Some issues are ‘life-dividers’ – no compromise will ever work
Sheets and blankets: I have loved them always. The now ubiquitous duvet, current winner in the affections of sleepers, is to me the enemy. There is so much against it: its habit of preferring the other sleeper, and twisting over to his side. The draughts that sneak in from all directions. The inability to be either hot enough or cool enough, thus ensuring broken, bad-tempered nights. Sixty years ago a duvet was only found in a chalet hotel in Austria. The novelty was possibly enjoyed for a week. For us bedding traditionalists there is no enjoyment in duvets. They can never compare with the bliss of laundered sheets, and a choice of blankets, with which to perfect the night. I could never sleep with a man who insisted on a duvet.
Duvets are some of the greatest contemporary life-dividers. Life-dividers? The description was introduced to me by my first husband, Quentin Crewe. He was of the opinion that there are certain deeply entrenched elements of life with which people disagree so profoundly that they cannot be abandoned without disastrous results. Even for love they cannot be changed. Indeed, attempting change can result in seething, damaging resentment. Quentin’s sensible belief was that two people contemplating life together should examine carefully the life-dividers that could afflict them. Some can be negotiated without too much damage. Some definitely can’t. Best to discover all this before setting up under the same roof, he said.
High on the list of perilous life-dividers is punctuality. The punctual who brave living with the unpunctual do not know how dementing that can be unless they’ve tried it. Attempts to make such a union work are hopeless. Chivvying is fatal, as is the warning of roadworks, missing the planned train or annoying the fretting host.