Best-laid plans don’t only go awry for mice and menÉ

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - HELLO! -

The very worst thing you can do when you have a knotty prob­lem is to wake up in the mid­dle of the night to think it through. If an ap­ple had dropped on Isaac New­ton’s head in the small hours, he wouldn’t have dis­cov­ered grav­ity – he’d have de­cided to make him­self a nice crum­ble.

Yet here I am at 4am, Mr Dear snor­ing gen­tly be­side me. I have wo­ken up with my head full of the Clare-andBen prob­lem, that be­ing (and reg­u­lar read­ers might care to make a quick cuppa at this point) that they are a nice, young cou­ple, both vol­un­teers at our char­ity shop, who are hav­ing doubts about their feel­ings for each other.

By one of those co­in­ci­dences that mag­a­zine colum­nists pounce upon with pa­thetic grat­i­tude, both have been pre­sented with at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tives. Both are now won­der­ing whether the other is re­ally Mr/Mrs Right. Both con­fided sep­a­rately in me, and I made the rash er­ror of promis­ing to help. (At this point, we might safely wel­come back reg­u­lar read­ers.)

As I say, the odd­est things oc­cur to you in the small hours. And what oc­curs to me is that Mr Dear’s sug­ges­tion about Jeeves and Wooster, which I dis­missed at the time, might be at least worth con­sid­er­ing. Jeeves, he said, was al­ways help­ing Ber­tie Wooster’s friends with their ro­man­tic prob­lems. Why not see if one of his ideas might work?

Here, then, is the sort of plan we are talk­ing about:

1 Ber­tie once ad­vised lovelorn friend Bingo Lit­tle, who wished to im­press Hono­ria Glos­sop, that Hono­ria’s lit­tle brother should be pushed into a lake. Ber­tie would do the push­ing while Bingo, hid­den in bushes, would emerge quite sud­denly, res­cue the boy and be smoth­ered in grate­ful kisses. (Un­for­tu­nately, Bingo was dis­tracted at the cru­cial mo­ment by an at­trac­tive young new­comer.)

2 Gussie Fink-Not­tle wanted to pro­pose to Made­line Bas­sett (although good­ness knows why – she al­ways struck me as wet­ter than the wet-fish counter at a Lake District su­per­mar­ket on a wet Wed­nes­day) but couldn’t bring him­self to pop the ques­tion. So Jeeves added al­co­hol to tee­to­tal Gussie’s or­ange juice to give him Dutch courage. Un­for­tu­nately, Ber­tie had had the same idea, and Gussie, com­pletely plas­tered, made a right chump of him­self.

3 Ber­tie once ad­vised his friend Tuppy Glos­sop, who was go­ing through a sticky patch with Ber­tie’s cousin An­gela Travers, to push aside his din­ner to give the im­pres­sion that he was pin­ing.

There were more: gifts of wa­ter spaniels to ro­bust coun­try girls; join­ing the Bol­she­viks to im­press the daugh­ter of a po­lit­i­cal cam­paigner; punc­tur­ing hot-wa­ter bot­tles in the dead of night – but all of these plans are, of course, com­pletely un­suit­able for ap­ply­ing to mod­ern ro­mance.

‘Push­ing Clare into a lake might work,

I sup­pose…’

Push­ing Clare into a lake might work, I sup­pose (and to un­der­stand quite why I sup­pose this, you need to be read­ing this at 4am) but the only re­ally suitable stretch of wa­ter is the park’s pad­dling pool. Per­suad­ing Clare to stand at the edge would be tricky enough, but once I’d shoved her in the wa­ter she’d merely climb back out com­plain­ing that her an­kles were a bit damp…

By 7.30am, or­der – or what passes for it in the depths of my imag­i­na­tion – has been re­stored. ‘It will have to be Plan B,’ I an­nounce.

‘Did you say tea?’ asks Mr Dear drowsily. ‘Mmggh, yrrrh, OK. You stay there and I’ll fetch us both a cup.’

‘No, not tea – Plan B. I’m go­ing to tell Ben to buck his ideas up.’

‘Oh,’ says Mr D wearily. ‘That.’

The ac­tion now shifts to the park, where Ben and I are sit­ting on a bench, eat­ing sand­wiches. (The edi­tor al­ways likes it when I in­tro­duce a bit of glam­our.) ‘I ex­pect you’re won­der­ing,’ I be­gin, ‘why I sug­gested here.’

‘Yes, I was won­der­ing,’ says Ben. ‘I mean, it’s a bit cold. Aren’t you cold?’

‘I brought you here,’ I carry on, ‘be­cause I want to ask you some­thing.’

‘If you want help with your phone again, you could just have asked me in the shop.’

‘It’s noth­ing to do with my phone…’ ‘Ac­tu­ally, while we’re away from every­body else,’ says Ben, putting down his beef-and-horse­rad­ish, ‘there’s some­thing I want to ask you. You were so kind when I was talk­ing about Clare the other day, and, you know, it’s not the sort of thing I can eas­ily talk to my par­ents about.’

‘I’m sure that’s not true, but any­thing I can do to help.’

‘Well, Rosie, it’s like this.’ He takes a deep breath. ‘Ob­vi­ously, I’m re­ally upset about it, but Clare is, I think, see­ing some­one else.’

Bang goes Plan

B! The ques­tion is, what’s Plan C?

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