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Valentine’s Day Dinner

The World Takes His Wife Out to Dinner – February 2004
A publicity leaflet plopped through the door and as a result we booked a reduced-price weekend at a hotel in Beverley, East Yorkshire. We looked up the decent restaurants of Beverley in the guide books and phoned to book for the Saturday night and they all said: no chance, mate, it’s Valentine’s night, we’ve been fully booked for months. So rather apprehensively we booked to eat in the hotel.
And thus did we experience a phenomenon unknown to us: on Valentine’s night, the world takes his wife out to dinner. The restaurant was heaving, no sooner was a table vacated than it was occupied again from the queue waiting at the door. They were nearly all couples, the wife had put on her high-heeled sandals and painted her toenails red. She’d also donned a dress of the type referred to in the song The Mountains of Mourne where it goes:
I believe that with writin’ thou’ve wished it expressed,
as to how the fine ladies of London are dressed.
We’ll if you’d believe me when aksed to a ball,
faith they don’t wear no tops to their dresses at all.
I’ve seen them meself and you could not in troth,
tell if they were bound for a ball are a bath.
Don’t be shtartin’ them fashions, now Mary Macree,
where the Mountains of Mo-ourne sweep down to the sea.
Ah, they don’t write them like that any more. And neither, I thought, do them wear them like that any more. But they do, and often quite inappropriately for the figure, so that they periodically have to hoik up the assembly to avoid the amply-veined boobs from falling out.
(Which reminds me of a joke. Q. Why should you not wear Ukrainian underpants? A. Because: Chernobyl fall out. (Needs to be spoken, to be got. Ah they don’t write them like that anymore)) Anyway . . .
And while the women are dressed in what they perceive to be their finery, looking quite ridiculous and uncomfortable and winding their legs around the underside of the seat, the gentlemen wear an outfit that depends upon their age. If they are over 50 and not me, they are dressed in a suit and tie, while if they are under 50, and obviously still not me, they wear an open-neck shirt that looks like it’s been bought by their mum from Woolworths. And the couples try, mostly without much success, to make conversation with each other.
Fortunately, as it turned out, it had been tipping it down with rain all day so Hilary and I had had to put some clean clothes on before dinner, otherwise we might have looked a bit out of place. Equally fortunately, we’d had a jolly and boozy lunch in a café talking to some people we’d met, so were not all that hungry and could forgo some of the mountain of mashed potato that other couples seemed to be ploughing through, to get their romantic evening in trim, that and a pint of lager for the men, a glass of medium white wine for the women. Romance with mashed potato, lager, and seatleg-wrapped legs. I’m getting quite excited at the thought.


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