Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Ironing Lady

Marriage is a compromise agreement in which both parties are convinced they have made the majority of the concessions. Caroline is convinced she has to do everything, even in the bedroom. I am equally convinced that when it comes to domestic duties, most of it falls to me because I spend more time at home.

But I draw the line when it comes to ironing. I have, in extremis, pulled a shirt out of the basket and smoothed it over with my hands, but our system is that Caroline lets the basket build up until she has literally nothing to wear. Then we spend a pleasant, sometimes intimate, evening in the kitchen, Caroline in her knickers and me keeping her company. I watch her iron with a glass of wine in my hand.

Yesterday evening she was wearing a red lace 'body' (she told me that's what it's called). I paid her a compliment and asked where she had bought it.

'Oh, I didn't buy it. It was a present from Von Wolfswinkle.'

That made sense. The article of clothing, insubstantial in appearance, was a miracle of German engineering. It held things in and pushed things out rather like the driver's seat of a BMW. Caroline used to wear M&S all the time until she went to Frankfurt to set up Monsaint's European hub, but had discovered the secret of German womanhood (how it is possible to eat dessert and still look fabulous) in the futuristic MyZeil shopping complex.

'Of course, it looks better with high heels,' she said, standing on tip-toe and brandishing the iron to demonstrate.

'I still don't understand why you agreed to let him photograph you in the shopping centre,' I said. 'Didn't you think it was a bit weird? With him being a well-known banker?'

'He was very discreet and kept his distance. He had one of those big lenses.'

Caroline did what she often did when I tried to piece together what happened in Germany and changed the subject.

'I'm wondering about my next move after Monsaint. I think I might go into politics.'

My wine went down the wrong way. When I had stopped coughing, I asked where that idea had come from. She said she'd been reading the obituaries of Maggie.

'She was PM when I was growing up. I thought it was perfectly normal for a woman to wear blue business suits and dominate a room full of men. I've only just realised it was unusual. There's still a long way to go until people like you do your share of the ironing.'

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Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.