They’re a treat, aren’t they? They tend to come in two varieties. First, there’s the “F**k you and your whore!” couple, normally fuelled with plenty of drink, where she doesn’t care who knows it, roaring at him about his infidelities and, occasionally, sexual inadequacies. All around the pub, conversations pause not in embarrassment but in an attempt to earwig on this juicy slice of life. He doesn’t put up much of a defence, normally deciding to build a defensive position around a single statement (“But I rang you! I rang you!”) which he believes absolves him of responsibility, or alternatively, he goes on the attack with a minor point that he attempts to magnify (“I saw the way you were lookin’ at him! I saw yez!”). It normally ends with him storming out because “his head is melted” and her realisation that the whole pub has been watching Eastenders: The Live Show. She then attempts to restore a few grammes of dignity by improved posture, walking back to the bar holding her alcopop like she’s a debutante at the Savoy. Kate Midleteon in leopardskin.
Then there’s the middle class couple, who manage the marvellous two-hander of being vicious to each other whilst on no account causing a scene. You’ll see them in professional workplaces, hospitals or law firms, standing in a corner. He’ll be looking coldly at her, wishing death, she’ll be hissing through gritted teeth. A colleague will pass, and both smile and nod, perhaps a playful remark, and then back to it. He’ll have an affair with one of the office juniors, her with his best friend.
They’ll stay together, however, for the good of the mortgage, or at least until David McWilliams says that property prices are rebounding.