I went to a recording of Just a Minute at Broadcasting House this evening. Paul Merton and Clement Freud were there so it was really cool. Got soaked waiting for 45 minutes in the rain, though. Also went to St Paul’s Cathedral where the cupola was closed (and therefore rendered my purpose void) and to the Museum of London where I caved to my inner five year old and bought a Paddington Bear at the shop.
To cut a boring story short, I was flicking through the catch up TV list and found something called ‘Reader, I Married Him’ which, as many of us know, is a line from Jane Eyre. It turned out to be a rather inspid documentary about women’s fascination and lasting adoration of certain characters from certain books.
I managed to watch through the drooling over Darcy (including a ridiculous thing where the presenter and a group of women submitted their Darcys to a police photo-fit chap who apparently has nothing better to do), the raving over Rochester and the howling over Heathcliff. I couldn’t take any more when the presenter went to Atlanta and donned a very cheap and tacky antebellum-style dress and started waxing lyrical about Rhett Butler. I turned off and put on the Beatles Anthology instead (see previous post).
Don’t get me wrong. I adore Rhett Butler. His introduction in the film is one of the very greatest moments in popular cinema. I also like Darcy a great deal. Rochester’s brilliant… but I cannot really empathise with these ladies. For all that I like and admire these characters in their own right and as literary creations, I can’t say that I’ve ever been in love with any of them.
Darcy is too perfect. I mean come on! I like the fellow but I wouldn’t want it. He’s too repressed (even by the end of the book), too English, too stiff-upper lip and the rest. Snore.
Rochester is too much of a grumpy bastard. I’m not saying that he’s unlikeable because I think he’s one of the least annoying ‘heroes’, and he has a fair amount of justification for being a grumpy bastard, but he’s too changeable and all too willing to manipulate the people around him.
Heathcliff is just a psycho, OK? I mean, please. I’m sure he really loves Cathy lots and lots and lots, but the man is a vindictive, vicious, dog-killing psycho. Even when played by Timothy Dalton he’s really just unlikeable. I like him as a literary creation, but the personality is just acid.
Rhett. Now Rhett I adore, I really do. Book Rhett and Movie Rhett aren’t all that different because everything in the book that’s omitted by the movie is put across by dear old Gable, whose picture is actually just above my left shoulder right now in the gallery of stars that make up my cathedral of movies. Or as I call it, the front room. Rhett is a good guy. He’s really quite honorable and decent, although his contemporaries wouldn’t agree ("why my dear, he isn’t received!") and I have always admired his ability to stand up with the courage of his convictions. One of his lines: "With enough courage you can do without a reputation" is one of the cornerstones of my own life. However, I never even considered being in love with Rhett. Maybe it’s that he’s just too much in love with Scarlett for me to consider it (I’m horribly honorable that way)… but he’s just not for me.
Now I wonder: if Darcy and the rest can’t pass the Valentino Test, I don’t suppose that anyone else stands much hope either… as the song goes, I’ll surely get a parrot.
There are worse things to be than a mad fool like me.