And now for something completely different to follow June Kearns’s thoughtful and humorous Romantic Lurve – or 50 Shades of Beige.
Greece is oh so not monochromatic beige or grey. Her colours are intense, sublime –
Adam wished he could paint, sea-jade, sapphire, fir-green, brilliant white, Cal an ideal model . . . creamy skin deepened to tawny gold . . . hair bleached lighter by the sun, caught the afternoon light. She lolled like an odalisque in the prow of the boat. He wished he could paint like Matisse . . .
The scent of earth-rooted herbs from the rocky shoreline was intense, an invisible umbilical cord connecting them to their Earth Mother.
Beguiling to the eye, Greece is a feast for all the senses.
They ate their first Greek salad of the year dressed in rich olive oil . . . tomatoes flavoured by the hot sun, cucumber crunchily refreshing, slices of sweet red onion, succulent olives and tart green peppers topped by a slab of creamy-sharp feta sprinkled with basil. They drank white wine full of fruit with an aftertaste of honey.
. . . She wanted to be alive to the sounds and smells of Ithaca, schurr of sea on shingle, those unrelenting cicadas . . . feeling the sun’s warmth on her body.
[From Twins of a Gazelle]
Surrounded by such sensuality, such fertility, little wonder Shirley Valentine didn’t dream of “being bent over the hostess trolley and beaten on the bottom with Woman’s Weekly” [see 50 Shades of Beige]. Instead, she swam naked in water like silk on the skin – you perhaps know how it feels. Afterwards, dried by the sun’s warmth, she chose to have hot sex with Costas on his boat. And, finds out who she really wants to be, just as Calista does in Twins of a Gazelle.
In our culture, our attitude to sex seems ambivalent. We cloak our uncertainty with humour, and, prurient, veer between being curious about its sterile mechanics – pornography, BDSM, ‘I **** hard.’ – Or, afraid of feeling too deeply, inhibited settle for something almost asexual. Fondness steeped in a superficial sentimentality which has little or no bearing on the rough and tumble (no pun intended) of a sexual being.
Where’s passion – ardent love; sexual desire; an enthusiastic interest or direction of the mind; [Chambers Dictionary].
Where’s love for another so intense, “You love her because everything about her makes your heart sing.’ Will was never so emphatic. . . . ‘Is that how you feel about me?’ ‘Since I set eyes on you,’ he said, returning her kiss. [From Last Bite of the Cherry]. Something so fierce to begin with it will sustain a relationship “in sickness and in health”, through all subsequent trials – paying off the mortgage, rearing children, learning to tolerate one another’s irritating foibles.
In my opinion, during the first throes of passion, the mutual pleasure and enjoyment of each other’s naked bodies is a given with no need for the titillation of concealment. If, when I write about love-making and sex, I try to make what happens integral to who the characters are and will become. Love scenes which do raise the temperature, and arise out of the natural progression of the plot. I appreciate June’s point ‘that what floats my boat, may well scupper yours’, but I very much hope I don’t cause my readers to cringe with embarrassment. Only they can say whether I do or not.
A thought to leave you with – “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.” [Marriage and Morals, Bertrand Russell 1929] No chance of that if you surrender to 50 shades of Greece. And afterthought, passion can also mean suffering. By ’eck, so can love, and then some.