What genre are you?

Tolstoy it was who said that all happy families are happy in the same way while unhappy families are all unhappy in their own way. Whether he’s right about that I don’t know, but I do know that some families are unusual in peculiarly literary ways.

I once came across a family from a Greek Tragedy.  Actually, it was more of a Restoration Drama complete with dazzling wordplay, hints of incest, and suicides – both attempted and successful. Once the first child had been conceived everyone involved was trapped in a cresta run of melodrama, dysfunctionalism and real, true, nasty violent tragedy. I thank the goddess daily that my part was sufficiently minor not to merit an actual name, just a number and a description. There is a lot to be said for being the third spear carrier.

Then there’s the friend who sprang from the loins of an Iris Murdoch novel. Slightly whacky religious community – check. Agonised artists – check. Intricate polyamorous relationships – check. Intense political convictions – check. Complex characters who are both magnificent and deeply flawed – check. The whole shebang was topped off with more brain-power than is entirely fair. Even the first names of the protagonists manage to be Murdochian.

I have a friend whose childhood amongst hippies leading a simple life in wolf-laden valleys within the Appenines in Italy is clearly straight from another genre, though I am not entirely sure what genre it is. The same genre as Hideous Kinky perhaps.

Eric Berne postulates that we are all script-driven, though for some of us the scripts are “get married, have children, have grand-children, be happy” and for others they are grand guignol.

I lack the distance and the perspective to know what genre my life falls into. I’d love to think of myself as a Grande Horizontale, but I lack the figure and the stamina for it. I quite fancy ending up as one of Mary Wesley’s experienced and sexy old women with a complex and mildly kinky past and a complex and mildy kinky present.

Whatever I am, I am glad that I’ve managed to escape the Restoration Drama and that I’ve moved on from Mills and Boon and Bridget Jones.


4 responses to “What genre are you?

  1. Have I told you this? I’m a character from Peter’s Friends. It’s a movie, but hey ho. The one played by Emma Thopmson? It was awful. She’s really scatty and a bit desperate and she wears duffle coats and…

    I phoned up my oldest friend after I’d seen it, and told her, and instead of reassurance she said ‘Yes, well, now that you mention it, I did rather think that when I was watching it.’

    That was about ten years ago now. I stopped wearing the duffle coat immediately, and have been trying ever since not to ket the condition get any worse but…

    On the other hand, when we were at the theatre with B’s mother not so long ago, I had the strongest impression we were in one of Prachett’s Lancre witch novels. B was doing a wonderful impression of Granny Weatherwax and B’s mother was definitely channelling Nanny Ogg. I was Magrat. Did I need to say that?

  2. I love your descriptions of those incredibly mad literary families. They make fascinating reading, but were probably quite grim to live with. Well done for escaping intact, Aphra.

    I would have said mine was the plain vanilla “happy” genre, and then I thought what about the affairs, the divorces, the hooker habits, the drinkers, the multiple marriages … or is that just normal nowadays? Do families have to commit murder or incest in order to be especially weird?

  3. Thanks for the mention… I leave it to the rest of you to guess which mention I am.

    But yes, quite, that particular genre had me pointing bits out to various acquaintances and saying ‘You see? Like that.’

    Solidarity moment with Sol – I too had the duffle-coat. And the scatty. And the crush on Stephen Fry… or did you not go that far?

  4. Not quite that far, although that may have been because I was preoccupied with an impossible crush on someone else at the time.

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