Thursday, 7 May 2009


Rick: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

Every time I watch Gone with The Wind, I still can’t, regardless of what existential bullshite any student of film will tell you, work out what the hell Scarlett O’Hara saw in Ashley Wilkes. She was strong, bold and self assured. He was quiet, stoic and ready to bend with the wind instead of fight it. The same with Casablanca – I would have gone for the mysterious, sullen yet whimsical Rick, yet Ilsa chose the do-gooder Victor. It makes me wonder about our choices in life. Do opposites really attract? And if so is that necessarily a good thing? And, if someone pointed out the differences would we believe them? Or do we ourselves wonder about the differences but do nothing to disrupt what we have found? And is that realistic or just plain dumb?

I have been pondering this of late. Why do we attract the people we do? How can someone so vastly different to yourself wander in and turn your life upside down? Why do we let them? Is it the excitement of it all? Do we think ‘stuff it, I’ll take a chance?’ It’s the same in romance books – the heroine is doing her own thing, getting through life by herself and then the hero turns up and disrupts everything. Then, as a writer, you have to get two polar opposites together and make it believable. Like real life – it’s madness. I don’t believe opposites attract and yet we attract them don’t we? Is it recognition that one of you lacks something the other has? Or is it lust the burns out the minute the blinders are off? And do readers want to read something like that in a book? I suspect not. We want the happy ending – we want to know all differences are resolved. We are unfulfilled when Rhett walks out on Scarlett or Rick watches Ilsa leave with another man. I think we’re programmed to believe in happy endings and choose not to accept anything else – which is insane as we all know life is not about happy endings.

I spend most of Gone with The Wind – seen it a hundred times – yelling at Scarlett to pull her head in and realize Rhett is the man for her…and Ilsa…honest to god – Rick owns a bar in exotic Casablanca and he is the quintessential smart arse – what’s not to love? Yet, they both make decisions that leave us wondering – what the?

Yeah, you’re right, they’re just characters who aren’t real. But what about real people who form attachments to people you can see are just so wrong for them and yet you know you can’t say anything because they won’t believe you. And what of yourself? Is there a moment, like the heroine of a book, when you think – “hang on a sec – what am I doing?” Or should we just seize the moment and worry about consequences later? Yep, I’m rambling again….consider it white noise…
Go Ahead : Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?