09 November 2009


Well, reader, I have had a date. A date that went quite well but then didn't pan out. The date - let us call him Mr. Blue, although we could just easily call him Mr. Green (this would be a hilarious joke if you knew his real name) was zippy and lively, but he is also very busy. As a result, although he at least appeared very eager to set up a second date, he did not get in touch by the time he promised to, to set up said second date. I dislike being forgotten about, and I dislike being made to feel that I can be placed on the back burner, but I accept that busy people have busy lives, and that I may be being irrational in my sensitivities. So I contacted him; he was most apologetic and promised to get in touch by the end of last week. As, indeed, he did not. He did get in touch today, apparently with no memory that he'd arranged to get in touch by the end of last week - and when he got in touch, it was to say he had no time this week, but perhaps could squeeze me in next week.

Now, you may say that the guy might just be incredibly busy. You might also say that even if he got in touch late, and even if he got in touch to say he couldn't see me, he still got in touch to tell me he'd like to see me. You would be justified in both these comments. But my response would have to be that I don't want to begin a relationship with someone I'm going to see once every three weeks, and I don't want to begin a relationship with someone who either can't get in touch by the time he promises to get in touch, or forgets when he promised to, or doesn't rank me high enough to get in touch when he says he will. In any case, I told him I didn't want to see him again.

Of course, I am an elderly woman of manifest unattractiveness, but, as I said to S. this morning, I seem incapable of settling for a second-stringer and have too much dignity and shame to have some sort of fling with someone embarrassingly younger, even if that were an option. So I had better find some way to come to terms with the very real possibility of being alone for the rest of my life, and to negotiate that.

In any case, this is not what I wanted to discuss. Part of the easiness with which I gave up Mr. Green (or is it Mr. Blue?) arose from the fact that there were already things that bothered me about him: he cursed casually in conversation; he leaned into my space across the table (more alarming than irritating, but...); he did that thing where the person asks a question and then partially answers it themselves. But above all of these was the
fact that he referred to me not once, not twice, no, not even just three times, as an "Anglophile." I loathe being called an Anglophile. Now, strictly speaking the definition of "Anglophile" is "a person who is fond of or greatly admires England or Great Britain," and I would be willing to say I am fond of England or Great Britain. But this is one of those situations where nuance matters a great deal. For one thing, I do not "greatly admire" Great Britain. There are many things about Great Britain that I downright hate: the TV licence; the inability to complain calmly; the shop assistants who make you feel that you're disturbing their lives by asking for help; the drinking and the fatness. But even leaving those aside, I am not an "Anglophile." "Anglophiles" have mugs with Princess Diana on them, and cushions with the Union Jack. "Anglophiles" talk about "pea soupers" and "high tea." "Anglophiles" do things like go to the Lake District to look at the Romantic views. "Anglophiles" love Brighton Rock because it depicts Brighton just the way it used to be, even though they've never been to Brighton, so how would they know?

I have a mug with Struwwelpeter on it, and a cushion with a pineapple (don't ask). I have never uttered the words "pea souper" without ironic emphasis in my life. You couldn't get me out on a viewing tour of the Lake District with a whip and the promise of a snog by David Tennant when I got off the coach. And the thing that struck me most forcibly about Brighton Rock was that Richard Attenborough's head looked massive - much too big for his body.

Look at that! It' s like some freakish melon (he was excellent, though. And it was an excellent film. And probably the hat makes the head look bigger than it is). (Actually, now that these two photos are placed near one another, I notice a certain "large head" theme.)

Also, and let me cite this as my main piece of evidence, I live in England. "Anglophiles" do not live in England. They visit England, where they wander around the streets saying, "Oh, Gahd, it's so old!" and when they get home to America (note use of home) they say things like, "And at the hotel breakfast was just dry cereal and juice! It's what they call a Cahntinental Breakfast. But we luhved the Tower of London, didn't we, Ted? They have these guys in red suits guarding it called Beefeaters, 'cause of the beef they used to get to eat!" The last time I went to the Tower of London (twenty years ago), I spent all my time thinking that those crown jewels must be fake versions of the real ones, because you'd have to be mad to put the real ones on display. And you know what? They are!

So I am not an "Anglophile." I am a German resident in England; at a pinch I will accept American resident in England.

In other news, tomorrow night I'm attending a party where I might just get to meet Tom Stoppard. Although considering the "couldn't talk to Nick Lowe for fear of making a hair-related fool of myself" and "began a conversation with the world's foremost Byronist by telling him I loved him" experiences of yore, I'm not altogether calm in my mind about how such a meeting might go.

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