Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sunday evening

Have been away from the blog for the weekend, visiting my mother (who as it happens makes very good apple cake). Anyway, so many comments that need to be answered, that I thought I'd better do a new post. First things first: Virginia Woolf -- my own particular favourites of hers are 'A Room of One's Own' and 'Flush' (about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog, but much else besides -- life, love, art, everything, really) and her letters, which are completely brilliant.
As for the insurmountable differences between men and women: I've just been re-reading my diary from the year I turned 17, and plus ca change. There are many agonised entries about someone called Andy, my first boyfriend, who is generally unkind to me. I tell him I love him, and he tells me not to be so soppy, so I apologise. Meanwhile, a much nicer boy called Julian says he is besotted with me, but I am still pining for horrid Andy. When I finally come to my senses, and split up with Andy, he decides he loves me, but it turns out he has also been seeing his ex-girlfriend, Amanda. By this time, I am on my way to becoming involved with someone even more unsuitable. Astonishingly, I manage to take a Cambridge entrance exam, the morning after yet another agonised encounter with Andy. I am interviewed there (apparently the tutors ask me about Shakespeare and Milton), and get a place to study English. In between weeping over Andy and reading a great deal of poetry, I also develop a secret taste for the historical novels of Jean Plaidy.
More of this later...
PS. Have just checked back over teen diary, and apparently I very much enjoyed Jean Plaidy's 'The King's Secret Matter' and 'The Road to Fotheringay'; sadly, have no recollection of either of them now.

14 comments:

oxford-reader said...

Jean Plaidy got me through the horrors of secondary school. If you went to Rye's library right this minute, and looked at the index cards, they would all have my name written on them many times.

I threw out my pink and fluffy diary charting the year when I was 13 (or 14, not entirely sure), where most of the entries that weren't about how bitchy the girls in my class were, focus on the fact that I was sure I loved Tom, but he never paid me any attention, other than as friends, and that going out with Paul would be sure to make him jealous.

It didn't, and if I remember rightly, I bought Paul a Valentine's present, only to keep it myself, because I never saw him. Everything in life teaches us a lesson - this particular episode taught me to never go out with someone who liked bell ringing ....

Sarah Standalone said...

I was cured of diary keeping in my teens when my sister found mine and read it out loud.

I love Room of One's Own but I am not familiar with Jean Plaidy - was it a secret taste because it's 'literature of shame'? R4 aired the 1st episode of a dramatisation of H E Bates' Fair Stood The Wind For France, which I read at school, 30 years ago. It made me want to read it again.

kairu said...

Ha! I love this post!

When I was 17, I was in love with E., who inspired me to read The Master and Margarita, and because of whom I studied Russian, the only promise I have ever kept.

That year I read a lot of Bulgakov, and Kundera. The English Patient was out in theaters, and I read aloud from the book to my friends, and we all swooned.

The next year I went to college, studied Russian, became someone I never thought I could be. Another decade after that I am, again, someone else, someone I never dreamed of, in the best of ways.

jaywalker said...

When I wasn't reading Jean Plaidy, I was reading Georgette Heyer or Anya Seton. I really fancied meeting a Regency Buck in tight breeches and a starched cravat but married a motor-biking James Dean type instead and found myself unhappily married for 23 years. During which time I met the man of my novelish dreams - a soul mate, tall, handsome, cultured, sporting hero, everything one envisioned, except he was married and after 6 years I discovered he also had a second mistress. Hence my comment about the insurmountable differences. But, did I give him up as a good girl should have done? No, the affair has continued until this day and even if it's once a year we still meet up after 31 years. Stuff of a novel do you think? I wrote one. It's junk but it helped at the time.

Justine Picardie said...

Definitely the stuff of a novel! How did he manage two lovers and a wife? I feel exhausted, just thinking of the juggling involved.

jaywalker said...

Good question. He had the cover up of being very busy, very involved in all sorts of things, played hockey and squash at all hours and the other woman was divorced and had her own house so I guess popping in there on the way home was not too difficult. I worked with him so that made other arrangements relatively easy. On being found out, he left his wife and went to live with the other woman and I went to England. They only stayed together four years and we got back together after I returned to Aus. It's probably hard for others to understand and I wouldn't blame them for condemning it, but despite all that happened, neither of us has been able to completely give each other up and I have had a longer relationship with him than with anyone else and same for him. I blame my duality on being a Gemini.

Justine Picardie said...

I'm a Gemini, too, as it happens, but your story reaches far beyond astrology! Do you ever feel angry with Mr Right? Or has the peace that passeth all understanding descended upon the two of you?

Sarah Standalone said...

We know women can multi task, this is backed up by Justines post! Jaywalkers story shows that men can id they want to. It obviously depends heavily on what the 'task' is..

Oxford Reader, thanks for the tip about bell ringers!

oxford-reader said...

I don't mean to imply that all bell ringers are a waste of space .... just 13 yr old ones!

In regards Jean Plaidy, I had a dream when I was younger that I would reprint her books to vast critical acclaim. Arrow books got there before me, however, and I'm now making it my mission to get them all. The woman was prolific - I have 30 ish, and there are loads more.

Justine Picardie said...

Bell-ringers, Jean Plaidy, bigamous men -- these posts have everything. And Oxford-reader's plan to spread the word on Ms Plaidy starts here...

oxford-reader said...

So added to my duty of deciding the best actress to play Zuleika Dobson (still working on it, but I'm not in favour of Lily Cole), I have the enviable role of presenting the Divine Ms Plaidy to the blogosphere. I shall start reading forthwith (it will be light relief from A.S. Byatt).

jaywalker said...

In answer to your question, Justine - no, I have never felt angry with him. Maybe it's the old Shakespearian thing - love alters not etc. At least that's how it's always felt, that nothing has ever changed my love for him. It's altered in form a bit by now but not in depth.

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