set and dinner was ready to be served. Geoff walked in, and Pauline was shocked - he was still smiling.

As he tucked into his Thai-style steamed fish, Geoff joked to Pauline, "blimey, this is good, love - nice to see that you haven't churned out some of the crap I've had to endure lately!" Pauline knew the comment was meant tongue-in-cheek, and she knew that despite the way that he'd put it, there was an element of truth to it.

Changing the subject, Pauline said, "so, good match?"

"It was actually, for a change. The pitch looks like one of your lasagnes, but it was pretty good. David Murphy had a cracking game."

"Who's David Murphy?"

"That Scottish left-back."

"The one you're always moaning about? I thought his name was Bloody Murphy?"

"Yeah, him. He played well today. Didn't have much defending to do, but got forward really well. He did well. So did Bent."

"You hate that Bent."

"Yeah, well, I gave him a chance today. He won loads of headers and held the ball up quite well. He had a good game, well, until he began to tire."

Pauline was surprised, Geoff was never this positive. She didn't follow football much, but she always picked up on names, and Murphy and Bent were usually preceded by some sort of expletive. "Well, I'm glad that you enjoyed it - maybe it'll start getting better now?"

"Well, we'll see", Geoff said cautiously. "It was nice to see a bit of effort thought."

After dinner and a few glasses of wine, Geoff and Pauline were like young kids again and were laughing and joking with one another. All seemed well. They even played a bit of Charades like they used to when they were courting. Pauline was struggling to get 'The Passion of the Christ' from Geoff's actions and so he laughed and said, "it was meant to be a cross!"

As they lay in each other's arms in bed later, both of their minds wandered as they reflected on the day that they'd had.

Geoff realised that if he was just a little more reasonable and put a little effort in himself, then maybe, just maybe, things could work again. Everything had lapsed into too much of a routine (and an unenjoyable one at that) lately, but the excitement could still be there. He hoped it could be anyway.

Pauline too had similar thoughts, and was reflecting on how if she puts the effort in to make herself more attractive to Geoff, both in how she looks and what she does for Geoff, like cooking, then he will be more appreciative. It was a reciprocal thing. If Geoff showed her more love and she showed Geoff more love, then this could still work.

The only nagging doubt in Pauline's mind was that it was the 14th February - everyone made an extra effort on that day. It was all well and good both of them smiling at the end of the day once a year after making an extra special effort. This needed to happen every day - it was the only way it could work.

Was this just a one-off on a special day, or had they really turned a corner? Were things now going to be fine between them? Had the love fully returned?

"Go easy on the roast potatoes tomorrow, love", Geoff mumbled as he drifted off to sleep. "You looked a bit porky in that dress".

Pauline had her doubts.