Coming soon: a timeless tale of a forbidden love

Share
Related Topics
Excuse me if I seem a little distracted this week but I've had a brilliant idea. I've already been on the phone to my agent, working out the book deal and a multi-million dollar film contract - we're thinking Sigourney Weaver, possibly Julia Roberts, though I'd have to be sure they can manage an English accent. It's a tender love story (we might use the word elegiac) about a thirtysomething woman who just happens to fall in love with the wrong - well, person.

They run off together, staying at a series of motels, and the book will explore - sympathetically, of course - their forbidden relationship. If a few prudish people throw up their hands and talk about exploitation, so what? Given the subject matter, ecstatic reviews from Martin Amis and John Updike are more or less guaranteed.

Naturally there'll be a clause in the movie contract threatening that, if the film doesn't get a distributor in Britain, I will lead the entire cast in a walk-out. There are places where people understand the integrity of the artist - almost anyone you meet in Los Angeles, I'm told. A love story is a love story, even if it breaks taboos - sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes, the title. Housewife runs off with teenage boy: it just has to be Lolito. The Nobel prize for Literature is in the bag.

NAMES have been exercising the minds of judges this week, after a 34- year-old man from Somerset went to the Court of Appeal in pursuit of his inalienable right to pass his surname on to his son. After losing the case, he said he was devastated because there is no one else to carry on the family name.

Which is, by the way, Dawson. Not exactly an uncommon name, Dawson (if this seems a little harsh, bear in mind that I am called Smith). The case is complicated by the fact that the boy's mother has given him not her own original surname but that of her ex-husband; Dawn Wearmouth still uses the name of her former spouse and wants all three of her children to share it. The court thought this "perfectly logical and natural" and found in her favour.

Mr Dawson, however, is considering an appeal to the House of Lords. "This was a chance for the law to catch up with modern life, but it has been wasted," he complained, getting things completely the wrong way round. What the decision means is that the law has rumbled the nonsensical assumption that children should bear their father's surname in all circumstances. The only argument in its favour, as far as I can see, is men's sentimental attachment to patronymics.

I've never understood why women give up their names so easily on marriage. Even the ones who don't, of which there are a growing number, tend to bow to their partner's wishes when it comes to naming their kids. When women protest about either practice, as they occasionally do, they're assured that names don't really matter. On Thursday, that lie was nailed when we witnessed the reaction of a man who'd just been told he would have to put up with something women have tolerated for centuries.

WHAT I've failed to understand, of course, is that it's part of a man's genetic make-up to need to pass his name on to his children. Biological determinism is back in fashion, in a slightly more sophisticated guise, and people are discovering genes for this, that and the other, all over the place.

I'm on the side of the Darwinians when it comes to God, but they can't be trusted on gender. Take, for example, an article by Helena Cronin of the LSE in the latest issue of Red Pepper. "Evolution," she announces, "made men's and women's minds as unalike as it made our bodies. And it's time feminists and leftists" - that's me, guilty on both counts - "started taking the implications seriously".

Men are "more persistent than females, more disposed to take risks and more promiscuous". We know this, Cronin says, from the results of the "largest, most wide-ranging survey ever made of male-female psychological differences, covering 37 cultures on six continents, totalling over 10,000 people". What this shows is that "universally ... women desire older husbands; nowhere do men desire older wives. Universally, men value female virginity more than women value men's." And so forth. Cronin admits to cultural differences but concludes that "everywhere there was a male-female difference and always in the same direction".

In fact, if you do the sums, the survey relies on a sample of fewer than 300 respondents in each culture. Would you trust interviews with 275 people to give a representative picture of British culture? As usual, the results ignore the vast range of human experience: women who want older husbands, women who are looking for younger men with lots of energy, women who don't want husbands at all. (Boyfriends, in my experience, are infinitely preferable.) There are also women called lesbians, who don't want sex with men of any description. This is the problem with the neo-Darwinians. They don't seem to notice how people really live.

IT'S BEEN a good week for parties, even if you were left off the list for Wednesday night's bash in Downing Street. On Tuesday, Bloomsbury threw a party in Soho for three of its authors - a generous gesture given that, of the three, one was anonymous and another died last year. (The third, Mary Flanagan, was very much alive but seemed a bit bemused at finding herself in such company.)

The following night someone took me to the Met Bar in Park Lane where I found myself trying to work out the difference between a party and a lot of people standing about with drinks, which is what we seemed to be doing. "The difference," another guest explained, "is that at a party everyone has a common purpose." Yes, but what was it?

Things got no clearer when a woman appeared dressed as Princess Xena from the children's TV show with a cult lesbian following - I am not making his up - on Channel Five. She was followed by a man who looked like Chris Evans. This, I discovered, was because he was Chris Evans. Fearing that someone might assume I had a common purpose with the former DJ, I dodged past Princess Xena and went home.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?