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A dishwasher proof, romantic solution

It is often said that arguments start over mere trifles.

The big issues are wisely avoided for our regular spats. We all have our favourite topics; relations of mine have an ongoing theme of ‘Who will empty the dishwasher?’ Other family items (especially at Christmas) include the best way of cooking roast potatoes.

Many a divorce has been initiated by this serious theme. Possibly the most favoured topic is the direction we take when we visit Aunt May. Sat navs have not altogether resolved this argument in the car because even with the most up to-date technological help there is still room for disagreement because of the huge variety of routes to choose from. Who is the best driver? This is not usually an open argument but the question tends to simmer under the surface. If you still wear yellow driving gloves it may give a clue as to what you think. Men believe that they are better drivers; it somehow goes with the territory, like fatherhood or growing a beard. Sadly, this is not borne out by the accident statistics. Never let it be said that The Eye traffics in ill-considered ideas. Recent surveys show that young men aged 16-19 are almost twice as likely to have an accident as their girlfriends (9.2 per cent as opposed to 5.3). Women aged 20-29 are a much better risk than men of the same age group (4.1 per cent as opposed to 2.0). The risk flattens out with the onset of age. At 70 it’s about equal; men have an almost equal risk factor as women (4.1 per cent to 4.0).

There are no advantages to seniority. It is well known that women (young or old) are more likely to ask the way than men - something to do with the brain we are told by a recent clinical trial - a reasonable cause for dispute?

Why do I quote these statistics? Well, we are all looking for that story book relationship that can bring peace of mind and a Happy Ever After feeling. I am not sure I can offer all that on this page but I can suggest part of an answer. Valentine’s Day can help. There are some hard nose cynics who say that Valentine’s Day is only for the (foolish) romantics. Get past 21 and they consider it to be done and dusted. ‘Romantic, commercial codswallop!’ they cry.

Well, I have news for these cynics. Try making a special date on 14 February at a local restaurant with your partner. Often they make a special deal for the romantically inclined and go that extra mile with the table decorations. Try arguing over the best route to Chipping Norton over a dish of crispy duck and a glass of house red - or who is the best driver over a plate of fish and chips. Not only will you support a local restaurant and those who work in them but the best bit is there will be no fight over who empties the dishwasher!

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tony Kane is founder of Time & Leisure Media Group and editor of the Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Putney editions of Time & Leisure Magazine.