The Daughter received a proposal of marriage on Saturday evening, in Rome, and not from some briefly-smitten ogler or bottom-pincher (actually she has reported a marked decline of personal interference on pretty ladies in Italy since I was last there in 1993) but from her partner of almost five years. She sent me a brief e-mail with the news on Sunday morning. After I read this my brain was as bubbly as the glasses of cava we swigged all afternoon to celebrate the news, and then I slumped early and needed a bit of a siesta. All that evening I couldn't process the idea fully as I still hadn't heard their voices, and so I fell asleep that night feeling strangely cast adrift.
They travelled back to the UK on Monday, and by teatime I had my phone call. Some more funny anecdotes to add to what she'd said in the e-mail, and the reassuring sound of a girl as happy as a girl can be, looking forward to picking out her engagement ring from one of those lovely old antique and secondhand jewellers on Oxford High.
Then, on Tuesday, came the vision to go with the sound. A quck and slightly blurred photo attachment of her left hand wearing the vintage 1950s emerald cut diamond ring she had picked out. It had to be vintage because she will not support the modern gold and diamond industries. And because such items offer better value for money than what's available brand new.
Soon, within the hour, she will be arriving to collect the hamster (cf my last posting) and have a cup of tea before driving him back to his usual nest in their darling rented Victorian house in central Oxford. And I will be able to add touch to sound and vision and give her the biggest hug a mother can muster.
At some point I may offer her some words of advice about how to forge and sustain a good married relationship. As I have had two marriages, one Bad, one Very Excellent, and have been married for a total of twenty-six years to two very different types of man, I might have a few good ideas that could be transferable to another couple. But I doubt it somehow. I was sagely advised by an elderly long-married neighbour as a first time bride never to let the sun go down on our anger, and yet huffily slept in separate rooms after rows, year-in, year-out, feeling that no other option could be possible. It's good advice though, and worth trying to uphold as a practice, as we've managed to do, The Husband and I, in our second-time-around-for-both-of-us union.
The only other thing I would suggest is "Don't eat all your meals in front of the TV".
Apart from that, they're on their own...bless them.