The Lost Humour Columns

There’s More Romance in a Subterranean Refuge than My House

As I write this it’s been two weeks since the Chilean miners were rescued.  And what a joyous, inspiring television spectacle that was, wasn’t it?  I joined about a billion people watching the live coverage worldwide as the miners were slowly shifted from their underground refuge to the surface.  The whole world held its breath as each man made the slow, cramped journey from the cave to the surface to be reunited with his family.  As far away as many of us were, we all felt we were witnessing something miraculous, something that mattered to all of us.

I found myself wiping moisture from my cheeks.  “What’s this?” I thought.  “My face is leaking!”

It started while Cristina Nunez and her two daughters awaited the emergence of Claudio Yanez, Cristina’s partner and the father of the two girls.  When you actually get right down to it, watching some people stare at a hole in the ground while they wait for the capsule to emerge is not really that interesting.  The only exciting bit happens when the tube emerges into the sunlight, at which point cheering, chanting, hugging and emotional crying can all commence.  For this reason, news channels put on a whole lot of voice-over about the personal lives of the miners while the tube made its long, slow journey between refuge and surface, which is how we all found out that Nunez, who had previously refused a proposal from Yanyez, sent him a little note during the long dark days of the miners’ confinement in the refuge.  That note was a proposal which Yanyez promptly accepted.

If you’re not tearing up while reading this, you are a callous individual of no discernable soul who probably owned a Victorian workhouse in a past life.  Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a story?

But that’s not why I was crying.  I was crying because I couldn’t help reflecting on the fact that nothing that romantic will ever happen to me.

I’m an academic.  My life being what it is, I will most likely at some stage fall in love with another academic.  The closest I could get would probably be something like this:

“Help, darling, I appear to be trapped in my office under this massive avalanche of papers!”

“Oh dear, oh dear.  How will you ever get out?”

“I don’t know, but can you please forward my manuscript to the publisher’s?  It’s on the hall table.  And I’ve managed to email the Dean from my phone—he’s on the health-and-safety committee, and will surely be keen to extract me as soon as possible.”


(Many months later)

“How’s it going in there?  Made any progress?”

“None—my phone battery is very close to failing, and my secret supply of biscuits from the second drawer is nearly out.  I can’t wait to look upon your sweet face once more!”

“Have you tried digging your way out?”

“My arms are too weak from all that time I spent before the avalanche typing on the computer to finish that manuscript I asked you to send—by the way, did you send it?”

“Of course.”

“Have they said anything about it yet?”

“Of course not.”

“Curses!  I must call and harangue them in a politely strained manner.”

“But won’t that mean your phone will run out and you won’t be able to talk to me?”

“Oh, yes.  There is that.  But I’m sure you can get on without me while the health-and-safety committee finally decides on the best way to tunnel access under my desk.”

“Too right, darling.” (Click.)

“Darling?  Hello?  Hello?  Darling…?”

And this is why I will always be found watching televised coverage of other people’s romantic stories, leaving tear stains on my journal article drafts and eating from the secret supply of biscuits instead of out creating my own.  (Romantic stories, that is.  I happen to bake an excellent biscuit.)