Friday, 13 February 2015

Looking for Mr Right

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 love - 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? When I was researching for Honour & Obey, the sequel to Diamonds & Dust, which is all about the Victorian search for the perfect man, I read 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 39 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, or Mr Right Amount in the 18th and 19th centuries, 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 1800'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) 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 (64) likes cake, cats, 2CVs and prosecco. Knows absolutely zip about football ...  can you?

14 comments:

  1. I think anybody with any sense would snap you up, Carol. It is sobering though how little has changed where our needs and wants are concerned. I suppose the other main difference, as well as the money, is that women can now be pro-active in their search. Although I once went speed dating with my actively looking friend and it traumatised me for life :D

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  2. Our Lonely Hearts are small fry compared with the marriage pages in India - most placed by parents arranging weddings for their offspring. Preferred atrributes: education, high caste, light skin - nothing about sense of humour or fancying a quick how's-your-father while no one's looking. From our perspective it's sad, but their divorce rate is peanuts compared with ours.

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  3. I agree with EL Lindley, CarolStar. I think your description would be very appealing! Interesting it is, however, that Jo's comment suggests arranged marriages might work well in today's world, but then I think that depends very much on the society and culture in which you have been raised. It probably has to do with expectations, but the dark side of that story is women stuck in loveless marriages the way they often were in our own earlier times. Even when I was a child, I was aware of the unhappiness of couples who stayed together simply because it was not really socially acceptable to be divorced. I love these ads, though, and can remember reading similar postings in The Lady and Country Life when I was young (and still in England). It seemed then that farmers were the loneliest souls.How wonderful that you and BH have had such fun in your 39 years together!

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    1. thanks Val. I'm so glad that for women, so much has opened up and marriage is no longer the 'career' expected of us.

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  4. ...mega-chortles!, m’Lady... splendiferous post! :)

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  5. I wouldn't want to have to advertise for another man. It's taken me 37 yrs to train the one I have,imagine having to start from scratch again.

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  6. Carol, great post. It's sad, though, I agree, that there are so many lonely people around. I have quite a few single friends - 2 widowed in their 30s/40s - and a couple of others who just haven't met the right chap - and they're all so lovely and deserving of some happiness and romance.

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    1. In 1860 ..there were 4 women for every man ..so your chances were slim...at least you CAN live a fulfilled life, work, travel, without the stigma of being single, now.

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  7. Interesting post for Valentine's weekend, Carol. And from your photo I cannot believe that you are 64!

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    1. Aww..thanks Sally..happy to supply you with pic of bus pass..

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  8. Anyone who can make you laugh is the right person to have in your life, and if you make them laugh too, your job is done and happiness will follow.
    Laughter is not only the very best medicine, it is also the only thing you really need. In my honest opinion, everything else is over-rated...

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    1. I think you are right. Totally ...anything else is transitory

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  9. Definitely going to keep mine... Only found him eight years ago.

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    1. Hang on like grim death - there's a lot of eejits out there!

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