I’m supposed to make you laugh. That’s the idea of this column: you get up on a Saturday morning and there’s the lawn to mow and the dog to wash and you wish you’d stayed where you were.
It all seems too much — until I draw to your attention the fact that lawn mowers only ever work on days when it’s storming stair rods, when mowing is impossible, and that washed dogs always go and roll in something disgusting, so what’s the point?
Today, though, you’re going to have to let me off.
What I really want to do is weep, but you can’t, can you, if you’re a bloke?
I have received a letter. From a reader. It’s a private letter but I’m sure Alan (that’s what I’ll call him) won’t mind if I share some of it.
It needs to be shared with everyone in the same spirit he shared it with me.
Alan read, in this column, that my wife and I aren’t. As in, we’re not an item. We are a broken item, in the process of becoming two individual items. I asked for ideas to prevent this happening.
Alan says: hang in there. He says that in his life (and his partner’s, obviously) they were fortunate because despite some bad times, that’s what they did, and it worked.
And what makes me want to weep is that despite the terrorism, the cruelty, the cheapness and the deceit we read about in the world, there’s Alan — and others like him — who will take the trouble to write and mail a letter offering help. Offering sympathy and guidance.
“Fortunately one of us kept loving…” says Alan.
“Now, after 51 years of marriage, it is inconceivable that we could manage without the love and support of the other.”
Fifty one years!
I’d like to show it to my wife, but I’m not sure now is the time.
She’ll say: “Yes, quite right, and it’s time you did your share of the loving for a change.”
And I’ll say, “Oh, excuse me, which day were you doing it, then? I must have been at work.” And before you can say divorce there’ll be a fresh concrete slab out in the yard.
Alan does make the point that everyone’s situation is different, and what worked for them might not work for me.
I fear he may be right. I fear there’s more chance of laboratory rats staying married longer than I, because laboratory rats learn faster than I do.
But what he’s given me — is hope. As I pace my new home (a bedsit with a bed, but nothing to sit on — well, except the bed), boiling my egg, I wonder what she’s doing.
I know she’s cut her hair and rearranged the furniture, but I wonder if the house seems strangely silent and how she feels about that.
I wonder if she’s thinking of me.
And more to the point, I wonder what she’s thinking of me. And whether it involves dolls and pins.
I don’t know the answers… but Alan, I’m taking your advice. I do love her, you see. And what’s even more absurd is that I think she loves me.
And that is absurd, because I’m pretty unlovable.
Either way, if we make it 51 years, it’ll be a triumph of human patience.