Sunday 1 July 2012

The Lonely Art of the Lonely Heart

So I'm idling through the Guardian's 'Soulmates' column, as you do because it has good adjectives, and I am struck by the number of ladies and gentlemen who are looking for lurve - or possibly romance, friendship, affection, a good time, adventure, passion or felicity (yup, copied that last from someone's ad.)

Which makes me think that nothing really changes, does it? I have just finished reading a brilliant book called Shapely Ankle Preferr'd  by Francesca Beauman. It is the history of the Lonely Hearts Ad from 1695 -2010. Yes, that is not a typo!

Admittedly I know I am lucky, in that Beloved Husband and I have been married for 37 years come this September, and although those of you who know us well would say that in our case it is definitely Mr Chalk wed Ms Cheese, we go along amicably and are looking forward to growing even older together. We still make each other laugh. A lot. In his case, every time I open my mouth and say something about football.

Others do not have such good fortune. 'Good fortune' being the critical attribute. To snare Mr Right in the 17th century, it was not so much GSOH as ''Comeliness, Prudence, and 5 or 600l. in Money, Land or Joynture'' that would guarantee you an admirer quicker than you could say knife. Or wife.

By the 1700's, there were fifty-three newspapers all containing lonely heart ads of one sort or another. I was fairly gobsmacked at the audacity of one advertiser who wrote: ''A young man wants a wife with two or three hundred pounds; or the money will do without the wife - whoever will advance it shall have 5%'' (Daily Advertiser 1759) Not for nothing did Jane Austen pen those famous words at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice that: '...a young man in possession of a good fortune ... must be in want of a wife.'

In a way, I guess we are more fortunate (sic) in that money does not feature quite so prominently in today's search for love, though I'm sure it lurks behind the scene, gurning happily. Even so, it is sad that in our digital, well connected age, when we are all supposed to be only 6 steps away from each other (or possibly 6 feet away from the nearest rat, can't remember, but maybe not inapposite, given the topic) that there are still so many lonely folk around.

And oh my! So many over 60's! Maybe I'll hang on to Beloved Husband for a bit longer. I can't see anyone going for: Totally batty writer (62), likes cake, cats, 2CV's and prosecco. Knows absolutely zip about football ...  can you?


  1. I reckon that ad would get you loads of takers Carol. When I was on the dating circuit, I dated a very funny guy who had had so many responses to his ad that Time Out offered him the next one free - he'd made a fortune for the 0900 number and presumably the mag. Interesting though he was (had among other things had a successful career as a poker player) and successful (he was now a lawyer) he was one of the most annoying people I have ever met. He could not live without arguing with people - the manager in the supermarket about the state of their fruit, BT about the service he was getting (justified actually, I'm sure) and everyone else he came across. I am now happily married - not to him!

  2. Oh, the Men Who Got Away! Now there's a title for a whole series. Closely followed by The Men We Allowed To Get Away! Talented Daughter is getting married in Dec, and I am reliving, through her, all that lovely 'glowy I'm so in love thing'. Aaah, such memories....

  3. Don't under-sell yourself Carol. I bet we'd find a buyer for you on ebay (teehee). I, on the other hand, can't give myself away, these days :( Btw, Looking forward to Diamond Girl and love the Spy Girl covers!

  4. Did you see the research from a University that people think they are 5 times as attractive than they actually are.
    I don't know anyone who thinks they are the bees knees -do you?
    No hope of finding a buyer for me -couldn't even give me away. (Rather like my book last week).

    1. Katie Price? Fenella, I have met and spoken to you - you are a lovely person (as am I) and 'our price is far above rubies'. So there!! re book: I have been on a lot of ebook forums, prior to publishing mine. It seems no sales for a period is quite normal. Maybe you could retitle it: 50 Shades of Regency Grey (sic). Or then again, maybe not.... x

  5. Have you read the London Book Review personals? They're hilarious!


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