Tim Dowling: Oprah and I turned up too early for the royal wedding

Tim Dowling
Oprah Winfrey arrives for the royal wedding. Photograph: Ian West/AFP/Getty Images

My wife is on holiday in Spain, riding horses with a friend. I’ve been on my own for about 24 hours, and I have already started talking to myself. With no one in the room to look up occasionally and say, “What are you going on about now?”, my exterior monologue has become a ceaseless narration. The dog thinks I’m talking to the dog. The dog is wrong.

On Saturday morning I find myself alone in front of the TV, watching preliminary coverage of the royal wedding. I find it particularly compelling because absolutely nothing is happening. There are still almost two hours to go before kick-off.

“Oprah and I have made the same mistake,” I say, to no one. “We both turned up way too early for this thing.”

A minute passes.

“Still,” I say, to no one. “Nice day for it.” At the other end of the sofa, the dog lifts its head and looks at me expectantly.

“This isn’t about you,” I say. “This is about a couple of crazy kids trying to make a go of things.” The dog crosses the sofa and lays a paw on my forearm.

“This is not about food in a bowl,” I say. “Nor is it about the park. The park will still be there after the vows have been made, and the rings…”

Two shoes fly into the room and crash to the floor, a stride apart. The youngest one follows, stepping into one shoe, then the other.

“Why are you up?” I say. “Where are you going?”

“Work,” he says.

“Work?” I say. “You’ll miss the wedding!”

“Why would I want to watch the royal wedding?” he says.

“It’s easy to be cynical,” I say. “I’m no fan of the monarchy, but on this occasion there are wider cultural…”

“It’s just people saying stuff about hats,” he says.

“At the moment, yes,” I say. “Also flowers. Also shoes. Nothing’s really happened yet.”

“I’ll be back late,” he says.

An hour later I am still in front of the TV, with the dog’s chin on my knee.

“What does bodycon mean?” I say, to no one. The dog raises a weary eyebrow. My phone rings: it’s my wife.

“We’re just strolling through a picturesque Spanish town,” she says. “On our way to a tapas bar for a light lunch.”

“We’re just waiting to see the dress,” I say.

“Who?” she says.

“Me, the Clooneys, Oprah. It’s the royal wedding.”

“Oh my God,” she says.

“It’s actually amazing,” I say.

“He’s watching the royal wedding,” she says to her friend. The friend asks a question I can’t hear.

“Are you doing it for work?” my wife says.

“No,” I say.

“You’re just sitting there by yourself watching it for no reason?”

“I didn’t expect to become this involved,” I say.

“Have you gone mad?” she says.

“If you were here, you’d be glued to this,” I say.

“No I wouldn’t,” she says.

“You would,” I say. “The hats alone are…”

“I’m not going to discuss the royal wedding with you,” she says. “I’m on holiday. This afternoon we’re going on a lovely ride into the mountains, and then…”

“The bride is here!” I shout. “The bride is in the church!” Without warning my throat closes, and my eyes begin to tear.

“I’m in Spain,” my wife says. “I don’t give a shit about the…”

“I have to go,” I say, hoarsely.

That afternoon my friend Pat invites himself round to watch the FA Cup final. The novelty of having another human being in the room is very soothing. I actually talk less than I do when I’m alone. By the start of the second half we have slipped into a companionable silence – phones out, glasses on, Chelsea up by one.

“Did you watch the wedding?” Pat says.

“I did, yeah,” I say.

“So did I,” he says.

“I sat here and watched it, by myself,” I say. United fire in a dangerous shot, but Courtois gathers it easily.

“Did you watch the whole thing?” Pat says.

“Yeah, I did,” I say.

“Me too,” he says.