I like to pay occasional visits to blogs that I have on my blogroll. It seems the polite thing to do. Tonight, after being reminded of him, I dropped in on Jeremy Duns. He’s a published author and journalist type. I’ve only read one of his books and I liked it quite a lot. Respect between us is one way traffic because he’s famous and I’m not.
He has recently written a blog the focus of which is the influence of a very well-known fictional character of the twentieth century. Mr Duns included some quotes from one of the books in the series. I read the one below that I have pinched, copied and pasted – thank you Mr Duns. You saved me a lot of typing – because it reminded me of something that I wrote in Joint Enterprise (The Third Romney and Marsh File). I have included that for reference underneath. Any clever clogs recognise which rather famous and highly collectable book this is from? Answers on a postcard.
With most women his manner was a mixture of taciturnity and passion. The lengthy approaches to a seduction bored him almost as much as the subsequent mess of disentanglement. He found something grisly in the inevitability of the pattern of each affair. The conventional parabola – sentiment, the touch of the hand, the kiss, the passionate kiss, the feel of the body, the climax in the bed, then more bed, then less bed, then the boredom, the tears and the final bitterness – was to him shameful and hypocritical. Even more he shunned the mise en scène for each of these acts in the play – the meeting at a party, the restaurant, the taxi, his flat, her flat, then the week-end by the sea, then the flats again, then the furtive alibis and the final angry farewell on some doorstep in the rain.
And now mine.
As he washed his hands, he remembered something that had stuck with him from one of Dibdin’s Zen novels and that he had had cause to reflect on more than once as a gauge of how times and attitudes had changed in only a few short years. “Three weeks flirting, three months loving, three years squabbling and thirty years making do,” was the suggested chronology for a relationship. It seemed a dated and out-of-date perspective to Romney. It was his overwhelming experience of women these days that the whole process had been significantly speeded up and altered beyond recognition. Three hours flirting could often see him get three weeks of his leg over; which could be followed by three months of muddling along and then three days of cooling off and from then total avoidance. Years, let alone decades just no longer came into it. Everyone, it seemed, himself included, was in such a rush to disappoint each other.
Probably, you’re thinking that the first passage is better writing than mine. Of course it is. I’m not seeking to compare the writing, I’m just amused by the innocently common view. Anyone else had a similar experience?
This all now becomes a little revealing. I had finished writing this post with the last paragraph but something niggled – another recollection. I looked at Making A Killing (The Second Romney and Marsh File) and found what I was looking for. It is another similar passage. (Cue my analyst.)
When he had first returned to the dating scene in his late thirties in search of female company it had been with a mixture of outward scepticism and naive private hope in equal measure. However, the more he experienced of available women his age the more his hope dwindled to gutter like a cheap candle. His doubt grew to be replaced with the darkness of bitter disappointment, as the certainty of each anti-climax was played out. Eventually, he had become more honest with himself over his prospects and intentions. With little hope of bumping into the ‘one’, his encounters with the opposite sex became predictable shallow repeat performances of a sad matinee in four acts: the chase, the sex, the boredom and finally the dissolution. It was a cycle that he endured because he didn’t want to pay for it, and, therefore, he had no choice. His resignation to the inevitability of it all became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but, as the saying went, couldn’t live with them; couldn’t do without them. No man can fight his basic instincts indefinitely, while he still has basic instincts to fight. Romney shared the view that Wilde was reputed to have once famously remarked: the only way to deal with temptation was to yield to it. And so he had come to accept the likelihood that each dalliance would probably become just another temporary liaison to scratch an itch and remind himself how much better off he was on his own.
Understanding for the first time that I have been moved to write on relationships in this cynical vein not once but twice has given me a bit of an insight into my subconscious. Funny really where things can lead.
PS That image wasn’t nearly cryptic enough, was it?