The dying days of love

Where are the elderly lovers!

I know they’re out there because I’ve seen them. Silver-haired couples strolling down the street holding hands and gazing into each others eyes with affectionate that says: “I’m glad I found you and that we’ve spent our lives together.”

I might be wrong of course. They might have met last Thursday at the bowls club, but surely some of them must have known each other a long time and still like — even love! – each other?

Maybe not. I’m disheartened. I have finally, and with much relief, returned Down Under after six weeks of seeing the sights of Europe.

Wonderful stuff! The De Valk windmill in Leiden, Holland, is not to be missed; nor are the abandoned MIG jet hangars in post-communism Poland, and the InterCeltique festival in France is a riot of music and colour.



I also saw my friends. My old friends. People my age who were happily married when I left England 18 years ago, and who now are not.

They’re still my age of course, which is 63, and as you will know if you come here often, my marriage has ended because it was either that or hack each other to pieces with kitchen knives. I felt (and feel) like a failure; embarrassed that I couldn’t achieve what all my friends had achieved – except that they haven’t!

It’s happening everywhere! Elderly couples whose idea of a conversation is pistols at 10 paces; kitchens where the knives are in locked drawers, except when they’re in use, and then only half of the couple is allowed in the kitchen at a time.

Don’t misunderstand me. We are not talking big things here. She has not discovered her husband is the serial rapist of Greater London; he has not discovered his wife is Madam Lash of the Amsterdam Call Girl Association.

We are talking trivia… “Why is it always me who cleans the disgusting bits out of the kitchen sink plughole?”

“Why is it that through 30 years of marriage you’ve persisted in leaving your dirty underwear in the middle of the bedroom floor!”

It’s the slow drip that ultimately turns the mountain into so much river mud.

Is it just me, or has anyone else over 60 years old noticed this? Maybe I just have old friends who are really hard to get on with. But if so, they never used to be. They used to hold hands; they used to laugh fondly with each other over the toenail clippings in the bathroom sink and the wet towel dumped on the unmade bed.

Not any more.

Please tell me it’s not always like this. Please tell me there are elderly couples out there who take as much pleasure in each other’s company as they did in the first weeks of their meeting. Introduce me to them – so I can steal their brains!

I suspect they’re a rare breed. Maybe we should form a preservation society. Maybe they could start evening classes: How to laugh with your partner instead of at her; Keeping house without keeping score…

There must be a way! I’ll let you know if I find it.