Sunday, 3 November 2013

Date Night

The Norwegian government, appalled at the 40% divorce rate in its country, has announced that married couples ought to have at least one ‘date night’ a week. This, the government suggests, would help consolidate marriages. The government is not, you understand, planning to legislate on the subject, but it feels well-placed to comment and advise.

Dates: Danielle is a great fan
...but are they Norway's solution to marital discord?

Intriguing, isn’t it? Norway has a Conservative government. Why is it that it’s always the Conservatives, with their fervent commitment to small government, who are most inclined to wade into what is most intimate in its citizens’ lives? Abortion, gay marriage, now straight marriage, why do they regard them as fair game? Why, in short, do they feel entitled to busybody around our bedrooms?

Still, far from me to question the wisdom of Conservative ministers in Oslo. And, indeed, Danielle and I had a date night only yesterday. It was a spectacular success, I’d say.

We started with a visit to that most romantic of establishments, Costco. I’d taken out membership to this worthy organisation for both us some months ago and had, indeed, bought some useful commodities there myself (chiefly alcohol and coffee, a useful combination since one helps counteract the effect of the other. Whichever way round you prefer). Danielle, on the other hand, hadn’t yet had the opportunity to collect her membership card or, indeed, visit the place.

She found the experience of shopping there – how shall I put this? – unusual. It’s truly degree-zero shopping. The stuff’s all piled high on shelves or raised areas in what looks like nothing so much as a massive warehouse. The quality’s usually good, the prices often competitive, but it isn’t exactly strong on ambiance, on a feeling of luxurious elegance for the discerning shopper.

From there we went to a Pizza Express which, I firmly believe, serves the best pizzas in Britain. I say that with some trepidation these days, given the quizzical reaction I had to the statement when I made it to two Canadian friends: they clearly thought it was like talking about the best Icelandic wine, or the greatest playwright in Liechtenstein, or perhaps the most incisive observations from Sarah Palin.

We, however, like their food and enjoyed our dinner.

Finally, the pièce de résistance of the evening, was an a cappella choral concert in rather a fine, if highly modern, church in Milton Keynes, a highly modern and sometimes fine city invented in central England after the war. The singing, by a group called Polymnia, was beautiful, the ambiance at the opposite end of the scale from Costco’s.

The delightfully appealing organ in
Christ the Cornerstone Church in Milton Keynes
So a great evening. Thank you, government of Norway.

That being said, as I re-read my account of our night out, the disagreeable feeling grows on me that what I
ve described might not be regarded as the ideal ingredients for a classic first date. Not perhaps the raw material for, say, a good teen movie. Or, at any rate, not one that was hoping to set a new record for box office takings.

Still. After thirty years of marriage, perhaps we
’ve got beyond that particular stage.


Faith A. Colburn, Author said...

That's been nagging at me too. Small government=intruding into my bedroom. My calculator can't seem to make that come out right.

Rib van Rey said...

I don't know about the Norway of today. It is many years since I was last there. I do know that the concept would fail in our fair isle. There would not be 40% of married couples who could afford to go out on a weekly date together. One at a time, possibly. At least there would be childcare and only if going "dutch" the other might just afford a lean evening out.