vendredi 14 juillet 2017

I Blame Jilly

I blame Jilly Cooper.  For many things.  I love her beyond all reasonable measure, but I can’t help but feel it’s all her fault.

Jilly had far too great an effect on me at far too young an age; I spent my pre-teen years nicking my mum’s copy of Rivals and discussing with my cousin which character we’d be.  We don’t still do that; no, not at all.  We’re grown-ups now, honest.  (Ahem, Prudence and Imogen.)

In Jilly World, women should be fun and naughty, just a little bit grubby.  Self-control is not only boring but deeply suspicious.  Pouring stingy measures is so frowned upon it might as well be illegal.  Lunchtime drinking is not only fine, it’s positively de rigeur.  You shouldn’t be too healthy or too good at your job (you’re allowed to be bright, as long as you take two-hour lunch breaks and fuck everything up a lot, but everyone in your office loves you so it’s fine); your house shouldn’t be too clean.  You should be charmingly self-deprecating at all times, a little bit indiscreet, just a tiny bit too fat for your favourite slinky dress (which may be covered in cat hair).

Basically 'Jilly made me do it' is my standard get-out for all of my many character failings.

However, the most important thing I learned from Jilly is that romance has a formula.  The path to true love – with a Matt/Corey/Ace/Declan type if you’re really lucky – is well signposted.  So, obviously I thought this would be the case in real life: heavy hints dropped throughout the story, the happy ending clear cut and arriving just in time.

If the universe would only conform to the Jilly rules, I know exactly the man in my life who I am supposed to end up with.  According to the Cooper Law, here is how it works:
  • You are entirely disinterested and/or antagonistic towards Said Man at first
  • Love Feelings sneak up on you when you least suspect them
  • You find yourself engineering meetings, putting on lipstick when you are going to see him and denying to your friends (who have suspected all along) that you are falling for Said Man, while fervently trying to deny it to yourself (after all, he's not your type/you despise him/you're mad about someone else!)
  • Said Man kisses you and a thousand bolts of lightning go through you, etc
  • You possibly have ill-timed/drunk sex, which makes you both feel awkward and handle it badly in the morning (despite both of you having The Secret Love Feelings)
  • Just as it looks like you might get it together, there will be a dramatic obstacle in the way (a secret girlfriend/estranged wife/evil ex; meddling family/local busybody; a sudden death/illness/horse-related crisis)
  • You are heartbroken and slink off to be consoled by your hilarious boozy girlfriends and their pun-based one-liners, in either a tumbledown country cottage or a flat in Putney (NB their love lives will suddenly and unexpectedly be going brilliantly, just to make matters extra depressing for you)
  • There may be some sort of miscommunication on the way to tangle things up even further and lead you to think it’s all utterly, utterly hopeless
  • He turns up, only to find you in a red-eyed and hairy-legged state of despair, having just eaten an entire jar of pickled onions, yet still manfully declares his undying love and willingness to take on your grumpy cat/blind dog/demanding family/crippling debt
  • You have a very jolly wedding, where Janey Lloyd-Foxe gets off with the best man and your long-divorced parents get so pissed they end up in bed together
  • Live happily ever after.

I mean, is that really so hard?  It’s how it’s supposed to go, according to everything I have ever learned in my life.  I genuinely do not understand why the Cooper Law cannot apply to the actual universe.

The idea that it doesn’t is personally upsetting to me.  I am both affronted and terrified.  I mean, what are you supposed to do if Said Man doesn't appear to have read enough Jilly novels to know how this is supposed to end?  Shit.  There is no Jilly plot for this.

Yep, I blame Jilly.  I'm still going to spend the weekend rereading Prudence in the bath and eating pickled onions.

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