There’s nothing like listening to married couples’ conversations for finding out what this lifelong commitment thing is all about. We’ve just got back from a two-week holiday in Menorca and Cornwall where I spent my time taking notes on what husbands and wives chat about.
Call it nosiness if you like but I call it research. When I didn’t have the energy to read my book, sup a juice or stare out the window, I’d home in on a nearby couple to see what we might be like 10 or 20 years down the line…
Couple 1: On the sun loungers, Menorca
HIM: Morning, you been down the beach?
SOME BLOKE THEY SEEMED TO KNOW: Yeah, it’s lovely down there, you been?
HIM: Nah, I’d like to go but Leslie don’t like the sand.
HER: Yeah, I don’t like the sand.
HIM: I’ve told her she can get a sun lounger but she ain’t interested so we just stay up here.
SAME BLOKE: (Looking baffled as to why you’d have come to a place where the only things to do are sit by the pool and go to the beach)
Fair enough… You two out late last night then?
HER: We got in about 1ish – so not late by our standards, was it Gary?!
HIM: Yeah, that’s an early one for us, innit Leslie!
SAME BLOKE: Ha, you pair, eh…
Couple 2: On the bus, Cornwall
HIM: Best strap in everyone, Alan’s driving!
ALAN (bus driver and minor celebrity amongst local residents): Shut up there you. I’ve gotta keep safe today, I’m working a wedding tomorra. They’re getting married on the beach.
HIM: On the beach? In this weather? We didn’t get married on the beach, did we love.
HER: No we didn’t but I think it’s a lovely thing to do if you’re young. We were young once too, you just can’t remember.
HIM: (Not paying attention) Ooh, careful there Alan; those cyclists want to make it through the whole day you know!
ALAN: Pipe down you. I’ve gotta get home and wash me mankini for the wedding photos.
HIM: Ha ha! That’ll break the lens, eh Alan!
HER: Hey Alan, I hear you’re in love with someone called Janet. There’s three of us in the village – which one of us is it?!
ALAN: All of you!
HIM AND HER: Oh Alan!
Couple 3: In a restaurant, Cornwall
For the first ten minutes after we arrived, they didn’t say a word to each other. I took it as a bad sign. That’s what happens to couples when they’ve been together years, I thought, they just can’t be arsed to speak to each other. Then I realised we hadn’t spoken for 10 minutes either as I’d been too busy staring.
HIM: Reading the dessert menu
HIM: Lemon sorbet?
HIM: Chocolate mousse?
HIM: Ginger pudding?
HIM: Vanilla ice-cream and hot fruit sauce?
HIM: Oh go on. I could murder a chocolate mousse.
HER: *sighs* Ok then. I’ll have a crème brûlée.
HIM: That’s my girl. And perhaps we can push the boat out and have a coffee too? It is Friday.
HER: Go on then, seeing as it’s the weekend.
There’s nothing as entertaining as the quirks of ordinary people. I can only imagine what somebody listening to our conversations in a few years’ time might pick out as the highlights. Perhaps my incessant commenting on the temperature of a room and the cleanliness of the bathroom facilities, or maybe the fact that, most of the time, he just responds to me by shrugging.
Whatever it is, I hope that, just like our friends above, we’ll prove that there really is someone for everyone. And that maybe, if you’re lucky, you might get the occasional spot of pudding too.