Date Night and a Touch of Froth

Years of getting established, buying homes, bringing up children, coping with Fleet Street – the London one – managing global airlines, organising weddings and funerals, and so on, led my wife Jillian and I eventually to retire to South Devon in a state of mild exhaustion. And yet, despite the trials of 50 years of labour, we still in our dotage hanker after a touch of romance.
To this end, we go on Date Nights. Just the two of us. You know the sort of thing: a sugary movie and perhaps a meal afterwards, followed a quick step home to watch Strictly Come Dancing, even if it’s on i-player.
Our film of the month for November was Last Christmas, a dreadful offering which we had been encouraged to view because of a dire report in The Guardian newspaper, where the critic, one Dylan Jones, said: “Last Christmas is bad…it is not only one of the worst films of the year, it’s probably one of the worst films ever. But, despite being objectively terrible, it is one of those interesting cinematic phenomena where audience opinions differ greatly from those of critics. Its user score on Rotten Tomatoes is currently 81 per cent (against a 48 per cent critics’ score) …”
Yet, though it is set in London and has a largely British cast, this Emma Thompson movie, based on two lines of a George Michael song, has grossed a staggering $22m at the US box office.
We went to see it in Torbay. We had to, and, for all its faults, it was a syrupy bit of escapism. Or so my wife said. Yes, it had its mistakes. But, then, so does Dick Whittington (think a man walking cross-country with his cat before turning round and becoming Lord Mayor). And the “twist” in the plot was about as predictable as Romeo and Juliet (and by that I don’t mean & Juliet where the heroine survives). And though one cinema reviewer pointed out Last Christmas was as sexless as a stollen, that didn’t seem to matter to us, either.
We duly repaired to an eaterie, which turned out to be a pub where we could get a table, albeit in a corner, and ordered skinny steak and quinoa, plus an All-day Breakfast. So far, so good. But then the romance evaporated.
It was my own fault, really. I’d ordered “unlimited” tea and coffee, just to finish off the meal and been presented with two mugs for the drinks station. Unfamiliar with the way the machines worked, I inadvertently put hot milk in the tea, which led to a bubbling reminiscent of some Hammer Horror movie. Undrinkable was the verdict. I managed to dispose of the polluted beverage, but, without any washing facilities, getting rid of the froth was almost impossible. Never mind, said Jillian, I’ll give the second try a chance. And she drank it stoically, pointing out politely that the tea tasted better than it looked. Ah well, said I. Strictly beckons, which it did.
And so to bed.