Love is... always having to say you’re sorry (trust me)

Online question and answer forum Ask Jeeves last week published its top 10 imponderables.

While it normally gets asked questions about how to remove nasty stains – such as spaghetti bolognese splash-back on work shirts (Ask Lynne replies: Immediately apply small blob of neat washing-up liquid and wash as normal) – it also gets more abstract inquiries such as “What is the meaning of life?”

Others in the top 10 of Jeeves Unanswerables include:

• Do blondes have more fun?

• Is there anybody out there?


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• What is love?

• Who is the most famous person in the world?

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• What is the secret to happiness?

Jeeves is inviting responses and offering a prize of an iPad to the best 10 answers.

“What is an iPad?” did not figure on the list but I am told it is not an answer to incontinence.

It is usually held that 42 is the solution to the meaning of life, the universe and everything, as revealed in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Having selected it as one of my lottery numbers, I can exclusively reveal it didn’t change my life, the universe or anything.

But how satisfying it would be if there was a numerical solution to all these impossibles.

What is love? 121.

What is the secret to happiness? 1,000,000 – or 1966 (England only).

Is there any out there? 1984 (if “yes”, then maybe 999).

Who is the most famous person in the world? Of living people it has to be The Queen, surely. No one else has their image on quite so much currency or as many stamps.

And no other person on the planet has had such an unchanging hair-do.

If Her Majesty was to suddenly decide to go blonde, have hair extensions and get out the straighteners we would have people all over the planet refusing to accept British bank notes.

As a lifelong brunette, I resent the idea that blondes have more fun.

If the Saxons at university had more fun than me then I should love to know what they were doing.

Oh, those college years – when the finest intellects come together to discuss great matters of philosophy, ethics, the meaning of life and sex.

My friend Eric, who is (well was) blonde, was party to a conspiracy to confound a fellow student. While the young man was sound asleep in his room in university halls of residence after a party, a cohort of undergraduate engineering students removed the door of his room and then took out every piece of furniture, reconstructing the contents of his berth on the lawns in the middle of a quadrangle of residential blocks. Lastly, they carried him, in his bed, out on to the grass and there he spent the rest of the night, waking to the sound of a lawnmower passing six feet from his bed.

What japes.

I once wore a blonde wig but it made no appreciable difference to my life.

“Do you fancy me blonde?”

My husband looked at me contemplatively. “I don’t know,” he said eventually.

“Do you fancy me brunette?”

He looked at me contemplatively.

It didn’t really pan out as I’d hoped although, if you’re reading this, darling, you can come out now. I’m over it, honest. Love is never having to hide.

Is anybody out there? Yes, but like buses you’ll wait forever and then find a batch arrive at once. Even now, alien craft, are congregating at the outer limits of the universe before setting out on a doomed mission to civilise Planet Earth. Love is fairly subjective, depending on the numbers involved and happiness often depends on the answer to the previous question about love.

One thing love isn’t is “never having to say you’re sorry”. This was obviously dreamt up by a man who felt it wasn’t necessary.

My husband even says sorry when he doesn’t know what he’s done wrong.

But it’s ok, because I’m always happy to tell him.

The questions that have stymied me over the years are much more prosaic.

They include my five-year-old son’s query on seeing me naked (yes, he seems to have come through the trauma all right, thank you): “Mummy, why haven’t you got any bones in your tummy?”

Twenty-three years and 23 sit-ups later, I can confirm I still have no bones in my tummy.

Children are the most gifted and artless askers of impossible questions.

“Is heaven down the toilet?” one small relative inquired curiously after learning how the goldfish (deceased) had been despatched.

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