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.