I have a young friend who has got engaged this week. She is in her late twenties and has been with her boy friend for seven years last week-end. To celebrate their seventh anniversary he suggested that while she was at work on Saturday morning he would pack a picnic and when she came home they would go out somewhere.
She duly arrived home and they set off. The venue was a really beautiful garden which is open to the public at this time of the year. He laid out the picnic on a rug - he had prepared it all from the smoked salmon to the champagne (he works for a wine merchant).
She sat fiddling with her phone (her words) until he told her to stop and turn around to look at him. He was on one knee with a diamond ring in his hand. Of course, after seven years of living together, she accepted - and found that he had asked her father's permission and gone through all the formalities.
How different things were in my day!! I don't remember any of my contemporaries living with a boy friend. I sat here at lunchtime trying to think of the kind of things we did when we were courting (a long time pre pill of course.)
Much of our time (my first husband I am speaking of here and we were married in 1952) on 'dates' was spent at the cinema (winter) or rowing up the river, sitting on the bank out in the country for an hour or so and then rowing back. We had to hire the boat from Skipper Ross, who was usually to be found in the pub on the banks of the Brayford Pool in Lincoln. We had to open the door and shout for Skipper Ross, who would hire his rowing boats out. All pretty innocent by today's standards - but the fear of pregnancy hung heavy in the air in those days.
As to my second courting days with the farmer. He was still milking his milk herd when we were courting, so it consisted of watching him milk and walking with him to put the cows back in the field. Saturday nights after milking were our one night of relative 'freedom'.
How times have changed. And yet it seems to me that in spite of the co-habiting these days, young people still seem to want all the accoutrements of the old ways - the asking of the father's permission, the diamond on the finger, the down on one knee proposal.
I wish them all the best - they are a lovely couple.
Are you a romantic?