Friday 15 August 2008


The other evening, I watched a film made in 1953 when I was 20! It was "Roman Holiday". Now there was, indeed a link between then and now, even before I matured to 40. There was a link because I felt just the same as I remember feeling then: delighted, amused and moved, too. After all, this beautiful, richly endowed and other-worldly young Princess stole out of her gilded cage and spent 24 hours as an ordinary mortal, enjoying Rome. Except she was'nt quite as normal as I would have been in the circumstances because she had Gregory Peck to fall in love with - which, as it happens, I think I did every time I saw him on the screen. The girl, you may well know, was Audrey Hepburn and the film was billed as "introducing Audrey Hepburn". Not bad to be in an Oscar winning film on your very entry in to the business. Two things struck me this time around that would not have been relevant in 1953: she looked border-line anorectic. So thin there must have been deliberate decisions about whether to film her sideways or not. And, of course, there was no what you might call 'consummation' of the relationship which developed between the two characters who did, in all other ways, fall in love. These days, they would have shared a bed and its concomittant activities before you could say "censor". "Brief Encounter" is another such. I suppose that has been one of the more obvious indicators of the revolution in mores since my younger days.

I find myself wondering, however, if abstinence was what was actually practised in real life as it was in films. I think it certainly was to a much greater extent. Perhaps, it wasn't decided by a moral attitude, but by the nearly non-existence of reliable contraception. Anyway, the likelihood of a one-off romantic encounter, with both pairs of feet off the ground that is, being an earth-moving, life-changing experience is not to be relied on either, so, all in all, why not let's leave it either out or to the imagination: dot dot dot as in Victorian novels. Nothing original in any of these thoughts but I still enjoy the reflecting.

During the reflection, in thebackground I have been listening to extracts from "The marriage of Figaro", the bit where the Count asks the Countess to forgive him, (from trying to exercise his feudal rights to 'bed' her maid on the night before her marriage - the maid's to Figaro, that is: you may remember). She does. I do wonder whether anything has changed there. Is the pain of infidelity any different in the 18th Century, the 20th century or now. What do you think?

I can't understand why I have embarked on such a serious question as the changing mores in sexual - or any - behaviour when it is August and, if it were not for the Olympics and Russia and Georgia, the newspapers would be scratching round for material to amuse our holiday mood. I think I'd better leave it for now, particularly since I shall have to find time to clean the front of my pale grey trousers, covered by newsprint from resting said newspaper on my tummy as I lay reading it on the bed trying to avoid the Olympics and trying not to worry about THE FUTURE; scarcely worth it at my age, you will say.

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