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.
Romance, in one form or another, is threaded through all our books at New Romantics Press. Lately, we’ve been discussing how one reader’s sublime is another’s ‘cor blimey!’
Apparently, there was no such thing as romantic love until after the 12th century. Until then, knights regarded biffing each other as pretty much its own reward. After that, they needed an explanation for all the biffing, (if they couldn’t think of one, they asked a minstrel to make something up) and sagas of battle moved to tales of courtly love.
Sublime? So, what about the ‘cor blimey!’
E.L. James’s erotic bestseller has sold 100 million copies, and still counting. It’s women who are flocking to see the film.
Allegedly, before the launch, B&Q sent a memo to staff, warning of a possible increase in demand for certain products. These would be from customers recreating their own Fifty Shades experience. What were they expecting? People stringing themselves up in the shelving section and spanking one another with Vileda mops?
Have I seen the film? Noo. I always feel a teensy bit self-conscious watching that sort of thing – a voyeur looking through a keyhole. There’s a sort of agony of embarrassment and my hand keeps creeping up to cover my face – as if a week-old kipper is being wafted around.
I often skip the more palpitating passages when reading, too – especially when it starts to sounds a tad gynaecological.
“I don’t make love. I ****. Hard.”
(Ooh, heck. Move over Heathcliffe.)
Those words from the film sound less erotic to me than the Victoria Wood song about turning off Gardeners’ Question Time in the hope of being bent over the hostess trolley and beaten on the bottom with Woman’s Weekly.
I’m not quite of the same mind as the film reviewer, who said 50 Shades made her want to rush for her pinny and start polishing the silver.
I admire people who write about sex and erotica well. It takes skill to get it right. I just know that I’m not one of them.
I’ve taken heart from writer Joan Didion who suggests that concealing something, can heighten its impact. She says: “It’s like dressing. If you’re covered up, it’s sexier than if you’re not.” (Discuss?)
I heard a theatre director say recently that sex on stage is a notoriously tricky thing. A little, he said, goes a long way. It’s the suggestion of sexiness, apparently – not the act itself – that raises the temperature in an auditorium.
Raising the temperature! That’s it! That’s what I’m always struggling to achieve in my novels. But I appreciate that what floats my boat, may well scupper yours.
So, what about you? What do you think? Comments in plain brown envelopes, please!
I’ll leave you with another quote from Victoria Wood: ‘Orgasm? I haven’t blown my nose since Wednesday!’
And to cool things down, here’s a picture of myself at 5, dress tucked into knickers. (I still wear a similar voluminous sort which may go some way to explaining my own views on this topic.)