Sheena McDonald looks at passion, Postman’s Knock and other past perversions.
‘ . . . maidens call it Love-in- Idleness.‘
Well may they! When I gaze back '- over aeons of temps perdu to the days of innocence and ignorant desire (we knew we wanted it - badly — but we didn‘t know what IT was) when hours were spent poring over ancient spells and enchantments for winning true love, or combing the poetry books and quotations-compendiums for appositer randy sentiments to inscribe on heart-strewn foolscap and dispatch in fluttering hyperventilating hope — I am
How did we find the time? the organisation? Given the swatches of Double History and Eng Lit to negotiate, not to mention the extra-curricular demands of archery, jousting and dancing (or whatever it was you personally selected to chomp up the golden hours) — however did we find the idleness to muse and plunder and decorate and codify— all for love?
One year I constructed a Wheel of Love. Seventeen spokes were carefully cut out, and seventeen names laboriously printed on the fragile paper fingers. The delicate augury was then placed below the pillow, and each night one spoke was broken off. The discarded name might not be examined, for fear of breaking the spell. On the seventeenth morning, The Man was
left - one suitably symbolic lone SpOke.
The only flaw in this failsafe method of identifying the man of your dreams was the one that maidens learn to live with, once they’ve worked out that love in idleness is a distinct waste of life on Earth.
There wasn’t a lot to work with. I mean, when did you last try finding seventeen swains eligible for the Wheel of Love? What ifyou’re left with podgy Neil? Or very very spotty Arnold? Or dumb David, who damns his chances with the whole neighbourhood by the practical revelation, in the course ofa desultory tourney of Postman‘s Knock, that he thinks necking involves a grebe-like entwining of necks — like Pass The Orange without the orange.
Do they still play Postman's Knock? Or Spin The Bottle? Or— most guaranteed in those naive days to terrorise parents, had they but known — Chicken? I still taste that
2 The List 10 — 23 February
blend of humiliation and relief at being Knocked into the garage with Big Tam, the acknowledged stud of
the parish, who smiled indulgently at I
my twelve-year-old thrill and panic, and simply counted — slowly, bless him — to ten, before opening the garage door and ambling out, licking his chops modestly.
‘What was it like?’ clamoured my cronies afterwards.
‘Fantastic. Just fantastic’.
The hidden agenda behind the gladiatorial triumphs of matching and mating lay far ahead. The worst that could happen back then was to be exposed as a vest-wearer. Call me tight, call me lucky — I carried my Chilprufe secret through the lines of adolescence to achieve the ambivalent pleasures of adult underwear unscathed.
Romance, clearly, is for children, for those who know less and hope more. Shakespeare — as ever — got it in one. Juliet stands as role model for generation upon generation of vest-wearers, safe behind present day conventions which helpfully forbid the immediate post-puberty accession to adulthood. Pity the twentieth century Juliets who are blighted by their bold or accidental consummations ofhectic love. By the morality of hormones and Saint Valentine, they do not err, but mistakenly trust that the irresistible appeal of the primrose path will be condoned by those who pay the bills.
It seldom is. I wonder why. I wonder if there is a kind ofenvy of the idle childish addiction to love on the part ofthose who have grown beyond it, into a world where Affairs are Current or Business, rather than Amatory. ‘I never got the big balcony scene — so why should you?‘
Publishing houses grow fat on providing a kind of therapy for those still waiting for their balcony scenes. Hustlers and merchants of every commodity and appliance gum hearts and flowers to their post-sales windows, and invoke the dim memory of true love. And I pause from the grown up version of Making It (which has nothing — but nothing — to do with hormones) to wonder if it’s time for another Wheel Of Love.
Mind you, finding seventeen names this time could be even trickier. Perhaps a Propellor of Love would do.
Or perhaps this year I really am too mature to bother about the exigencies of the birds‘ wedding day. Something a little more suitable to my state and status, perhaps.
Anyone for Pass the Orange?
The Blue Peanut. Or is ita guitar? A bouncing baby? A , . luminous dogshit. even? ‘ Perched on the motel .i . Edinburgh's Fmitmarket ' z 3 Gallery. the neon sculpture‘s oliicial title, given by its creator. Dutch artist Alexander Schabracq. is Postmodern Consciousness oi Space. ; ~ Really catchy, Alex. .- . ' - ~ 4“ Six Dutch Artists: " Fruitmarket Gallery, ‘_ y , ' * Edinburgh. until March12. ‘ I 7 y . 5‘ See Art. page 47. ' *
Bouncers. Ayoung gentleman commits suicide aiterlorgetting to attend the Scottish Student ? Trampoline Open 1 Championships. The largest I student event oi its kind in ' Britain goes ahead this i weekend at the Pollock I Sports Centre. 46 Pleasance, Edinburgh. See Sport, page 46.
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- ‘druggies' are backintown
The Shaman. Still best I to promote their new snort Lm is compiled by known as the band who got I album. ‘In Gorbachev We Kristina woolnough, swan kicked bit a McEwans Trust’.
3mm“. and “in (mm. I promotion. those devilish 1 See Rock. Page 37.
St Valentine aside, who’s out to wm your heart this fortnight? Your guide to the next fourteen days starts here . . .