Monday 6 June 2011

Being Single

It’s been nearly 23 years since I married my lovely wife, so I am a bit out of touch with being single. Last week, however, gave me a taste of what it can be like and how simple things can become difficult.

I was given leave – even encouraged by my wife and family (should I be worried?) – to take a few days break for some serious hill-walking. It’s something I used to do often, before family and other priorities intervened. So off I went to the Yorkshire Dales.

I have no problem with my own company, although I’m glad to strike up brief conversations with other walkers during the day. However, it was not the walking that was the problem. It was the evenings.

On the first evening, I queued in a very busy pub to place an order for food. Having reached the front of the queue, I was ready to order when confronted with a problem by the barman. ‘What’s your table number?’ ‘I don’t have one’, I replied. ‘I need a table number to place your order?’ he said. ‘How can I save a table when I’m on my own and have to queue?’ I asked. And so the conversation went on. Eventually, we reached a compromise. I left my place at the front of the queue, got the number of the last vacant table (outside) and he allowed me back to the front to place my order. Fairly soon, a rather modest portion for the price arrived at my table.

I decided to try the other pub in the village for my dessert. ‘What’s your table number?’ asked the barmaid. ‘Oh, no, here we go again,’ I thought. We agreed on a table number, and eventually my sticky toffee pudding arrived.

The next evening, I tried another village pub. No problem with the ordering this time but, boy, was it boring waiting the half hour on my own for the food to turn up!

I know that many people are very content with being single. My experiences reminded me, though, that simple things like eating out alone can become difficult.

Is there too much of an assumption in our society that people live in couples or families? Should we be more actively inclusive of single people and their needs?

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