Saturday, 30 May 2015

Not a couple

I really am the odd one out on holiday. It seems to be assumed that I'm probably the female half of a couple - the Missus - and that Mister is doing Something Important elsewhere, but will appear any moment to take charge. When I say I'm actually on my own, and that I've come all the way from Sussex (Sussex? Oh, in that south-east corner of the country. Never been there!) everyone is amazed, even if it's only halfway up towards Scotland.

Here in Scotland people pop their eyes at my daring to travel so far alone, and I find myself trotting out a sanitised version of how M--- and I started caravanning together, and how I learned to love it, and developed the skills to manage on my own - despite the handicap of being a woman on her own, with no Man around to help. This still elicits wonder, so I then put myself down still more, as if possessing even a minimum amount of sensible planning ability is quite unbecoming, and requires an apology.

How odd that is! Privately, of course, I'm pretty confident about what I attempt. But it doesn't do to say so.

And I will accept many of the physical and social limitations associated with women, false though they may be. This tends to make life easier, most men wanting to be considerate towards a woman, especially by employing a bit of technique or strength or whatever it is that will let them shine as a man, bless them. Mind you, if they make the effort, a pantomime of thanks is always part of the social deal and mustn't be neglected.

It's easy to overdo it though! By, for example, giving them back more friendly chat than they were expecting. As far as I can see, British Men (British Caravanning Men, I particularly mean) are Persons Of Few Words. I'm not saying that they are unfriendly, poker-faced mutes. But, possibly because they are clearly the careful, thinking sort, they are far from being chatterboxes, generally leaving conversations to 'the wife'. She is the Spokesperson and Press Office, even if not the One In Charge. So if I catch both together, she and I do 90% of the chat. I am convinced that most men, unless they like the sound of their own voice, are very happy to let their wives speak for both of them.

I have to be husband and wife rolled into one. An occasionally awkward combination on a caravan site, because it's unusual and unexpected and Not The Norm. Some people must wonder what possible enjoyment there can be in travelling on my own, and having to deal with all the chores (and occasional hassle) unassisted. I don't think it's possible to convince someone who is so welded to a partner, so embedded in a conventional family situation, that I am very happy as I am, that I can deal with it all, and that my life (without even a dog for company) suits me beautifully.

When it comes to it, most people do hanker after a companion, and think it's no fun to be free. They're wrong, but my minority view isn't going to prevail.

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