Followers of this reporter know that he has a fondness for the London Review of Books' personal ads. Piquant. imaginative, savory, impudent, uninhibited, and delightfully insouciant, they have consistently demonstrated a wit and flair generally absent from Americans trolling for love (or a reasonable facsimile, or temporary illusion) who nail notes to the classifieds' wall in the U.S. The Brits practically dare you to answer their ads.
How can you not appreciate the nobility of spirit that animates this example from September 2009:
Without my grandfather’s contribution to agricultural reforms in 1912, this nation would currently have to import its turnips. While you think about that I shall remove my clothes. Man. 55.
Or this one:
Inelegant. Seeks same. Be my soul/slob-mate. F (42) seeks M (35-55) or best excuse for one.
Let's put our dentures in the same glass. I'm alive. You be too. Pacemaker a plus. Opioids even better. M, 74.
Each issue's personals section was a parfait of defiant yearning, every ad a middle finger to self-marketing conventions. But things seem to have changed.
Perhaps it's a reflection of the recent political cowpie in Great Britain where two parties with nothing in common entered into a marriage of convenience to avoid isolation in the wilderness, but many of the ads in this month's issue - nearly 40% - have lost that wacko lovin' feelin' we've come to depend upon from the LRB. It's almost as if the global economic downturn has hit Britain hard in the heart and the wind has thrown caution back to whence it came. Earnestness and sincerity have infected bookworms on the prowl for passion. It's enough to make a grown man cry.
Have they become as bland as the typical American personal ad? You be the judge. As always, we've removed contact info to protect privacy. .
Optimistic Woman 40s, London. Seeks a kind and funny man for true love.
Let me change the ribbon in your typewriter. American man 45, seeks letters from abroad: correspondence for an affair of the mind. Generalist musings encouraged. Fictionists, political pundits, American expatriates, and email aficionados discouraged. Reply with patience: All respondents answered. J.BS., Chicago, IL UNITED STATES.
Attractive, polyglot M, 49 would like to meet female in London for conversation in a language of their choice.
M Seeks F sole lover for the long-term. No marrieds; no mind games. Keyword: ‘Elemental’. Wants to have children.
Attractive, interesting American f, 64, seeking well educated friend, companion and more to explore countryside, attend theatre and concerts.
Of interest to an attractive, discerning, unattached man in search of a beautiful intelligent woman for conversation and the possibility of sharing life. F, 41. London.
Note that we Americans, weary, apparently, from posting obits passing as personals in the New York Review of Books, appear to have crossed the Atlantic to morbidly infect the LRB with same.
Things, fortunately, begin to loosen up a bit:
I was recently victorious in a small claims court and with my compensation cheque I’d like to take you (F to 48) on a weekend bicycling trip to the Lake District Centre Parc. This offer doesn’t include meals or alcoholic beverages. M, 53.
F 33, Looking for debonair beau seeking accompaniment to London's swank parties. Think slimmer Kim Novak: vintage glamour, without the vertigo.
Then, a blessed return to the deliriously bent. The tears of sorrow run back up my cheeks, into my eyes, and run back down again, with laughter.
The size of one of my hands alarms me. If you are a hand doctor, female, under 35 and sexually adventurous, please write.
You’re not just any woman, you’re my reincarnated dead wife. Sylvia (or equally voluptuous Fs to 55), please write, I miss you, honey (or whoever you are).
(Suggest this person meet "slimmer Kim Novak...without the vertigo." Who says matches aren't made in heaven - or by Hitchcock? I smell kismet).
Replying to these ads may seem difficult. So I’m making it easier by sporting very casual clothing – denims, a jersey, no tie – while writing this. I also plan on revealing my first name so that you don’t necessarily have to call me Dr Clowder. Dr Clowder, 58, Louth.
I tested well with the 38-50 demographic. The same demographic also enjoys healthy cereal breakfasts and is open to product offers from financial institutes. If you’re 38-50, like museli, and would consider a savings account that gives you a 6.1% return on balances over £5000, write now to Eddy ‘Babycanon’ Mulligan.
I’m going to get this ad down quickly because I have two hours of cardio to do this afternoon. Publicity Exec (F, 28).
I’m at least 90% certain that we’re going to hook up. Under-grad statistician, 62.
I make love using sonar pings. It’s flank speed ahead with HMS Impregnator.
My lovemaking technique combines my two favourite passions – macramé knots and dentistry. F, 47.
Love with sonar pings, meta-metacarpals, necrophilia, museli, endurance freaks, over-aged under-grad statisticians, seminal ships at sea, dental procedures, yarn and knots. The lovelorn British bookworm really knows how to make a lasting first impression. Who knows where Cupid will lead Dr. Clowder, Eddy "Babycanon" Mulligan, and company?
As for the uncharacteristically unimaginative personals in this month's issue it's time for the editors to perform a little triage on the lame and catatonic supplicants currently posting to the LRB's ad space. A person could get the wrong idea and think they're reading Ennui!, the glossy magazine of matte boredom.__________
Of related interest:
"Have Books Destroyed Your Life, Too?"
London Review Of Books Personal Ads, Redux.
Miss Lonelybooks, Revisited.
Love In Bloomsbury.
Bibliophiliac Bleeds Books, Seeks Same For Mutual Bloodletting.