Do you believe in Love at First Sight?
Personally, I never believed. You see, I think to claim to be in love – really in love – you need to get to know the object of your desire a little first.
You have to discover that yes, he too went to a street party for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee where he ate sausage rolls and took part in a three-legged race. That he too watched Tiswas on Saturday mornings. That he bought Space Dust from the corner shop on his way home from school and instead of making it last, tipped the whole sachet onto his tongue and pressed his mouth up to his best mate’s ear so they could share its slightly painful, explosive joy.
And that, even if you disagree on a few of the details, you bascially see the world the same way.
I’ve always thought that this Love at First Sight thing was pretty superficial. That all anyone is saying when they use this tired old cliche is that their primal instincts have kicked in and told them this largely symmetrical, fit, healthy person has strong genes. And maybe that person’s genes would look pretty good all mixed up with their own …
So, Lust-At-First-Sight-As-A-Way-To-Make-Your-Genes-Live-On-Into-The-Next-Generation? Yes, I believe in that.
At least, that’s what I thought. Now, my whole life view might just have been turned upside down.
The object of my affection is small, medium build, brown with a healthy shine and a spotless, perfect exterior.
But this isn’t a superficial, base craving. I looked past this beautiful ‘packaging’, to what was within, and from the very first word I was hooked, smitten, obssessed – yearning for the times when I can slip beneath the covers and spend time with my new love, enjoying every thrilling moment …
Shall I tell you the name of my obssession? It’s Neverwhere.
What do you mean, that’s a weird name for a man? What’s that got to do with it? Oh, I see. No, no my dears, my new obssession is entirely of the paperback variety. And shame on you for thinking otherwise …
You see, I so often find with books that it takes me a while to buy into the premise, or to begin to care about the characters, or to get caught up in their plight. I can spend chapters reading slowly, with little enthusiasm or drive, feeling more than a little Meh about what’s happening to whom, where, when and why.
Maybe I read too many of the wrong books too often*. But not this time.
From the beginning of Neverwhere** by Neil Gaiman, I knew I was going to love it …
Eldritch old Scots women predicting dark futures involving doors, a young woman on the run, two sinister strangers with a penchant for knives and rat dinners all overlaid with humour as black as a midnight walk in a sewer …
What’s not to love?
So, here’s a question for you chaps. How quickly have you fallen in love with a book? After the first chapter? The first page? Paragraph? Sentence? Or do you need to get to know a book before you fall?
*To be fair, I felt the same about the last book I read – The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. Victorian London, brothels, prostitutes, dark filth-filled alleyways and prose you could melt into. Yum.
**Yes, I know. For a woman who claims to love all things dark, I’m coming very late to this Gaiman-shaped party. What can I say? I’m an idiot.