Over the years, Helen Mead's husband, Andrew, has been subjected to much criticism from his wife on this page. Today we turn her column over to him so that he can get his own back.

SINCE MY WIFE started to write this column in 1994, I have suffered - in silence - what can only be described as a series of dreadful slurs on my character.

In fact, Helen has portrayed me in such a bad light that when her friends from the paper meet me, they seem shocked to find me a decent, amiable sort of bloke.

Personality wise, Helen and I are about as far apart as possible. While Helen is intense, some would say hysterical, I am as laid back as they come.

Helen is all too quick to take offence at personal criticism, and would have taken legal action long ago had I written about her the way she's described me. Yet I have let her remarks wash over me.

Only once did I tackle her, when, in a recent column, she said I wore underpants which reached up to my waist. I admit, I do own such a pair (they actually reach my chest) but guess who bought them for me?

I admit, I was heartened to learn of a support group of sympathetic people in Bradford who feel sorry for me, believing that in not being able to answer back, I've got a raw deal. I was even more thrilled to be given this chance to tell a few home truths about Helen.

We might as well start with underwear. Helen cannot deny that she owns a few pairs which, when billowing out on the washing line, resemble the main sails of a fleet of tall ships.

I haven't spotted any which come close in size on the line at her parent's house and, as any hot-blooded male will agree, it's a sad day when your wife's knickers are bigger than your mother-in-law's.

Helen has, on more than one occasion, mocked my fondness for brushed cotton pyjamas. But, again, I feel that they are a touch more fetching than her neck-to-toe nightwear fashioned from fabric they last used to keep the courts dry at Wimbledon.

She is forever bleating on about her aversion to sex. That's no lie. I used to fight against it, but nowadays, with small children I'm usually too tired myself. Obviously, sex isn't the reason I married her.

What she doesn't say is that she's a nightmare even to sleep alongside. She insists on using a dozen pillows (to my one), which she piles high like some sort of flood defence system, saying it prevents bags under the eyes. Then she goes to sleep with her mouth wide open and snores like an old warthog.

Helen is the most insecure person I know. She makes the characters in Woody Allen films seem positively bullish.

She must ask me a dozen times every week whether her column is okay. Followed by an hour's worth of: "Do you really think so?"

Untidy is an understatement. Helen has gained notoriety for her slobbishness and is appearing in a woman's magazine as an example of someone who keeps an untidy home.

Even our two-year-old daughter has started to complain and is loath to return home from her houseproud grandmother's.

Helen's cooking isn't too bad, but you'd never eat it if you saw the preparation, as she stabs at onions with a tiny pen knife.

I'm not perfect by any means, and many of Helen's criticisms are justified, plus I'm not forgetting the times when she has praised me.

But I am glad to get these things off my chest - in particular those outsize underpants, which I'm sure will fit Helen nicely.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.