Belfast Telegraph

Claudia Winkleman: "Civilians" do things at a different pace

'Unless you are Peaches or Britney, by month two you are still at the stage of waking up before him to brush your teeth'

So, Peaches Geldof has got married. She met a bloke a month ago, she liked him, they probably did it on the sofa, and they thought, "I'll tell you what, let's get hitched". They ran off to Vegas, called their parents, and now they're wedded. Not for life, obviously, but you know, for a bit.

It's not the usual thing that pops into people's heads at the one-month mark. You know, after four weeks you might think, "Maybe it's time we had a chat about how he feels about treacle tart", or, "Let's be brave and actually stay over the night to see what he/she is like in the morning".

Celebrity timetables are different from ours. They work at a different pace. Elizabeth Hurley calls non-celebrities "civilians", so let's use that for this piece.

Civilians' dating goes something like this:

Month one: meeting, flirting, maybe a stolen kiss. Telling your friends you think he's cute. Possibly going to see quite a few movies.

Month two: more kissing, fumbling, for those of us who are brave, sex, and then a couple of months of just doing it all the time and sending little texts. You are still at the stage of waking up before him and brushing your teeth and sticking on some make-up (ah, just me then).

Month three: introducing him or her to family and friends. A tense and much-concentrated-on plate of dough balls at Pizza Express with your parents, and then maybe some drinks at the pub with your favourite girls and their boyfriends. You wait for the calls to say he's great. If they don't come, you presume their mobiles have run out of battery.

Month four: is often when a few cracks start to appear. He went out and didn't call you, and then there's a row. You make up (which is excellent) and maybe a small gift is bought. Nothing major of course, but a bunch of flowers or (if he's weird) a cuddly toy.

Month five: is when summer/Easter comes along and you both consider going on holiday together. You might go with friends, but probably you'll risk a weekend alone. This opens a ghastly can of worms about money (he shouldn't have to pay, but how do you split the bill?); fashion (how do you tell your new beau that you're actually allergic to small swimming trunks); and going to the loo. You've spent the last four months rushing home to excrete, and now you have to do it in the same bathroom. Dear God, how did life become so complicated...

Month six, seven, eight, nine: is when you get to know each other. You work out if he's a secret Tory voter (they are still quite secretive, unless they went to Eton and have collected some cravats over the years, of course); and he can get to grips with how you feel about animals and/or the state of the world.

Month 10: is famously the time of break- ups. You realise you're heading to the one-year mark and you have to decide whether this person is right, or whether you should get out now before an embarrassing "anniversary supper". He buys a piece of jewellery (this will usually be rose quartz and might have been picked from a catalogue, but you know, nobody's perfect), you both talk about how you met and you go home for more sex (which is now becoming slightly predictable, and you'd prefer to watch Heroes and go to sleep).

Month 11: He asks you to move in because your hair tongs and bras are all over the place, and renting/looking after two flats seems excessive. Your mum says to wait for a diamond ring, but you probably don't because you're fed up of carrying old knickers in your bag on the Tube to work.

Month 12: and you are officially a "couple". You send round-robin emails from both of you telling people you're having a barbecue or that you're organising a gang to see a play and then go for tapas. Your friends are quietly alarmed that you're suddenly into football/darts /"good" red wine, but they don't say anything because you're happy.

The next two years – he grimaces every time one of your friends gets engaged or gets pregnant. Your desk at the office is covered in Post-its that say Mrs Hisname, and you start considering taking folic acid secretly.

And then it continues until, if you're lucky, you realise that you're the perfect couple and you go round to your parents to say he's popped the question ("Hooray, darling! And I found out that you can dye chicks white – wouldn't that be marvellous?"). You spend the next year saving up and trying on meringues.

If you're unlucky, you realise that you're unbelievably bored and start flirting with the guy from the post room, and start thinking about moving out and how to tell him that you don't think his fart jokes are funny anymore.

But if you're a celebrity such as Peaches or Britney, you skip all that and just head to Elvis in the little white chapel.

So Elizabeth Hurley is absolutely right. "Civilians" do things at a different pace, and that's because we are, uh, more civilised.

Belfast Telegraph


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