In Competition No. 3020 you were invited to submit the formula for a successful marriage courtesy of a well-known husband or wife in literature.
Some time ago, I challenged you to do the same on behalf of well-known poets, and if you like your advice brief and to the point, there’s always Ogden Nash’s ‘A Word to Husbands’:
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
Your prescriptions were less pithy, but no less impressive for that. The winners take £30, and a fine display of Mr Polly’s ‘innate sense of epithet’ earns Alan Millard £35.
Like Zeooze’s Three Graces, there are three rules for nuptialious felicitation: choose shrewdaciously, nurture gallantously and abandon boldly.
The right choice is imperitous. Choose as you would a new bicycle. With lots of prospective fish in my sea like Minnie or Christabel, rectospectously I should have chosen someone avidorous for Chaucer, Bocashiew and chivelresque adventures. But, in the end, Miriam was thrust upon me like Malivio’s greatness.
Nurturing gallantously can save marriages. Buy a house easy to clean. Get a cat and a canary. Dig a floriforous corner with ’sturtiums and a clothesline where you can sit and pursue rapturious medieval imaginings. Dream of slaying dragons and beg for a little finger to oscoolate.
If romantications fail, proceed to step three. Abandon everything. Combustulate your bridges and cycle away like a knight on a stallion into the sunset where, hopefully, new and exciting Odysseous adventures await you beyond the horizon.
Alan Millard (Mr Polly)
Perfect felicity and communion with one’s husband need not be achieved by means of actual cohabitation. This can be especially true if one marries a gentleman who appears to be uncomfortable with the habits one finds conducive to a fulfilment of the spirit, such as crawling about on all fours in situations when others might commonly elect to stand upright.
In the event of strained communication or outbursts of excessive feeling between spouses, it may be best to arrange separate domestic quarters. One can live quite satisfactorily with a female attendant in some remote, secluded area of the marital abode, emerging only as needed at certain intervals to interact energetically with guests, or perhaps to rearrange details of furnishing and décor, or to light up the home with an overflow of passion that might be uncomprehended by one who dares not take that final leap into the ultimate.
Chris O’Carroll (Mrs Rochester)
When walking out with your intended then size matters importantly. The gentleman should always be nine or ten inches taller than the lady: she must always look up to him; he must always look down upon her.
I find that dancing is most beneficial. Partnerships based on vigorous polkas and veletas are recommended.
Home improvements are worthy domestic pursuits. Much bonding may occur — this is one of my little jokes. Yes, fine humour is an asset.
The lady of the house must be diligent and hardworking. She must be an excellent laundress, good with soda, soap flakes, starch and the iron.
The master of the house should be careful about the finances. He should also know the best cuts of meat — beef, pork and mutton.
Entertain modestly and not above your station. Practise interesting small talk assiduously.
You should always retire early and undress in the dark.
Sid Field (Charles Pooter)
I’ve always had a yen for Duchesses,
No doubt because, by some uncanny fluke,
Six prior claimants died, to leave me Duke,
Sworn to the family motto, such as is
Emblazoned on our scutcheon: ‘BAISEZ-MOI’.
And usually, they do; those serving-wenches
Eager to serve, outstretched on handy benches,
Or chambermaids who know their Seigneur’s ‘Droit’.
But now and then, I feel a strange desire
For dignity, for something wholly licit …
Good Sir, you’ve guessed it; ‘marriage’ is implicit —
Another Duchess by the ducal fire.
I’ve learned this lesson from my chequered past:
Steer clear of women cold and undersexed.
She’ll be so hot, the one I marry next,
That she’s the Duchess who will be my last.
(Duke of Ferrara, after Robert Browning)
Man’s duty’s to his wife, and hers to him
Must be to steel his soul and never let
The ditherings of his milky holiness allow
The moment’s chance to fade, whilst in some maze
Of scrupulous argument he’s lost. A proper wife
Must screw her courage up, and, screwing him
If need be, too, force him to a decision.
A stratagem may help — I’ll tell you mine:
When my unmanly man, like the poor frog in the porridge,
Floundered and knew not which might be the path
Of best advantage, I in secret hired.
Three frumpish actresses and bade them spout
Strange riddling prophecies to get him hooked.
Soon brave ambition ruled his wavering brain;
Now all’s set for our long and peaceful reign.
George Simmers (Lady Macbeth)
No. 3023: mixing it
On Twitter recently, Lauren Collins shared ‘the cringiest portmanteau word of our time’, Fassage. The Fassage, apparently, is ‘the perfect combination of our Glo Signature facial and relaxing head, chest, arms and hand massage. Leave with your skin glowing and your body relaxed.’ I think you can do better. Let’s have your own cringeworthy portmanteau words, plus definition (totalling up 50 words). Please email up to five entries each to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 1 November.
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