I wonder sometimes what it would be like living with the Dalai Lama - because, even though he's probably about the most saintly guy on earth, I'll bet he's got some really irritating habits.
You know the sort of thing - hogging the TV remote control; stinking out the lavatory and not opening the window; constantly losing his keys.
What I'm trying to say is that even if you're living with a human saint, they will, on occasion, start to get on your nerves.
I've even heard it said that I - saintly little me - have some irritating habits of my own.
So, after considerable consultation with friends and relatives, I have drawn up the top ten partner irritants. (Though just for the sake of veracity, I think I should state that none of these foul habits apply to my wife Margot, who only last week received a letter from Pope Francis, as he warmly informed her that they were just about to get started on the whole process of beatification...)
1. No petrol in the car
This one always seems to happen when you are really up against it - when you have precisely 30 minutes to drop the kids off at school, pick something up for dinner, and then make it to that oh-so-important coffee meeting with a client.
You hop into the car, rev her up, and the orange indicator light starts flashing to tell you that you have got precisely one mile's worth of gas in the tank before it's bone-dry.
And the first question you ask yourself is this: who was the miserable sod who left me with just a teaspoonful of petrol? And you know for a certainty that it can't have been you, which ineluctably means it must have been some other person, some other nameless irritant who parked the car up last night without a single thought for who was going to have to be driving it the next morning.
And then you have to drive off to the garage - which is obviously in the opposite direction from where you need to go - and then, well, the car starts sputtering, and it's probably going to be a diesel, which will really mean you're stuffed, and this is perhaps not the best time in the world for your darling partner to be calling up to ask, ever so sweetly, if you could grab some eggs and milk while you're at the supermarket...
2. Interrupting/distorting/deriding your best anecdotes
If you have been with your partner for any length of time, then it is odds on that they will have heard most of your anecdotes and stories before. All those lovely little tales that you so love to tell at dinner-parties... well your wonderful, wunnerful partner has probably heard them before, and could doubtless have a stab at trotting them out word for word.
Still - that's all part and parcel of the business of being a "partner" and a "loved one". Sometimes, very occasionally, your partner might be able to spring a new anecdote on you, but most of the time, you've heard all of their schlock before.
And the deal is that when your partner is telling one of their hoary old stories, then ideally you will look perky and interested, and perhaps even laugh in all the right places. If you haven't got the stomach for that, then go off and talk to someone else.
What you cannot do is start interrupting your partner, correcting them on some minute point of detail, or yawning and saying, "Do we have to hear this load of old rubbish again - I have heard it fifty times in the last week?"
Well of course you could say that - but only if you want to really, really irritate your partner.
3. Dumping boring people on your partner
I've done this one many times over the years; it's an absolute gem of a way to really piss off your partner.
Imagine that you're at a party and that you are stuck with a guy who, well, might be in the running for "The World's Most Boring Man". In fact, you know what, a team from the Guinness Book Of Records is on their way over to interview him!
Now obviously there are a number of ways that you could get rid of The World's Most Boring Man. You could neck your drink and say, "I'm just getting a top up - can I get you a re-fill?"
That's not a bad way out - though maybe you don't really want to finish your pint of Old Thumper.
Maybe you could just pretend to be leaving. "I really must dash," you say. "Lovely to meet you! Ciao!"
And that can work very well too - until the World's Most Boring Man comes into the kitchen two hours later and finds you propping up the fridge.
No - what works, every time, is when you say the immortal words, "How absolutely fascinating - you really must meet my partner."
You drag the World's Most Boring Man over to your long-suffering partner, effect the introduction, and then five seconds later you skidaddle. Tee-hee.
It is, of course, hilarious when you try this trick on somebody else - but it is exceptionally irritating when it's you who's on the receiving end.
There you are at 3am, in the deepest and most tranquil of sleeps, perhaps dreaming about how you've managed to rekindle that romance with the love of your life, when from out of nowhere, a chainsaw maniac breaks into the dream and ruins the moment by trying to chop off your head...
And it's then that you realise that it's not actually a chainsaw maniac that's ruined your dream, it is in fact something even more irritating - it's your partner's snoring.
It generally starts quite softly, the slow rasp of a file along the blunt edge of a guillotine...
And you grit your teeth and think to yourself, "I can just about bear this - can't go on for long," and you might even have a try at getting back to sleep...
But then, before you know it, the snoring has gone up a notch; now your partner is like an old Labrador, snoring and farting in front of the fire.
And there's no question whatsoever of you getting to sleep now, because, not that it seems humanly possible, the snoring has got all the hallmarks of a pneumatic drill, perhaps combined with the Chinese water torture, and that's when you can't help yourself any more, and...
5. Being woken up for snoring
Picture the scene: there you are in bed, fresh sheets, the softest, downiest of pillows and you are enjoying the most magical of dreams, when the most beautiful person in the world has spied you from afar across the dance-floor, and has sashayed over, and without even saying a word has just kissed you full on the lips, and then... This thing starts drilling into the middle of your back.
And though you're trying, trying as hard as you can to pucker up for a second kiss, the drilling is getting ever more insistent until you realise that it is in fact your loved one's finger, and that they are poking in the small of your back.
"Wha??" you say. "Wha ya want?"
And then they utter those two beautiful words: "You're snoring!" As if that validates any action whatsoever. ("Why did you chop my arm off?" "You're snoring!")
And that's when things can get just a tad tetchy, as both of you have now been woken from your beauty sleep in the most vile manner imaginable, and so both of you are probably more than up for a scrap, and the conversation will then often proceed on these sort of lines...
"I was not snoring!"
"Yes you were!"
"Why did you have to wake me like that?"
"Just listen to yourself - I even taped you! You're louder than a bull elephant! I'm surprised they don't stick you on Dogger Bank and use you as a fog-horn!"
6. Announcing they're over the drink-drive limit
Imagine yourself at a terrific party. You are enjoying yourself immensely. All the beautiful people are there - of course, that's why you've been invited - and the Champagne is flowing like water. Not that this Champagne is any old tat - it's the good stuff, vintage Krug. If you have a really good run, you might be able to finish off three bottles. Maybe even four.
And then your partner, your darling partner, comes over and announces, "I've had half-a-glass of Spritzer and I'm already over the limit. You'll have to drive."
And suddenly all your party dreams have crumbled to dust, like the Apples of Sodom turning to ash at the first mouthful...
Perhaps, on a small technical point, the pair of you may not yet have decided who was going to be the designated driver.
But the fact is that your partner never drinks more than a thimbleful of booze in the first place, not even at Hogmanay, so why - why?? - have they suddenly decided that this is the party that they really want to cut loose at.
We haven't even got on to the really, really irritating part. The first thing is that your partner won't even like drinking Vintage Krug in the first place; it's silly, it's stupid, but what they'd actually much prefer to be drinking is a small glass of Babycham.
And the second thing is... They're not even going to be over the limit anyway! By the end of the evening, they will have drunk precisely one-and-a-half glasses of Krug, not even liking it very much, but forcing it down all the same, and they will be absolutely stone-cold sober.
It can all be so, so vexing, I tell you.
7. Losing their keys
Panic stations! The claxon is drilling in the kitchen, telling everyone, even the neighbours, that you are in the throes of the most dire emergency: your partner has lost their keys.
And normally you'd just carry on drinking your coffee and reading the paper, and try to ignore the whole stramash (Scots word - uproar) that is going on around you, but you can't because... guess what... your irritating partner has got to go for a really big cup of coffee with their best friend and they've got to leave the house in two minutes flat.
So up you get, and the children are whipped into action too, and then you all have to start trawling through the house, looking for these wretched keys - and woe betide you if you should happen to ask, "Where was the last place you saw these keys?" as sure as eggs is eggs, your irritating partner will snap back, "That's the first place I looked - I left them on the kitchen-table."
Time passes. The kitchen-table is searched and there, lo and behold, lying underneath your newspaper are the offending keys...
More often than not though the keys will NOT be found, and what follows next is this wonderfully life-enhancing conversation: "I've got to go - I'll take your keys."
"Okay - here are my keys."
Peace descends. And then, not two hours later, another great wail echoes through the house - the irritating partner has now contrived to lose not only their own keys but your keys as well...
8. Inflicting their own Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour onto the rest of the household
It must be real tough if you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour. I have a lot of sympathy for these twitching OCD-ers who have to have all the baked bean cans stacked in the right way, and who insist on every single room being absolutely spotless at all times of the day. Why - it's almost an illness. I feel for them, I really do.
But what can happen - in fact, almost invariably happens - is that the OCD-er's crazy habits are inflicted onto the rest of the household, and it is suddenly seen as perfectly normal behaviour to demand that bean-cans are stacked properly in line abreast, that dirty plates should not be allowed to exist in the kitchen for more than two minutes, and that the duvet must be perfectly squared off within one minute of you exiting the bed.
Under normal circumstances, these OCD-ers should all just co-habit together, where they can happily clean themselves stupid, but as it is, they're your partner, and even though it's you who is the sane, rational one in the relationship, you find that pretty soon you're buying into all this OCD gibberish, and that perhaps, just possibly, the baked bean cans really do look better if the labels all face outwards.
Why can't they just do what you do - live and let live? But they can't do that - they're OCD-ers! They are possessed by demons and, like some pestilential version of the Seventh Day Adventists, they feel a moral obligation to convert you to the cause. Not that you will - but it's going to be one hell of a fight, and damn irritating with it.
9. Leaving their grubby tat lying on the floor and expecting you to clean up after them
What is it with these irritating partners? I blame it on the parents, who just never imposed of any discipline - whatsoever - on that irritating person who happens to be your lover.
From the age of about three-years-old, you were taught to pick up your clothes, and tidy away your toys, and leave your shoes neatly by the front door; generally just to leave things where you found them, you know? Isn't this just normal, civilised behaviour? Wasn't everyone brought up like that?
But oh no - not your irritating partner, who still obviously believes that they're a romping toddler, and who dumps their stinking clothes wherever they please.
Fancy having a bath? Do please chuck your foetid sports gear all over the bathroom, I would so love to clean it up after you.
The thing is: it doesn't matter how many times you tell them. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them that it really pisses you off having to clear up after them. They nod their heads, and they smile, and they say, "Yes darling, you're right," and then not five minutes later, they've left their filthy shoes on the kitchen table and they've got their dirty great feet up on the white sofa, and frankly some times it seems as if the best thing would be to just put them out of their misery and throttle them.
10. No bog-roll
This, to my mind, is the cardinal sin, the irritant of irritants. In fact, it's more than that. This crime is so awful, so heinous, so indicative of appalling manners that it is... a deal-breaker. That's how bad it is.
To some it might seem like such a small thing - a mere trifle, of no consequence whatsoever compared with the passion that your irritating partner can put into the bedroom.
But I tell you this: it tells you everything you need to know about your partner. And if your partner does this, then they are way, way more than just plain irritating. They need to be kicked into touch - and quickly. The longer you leave it, the worse it's going to get.
And it all starts - and ends - in that most hard-fought of battle-grounds, the bath-room. There you are, happily enjoying your ablutions, enjoying the magazines that have been left on the rack by the toilet, and the door is locked and the sun is shining, and it's all set to be the most perfect day imaginable, and you stretch for the toilet-paper, and...
And you find one single brown tube of cardboard and half a sheet of white toilet paper attached to it.
It is difficult to express the complete rage that envelops you when you realise that your irritating partner has left you with just half-a-sheet of toilet paper.
But I'll try.
As the red mist descends, you would happily hurl your irritating partner into the pit of oblivion from which you would never, ever, ever have to see them again.
But you don't though, and after perhaps a minor, grumpy spat, you forgive them, and you move on.
But here's a word from the wise: Dump them! Dump them immediately, before your resolve starts to weaken. Because if they're the sort of person who leaves you with no bog-paper, then that is indicative of them being not just an irritating git, but also a fundamentally flawed, inconsiderate human being, in fact not even a human being, but some revolting sub-species who should be sent packing to the low-life sewers from whence they came.
So who would have thought you could guess all that from an empty bog-roll? You've just got to know what's irritating - and what's downright unforgivable.Suggest a correction