Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Language of love

'Right," said Toryboy, putting down his Daily Telegraph and the tiny kitten he had been poking with cocktail sticks to make it dance yet more furiously on the hotplate to which its tail was skewered. "This weekend we're having our belated Valentine's Day celebration."

I was confused. He knows he's got to give me fair warning if he wants to have sex, because I have to start taking the medication at least three days beforehand. Also, I thought we had celebrated Valentine's Day on, well, Valentine's Day.

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I put this to him, but he, with the almost pathological modesty that was one of the first things that attracted me to him, professed not to recall any romantic observances on the day. "What can you mean?" I said. "I vividly remember being gently coaxed out of slumber by the romantic sound of you smashing the lavatory seat down as if it had done you a grievous personal wrong. Then I remember coming downstairs to find that you had spattered drops of tea over seven cupboard doors in the kitchen, which I assume spelled out 'Lucy, you are my heart, my soul, my everything' in English Breakfast Morse code, because the alternative would be that you were a 33-year-old man incapable of transporting a teabag cleanly across the three feet separating the kettle from the bin.

"Then I stepped, in bare feet, on to the shards of broken mugs, glasses, crystal heirlooms, Lalique collectibles and assorted other detritus that marked your passage to bed the night before. And, as I picked the splinters from my injured soles, I reflected delightedly on the effort you had gone to in order to arrange this obliquely tender and poetically imaginative tribute to our coupledom on this special day. The mélange of shattered glass glinting in the early morning sun - symbolic of both the fragility of love and of the jewels you hope one day to shower upon me - and bleeding flesh, so sweetly emblematic of our tortured relationship, both touched and impressed me. Because otherwise it would have been very much the case that I was just sitting on cold lino with lacerated feet because you are a malcoordinated troglodyte who can remember every sarcastic remark ever deployed by Bismarck against the Reichstag but not where we keep the dustpan and brush. So, to sum up," I finished, "I could surely ask for no more loving homage from you. What can these belated celebrations of which you speak comprise?"

It turns out that they comprise two nights in a Norfolk B&B so I can freeze to death while he inspects churches and gets overexcited at the sight of quatrefoil piers and hollow-chamfered arches.

Still, I am impressed with the boarding house accommodation he has found for us. It is run by an Irishwoman by the name of Mrs O'Gre, who took one look at my naked left hand and announced that she would be putting us in the attic room so we "could be closer to God".

It has two single beds that are bolted to the floor and both mattresses are lined with rubber sheeting, which I am tempted to tell her will only encourage indulgence in deviant sexual practices among a certain subsection of the populace, rather than turn their attentions to more spiritual pursuits. But I don't. I lie back contemplatively in the cold pool of perspiration that has gathered in the mattress and reason that at least it will make returning to my tea-stained, glass-strewn midden of a house a welcome relief.

Maybe this was Toryboy's plan all along. What a thoughtful man he is.