Claudia Winkleman: Take It From Me

'Sure, I want us to be comfortable and not keep secrets. But finishing a beer and then belching isn't my idea of fun'
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The Independent Online

So Prince William has dumped his girlfriend of four years because he says the fun's gone out of the relationship. Uh. Hello. Pardon me? Your Royal Highness, the phone's ringing. It's Planet Earth and she wants a word. Fun? Fun? There's no fun in relationships.

OK - that's not strictly true. I will agree that the first bit can be not totally unpleasant.

There's the initial meeting and the heart quickening and the stomach-churning excitement of it all. This lasts for at least a couple of weeks, often months if, um, you both hold off from actually doing it for a bit. This is when the air is full of tense anticipation. The kisses are so fantastic they're almost painful - even remembering one of those clinches in the middle of the day almost a week after it's happened will still make you grin like a buffoon.

Just thinking about their hands or hair or voice will make you blush, wince and go ever so slightly dizzy all at the same time.

If someone says something that rhymes with your new lover's name then your heart gallops, your stomach flips and you rush to call them. This is the period when love songs actually mean something. Even the worst tracks feel full of significance. Foreigner, Ultravox, the Hucknall - bring them on.

You've told everyone you've ever met all about your new boyfriend or girlfriend. The person at the other end of 118 118 knows their name and star sign and what they love eating. You do anything to fit together, so without even meaning to he suddenly thinks he's always wanted to dedicate a song on national radio and she, without showing any signs before, is suddenly fascinated by Formula One.

Then, out of the blue, with absolutely no warning, he'll say something like: "Joe called. He wants to go out tonight. You don't mind, do you?" Or she'll say, without even thinking about it: "I do wish you'd pick up your socks." And that's it - the fun has started, very slowly, to ebb away.

It's called Stage Two. The couple don't realise they're getting bored yet; it's just that other people are brought in for fun and it's not enough to lie naked on a blanket in front of a radiator for hours any more. Little weekends holding hands in a dodgy bed and breakfast by a motorway cease to be attractive, and big barbecues with lots of friends feel like a better option. Cosy suppers are swapped for cinema seats - classic Stage Two behaviour. You are very slowly running out of things to talk about.

Stage Three comes pretty fast. It's usually well and truly arrived by the time your boyfriend has decided it's OK to burp in front of you. Whoa there. Sure, I want us to be comfortable and not keep secrets from each other, but casually finishing a beer and licking bits of garlic bread off his fingers and then belching is not massively fun. And in classic Stage Three World you don't let it go, kiss him on the nose and say: "I love it when you burp, you big, strong bear. Take me to bed and do it again." Instead, you say something along the lines of: "You're an animal. I knew I shouldn't have moved in. My mum was right about you all along." Now we're a couple of years in, and the only fun to be had is if you're apart from each other. He goes off with his mates and gets drunk and leers at other women and you sit around drinking cocktails with your girls taking the piss out of your men.

You've officially told each other every story there is to tell and the only way you can make stuff more interesting is if you embellish and lie and fabricate.

At this point you've told him you came fourth in the freestyle gymnastics section at the Sydney Olympics and he has convinced you that he once wrestled three crocodiles. Whatever. The worst bit is you don't really care either way.

This is the perfect time, then, to do something that will give you a new subject to talk about - getting married will take up at least two years. Who's coming? Where are they sitting? What are you wearing? Where are you going on honeymoon? These will do for 12 months beforehand, and then afterwards you've got how it went, who behaved themselves, who didn't and what are you going to do with seven gravy boats.

When that's all done with, the next thing you need to do is have a baby. Choosing names, preparing for the 24/7 vomiting, dealing with the in-laws and deciding whether or not to buy a butterfly or a tractor rattle take up nine months and by the time it's come you both fall in love with the new person anyway. Job done. The baby gets the hiccups or rolls over on to a squeaky toy and life is magically fun again.

So, William - it was four years, she was still brushing her hair for you, you still left clubs together giggling, and she was still pretending she liked watching polo. That's as much fun as it gets - if you need to have more joy in your life, then get a Game Boy.

Not that I'm grumpy my husband got in at three in the morning or anything.

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