I could stare at the spectacle that is other peoples marriages all day long.

Yesterday I was skulking around the murder mystery section of a bookstore alongside a man of vintage pedigree. I rooted around the Agatha Raisins, while he dithered over various more challenging tomes.

And then our strange peace was disturbed by his wife. A small, neat, carefully manicured old harpy, who tutted as she turned the corner into our literary silence and told her husband to hurry up. He turned, surprised, to look at her, and explained that he could not decide between two mysteries of Italian descent.

She said, you have got enough books. He said, one can NEVER have too many books.

She said, you should finish the book you are reading before buying another one. In fact, she went on, you should send all those bloody books to the charity shop. 

He said, I have got about ten books on the go. She said, Exactly. You have got enough

He said, There is no such thing as enough and if my books go, your shoes are going with them.

His wife stared him. : a stand off reaped in too much history. Then she arched one carefully drawn eyebrow, arranged her tango colour lips in what I can only imagine she considered a saucy smile, and said, oh but my shoes benefit us both.

He looked utterly bewildered.

While I turned a snort into a cough and considered telling him it was never too late for divorce.