The Bloke

THERE are many mysteries in life.

Why do Warburtons make a bread called Toastie that won't fit in any domestic toaster known to man?

How did Russ Abbot ever get a primetime slot on Saturday night telly?

Whose bright idea was it to put an 's' in 'lisp'?

But one of the biggest mysteries of them all has to be women's obsession with romantic comedies.

No-one warns you when you meet the love of your life that a future spent watching every romcom ever made is going to be part of the deal.

But when the love of your life happens to be the Missus you soon find out that's exactly what fate has in store for you.

I'm willing to bet there is no man on this earth who has seen Love Actually as many times as I have.

Want to know the best lines from Bridget Jones's Diary? Well, I can't recite them here because they're a bit sweary, but believe me, I know them.

Whenever an advert for a new romcom comes on I glance at the Missus and see her going all gooey-eyed over some hackneyed plot that involves a girl meeting a boy, something going hilariously wrong and then them finally patching things up and proceeding to live happily ever after.

More often than not it will star Rachel from Friends, because Jennifer Aniston clearly has some sort of pact with the devil which dictates that every romcom script must be sent to her first.

It's given rise to a whole new sub-genre – the NARC, which stands for Non-Aniston RomCom and is a rare beast indeed.

The other night, when the Missus found a NARC on Sky Movies (I knew I shouldn't have shown her how to use that remote control), I could take no more.

I watched just long enough to establish that the well-worn plot devices were all present and correct: Career woman trying to get ahead in her profession? Check. Kooky best friend? Check. Man she loves but falls out with over a misunderstanding that will inevitably be cleared up five minutes before the end? Check.

So about three minutes in I made my excuses and left, having told the Missus exactly what was going to unfold over the next 87 minutes.

I returned in time for the closing credits, which were being watched by a misty-eyed Missus still dabbing a tissue at her cheeks.

"Everything happened just like you said," she told me. "How did you know?"

The answer, of course, is that every single romcom pretty much subscribes to the exact same formula.

Which, when you stop and think about it, is probably the precise reason why women like them so much in the first place.

WATER TREAT: The river at Otley full of people in pedalos and rowing boats.

Neil Hudson: Hire boats return to Otley’s river for first time since 2001