The Couples – everyone we have interviewed
“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. ~Barnett R. Brickner”
We are looking for couples in every location we travel through who tell a bigger story of the place, as well as their own individual love stories. So in Alaska, we have managed to find and interview couples including Native Alaskans, through hippy homesteaders, Russian Old Believers, a former national downhill ski champion, and urban young Anchoragers. We want to find the most interesting stories, but also ones which can give us a way in to understanding each of the unique histories of the lands we visit.
We ask each couple five questions when we meet them:
· Married for:
· How they met:
· Their advice to us:
· Love is:
Those questions take us into the meanderings of a relationship – we rarely need to ask any more questions, as memories and expressions rise to the surface along the way.
A list of everyone we have interviewed during the Going the Distance journey, with a brief description (I did this very quickly so there may be some gross errors. Will update!)
- Dr Helen Fisher
interview and brainscan
- Eric Holzle
- Terry Sterrenberg
- Dr John Gottman (Seattle)
- Forest fair couples.
- Shahnti & Kyle
Newlyweds. Very in love.
- Carol and Bud
Classic Alaskan outdoor couple.
- Helen & Isaac
Inuit and Tlingkit eskimo couple.
- Nina & Denis
Russian Old Believers. Very traditional.
- Dove & Hawk
Alaskan homesteaders and hippies.
- Judy & Wendy
Teachers. Pine Marten trapper. House burnt down in fire.
- Aliy Zerkle
Musher, won the Yukon Quest 1,000 mile dogsled race.
- Eskimo Olympics: Hilma & Henry
Eskimo couple. He is virtually deaf.
- Madeleine & John
Goldminers in Dawson City. Married 64 years.
- Randy & Drew
Gay couple, adopted a son.
- Patty & Alan
- Tee & Alicia
Lesbians we met at Gay Pride then stayed with. Love ‘em.
- Dr Diana Wiley
- Dr Pepper Schwartz
Sociologist and sex therapist
- Lee & Tom
Lived a solitary life in the Alaskan outback, Kyle’s parents.
- Professor Stephanie Coontz
- Simone & Hawkins
Just engaged. Musician kids.
- Divorce Shoppe
Lawyers in Portland.
- Madras Crash
And John the weepy divorce guy.
- Dianne & John
Cool 50-somethings, still having as much fun as when they first met
Polygamist marriage guidance counsellor
- Mark Shurtleff
Attorney General for Utah
- Enoch, Katrina & Lilian
Polygamists, 30 yrs old. 10 children.
- Janet & Leonard
Industrial accident left Leonard burnt all over but the marriage survived.
- Anne B Wilde
Former plural wife. History of plural marriage.
- Terry & wives (Deborah, Valate, Christine)
50s man, 3< wives, 30< kids.
- Ivan Nielson & wives
70s man, 6< wives, 150< grandchildren.
- Austin & Lois
Motorbike couple and mates.
- Mark Beaumont
Cyclist doing same route. Filming for BBC.
- Globebusters couple on Flip
- Debbie & Carol
Hopi Indian Reservation, Hotevilla
- Vegas couples on Flip
- Elvis, Graceland chapel
Hundreds of ceremonies a year
- Dr Miki & Rabbi Mel
Rabbi and friend of Elvis. Real Vegas people, married
- Teagan & Josh
Porn star and her boyfriend.
Prostitute at Chicken Ranch, Pahrump.
- Dr Dan Wile
Creator of Collaborative Couples Therapy
- Dr John Gray
Author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
- Dr Judith Wallerstein
Author of The Good Marriage, a study on relationships which work
- Josie & Martin Brown
Authors of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr Right. Married 27 years.
- Lori Kay & Glyn
Nudists. Married 8 years, together for 20 years.
- Magan & Seth
Wine makers, Santa Barbara, met in early 40s. Married 5 years.
- Geraldine & Dominic
Struggling actor and wife. Suggestion of an affair. Married 9 years.
- Charlyne Yi
Star of Paper Heart, docu-drama about finding out what love is
- Kris & Jeff
Swingers, Founder of the Erotic University. married 20+ years.
- Erin & Davey
Newlyweds (2 weeks), long-distance romance
- Jeff & Walter
Gay boyfriends, 10 years together
- Dr Pamela Regan
Professor at California State University, expert on lust
- Nikki & Josh Hunter
Porn stars. Both “performers”. Married 11 years, through sickness and penetration.
- Hill Harper
CSI:NY star and author of The Conversation, an analysis of what is wrong with black relationships.
- Lorrie Kazan
- Catt & Brett
Presenter of E! Entertainment Channel’s Daily 10 and her new boyfriend, 4 months.
- Lula & Carl
Black couple married for 40 years and author of 50 Saturdays
- Stacey Phillips
Top LA Divorce lawyer and author of Divorce: It’s all about control
- Arielle & Brian
Alternative couple, and author of The Soulmate Secret. Married 12 years.
- Enrico Morales
Founder of Border Angels charity to help Mexicans survive the treacherous US border crossing.
- Tina & Andy
23 yr arranged marriage
- Rachel & Chris
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Guayamas, married 2 years.
- Gude & Greg
Mexican farm girl and California surfer dude, married 41 years
- Lety & Felipe
Run a restaurant on a perfect beach in Mazatlan, married 34 years.
- El Mural interview
- Guillermo Sauza
5th generation tequila producer. Recently divorced.
- Lyn (& Edward)
Eternal ex-pats, Edward Vietnam vet. Married 12 years.
- Carlos & Pano
Gay couple, 26 years together. Carlos married with kids before.
- Amelia & Porfiro
Living on Mexican housing estate. 50 years married.
- Bishop Colin Cruz
Auxilliary bishop of Mexico (under cardinal)
- Crazy Boy
Luchador. Single, in search of real love, not transient love of celebrity.
- Patty & Don
The Scientists. 36 yrs of marriage.
- Rafaela & Valente
Makers of Oaxaca’s famous black pottery. Married 45 married.
- Prensa Libre
- Rigoberta Menchu & Angel
Guatemala’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1992. Married 17 years.
- Mark Beaumont
- Evelyn & Mario
El Salvador’s former most influential rice scientist and producer and journalist wife. Married 52 years.
- Soledad & Gorgonio
Nicaraguan farmer. Married for 50+ years.
- Margarita & Alejandro
Presenter and producer of Margarita te voy a contar. Nicaragua’s top talkshow.
- Gladis & Jose Joaquin
Nicaragua’s most notable historian and his wife of 62 years.
- x & Johnny
Rainforest biologist and guide, and his childhood sweetheart wife
- Terri & Glenn
Run an inn and sustainable coffee plantation, US ex-pats
- Ana Beatriz & Pablo
CEO of Costa Rica’s biggest coffee producer and his wife. Very Catholic with some very good advice!
- Firemen of San Felix on “Que es el amor?”
- Marisa & Pablo
Second marriage, 11 years. Both worked for Panama Canal Authority for many years.
To get earnest for a moment, I don’t think I could ever have expected for the nature of this documentary to open so many doors. Perhaps it’s just the Alaskans, but people have opened up to us in a truly extraordinary way. One young couple in Anchorage said that they had been looking forward to the interview because it would spark a kind of second honeymoon. They knew that talking about what makes their relationship great, and why they love each other, inspires an intimacy, a warmth – and invariably tears – that is totally absorbing. Every single one of the stories we have listened to has given us cause for much reflection – on our own relationship. Hearing people reminisce, and share their love with us, is so moving and inspiring.
People often ask why we chose this route to do the journey on, and the answer is that, an analogy for marriage, the Pan American highway is the longest road in the world. But the North Americans are so good expressing what they are feeling that asking them about love has already proven to be an extraordinary experience – everyone has something to say on love, whether good or bad, so we have been lucky enough to hear some really interesting stories.
Below, in chronological order, are the couples we have interviewed along the way (the first appears first, etc). I’m afraid, I need to rewatch some of the interviews to get the details, but I’ll manage that soon, promise! Photos to follow soon too…
The young, urban couple, Anchorage, Alaska
It’s easy to think of Alaska as a land of Grizzly Men, Eskimos and Sarah Palin, so it was important for us to kick off the journey with the kind of couple who are just totally normal and familiar to our situation. So we found two people around our age, living in Alaska’s biggest city, Anchorage, married last year and living in a flat in the city. Shahnti is warm and bubbly, Kyle is down-to-earth, bright and easygoing. And driven enough to have set up his own vodka brand, Bare, which he is launching in the next few months: the only Alaskan wheat vodka.
· Name: Shahnti and Kyle
· Married for: 1 year
· How they met: Started work at the same bar within one week of each other. Kyle walked through the door and Shahnti pointed to him across the room and said to the girl she was with, “I’m going to marry that man”. She said she just felt it. Kyle was gently convinced by her tenacity!
· Their advice to us:
· Love is:
· Our thoughts: A: I was blown away by S&K. It was our first proper interview and it ended up lasting about 2 hours. I’d found them by chatting to a waitress at the bar that they worked at, and she said “if you’re after a loved up couple, you gotta meet these two”. So I organized to meet with them on one of their mornings off. Immediately on meeting them, you can’t help but be enveloped by their aura of contentedness, they have a home filled with happiness – something, in fact, that we’d get used to feeling with the couples we found in Alaska (who knows if it will last?)They are really an amazing couple in that they get everything they need from each other, they laugh, cry, share together – basically are almost totally happy to exist with only the other. As they talked – very lucidly – about what they felt for each other, and all of the different angles of their emotions, it was immensely moving – in fact, all 4 of us ended up crying at various points.
· Their effect on us: It’s funny, because this was our first interview, we were very very moved by it. I don’t think we could ever have expected to get such openness and warmth from strangers, and after we left, we really felt the power of asking people about their love. Mike said “if you ask about love, you get love” and that kind of summed it up. All my doubts about why we were doing this started to evaporate, because even if nothing comes of the film/blog/people watching in, I know that Mike and I will get so much out of this journey.
· That said, meeting a couple who are so entirely captivated by each to the point of symbiosis did really get me thinking about our relationship. Mike and I are the kind of couple who need a lot of external stimulus. I wondered, as we left Shahnti and Kyle, whether that made our relationship weaker than theirs – and I worried for the entire project, thinking that it could become a hideous comparison where we realize that what we have is nothing like as strong as others. So my first scrutiny of our own dynamic: it’s true, we do work better when we have lots of outside factors – other faces, work, parties, people – but that doesn’t make it weaker, just different.
The all-Alaskan couple, Girdwood, Alaska
When you arrive in Anchorage airport, you file out of the plane and wander through some 1970s-carpetted hallways, you come round a corner and suddenly you’re confronted with a deer (or caribou? Some beast or other) with hug antlers, there’s a lifesize plastic replica of the world record king salmon (97lbs, 44kg) and the biggest halibut (9’5”, 459lbs) all caught in Alaska. And you know. You know immediately that this is The Great Outdoors. And indeed it is, everyone here – even the most slovenly Alaskan – spends a good deal of time engaging with wilderness outside his front door. Whether it’s scraping snow off your vehicle or solitary fishing trips by floatplane, you can’t ignore the nature. So we knew we needed to find someone who did just that.
Bud Gibbs was a worldclass skier. He married Carol, also a skier and their children skied. They live in Girdwood, Alaska’s number 1 ski resort, and run a B&B and an icecream parlour (open all year round – because Alaskans get sweaty in the winter with sports and need cooling down!)
They are unbelievably kind. Without even having met us, they asked us to come shrimping with them (through the owners of where we were staying). They are wonderful people, and it was really a pleasure to have met them. It makes me very happy to know that people like that are out there.
Bud had cancer last year. Always having been very active, he suddenly started to slow down and neither he nor Carol could work it out. Eventually, they discovered a huge tumour on his lung. He had chemo, during which time, he remained in the house with Carol. His grandchildren would not be allowed in, they’d have to wave through the glass. Carol looked after everything and nursed him back to health. He’s now better, and though he moves a little more slowly, he is still the kind of guy who gets up early to go shrimping three times a week as well as running two businesses.
· Name: Bud and Carol
· Married for:
· How they met:
· Their advice to us: Every day is a different treat, and Mike’s appreciation won’t be the same as yours.
· They said something interesting which is that they felt lucky that they both had the same bodyclocks: early to bed, early to rise. Mike and I are woefully out of sync (he’s a night animal and hates the mornings, I basically pass out every night at 11 and can leap out of bed in a good mood) and actually there are times which it thwarts us a lot. Carol suggested that we should use that to our advantage – I should go to bed and leave Mike working away, I should get up in the mornings before Mike wakes. That would give us our own space every day.
· Love is:
· Our thoughts:
· Their effect on us: It was a deeply moving interview. They both cried when talking about Bud’s cancer, a dark period of their lives which they had never openly reflected on together before. Their love and dedication to each other was totally inspiring. It’s difficult to capture in words the experience of being welcomed into an unknown couple’s private world, and when it’s a world which is full of happiness and love, it’s unlike anything I have ever experienced before. The effect on us is amazing. Very un-English to say it, but I really feel blessed when we feel the amazing energy of something so positive, solid and beautiful as love. (Wow. I’ve only been in the States for a few weeks… Houston, we most seriously have a problem!)
The Russian Old Believers, Nikolaevsk, Alaska
Alaska has a long and interesting history with Russia (after all, Palin can see Russia from her house…). The state was originally Russian and was sold to the US in 1867 for $7m when the Russians had hunted the seas bare of sea otter, whose fur they prized. The Russian Orthodox faith is still prevalent today amongst Alaskans. South of Anchorage, near the south of the Kenai Peninsula, is an isolated community of Russian Old Believers. They split from the Russian Orthodox faith in … when … instigated changes to the faith and created Russian Orthodoxy. Persecuted, they fled Russia for China, when this fell to Communism, they were once again persecuted and sought refuge in Brazil, then when the land there yielded nothing, they set off north for Oregon. Finally, in the 60s, the more devout members of the community thought that the American way was permeating the youth of the community, so sought to find a place much more cut off from civilization. They settled upon Nikolaevsk, north of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula. They had no electricity, no running water, and they had to weather freezing cold winters. They built an entire community, all speaking in Russian, wearing traditional Russian dress and observing the faith. We found Nina and her husband, Dennis Fefelov, the son of one of the original founders of the community, Father Kontraty Fefelov.
Dennis is taciturn and gruff: he spent his life using his hands, building his own home and other buildings in the community, and now he is crippled by arthritis and can only move very slowly. He said that this had been hard on both him and Nina. She is a whirlwind of unstoppable energy, absorbing everyone into her torrent of broken English. Passionate about the history of the Old Believers in Nikolaevsk, she runs the Samovar Café in the village, a shrine of Russian kitsch, where she whips up a traditional Russian meal of borsch and dumplings for tourists and flaps about, making people where traditional Russian dress for photos. She was an electrical engineer in Russia, and is a powerhouse of PR, featuring in documentaries in France, the US, and now Britain… (ahem). I thought she was wonderful, Mike was a little exhausted at times, not to mention Dennis…
· Name: Dennis and Nina Fefelov
· Married for: 18 years
· How they met: Nina came over from Russia to Nikolaevsk at the request of her father-in-law, Kontraty. When she met Dennis, she spoke no English at all, and they still only speak in Russian. Dennis asked her to marry him on that, her first trip over.
· Their advice to us: “When you marry, eat from one bowl with two spoons” was Nina’s advice.
· Love is:
· Our thoughts: When we arrived, Dennis had said to Nina that he really didn’t want to be involved. Nina knew before we arrived that he can be reluctant to participate in her mad PR efforts, so she hadn’t told him about our interview. She said “just hide the camera”, which was immediately a concern because the camera is the size of … . Dennis was therefore extremely wary when we appeared in his living room with the camera pointing in his face. He spoke little, she yabbered away, trying to draw him out. It felt like an extremely traditional dynamic (him quiet and undemonstrative, her chatty) – though where previously, Dennis had been the alpha male, he now was dependent upon his wife. We got a fairly unsatisfying interview with them, as a result. But it was what happened afterwards which was magical. Somehow, Dennis mellowed – to reveal a gentler and fascinating man. We headed over to Nina’s café for dinner and gradually, as the evening wore on (we arrived at 5 and we finished interviewing them at midnight…) the two of them opened up – about everything, from their relationship to their religion. Dennis laughed, sang traditional psalters, Nina cried (Dennis hadn’t eaten at the café for over two years so she was delighted) When we arrived, it seemed as though Dennis kept his wife at arm’s length and she fussed around him in her own way. But as we peeled back the layers, I asked Dennis whether he loved his wife and he paused and said quietly “too much”.
· Their effect on us: This is harder to say because they live a situation so far away from our own, but what did deeply affect me is the way that relationships are very hard to judge from the outside. It was immediately obvious that Dennis was Nina’s whole world, but not that she was his – that came later. I think that’s what I’ll take away, that a relationship is its own little bubble which is easy to judge from the outside, but not meaningfully.
The Native Alaskans, Anchorage, Alaska
Helen is a Tlingkit and Isaac is an Inupiaq. When Isaac was 4 years old, rather than have him put into state care, his elder sister brought him south to … where he became a fisherman. Much later, they moved together to Anchorage to be near Helen’s mum. When we asked at the museum whether they knew a Native couple who we could talk to, we got the same response from everyone – Helen and Isaac. They have been working together at the museum for 5 years, catching the bus in and home every day together. Helen has plaits down to her knees and is very smiley, Isaac has gentle blue eyes and does not waste words.
· Name: Helen and Isaac
· Married for:
· How they met: She passed him on the stairs and their eyes met. He then asked her out. She’s a Tlingkit, the tribe of the … and he’s from the Inupiak tribe. What’s extraordinary about their marriage is that when Isaac was brought south at the age of 4, he could have chosen either the Raven or the Eagle moet, and he chose Eagle which meant that Helen, a Raven, could marry him.
· Their advice to us: Communicate.
· Love is:
· Our thoughts: They were a very sweet couple: Isaac is very quiet, with Helen almost acting as his link with the outside world. We learned it’s not unusual for Natives to use fewer words, and he would often answer in very short sentences, leaving Helen to do a lot of the talking. I’m not sure that we really cracked them, to be honest. We’d wanted to film them at the museum outside a traditional Inupiaq house, and perhaps that reduced them slightly to stereotype. In my pseud way, I’d wanted to show the strong links between old and new, but I think it might just have been uncomfortable. Not least because a waterfall in the background rendered the interview almost unusable, soundwise. I think I’d hoped to get some kind of insight into how their relationship might feel different pressures, but I certainly didn’t get that information if it did.
· Their effect on us: We were pleased to have met them, they came out of their way to do the interview and it was easy to see how dependent they were on each other, and what a unit they are. Greater learnings for our own relationship though, I’m not sure.
The hippy homesteaders, Sheep Mountain, Alaska
In the 1960s, the Alaskan government passed an act called The Homestead Act. This said that… yadda yadda yadda.
Tom and Katharine, known to everyone as Pappa Hawk and Momma Dove, bought their bit of land in the Alaskan wilderness and then started to work on it in the 1970s. They spent winters with no running water or electricity and did everything they could to make the place into a home. It’s now an eclectic creation which has grown and grown as they have had money for Pappa Hawk to add extra rooms onto it. It feels very Bilbo Baggins, and the minute you walk through the door, you feel like you’re home. We spent an unforgettable evening around the kitchen table with the entire family as their son jammed on a guitar, we drank beer and all laughed into the night.
· Name: Tom and Katharine (better known as “Pappa Hawk” and “Momma Dove”)
· Married for:
· How they met: They both worked at a charity shop in Wasilla, Anchorage. He was the quiet one who was a bit of a loner (he was an army veteran who really hated the experience so came to Alaska to hide away from it all), and she was the gregarious one. She was drawn to him because of his quietness, and when the opportunity came up for him to be manager of his own store, he went and she went with him.
· Their advice to us:
· Love is:
· Our thoughts: Everything about Dove and Hawk was so welcoming. They open their arms to everyone who comes into their lives and as a result, it’s difficult not to be absorbed by their love. It’s not a hippy love which can almost be ridiculed, but something very rational, and appealing as a way of life.
· Their effect on us: We really felt welcomed into their world. It was the first time the family had got together for months (their son lives in Portland) and yet we felt very much part of it. Their positivity and outlook, which felt relevant despite them living miles from it all and us living in Bethnal Green, was really what I’ll take away from it all.
· They are Shahnti’s parents and it was easy to see where she got her positive attitude to love, though when I said to Dove that I thought Mike and I needed more external influences in our relationship than Shahnti and Kyle, she said that she and Hawk were the same as us – and that Shahnti and Kyle have something really unique.
The trapper and his wife, Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks has a personality very different from that of Anchorage. As it’s in Alaska’s huge interior (we drove 919km to get there from Anchorage), it suffers from more extreme temperatures than the state’s biggest city. Perhaps as a result of this, people are really really friendly: if your car breaks down and it’s -20˚c, you’d like to know that your neighbor will help you out. It’s also wilder, sitting just above Denali National Park, and small enough basically to feel like it’s dropped onto a patch of nature.
We met a wonderful man, who enjoys trapping. He sets and baits traps in the woods for pine martens (also known as Russian sable). He describes the process: “The animal steps on the pan and it closes. I take them and bring them in, hang them up and skin them (it’s like pulling a sock off) down to the front legs. Pop the legs out, pull it down to its nose and then you end up with a hide.” He then sends the hide to a tanner, which helps preserve the hide by closing the follicles around the hide. He then sells the hides to fur traders for around $60 per hide. With 20 or so per season, it’s a nice little hobby. As a humorous little aside, he takes the dried out oosiks (the penis bones), and makes earrings out of them, a pair of which Alanna proudly sports (“I’ve never had penis in my ear before”).
· Name: Wendell and Judy
· Married for: 44 years
· How they met: on her first day at college in Michigan. She was in line at the canteen and she heard him talking about cross country running (he was the year above her and had come back to university early to train) which her brother was into, so she went over and said hello. He then asked her to dance that evening at a freshman ball and they have been together ever since.
· Their advice to us:
o Judy said, “Never clean his stuff without permission”. He flipped his shit when she cleaned his workshop while he was away, thinking that she was doing him a favour.
o They still tell each other that they love each other regularly and spontaneously. Wendell has a hand squeeze which means ‘I love you’ which he will do to his wife and daughters often.
· Love is: always showing respect for the other around other people, never showing them up publicly.
· Our thoughts: These guys were great. They had been through some major ups and downs (Wendell had cancer and survived, their house and all their possessions burnt to the ground one year) and their relationship had just got better and better. Judy said that they were far from the people they were when they married, but that didn’t matter: they had grown together, and more importantly, grown better together. Once again, meeting them was a joy, and hearing their story was hugely moving (tears from all 4 of us).
· Their effect on us: Judy hates the fact that Wendell is a trapper. She just never imagined that she’d be with someone who could do that. But she knows he enjoys it, and she has learnt to tolerate it, even respect it. There are things which each of us do which really bug the other (when Mike starts a project, whatever it is, he has to finish it. Which drives me NUTS. He just won’t put the drill down for any reason. I suppose I just have to learn to tolerate it. We’ve got many a shelf from it).
The professional goldminer, Dawson City, Yukon
When gold was found in the river at Dawson City in 1897, Dawson City exploded with people arriving to find a fortune in gold. The town became the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush of the turn of the 20th century as people staked their claims. There is still mining in Dawson City today, and the place has an air of the Gold Rush still – all the houses are maintained in the Gold Rush era style.
John Gould is well known in Dawson City. He’s 90 years old, born to a miner father in Dawson City, and is now a historian on the town. He mined with his father on the family claim for 30 years, continuing to do so with his own son. He wrote a book on the gold mining practices in Dawson City called Frozen Gold which sells in all the town bookstores. He has been married to his wife, Madeleine, for 64 years and they are a Dawson institution.
A number of different people around the town spontaneously suggested John as a great candidate for an interview, he is well known and much loved. So I got his address from the Yellow Pages and went and rang his doorbell on the off chance that he and Madeleine would both be in and up for an interview. And they were…
· Name: John and Madeleine
· Married for: 64 years
· How they met: He was posted to Toronto with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was with two friends one evening and heard about a dance going on. One of his friends danced like a monkey, so the other two waited until he was so drunk he passed out, then headed to the dance. He was sitting with his friend when two ladies walked passed. Madeleine was pleading with her friend to dance with her – because it was 1943 and there was a scarcity of men in those days, and her friend was refusing. So John said “I’ll dance with you” to Madeleine and “he’s been dancing with me ever since”. She was from the East of Canada and he brought her back to Dawson City, pulling her away from her family to come to a town with no electricity, no roads leading to it, no phones to the outside world… and very very cold in winter. Yet she fell in love with the place, and they still live there to this day.
· Their advice to us: Madeleine: “Don’t go to bed mad – even if you feel like kicking him in the shins”, John: “If both of you have an idea of your own, and one of you insists that it goes your way, then there’s going to be trouble. Whereas if you just leave it for a day or two, and then come back to it, then leave it again, then get to the point where you can talk about it a little more objectively, that’s the way to get to a resolution”
· Love is: Madeleine: “sharing everything”, John: “if you get upset, you’ve got to push it aside”
· Our thoughts: John and Madeleine still laugh and joke together all the time. Their conversation is peppered with banter (John said the biggest lump of gold he’d ever found was the size of a baby’s fist. Madeleine at that point said “surely I’m the biggest lump of gold you’ve ever found?” to which he replied with a smile, “you’re a lump alright…”). They were captivatingly natural with each other, just plain old happy. For John’s 90th birthday, the town had organized a big party for him, they sent a policewoman to “arrest” him with handcuffs, then transport him back “to the station” which was in fact the town museum where 180 people were waiting for his surprise party (he had to be told beforehand in case of his heart giving out!)
· Their effect on us: for them to have been so willing to chat to complete strangers who knocked on their door on a Monday evening was gobsmacking. We spent a couple of hours with them, sitting after the interview with a cold beer, chatting more about mining and their family.
· Of all the couples we’d interviewed, we were the most like them: with interaction based on a very familiar sense of humour. I wondered whether it was a little to do with the fact that we were now in Canada, a halfway house between the States and the UK. I loved how they were still laughing. I hope that Mike and I can make it that long – and still find each other funny rather than repugnant. Though I fear we’re already on the turn…