IT ALL began with laughter, bromance and the smell of roses, but just two years on there was a strong denial that the two are even in a relationship, let alone married to each another.
In fact, as David Cameron and Nick Clegg got together not to renew their vows but to promise to keep working together for another two years, it was something far more pungeant than roses keeping the Tories and Lib Dems together.
“This is the Ronseal deal,” Mr Cameron told a slightly surprised room of political hacks. “It does what it says on the tin.”
The tin was actually a 46-page document entitled The Coalition: Together in the National Interest. And that according to Mr Clegg, is the “unvarnished truth” of a strictly businesslike relationship.
Mr Cameron added: “I hate to spoil the party, but let me put it this way – we are married, not to each other. We are both happily married. This is a government, not a relationship.”
There was some suggestion afterwards that Mr Cameron might live to regret the day he opened up the possibility of being known as Creosote Man, especially as his hair never seems to move.
Mr Clegg’s expression as Mr Cameron spoke suggested he may have accidentally swallowed a glass of Ronseal, although it may have been weariness at hearing quotes from Mr Cameron’s speech for at least the fourth time.
The lack of warmth seemed to confirm that, although the Lib Dem leader is “immensely proud” of the coalition, he is certainly not happy with it.
To observers of this coalition government, the comparison with Ronseal is a surprise, not least because the product is supposed to prevent leaks, rather than encourage them.
But on the day the Big Society was declared dead by charity bosses, the idea that the government is modelled on a popular individualist “do-it-yourself” product might ring true for some of its critics.
It had been 18 months since the last Downing Street press conference and it seemed, after admitting theirs was a loveless non-relationship, that neither coalition leader had much appetite to keep it running.
So after 20 minutes of questions, they went their separate ways – perhaps to check what it says on the tin.