Having asked a dear friend for advice last month, I was touched when she phoned to cheer me up by telling me that it had been her 42nd wedding anniversary that week-end and for the first time ever, her husband had not given her flowers. In the light of my recent experience, she briefly wondered if perhaps there was a sinister reason for this and pointed out his omission. However, he was very contrite: he had indeed only forgotten, bogged down even more deeply than usual in pessimistic thoughts about the fate of our country and the world in general. He has always had these thoughts but increasingly since his retirement three years ago. My friend has also at times wondered why he sits up late at night and watches old movies or the fashion channel, long after she has gone to bed. They are Italian by birth and inclination and it is really that he just loves clothes and to hear a little Italian spoken in the background. (I can't hazard a guess as to whether he likes the tall, skinny, flat-chested models). My friend says this is her worry as she is only 5' exactly and 'nicely-rounded' and could never wear those clothes. He is perhaps a tad under 5' . She did her best to cheer him up by putting on some vinyls from the 1960s and the two of them spent a couple of happy hours dancing together in their lounge. He bought some flowers the next day.