Being Freshly Pressed saved my dignity and my marriage

My husband is also a blogger. He is 23Thorns, which is a name that doesn’t give much away and which I find quite tricky to stick to using here on WordPress. I really am not overly fond of not being able to call him by his name when I am quite so obviously Tracy and I quite so obviously love history. He’s all ‘international man of mystery’ and, well, I’m…There’s no great mystery here:

Hi, my name is Tracy and I love history.

International man of mystery, 23Thorns

International man of mystery, 23Thorns



23Thorns was not always a blogger. In fact, he only became one a few months after I did. We have known each other for about 15 years and not once has he ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to produce great works of literature. I was ever a tortured writer-person cleverly disguised as a bookseller. I have written poems, started that memoir about 20 times, copied favourite passages from books into journals and generally been a tortured writer-person. I am in love with words and paper and 23Thorns. I once wrote him a love letter on a blue bedsheet in silver ink under which we slept.

Now, it came as great surprise to me to discover that 23Thorns (good heavens, this pseudonym is a chore) could actually and did actually want to write. And he is a freaking genius; so funny you’ll shake with laughter, yet so smart you’ll be a little intimidated. His blog has turned into a monster. He was first Freshly Pressed within weeks of starting (it was about an unwitting shoplifting incident which left him banned from the local supermarket for trespassing). Then, in a demonstration of how lightning is indeed indiscriminate, he was Freshly Pressed AGAIN!

I am not at all competitive. Just ask 23Thorns about our convivial Saturday night Scrabble games over a glass of wine. I am the very picture of grace in the face of defeat. If perchance I am losing, I will dust myself off, pour another glass of wine and start again. And then that glass of wine will turn into another and another and we will play Scrabble and drink wine for however long it takes me to win a game. I will not sleep and neither will 23Thorns until I have won just one game.

Okay, maybe I’m just a little bit competitive. I will arm wrestle 23 until my wrists are almost paralysed in order not to admit defeat. I dropped out of the tennis team altogether in junior school when I was demoted from the first team to the second. I nearly died of the shame when I saw my team mate’s glasses mist up when I answered incorrectly at the General Knowledge Quiz of 1988. I would sell my children in order not to be second. Not really. Okay. Perhaps just the one who hit me with a hairbrush when I ran out of heart-shaped Band Aids for Barbie so very unthoughtfully while on the other side of the planet from the Band Aid shop. This competitive streak is not an attractive trait and one against which I have to fight. 23thorns’ great success has sorely challenged my ability to be graceful under fire. Of course, we smiled at each other and chinked our champagne flutes in celebration of his acclaim. We made plans for the book tour at which I would smile encouragingly (and knowingly) at the publicist as she struggled to introduce my husband as “23Thorns” at events across the world.

We even spoke about our respective blogs. 23Thorns has written about cooking, childcare, fashion, nature; I write about history. His was the supermarket of blogs. Mine was niche. I was a boutique. I was a delicatessen. He was Walmart. Cold comfort this conversation was, I can tell you.

But then, something marvellous happened. I was Freshly Pressed! My boutique went national! I’m a supermarket. So, thank you wonderful people, for evening the playing fields, for returning the swagger to my step, for smoothing over the marital tensions, for returning to me The Pants.

Thanks for the pants.

Thanks for the pants.

We’ve just got back from a holiday in The Seychelles and I have wonderful stories of pirates and lost treasure and life in the tropics in a girdle and I’ll get to them soon. For today though, a genuine and heartfelt thanks for reading.

60 thoughts on “Being Freshly Pressed saved my dignity and my marriage

  1. I would say that humourous writing is not just the domain of 23Thorns (you’re right a real name would be nice). Congratulations on being freshly pressed. ๐Ÿ™‚
    My husband and I have few things where we cross over interests aside from me roping him in to be the brute strength in my ideas and he is not at all competitive whereas I am to the max. It’s just as deflating to lose as it is not to be able to compete in the first place so I feel your pain.
    Looking forward to hearing about those pirates and I hope your holiday wasn’t the torturous affair through which your poor husband suffered.

  2. Lucky you, I love your historical delicatessen! I believe it’s much harder to write in an entertaining way about history than it is about clothes and cooking. And still, those who get the most traffic are teenage girls posting their outfits, or cheesy pictures, courtesy Google Graphics. Good luck!

  3. Having once been forced at knifepoint to play Pictionary for seventeen straight hours, I am deeply unerved by the air of healthy competition that has crept into this. I already had to hide our scrabble set up a tree and warn all of our friends never to bring any cards to our house. Now I’m going to have to find a way to block our WiFi signal.

  4. Yay, Tracy! I love that you love history. I love that you don’t have to hide behind numerical aliases like some I could mention but won’t (23)! And I really love that you have now been Freshly Pressed! (Great work!) But most of all, I LOVE that you wrote your husband a love letter in silver ink on blue sheets! I think that is wildly romantic! I would never have thought of that in a dozen lifetimes…not even for a many of, oh, say, 30 or 40 Thorns! So, I say to you, Tracy who loves history so much, YOU ROCK!!

  5. Yay! A very deserving FP you are too. I have been looking forward to hearing your tales of excitement from the tropical beaches of the Seychelles but I am just as happy to hear of you victory over 23. I am sure you never once gloated either….. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Thank you so much! I didn’t gloat at all. I never posted a Facebook status gloating. I did not sing of my victory from the top of Praslin.

      It was so good to be away from the computers for a while. I read last night about your continue internet trouble. Ours has also been a complete nightmare. Undersea cables broke, then our ISP had their equipment confiscated and when it has worked over the past month, it has been so slow, I could scream at the frustration of it. I feel your pain and recommend a holiday in the tropics to deal with any and all ISP tension.

      • Glad to hear it was a quietly dignified victory…..
        I will tell the Man right away that I have been prescribed a tropical holiday by a *cough* health professional to cure my internet woes.

        I do have a new wireless modem that has partially saved the day.
        Partially, because it barely works from home, but if I walk a few houses closer to where reception hangs out, hold it in the air, press the button and hold my breath it usually works. I then walk quietly home and for some reason the internets follow me back. As long as I keep the modem on a table in the front window it will continue to work!

  6. OMG Scrabble! We used to play that all the time years ago (probably will again when the children are older and I’m not falling asleep every time I stand still) and the Handsome Sidekick ALWAYS WON. And you know, I’m the writer in our relationship. *I’m* the one with the ridiculous vocabulary. Not him. How dare he win?!! Turns out he plays for points, whereas I play for interesting words.

    Good for you, getting Freshly Pressed too ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Enjoyed reading ๐Ÿ™‚ Very funny little story. Not much of a history person…loved it in elementary school because it was about stories of the past..then in middle/high school I didn’t enjoy the constant memorization of dates and such…However, I had a great history teacher in college (general curriculum class) that teaches about telling history through the stories of others. That I did enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I love history too Tracy. It is becoming more of a passion than an interest. People keep sharing stories with me that need to be told. I am not a writer. You may be interested in them?

    • I’m always up for stories! I’m writing one now for a family history client that starts in AD 1000 in Denmark and ends after World War II on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka. My head feels like it’s about to explode with the coolness and the responsibility and the TIME. Good heavens, the Time. It’s a lot of history!

      My favourite story so far in a world of very smart Kings, scandalous Queens and Knights on Crusade, is about poor, faceless people in London’s Foundling Hospital. When mothers dropped off their babies, they left a trinket or sometimes a piece of material from their own dress or the baby’s outfit or something that was made specially. When the babies were taken in, they were given new names, so the trinket or material was to be used for identification when the parents reclaimed them. Most parents were desperate to return for their children when they were financially able to do so. In reality, only 1% did. 1%! Such heartbreak! My favourite keepsake is a bouquet of 4 beautifully dyed silk ribbons. They accompanied Pamela Townley (her new name) when she came to the hospital in the mid-1700s. She died 3 years later, never having been claimed.

      I think if people are sharing their stories with you, they want you to tell them to them. It’s your heart they want to tell their tale. Again though, I’m always up for stories ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I have no idea what freshly pressed is Mrs 23 thorns Tracy maam ๐Ÿ™‚ All I know is that it appears to be something of note so kudos on your attainment. I think I am going to have to start following your blog now. I feel that the imbalances of Mr 23thorns brain must have someplace that they are balanced and I figure that place is “you”. If I am right (and I often am, but don’t tell that to Steve who will laugh out loud and tell you that HE indeed is almost always right…sigh…) the “interesting” part of the 23Thorns equation will be deeply seated in your learned self. I resisted packing you neatly into my RSS Feed Reader. Not because your blog isn’t worthy of my long distance perusal, but because I have 400 blogs that I currently follow and adding something with “history” into the mix might just have caused an explosion that I might never have recovered from. I avidly avoided “history” at school…I even took a physical education class rather than study history (the only other choice available to me on that study line) and I HATE moving around any more than I have to. You are correct about Mr23Thorns and his hilariousness…most of that is because he is male and the male genre naturally bumble their way through life and we of the female persuasion can only laugh at their simple baboonish antics with glee…knowing all the time that we are the superior beings in this world and that after all of the cavorting and posturing they will wear themselves out and we can just “get on with it”.

    I loved your flannels in Mr 23Thorns last post and my interest was piqued in that painting on your wall…you lured me here most seductively maam, set 1 to you ;). History or no, you certainly know how to write wonderfully. I am too lazy to write…I like to read…to read wonderful things that titillate my soul and make me belly laugh out loud at 3.30am when regular people are asleep, not up trying to educate their minds. I have a sneaking suspicion that somewhere…lurking between your blogs there is an amazing life lesson to be learned…always ready to learn a life lesson so it would appear that narf77 is just about to embark on her very first history lesson!

    • Welcome to class!

      Lesson 1: On being Freshly Pressed. The happiness engineers at WordPress choose blogs they think are cool and publish them on the WordPress homepage. My blog nearly exploded from the views! Strangely, the world at large is generally more interested in sport than history, so the explosion of views was a wonderful surprise.

      As for 23, he is as surprising to me as Winston Churchill’s mother who had a snake tattooed around her wrist.

      • Spirited women breed “interesting” sons ;). Cheers for the heads-up about the benefits of being “Freshly Pressed” but I don’t do “irons” ;).

  10. I wanted so badly to be fresh pressed–I even jokingly wrote a blog about being freshly ironed–just to get someones attention…so i know the competitive spirit of which you speak…play scrabble on face book and can’t stand to lose more than two in a row! One hurts, but when it gets past two than it really gets painful. Loved meeting you–glad you stopped by for a look into what I write about…it’s like the Dollar Store compared to your fancy smorgasboard. I enjoy myself so much —meeting new people. Will definitely check out 23 Thorns…..Thanks for a great laugh over your thoughts…If I had anything in my hand of the liquid type it would have been all over me before the last paragraph.

  11. I clicked on this post in my reader because I thought, “Are those Queen Victoria’s knickers?” Alas, they are not quite wide enough, but they are a lovely pair and I am glad you got them back.
    It’s nice knowing that I’m not the only one to struggle with needling competition with my genius husband. The only thing I seem to have on him is that I can grow people and he can’t. *SIgh*

  12. Lovely to find your blog. I am pleased to have 3 hits on any given day – it’s a mixed economy.

    I have a tip about Scrabble to pass on. I always used to lose to my (word genius) bloke, until I discovered that the whole thing is psychological. He keeps saying ‘oh this is awful’; ‘oh, I’m doing so badly’ etc etc while I therefore think ‘I am winning: I don’t need to try’. Then he wins. When I keep the score, and I keep saying – well, almost anything, but mostly it’s bragging about how great I am and how rubbish he is, and laughing at him for doing so badly – I can see who is really winning – and then I can win. This whole story took 35 years in real time.

    Check out my blog? Please? You will be (almost) unique.

    • Hi Albertine,

      I hope I’ve made it four hits today! Sorry it has taken me so long to get to replying. As you no doubt know, I have been annoying customs staff in the Antipodes and manfully fighting off jetlag. Today though, I am determined to emerge from hiding and perhaps even write a new post! It’s been a while.

      I’ll try the Scrabble tip but I reckon 23 with his superior smarts will be onto me in no time ๐Ÿ™‚

    • A teacher friend reported back on how she had seen in the staff room, an English teacher given my Lady Macbeth’s Hand Sanitizer for her end-of-year present. I was so thrilled by the idea of my goodies in a staff room, I could have squealed. Actually, I did!

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