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Marriage made to survive adversity.

Byline: Susan Lee

FINDING the Queen in the living room of a pensioner's council flat isn't something you come across every day.

But there she was, perched on the walnut veneer sideboard in my husband's grandparents home on Boxing Day, resplendent in pale yellow and pearls.

"It was nice of her to write," remarked Stella who, at 87, looks in better nick than her Maj.

Nice and entirely proper, too.

After all, it isn't every day that a couple celebrates 65 years of wedded bliss and, in this age of alternative relationships, civil partnerships and high divorce rates, it's going to become increasingly rare.

The Queen sent a card when they marked their 60th wedding anniversary too and next to her framed image - she's in pillar box red this time - on the wall of the flat is a photo of the happy couple taken after their wedding in 1940.

There's Dennis in his army uniform, cap set at a jaunty angle and his film star moustache clipped neatly, while Stella is all twinkly eyes in her best coat and matching hat.

Both are smiling into the camera, a black and white echo from an age gone by.

An age when men and women got married hurredly, grabbing the chance while on leave from the army or navy or air force.

An uncertain age when conflict would re-shape the world and its inhabitants.

And an age when, whatever life threw at you, you stuck together as a team.

In Stella and Dennis's case that included three years apart as he fought in the East and then decades of hard graft in mills and in service as domestic staff' damp houses and difficult times, illness and hard winters.

Good times came too, of course' holidays in Cromer when finances eased a bit, a daughter and grandchildren and Sunday afternoons at the bowling club.

But whatever happened they remained a partnership and remain one still.

They're old now and bicker as old people will, as people do who have known each other for the best part of seven decades.

Yet I look at them and admire them and can't help but wonder whether my own marriage would stand up to the same scrutiny.

Theirs isn't a marriage made in Heaven - show me one that is.

But it was made amid the kind of adversity few people understand these days.

And is all the stronger for it.

All change

SPRINTING into our local Tesco store at 10am on Christmas Eve in search of broccoli, a bottle of sherry and a light bulb (don't ask), I was rather surprised to see staff busily removing the Christmas decorations. It's true what they say: there's no room for sentiment in retail. Or maybe they were just getting ready for Easter.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 30, 2005
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