As I am back to being a singleton, I am qualified to be cynical on other people’s relationships. Seeing young and care free teenagers holding hands and enjoying one another’s company fills me with that repugnant, jealous inner feeling, bemoaning my own luck in pursuing the one person who will find it within themselves to put up with my very nature.
But having said that, I see in my everyday life couples, varying from the polygamous stage, to the “as soon as he comes home I put the tea on and he reads the paper” stage of love and a relationship, and it does make me wonder with some couples, “Where is the spark?” Particularly in couples married for many years, after so long together, what keeps you together, happily wedded and still head over heels?
For example, I was travelling down a dual carriageway a couple of weeks ago (in a car, before you think I am one of those stragglers you see with ‘Bradford’ written on the back of a Special K box), and I witnessed a man driving a Renault Caravan with a dog in the passenger seat. Nothing wrong there … until we drove past and saw the wife sat in the back all on her own. Now, I do not know if they had had a massive fallout, or whether she had been assigned crockery watch for the journey, but this does seem slightly odd, even if a dog is a man’s best friend.
And you can usually pinpoint the couples in the high street that are most likely to spend Saturday afternoons looking at wallpaper for the downstairs toilet. You can’t always judge a book by its cover though. One time walking the streets of suburban utopia up North, I passed a semi detached house, with a woman who must have been about 75 years old on her knees, in the garden, marigolds donned and hedge clippers to hand. There was a Suzuki Wagon R on the driveway, and no doubt the husband was inside the living room, feet up reading the Sunday best. Again, nothing untoward, until it dawned on me that thing’s weren’t exactly as they seemed. I peered closer (although not too close for her and my sake- she was holding hedge clippers after all) and realised that she was wearing fish net stockings. More Moulin Rouge than Morpeth, but it goes to show that celebrating your Golden Wedding anniversary doesn’t always mean that you’re ‘Gone with the Wind’ (although that is a factor as you get older).
Going back to my point before about the notion of married life over time becoming the norm and anodyne, I used to look at said husband and wife traipsing down supermarket aisles, uttering such mundane sentences as these: “Do you fancy garlic bread tonight with your lasagne?” or, “ooh, Janice, cans of tomato soup are 3 for a pound here!”
Hearing these used to make me say sub consciously (I hope), “You sad *insert French plural noun here*!”, and I swore I would never resort to those lows. Before, if I fancied something to eat, I bought it, cooked it, and that was that. But now, with this ruddy challenge I have set myself, I have become what I have said I would never be; I am one of “them”. I am, I am ashamed to begrudgingly admit, the forlorn looking soul who examines tomatoes, and touches and feels, and ponders as to whether there is better value in cherry, vine, sun dried or the big beefy ones. I am the one who works out mentally the grams per pound of potential produce, and carries a little piece of paper and a pen around, toting up the costs and how much I have left to spend of my theoretical budget.
Speaking of which, this is now Week 3 of the food test, and unlike last week there has been no deviation, and I am once again under budget. These are the items I bought from last Tuesday onwards:
4 pork pies 20p
Mixed Salad 20p
Wasabi Rocket Leaves 10p
2 Chicken thighs from rotisserie £1
Cherry tomatoes 82p
Chicken Fried Rice £1.08
Potato Salad (never again...) 28p
Cooked Turkey Breast £1
Bag of prawn crackers 34p
Cottage Pie Ready Meal 80p
Fish pie Ready Meal 74p
Spaghetti Bolognaise Ready Meal 74p
Cooked chicken wings from rotisserie £1
Pasta Salad 50p
9 sausage rolls 35p
Milky Way (my treat) 49p
Again, plenty of food, and unbelievably I still have 6 shredded wheat’s left over from the previous weeks!
So, I may not be having Chateaubriand every night, or going out with someone, but it could be worse. I could be off to a camp site, watching Wedgewood china slide across the kitchen top while the pooch is out the front having a lovely time listening to Chris Evans.