Wednesday 22nd May
Sitting in a small café behind Oxford Circus and listening to a table of three women of a certain age, somewhere between forty and fifty I would say, but, well-preserved as they are, I could be wrong and they may be older, I was reminded of the romantic novels of the (I was about to write last then realised my mistake) Nineteenth Century, where the thrust of the romance is usually that young women spend so much of their time desperately trying to get married. Circumstanced as most were this was the only way they would ever get away from their parent’s homes and find a degree of independence, even if in most cases they were simply transferring their economic reliance from parent to husband. At least, if strong enough of character they might gain some equality, if not indeed superiority in the domestic arrangements of the marital home.
Why was I reminded? Because these women, all married and bedecked with fat wedding rings, even fatter eternity and large stone engagement rings were discussing future holidays. Brochures were spread over the small table and encouraging or disparaging remarks were offered regarding various holiday destinations. I couldn’t help hearing how one after the other commented on their husband’s likes and dislikes, and complaints of the cost of these annual, or maybe more frequent jaunts.
So, I thought, things may not have changed quite so much. Yes, these women undoubtedly worked where there forbears would not have, but in this unequal world it is unlikely that they will be earning quite as much as their partners. In any case they all appear to have succeeded in their prime motive of getting married and presumably having a family. Unequal as society may well be, these women seemed to rule the roost at home, and despite who might actually earn the money they appear to be in the driving seat when it comes to spending it.
Good luck to them. But I wonder if when things change, as they inevitably will, and women become at least equal wage-earners if we will be overhearing a group of men of a certain age looking over holiday brochures and complaining at the meanness of their wives in not allowing them the Carribean or Mauritus rather than Majorca or Cyprus.