Would you like to marry me?

TOMORROW is February 29.

It’s a leap year. We need them to keep the calendar straight.

If we didn’t have them our calendar would go wrong by one day every four years.

In 720 years time we’d be celebrating Christmas in winter, like they do in the northern hemisphere, which sounds very sensible to me, but in 720 years time I probably won’t care.

But I do care about it being a leap year because February 29 is the one day in every four years when women can ask me to marry them.

I am ever hopeful. I have already asked most of them to marry me and they haven’t, but you never know your luck.

And yes, I know I’m married, but my wife says it’s okay with her. She said if anyone was that desperate she’d be prepared to let me go.

It’s not that I want anyone else. I just want to know that I’m still attractive to women. Any woman! Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if I’m attractive to my wife. I mean, she said yes when I asked her, but that was nearly 30 years ago.

Actually, what she said was, “I suppose so.”

The idea — of women proposing to men in leap years — started in fifth century Ireland when St Bridget complained to St Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose. According to legend, St Patrick said the panting females could propose on this one day, which only occurs in leap years.

And if St Bridget isn’t the patron saint of feminists then she ought to be.

Because, the whole idea has run wildly out of control. Gone are the days when a bloke got down one knee and asked his intended if she was prepared to spend the rest of her life — or his — with him.

Now it’s the women doing the propositioning (proposing doesn’t seem the right word somehow) and they’ll settle for six months as long as they don’t have to do the cooking, and there’s a prenuptial agreement protecting their assets.

Everywhere I turn women are asking blokes to marry them, including on the telly, and none of them are waiting for February 29.

I am hurt. I reached the age of consent in 1962 and since then there have been 10 leap years. No one has ever asked me to marry them. Well, only some weirdo who worked with me in a newspaper office in London, and I’m not counting him!

Not that it will ever really work. I mean, when a woman says no to a man, he traditionally departs broken-hearted to foreign lands where he dies from the bottle.

But if a man says no to a woman he’s likely to depart broken-headed and to die from the bottle in an entirely different and more violent sense.

The Greeks knew a thing or two… they reckon it’s unlucky to get married in a leap year. Not just on February 29, mark you. Any day from January 1 to December 31.

My wife says she agrees with them, and why restrict it to leap years.

So… I shall be taking the air on Sunday…. along The Strand and around Flinders Mall market. I’m the bloke with the beard and the rolled up copy of the Townsville Bulletin.

If anyone should ask me to marry them the answer is yes — after I’ve seen to a small legal impediment to the process.

And of course, if there’s more than one, you’ll have to form a queue.