Pyjama parties and sleepovers. I’ve still not fully grown out of them, even though I’m decidedly 30. They’re not normally planned – impromptu stopovers at the end of a night out are most frequent, but whenever we have multiple guests staying, inevitably, we share rooms and beds. It’s not sordid, we’re friends and it’s all girls together, giggles, borrowed towels and an endless wait for the bathroom the next day.
Why do we share? Partly because it’s companionable. Mostly because there’s no space to not share. And when I’m travelling, largely because it’s cheaper.
So William Hague shared a room with a guy. Gay or not, it’s no big deal in itself. But it’s the context that matters. When you’re away with work, the only time you share a room with another man or woman is either when they’re your partner, or implicitly when there’s something illicit about it. It’s not necessary to be THAT companionable on a work trip. It’s not necessary to be THAT economical with expenses. And surely there’s enough space when you’re away with work to have a room each, even if it’s tiny?
I love sharing with my friends, but in a work context, it’s a big no-no. While I was away last week, I had a moment of terror when I thought I’d have to share my room. Another journalist, from a well-known newspaper, visited my room while I wasn’t there and left his check-in information behind. Had it not been for that one piece of paper, left behind on my bed, I’d never have known he’d been there, or who he was. It had obviously been a mix-up – of course we weren’t expected to share. Still, on my first night, I had a slight sense of horror at the prospect of waking up next to a work acquaintance. Even when we’re friends with our work colleagues, there’s a level of professionalism that means work can’t be a pyjama party – separate rooms, separate beds.
I can easily take Hague’s word for it that he wasn’t having an affair with his advisor. Just because you share sleeping space doesn’t mean you’re inappropriately involved with one another. I think it’s sad that in order to prove his ‘straightness’ he has to point to his wife’s repeated miscarriages. It seems to me that that proves her desire for motherhood more than it demonstrates Hague’s heterosexuality.
But, the days of Morecambe and Wise innocently tucking in for the night are over and Hague shouldn’t have been so naïve as to forget that context is everything.