Who says marriage isn't a laughing matter?

Anyone who believes husbands and wives speak the same language is from a different planet

Share

My quote of the week goes to the marriage registrar from north London who said that it wasn't difficult to spot couples who were tying the knot for convenience rather than for love. Latest figures reveal that phoney marriages between illegal immigrants looking to regularise their status by paying British nationals or, at any rate, someone with residential rights vast sums of money to marry them are on the increase. There were more than 10,000 bogus marriages in Britain last year, mainly in London, and they're on the increase.

My quote of the week goes to the marriage registrar from north London who said that it wasn't difficult to spot couples who were tying the knot for convenience rather than for love. Latest figures reveal that phoney marriages between illegal immigrants looking to regularise their status by paying British nationals or, at any rate, someone with residential rights vast sums of money to marry them are on the increase. There were more than 10,000 bogus marriages in Britain last year, mainly in London, and they're on the increase.

For the record, 254,400 bona fide couples got married in England last year, including my hairdresser whose bridesmaids, she told me, were all dressed like the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. How exactly was that, I asked her, remembering a production I once saw on the Edinburgh Fringe where Moth and Cobweb were topless and Pease Blossom had a fluorescent pink G-string with flashing lights that said Mind the Gap. "Lilac chiffon with wings made from the same devoré velvet as the groom's waistcoat," said Tracey dreamily, "and we continued the fairy and magic theme right through to the reception with wands and silver stars incorporated in all the floral displays."

When it comes to marriage it's the little things that count, and when it comes to sussing out a bogus marriage, said the registrar, it's being able to spot the little inconsistencies that don't quite add up. Like, for instance, the bride not knowing where her fiancé lives or him having no idea how old she is or - and this is the real giveaway - that they don't actually speak the same language.

Hang on, where did I say this registrar came from - north London? Sorry, I meant Mars because anyone who believes that any husband and wife speak the same language must come from a different planet. It's probably easier in fact not to speak the same language because that way at least you do have a genuine excuse for not being able to understand one another.

Like the Ukrainian waitress that friends and I fixed up with a Welsh-speaking engineer from Swansea to save her from being sent home to Kiev and a life of grinding poverty. This was back in the early 1980s but the story hasn't changed much. Her visa had run out and the Home Office wouldn't renew it, so we had to come up with a husband fairly quickly and cheaply. Lena didn't have a penny. She sent all her wages home and the rest of us were skint, but people were a lot nicer in those days and a lot less mercenary.

It helped, I suppose, that Lena was pretty. So anyway we asked around and eventually came up with this quiet Welsh speaker who said that he'd do it for £50 and an MOT for his Morris Minor. Twenty years on they're still happily married, which is more than I can say for the majority of my friends and, come to think of it, myself. We knew everything about our other halves when we took the plunge - address, age, shoe size, dietary requirements - and much good it did us. Of course I appreciate we're talking about two entirely different things here: breaking the law is not the same as breaking one's marriage vows.

And you certainly can't laugh about it in the same way as you can laugh about marriage. I was going to say that former rabbi Jackie Mason, now one of the funniest stand-up comedians in the business, had the best marriage jokes, and then I remembered Henny Youngman, also Jewish. Last Christmas someone gave me one of those tiny stocking-filler books devoted exclusively to Henny Youngman one-liners, most of them about marriage. Why do men usually die before their wives? Because they want to. First man: My wife's an angel. Second man: You're lucky, mine's still alive. Do you know what it means to come home to a wife who gives you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you've gone to the wrong house.

OK, OK, I know that the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage is not strictly a laughing matter and you'd be better advised to race off to Relate or buy a copy of John Gray's trite but still thought-provoking best seller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, but given the choice I'd prefer to watch a Woody Allen film about the incompatibility of men and women.

I think there's room for just one more Youngman classic. The secret of making your marriage last? he says, I'll tell you. Twice a week we go to a restaurant, candles, music, a little wine, good food. She goes Tuesdays. I go Fridays.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: The Sussex teenager killed fighting in Syria

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit