Hamlet lists “the Pain of Despised Love” as the worst of life’s burdens, along with ageing, the oppressor’s wrong, the law’s delay, and the insolence of office. What is this thing called Love? It has been defined by God, priests, poets, Freud, pop stars – even the market – as being generally a good thing. In our day we tend to believe the biologists. Love is a brief flirtation with madness.
It could be argued that we do not take many risks when our hearts hook up. The loved one is usually of the same social group and well within our standards of attractiveness. We do not try to get off with a Hugh Jackman or a Katie Cassidy. Still, the girls of our heart’s desire seem towers of desire swaying on five-inch heels, gorgeous legs right up to the start of their strumpet shorts, a décolleté like a bungee jump, diamond-studded nostrils, mascara and eyelashes as false as a phony Monet. (You probably think this piece is about you, you’re so vain). Guys by comparison look feeble in their covering of tattoos, or their grim suit and tie (hardly changed in a century). Amazing that we ever succeed at all.