Skating on thin ice

Posted March 08, 2011

Skating on thin ice

A man should never take it upon himself to defend his wife’s honour unless he’s sure it will be appreciated.

Denise Welch was voted off Celebrities on Ice at the weekend. But before she glided back to her day job as a Loose Woman, the judge, Jason Gardiner had a few unkind comments to make about her skating skills.  Before we knew what was happening, Denise’s husband had leapt onstage and started giving him an earful. The altercation fell short of any fisticuffs but now Denise is saying that she wishes her husband had punched him. Is she serious? I don’t know. But her response highlights the problem with macho acts of chivalry: you’re never sure how they’re going to go down with the very person you’re trying to impress.

The debacle reminded me of an incident a few years back. I was in a restaurant with a group of friends.  One man, who had clearly had a few glasses of wine too many, began making loud comments about one of the female guests. He was giving her advice on how she could improve the shape of her figure. Everyone was either politely pretending not to hear or trying to engage him in some diversionary discussion. But it wasn’t working.

The woman’s husband, who was seated at the end of the table, had slowly been turning a molten-lava red from the neck upwards. Eventually he couldn’t take any more and erupted into action. He threw his chair back, flung his napkin to the floor and said, “Enough! You have insulted my wife and I shan’t stand for that. Come on darling, we’re leaving right now.” All this was delivered in a plummy theatrical voice. We knew things had turned serious  because he normally speaks with a broad Ulster accent. His tearful wife had no option but to gather up her things and follow him out through the crowds of gawping diners.

I marvelled at his old style chivalry although opinions were divided amongst the other women at the table. Some believed, like Denise, that he should have decked him. Others said he should have laughed it off.

An hour later we all left the restaurant having finished our meal and made our way to the nearby taxi rank. And that’s where we found the indignant husband still huffing and puffing.  He should have given his exit strategy more thought because it was only after he stormed out that he realised they had no transport home. It was sleeting and his wife, who hadn’t brought a coat, was now soaked through, shivering violently and glowering at her ‘knight in shining armour’.

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