Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Longing For Love

The personal column in the London Review of Books is zany and engaging.

My friend, who passes this journal on to me each month, thinks that I devour them for their erudite literary reviews but to be honest, the greatest draw card is the Personals.

Here is a sample from the last couple of editions:

Reply to this advert, then together we can face the harsh realities of my second mortgage. M, 38, WLTM woman to 70 with active credit cards.

This ad is not an attempt to find a partner. It is a Guinness attempt at a record number of rejections. Realistically, however, I’ll probably fail, as I’m the most gorgeous man in here, having better hair than everybody else and am fluent in 17 languages (of which half are no longer in use). M, 32. Golden nutritious wheat in a rotting column of chaff.

The uncomfortable mantle of guilt, the heavy cloak of ignominy, the coarse socks of denial, the iridescent trousers of doubt, the belligerent underpants of self-loathing. All worn by the haberdasher of shame (M, 34, Pembs). Seeks woman in possession of the Wundaweb iron-on hem of redemption and some knowledge of workaday delicates. No loons.

Coming from one of the world’s largest coal-producing regions, you’d expect me to litter this ad with clever references to coal and the decline of the coal industry and possibly some nostalgia about my father working in a coal mine and a few anecdotes about accidents, heroism and camaraderie and everyone supporting each other in times of coal-related hardship and crisis. Instead, I’d like to talk about my cats. Gentleman, 55. Likes cats.

I butchered three volumes of Seamus Heaney to produce this ad. Publicity exec (F, 31).

Last Valentine’s Day I sponsored a truck-load of mitten crabs on behalf of my girlfriend. She left me not long afterwards, but the mitten crabs are thriving. I learned an important lesson through all of this but I’m really not sure what it was. That’s where you come in, F to 35 with profound love of mitten crabs for evenings spent drinking home-made iron brew and plotting the migratory pattern of mitten crabs with amateur mitten crab enthusiast (M, 35).

Not all these ads are expressions of lighthearted wit. Here’s one that truthfully expresses the pain and sadness that often lurk behind these words:

This column is a ziggurat of heartache and I am its high priest.

In the country where I live (UAE) the Seeking a Partner columns go for pages. I am told by a marketing expert in Dubai that the matrimonial web sites in the UAE have the highest number of hits.

Problematic relationships can lead to intense misery and pain. However, vibrant, creative and spacious relationships can be a source of deep satisfaction and joy.

Nowhere has this been more beautifully expressed than in George Eliot’s Friendship Poem. I wonder if you know it.

“Oh, the comfort,
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all
out, just as they are, chaff and grain together,
certain that a faithful
hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and with a
breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

Geoff Pound

Sources: London Review of Books (Jan-April 2006)

Image: Friendship?