Friday, 12 March 2010

Fiances, fiascos, fame, fantasies, furies and futility

There seem to be a lot of fiances about these days. I am not sure whether the females sport engagement rings, but it seems that generally they are called fiancees as a polite, or rather, euphemistic way of indicating that they are shacking up with someone with whom they are having a sexual relationship, devoid of blessing or benefit of clergy or state. Not that I care particularly about this. It is the glossing, the padding, the pretence, the euphemisms which give me the pip. Despite our sexual freedom and abandonment of inhibitions, we refer to fiancees rather than mistresses - except of course in the case of tycoons, whose mistresses add glamour to their self and public images. If people want to cohabit, fine! It is when it is dressed up as 'an engagement' that my hackles rise, and I can feel new ones growing by the minute. They too are rising.

An engagement used to signify a formal and public commitment to marry. Now it seems that engagements drift on indefinitely. Not like in times of yore when people lived at home until they could afford to marry, and engagements did continue for years because the couple could not afford to marry. Now, it seems, people indulge in serial engagements.

It makes me feel rather bemused. I wonder how many engagement rings are acquired over the years? It brings back the memory of Scarlett O'Hara, when she agreed to marry Rhett Butler asking for a diamond ring, a great big one, and then receiving a ring with a diamond so large that even Scarlett suspected it of looking vulgar.

I used to work in an august and revered institution representative of the people of Australia. Ruby and Doug worked there too. They had been a de facto couple for years. Then they decided to get married, and all of a sudden they became engaged. We were all rather startled by this, but I see now they were actually trendsetters. Little did I know.

For the past few days the commercial media has been breathlessly reporting a saga concerning an 'engaged' couple. He is a cricketer, whose name I forget ( I try not to remember sporting details), who flew home from New Zealand, abandoning the team, to be with his fiancee, a model called Lara Bingle. I think she starred in a tourism ad a couple of years ago, asking potential travellers where the bloody hell were they (they should have been touring Australia, it implied). I think the Poms took offence, (possibly they disapprove of bad language?) and we were not too impressed either. On such issues fame is made.

Anyway, Lara has long blonde hair, which, in times of emotional crisis, she can flick over her face, thus thwarting photographers (isn't that euphonious?). The media is breathlessly debating whether or not she knew another man was married before they had sex (on a non-engaged basis) and he took a nude photo of her which was subsequently published. It looks now as though the engagement is over, as things are being moved out of the apartment lived in by the engaged couple. This story has headed the commercial TV news for days now, but all she has to do is tell the media the answers. Letters are being published in the daily rags about whether or not Michael should have stuck by his cricketing mates, instead of putting his personal life first.

This story is getting more attention than such trivial issues as whether the Commonwealth should take over the administration of hospitals, etcetera. It is not really more interesting, in my view.

It is enough to make me go upstairs and read a book. Science fiction or romantic fantasy? Or both?


Elisabeth said...

I read about this story today while I was waiting to collect a cooked chicken for one of my daughters who was about to go off for the weekend with said chook, sliced for sandwiches.

I wondered what the issue was here. The Herald Sun tends to sensationalise. I also wondered what it would be like to conduct a private relationship in public. What if all our minor disputes were battled out at the time on stage? This is the lot of the celebrity or those who parade themselves on shows like Big Brother.

The old terms for engagement and fiance have changed. Language keeps shifting as do mores. I suppose we have to be careful not to judge the present by old standards, but it's hard to keep up with it all.

Pam said...

I've just noticed your new "About" bit where you say you haven't quite got enough grandchildren. How many are enough, I wonder? It's a bit academic for me, who currently has none. Sigh.

I always thought 9 would be my fair share: 3 children, each with 3children. (Not sure about the ecological implications, mind you.) But even one would be a good start.

Friko said...

definitely neither. read a thriller with plenty of blood and gore and no sex of whatever kind to get you off the subject.

Can't remember where I saw your name - Violet Sky? - but I like your non-pom humour.

I have a girl who helps around the house who recently showed off her brand-new engagement ring. She is now engaged to the father of her second child, with whom she must have been living at least for six years, because that's the age of the boy. I wonder if she was engaged to the father of her first child? I daren't ask.

Anyway, sorry to waffle on in your comments box; I just felt like sating that I like your brand of Aussie humour.

Meggie said...

Oh I sooo agree. I have had a little rant about it too. I began to feel, if I heard either of those names mentioned again, I might be sick!
Why do the media feel they have to flog these issues to death? Why not report on some actual news? Obviously that would be too taxing on their poor lame brains.
I initially felt very sorry for the girl, who was paraded with her very furrowed brow. Now...grrrr.

persiflage said...

Elisabeth, it is not the change in mores that I mind so much, it is the waffling language and euphemisms which rile me.
Isabelle, I suppose like you I originally expected my children would have the same number of children that I have, to sit, three apiece, and so far no one is having a third. I am envious of my sister C who is expecting no 11, and they mostly live near her. Mine do not, and so my yearnings for more are futile as I am limited in the amount of grandparental fervour I can lavish on them. but Isabelle, you are only young and surely those grandchildren will arrive. Although childbearing does occur later in the life cycle these days.
Friko, welcome to the blog and if you can recommend a good thriller - not too gory - I will take your advice. I don't think I'd dare ask your girl either, but I would be burning with curiosity.
And Meggie, obviously the media have very small and trivial minds. It is a pity they have so much influence.