DJ Taylor: Femme fatale Tara Murchison has been known to throw glasses of wine over people

 

It is always an entertaining spectacle to watch Tara Murchison being treated to dinner by one of her young men – far more entertaining than if you happen to be one of those young men yourself.

Six foot two, even without her heels, flame-haired, and constructed along the lines of a piece of classical statuary, she has an unerring habit of leaning hungrily over the table-top at meal times, rather as if she were a praying mantis anxious to bite the head off the person on the other side.

And if this weren't intimidating enough, there is the small matter of her conversation – again, intensely amusing should you chance to eavesdrop on it, much less so if you happen to be getting volleys of it full in the face.

Tara: "This wine's terrible."

Young man (nervously): '"Oh dear, is it? Shall I order something different?"

Tara: "I don't think I like drinking wine anyway… Where are we going afterwards?"

Young man: "I thought we'd go and see that film at the Scala."

Tara: "Christ! I don't know what makes you think I want to see rubbish like that…"

There is never any question of going Dutch: informed sources suggest that Tara has never paid for a meal in her life.

Why do the men put up with it? Nobody knows. They only know that they do.

The estate agency at which she works as a receptionist, yawning into the phone with an ineffable sulkiness, is full of gentleman callers who haven't the least intention of buying a house. Men have fought over her, despaired of her, even (once) tried to kill themselves over her, and still she goes on, taking them up, casting them off, staring sphinx-like at them while they talk, and silently despising them.

A bold suitor will sometimes fight back. It is rarely any good – in her crosser moments, Tara has been known to throw glasses of wine over people or simply get up and leave. On the other hand, a shy little lecturer from the local university once created a sensation among their mutual acquaintances by humbly informing her that she was the rudest woman he had ever met, ought to be ashamed of herself, and what would her mother think? It is a fact that Tara turned bright scarlet, drank the Chianti of which she had previously complained, and consented to sit through two hours of Korean poetry in translation.

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