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They say romance is dead.
I remember my dear friend Gertie being darlingly jubilant about a boy; he'd probably managed to pry the mobile number out of some prepubescent bar tender from Prague, and was in an uncommonly happy mood. "Oh he's just so dreamy..!" he sung, taking to swinging around a lamp-post in the manner of Gene Kelly. Unfortunately the lamp-post was coated in anti-climb paint and he ripped his hand open.
"London," he muttered some time later, his mood dulled, "is not a city for romantics."
I am, unfortunately, finding this to be the case in all matters these days. While The Boy and I are embarking on The Greatest Love Affair, I've discovered things have changed so much since I last had to do this; you no longer make mix-tapes for your beau - you let them at your iTunes for the afternoon with a datastick. Which is a lot more intrusive, as you have to spend a good fifteen minutes explaining why you have so many remixes of Bonnie Tyler songs.
Still. We're finding other 'culture-share' items to show each other. He's just discovering the joys of Alias ('Is it just about the wigs?' he said before I patted his hand in affirmation and topped up his creme de menthe). And he's given me his favourite book to read. Stephen King. 'Needful Things'. Now, I've never been a fan of the writer; for one, every author photo on the back flap makes him look like he's listlessly raping a monkey. But one must brave such things in the name of romance I hear, so a few nights ago I turned down my bed, smoothed down my nightie and cracked open the cover.
Now I gather its not a new observation to wonder whether King can write anything not set in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere - indeed, after his near fatal car crash some years ago, his first book afterwards was about a man involved in a car crash. So write about what you know; though why there hasn't been a book about raping monkeys is a mystery. And I am enjoying the colloquial town in Needful Things so far is all rather sunny, and seems to have a good schooling system. If the locals are a little obsessed with cheap glasswear.
And I can forgive that Needful Things is just a hilariously shallow spit at commercialism. No, my problem with Ol' King is that I think almost every one of his novels (and probably including some rather overwritten, doom-laden notes to the milkman for that matter) have been made into middling films or TV movies, so all these tiny towns in the top right hand corner of the States start to blur into one. As do the stories, so I'm left casting each of the characters in my head with c-list actors like Denise Crosby in a nasty peasant skirt and a dresser full of floral-print crockery.
Thankfully, he divides up the chapters into short sections, as if he can only write one A4 page of prose before going off and torturing ants with a magnifying glass, so it's a rather easy read. And The Boy says that it does get better towards the end. Personally, I can't wait to see what someone has to do for a decent pair of slightly heeled, shin-length calf-leather boots because I've been looking for a pair forever.
Ah. The things we do for love. It's just a shame you have to move with the times.
You see, I don't think romance is dead. I think its just got its Out of Office on.