Ann's happy to be Strictly a singleton
Songs Of Praise BBC1
"I'M GOING to be looking at something for which I'm famous," said Ann Widdecombe, guest host of Songs Of Praise. And she didn't mean that ill-fated stint as host of Blind Date.
"As one of Britain's well known spinsters," she explained, "I'm going to explore being single." Songs Of Praise was the preferred outlet, as she's a bit too old for a Club 18-30 break to Ibiza.
Widdecombe has never been against marriage – it's just that, like Edith in Downton Abbey, it's never quite happened.
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"When I was young, I assumed I'd marry," she revealed. "And when I was a student at Oxford, I was in love. Again, I assumed I'd marry – but it just didn't happen." She and Inspector Morse just weren't compatible.
"So," Ann continues, "I've never walked up a church aisle in a long white dress." It's one of the few things we have in common.
"For me, being single was a matter of chance and choice. Chance, because Mr Right didn't happen to come along. Choice, because it was never a priority to go out looking for him." No, why go looking for your soulmate when you could be listening to a late night debate on fishing quotas?
Widdecombe met another who'd chosen the single life, Father Christopher Jamison, described as "TV's favourite monk" – although I expect Cadfael might have something to say about that.
"Most people think I'm quite mad," she told him. "Am I?" He said not. Then again, I don't suppose he got to see her on Strictly in the monastery.
"As a single woman, I don't think my life is in any way incomplete," she concurred, dismissively thumbing a copy of Bridget Jones's Diary (Songs Of Praise is no place for Fifty Shades Of Grey). "But some people assume I can't possibly be contented, that I must be missing out on something."
I suppose it's just that most of us like someone to rub our feet in the evening.
"But," she carried on, "that's nothing new. William Shakespeare, in both the Taming Of The Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing, referred to the old saying that 'women who die unmarried are destined to lead the apes into hell'." Although what Wayne Rooney's got to do with it, I don't know.
"And still," she continued, "spinsters are portrayed as lonely and bitter, like Miss Haversham, or simply as just desperate for a man, like Bridget Jones."
In the end, Ann convinced us that being single is not the tragedy oft portrayed. For one thing, people are resilient, and for another you don't have to share your hymnbook.