I didn’t watch the England game yesterday evening, thank God; I went to a barbecue held by a couple of nice people I know—calling them friends would be an exaggeration, though I certainly wouldn’t be ashamed to do so. N is an old-school, self-taught computer whizz with an interesting life history. I know him through H, his partner, who drove me in her car a long long way for free without knowing anything about me—which, I suppose, could be considered foolhardy. N is already something of a ‘Net personality, but performs most of his most interesting online activities—making life difficult for racists for example—under a pseudonym, so I won’t give any more personal info.

Every year N has a barbie and fireworks night. They are, I am told, always quite an event, but this year’s was special. We watched the amazing noisier fireworks (some of which he sourced through another pyrotechocrat I recommended to him who runs an import business) and listened to his specially programmed music on a local grassy field. He and his sidekick scuttled around in the darkness with their torches and lighters, detonating explosives. Every corny firework show accompaniment blasted out of his portable stereo (including the 1812). And, in the quieter moments, people (including me) teased them from a safe distance about how “this is what happens when little boys earn serious money before they grow up completely”.

Then we moved to his and H’s garden where he surprised almost everyone with the climax of the show. After a few quieter rockets and candles, N lit a huge firework heart. The words “Marry Me” blazed in its centre. Luckily H said yes or I suspect some of the other women present might have taken up his offer. More than once later in the evening I heard the (almost entirely) ironic complaint “You didn’t do that for me!” from already-married women present. Even the blokes were impressed. Now that‘s how to propose to a woman.