So how do you celebrate your 36th wedding anniversary?

After 36 years of marriage, Lynne still has a bit of the old come hither... though rather more of th

After 36 years of marriage, Lynne still has a bit of the old come hither... though rather more of the old, get thee hence. - Credit: Archant

We have just marked our 36th wedding anniversary...

And before I continue, let us pause to give a moment’s appreciation for all the chaps out there who are muttering: “Thirty six years? You get less for murder.”

So what did we do to celebrate this annual event? Nothing.

It’s not that either of us forgot about it; who could forget the grey, drizzly June day on which I made my marriage vows (except for the “obey” bit which was never going to slip by the censor), walked down the aisle to I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside (it was supposed to be the grand march from Aida) and had a row with the photographer. My husband’s uncle Norman, who was the butler at Helmingham Hall, in Suffolk, directed proceedings at the reception with the practised ease of a professional, and a stranger in the Ladies at the hotel told me I looked nice and asked if it was a special occasion.

After the official reception we had a party at our house and had to turf everyone out of the house at 6am.

After all this time we’ve celebrated in virtually every way we can think of and I’m not, of course, talking about the options set out in the Kama Sutra. It isn’t that we’re not interested – in anniversaries not positions – we just can’t be bothered. It’s a faff. It’s bad enough that we each have a birthday every year.

Frankly the greetings card industry is getting out of hand. “Thank you, teacher”, “Happy Halloween” (they rarely use the apostrophe). What next? “World Cup greetings”; “Congratulations on making the New Year’s Honours”; “Sorry you lost your seat in the European Parliament”; “Sympathy on your parking ticket”; “Love your new shoes”?

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Over more than 30 years of exchanging anniversary cards, I think we may have exhausted the possibilities. We have never really been lovey,-lovey-dovey with florid rhymes and quilted hearts. Not that we are unromantic. When they were young, our children were appalled by any public signs of affection their parents might show one another, such as holding hands. They would drop behind us as far as they could, willing passers-by not to associate them with the embarrassing couple up ahead. Even at home my son would yell an “Old people kissing” alert before hurtling from the room and hiding out in his bedroom until he judged it was probably over.

After 35 anniversaries, we’ve done it all, within our budget. We’ve had candlelit dinners at local restaurants, just the two of us. You know you’ve had enough of them when you invite friends to join you. I can remember the days when I only ordered food with garlic in it if he was having garlic too. Not any more.

We’ve exchanged small gifts. I’ve had flowers, he’s had chocolates. I’ve had chocolates, he’s had chocolates.

We’ve had outings to the theatre, the cinema and enjoyed weekends of passion... by ‘eck those games of gin rummy can get heated. Sometimes, I didn’t even pack my nightie.

We’ve had walks in the countryside, wandering through meadows, sitting on a bank where the wild thyme grows etc, pulling the petals off daisies: “He loves me, he loves me not...” and cheating if it looked as if it would turn out badly. We’ve whispered sweet nothings and sweet somethings.

But it’s 36 years. In that time I’ve had certain wimmin’s things surgically attended to, grown a few unwelcome hairs on my chin, gone grey in places and hit menopause. Fortunately, I am as lovely today as I was when we married, just differently lovely.

My husband too has undergone a certain amount of hair redistribution over the years but like so many men, has merely become more distinguished. I also like the addition of his new, Paul Hollywood beard – he has grown it for his role as Pope Urban VIII in a musical. Fortunately he isn’t a method actor.

So 36 years might have passed by unnoticed if it hadn’t been for the modern list of anniversary symbols. One website has 44 years as the “groceries” anniversary. “Happy anniversary, darling, let’s go to Tesco.”

More traditionally, 36 years is bone china. So my husband made me cup of tea. I do love him.