“My Debbie” he says, and in theory there is no reason for this. She is not, in any legal or technical sense his, unless the phrase is an accidental confession to an affair. But I think not. A different kind of slip, something more subtle, and not necessarily a mistake.
A warning shot across the bows, perhaps. Don’t get cocky, don’t assume, don’t take for granted. There are Debbies to be claimed. There could be Sharons, Emmas, a veritable sea of Rachels and Cecilies all available at short notice, should the need arise. There may well be a my Katherine out there, and a my Sabrina Hestlethwaite-Jones.
Perhaps the last example is a little far fetched, as I am confident that he does not know Sabrina, either in her maiden form from my school days, or her slightly annoying social media self with insufficiently plummy husband, who is the butt of her many jokes.
Even so, it is not difficult to imagine him saying ‘my Sabrina Hestlethwaite-Jones’. And she would be, because she never could resist a man in charge.
A collector, then. Perhaps a connoisseur. Or a man offering this woman up as a shield. Not a man claiming ownership necessarily, but a man suggesting that he is already accounted for, several times over, with claims upon his time and resources that it would be as well to take into account. A step back, perhaps. A cautious note.
I take these things seriously. I claim no names; not as warning shots and not as shields. Possession is not something to speak of. What is truly owned need not be mentioned.