Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Passion in the Personals

I hate to admit it, but the part of the London Review of Books I've always enjoyed most has been the personal ads. Literary types looking for their soulmates come up with some pretty creative bait, and offer an insight into the self-deprecating British pysche.

Now David Rose the magazine's advertising director (below) has compiled some of the funniest of what the publisher's blurb calls "surreal haikus of the heart," in They Call me Naughty Lola noting that:

... while hopes of finding a suitable mate remain low, the column has produced a handful of marriages, many friendships, and at least one divorce.

James Button picks out some of his favourite LRB ads in the Age. (And there's another very enjoyable review of the book by Jonathan Player in the New York Times.) Don't you just love this ad which almost amounts to a short story?:
You'll write. I'll probably enjoy your letter and write back. After corresponding a few times, several phone calls, we'll arrange to meet. We'll meet again and become more intimate, eventually dating regularly.

We'll form a relationship, start leaving things at each other's apartments. We'll spend weekends together. Sometimes whole weeks. We'll have lazy Sundays lying naked in bed together, reading the supplements and not leaving the house.

Sometimes we'll disagree. The disagreements will become rows. We'll see each other less in the week. You'll come round one evening to 'collect some things' - we both know what it means. You'll go back to your place and cry like you used to do on cold wintry evenings. I'll drink more … We'll regret six lost months - possibly a year - wasted on yet another emotional cul de sac.

Let's save us both the pain - just send me a Christmas card and a nice gift (cash preferred, donations of £20 and above) and we'll call the whole thing quits now. (M, 43).
Button says:
How very English they sound. Clever, diffident, seemingly modest, given to gloom, and probably not as good at making love as at making laughter. As one personal advertiser in the Review put it: "Romance is dead. So is my mother. Man, 42, inherited wealth." ... I say seemingly modest, because the English are as interested in self-promotion as anyone else. But as the anthropologist Kate Fox shows in her book Watching the English, one must boast modestly - to the point of putting oneself down. It is for others to graciously contradict. ... Self-deprecation is an iron law of the national character.
If you'd like another helping of the LRB personals, why not check out those in the current issue?

And if anyone wants to post their own personals, I offer you space in the comments section!

(Pic from the New York Times)


Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon, thank you for the links, something to make me smile today, at least. This reminds me of the song (I forgot the title) but the man ended up meeting his wife, who he thought he was bored of. I much prefer the British's self deprecation rather than the Americans' chest-thumpings. Seriously. Eliza.

lainieyeoh said...

hah. damn. i almost want to respond to the ad.
song sounds like rupert holmes - escape.

sympozium said...

Very Pet Shop Boys title: She's In Love With The Man She Married...

lainieyeoh said...

(no news on the aminah kosai letter?)

KayKay said...

Good article Sharon. Let me take a stab at this:

I Remember My House And Warm Bed,
And The Walls Oh So White
Which Would Turn A Bloody Red,
When Mom And Dad Would Fight.

My 3 Sisters Hated Me,
My 5 Brothers felt The Same,
Mom Never Called Me For Dinner,
She Couldn't Remember My Name

Woman Needed,Strong,Capable & Such,
For Use As an Emotional Crutch,
Believe Our Love Will Cross Borders,
Barring My 5 Restraining Orders

The Odd Psychotic Episode Aside,
To The Laws Of Monogamy, Will I Abide
Will Make The Right Woman Deliriously Happy,
Once I Complete My Therapy,

bibliobibuli said...

lainie - to be sent thursday. i will post it on the other blog as soon as animah gives me the green light, so the world can see. would you like to have your name on it? we need just 4 more names to make it 50. (animah likes round numbers). it isn't a petition - just a list of names to give it a bit more weight.

kaykay - did you jsut make that up??? bloody hell. we have a poet laureate

KayKay said...

Am afraid I did Sharon.
It's amazing what can be achieved by a thoroughly Sick and Depraved Mind on short notice:-)

bibliobibuli said...

but you're cheating really. you already have a very long-suffering and infinitely patient someone.

KayKay said...

HaHaHa!! Ain't that The God's Honest Truth:-)

Argus Lou said...

I'm the female version of KayKay (though not witty):

Suffers OCD
Gushes tears at drop of hat
Does not do windows

(is it the right format for a haiku?)

bibliobibuli said...

argus lou - right number of syllables, yes, well done.

lainieyeoh said...

ahhhh. thought it was petition. can feel free to add my name, doubt it has much use weight-wise though. might want to get a heavier name to round it up :P

bibliobibuli said...

we got plenty of names - heavy-weight and otherwise. a petition might be necessary later on if nothing happens with this.

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