Thursday, February 11, 2016

Enduring Love

So our first argument this morning was about that BBC programme we watched last night, World War Three. The programme simulated a British 'War Room' dealing with a Ukraine-style Russian incursion into the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia - which happen to be NATO members. It did not end well.

To crudely stereotype our positions, Clare was happy to surrender to the nuke-wielding Russians on the basis we couldn't win; I was all for going thermonuclear. "Men, you love war," was her pointed comment.

After I had cooled down a little we had our second argument. On Desert Island Discs, a BBC radio show, Bill Gates had this to say:
"My wife Melinda and I love Willie Nelson. So as a surprise gift for her, I had him show up the night before we got married. We were on a beach in Hawaii and he kind of walked down the beach with his guitar and I said, 'Well here he is, let's have this guy sing some songs for us.'"
I thought this was a window on Mr Gates' soul. It was incredibly patronising to the famous singer; Willie Nelson is not the hired help. Why couldn't Clare see that?

My inner aggression came to a boil at lunchtime when I was entering Passport details into a holiday company's website (we're off to Portugal in the summer). I pressed "continue" and a javascript box popped up saying "It is necessary to complete all the fields," without flagging any fields in error.  It also mentioned that the form had to be completed within 30 minutes or it would time-out and all the information entered (there was plenty) would be wiped.

For the life of me, I couldn't see any box I hadn't completed. I tried and tried and could not advance to the next screen - I was furious. (Clare finally found the one box I had missed - 'Where was the Passport issued?').

I changed and set off for the gym where my performance was the best for weeks. I really hit those machines! I returned a calmer person, ready for the LIGO press conference.

When I bought Enduring Love, Clare snorted about people who think the answer to everything is read the manual. In fact 'Enduring Love' is the name of an Open University research project enrolling 5,000 respondents. I was expecting data, statistical analysis, IQ and personality correlates and some well-founded conclusions.

I was so wrong. It's a soggy self-help book. The volunteers have been mined for case-history anecdotes. So if you want to know that it's better to keep the burned marmite toast for yourself, and serve the perfect one to your partner, (p. 29), I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Coming back to reality, I have found that a couple of good arguments and a recognition that your partner can sometimes solve a problem which has eluded you is often the recipe for kicking the can farther down the road, relationship-wise.

Call me romantic.

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