Putin’s Russia, following the example of Nigeria, Uganda, and other African and Middle Eastern countries clamps down hard on homosexuality and simultaneously representing a truly amazing change, for the first time a same-sex couple instead of being threatened with hatred and baseball bats has been allowed to run in the category of cutest couple at Carmel High School in Carmel, New York let alone the first time a same sex couple has won it. After fellow classmate Chelsea Blaney posted a picture of Brad Taylor and Dylan Meehan announcing their win, the couple received an outpouring of support. To date, her post has been liked or reblogged more than 100,000 times. “Two of my best friends won cutest couple of our senior class. First time in my school history a same-sex couple has even been able to run for this category, not to mention winning it. So proud of them, and my school,” she wrote. Taylor and Meehan, who started dating a year ago, were surprised by all the attention, but were grateful they could serve as a source of inspiration. “This whole thing has been a bit surreal for us because we have been raised to believe that love is love. We never realized that our happiness and openness would inspire so many individuals,” they wrote in an email. “The support we have received from our family, friends and even strangers have led us to believe that our affection for each other is normal.” After so many stories of LGBT discrimination, it’s nice to finally see one that ends happily. In Iran the boys would be hanged. I note the support they have received from their families, unlike the parents of the sixteen year old daughter who, furious at their affair, had her eighteen year old lesbian lover arrested and likely to be charged, if that hasn’t already happened. They obviously do not believe that love is love. Life being what it is of course the idyll will end as so many first love affairs do but hopefully Brad and Dylan will remain friends even when that happens.
Have finally, with some effort, finished reading ‘The Philanderer’ and really don’t have anything positive to say about it. Contrived? Well, let’ see. Our friend, Russell, a man who seemingly has everything is madly in love with his wife, Madeline, a failing actress, and certainly not wanting to lose her, but can’t help straying. Nothing new in that, the majority of men I reckon stray some time or other and yes, in some cases it is compulsive behaviour. As the novel opens, Russell is having it off with a sort of bimbo named Suzie who he doesn’t really like much but who’s a great lay and when she ends the relationship he is furious. Even though he’s getting a bit tired of the affair himself he feels if it is going to end it is up to him to end it. So he moves on to have it off with his boss’s wife, Clare. As the two couples socialise: they go on holiday together, they play bridge; this is really a dodgy situation. Madeline, is away acting her socks off out in the sticks and he swears to Clare that it is indeed love he feels for her and not just sex and it is only because of this “love” much against her better instincts but believing him completely that she has allowed the relationship to develop. Re-enter Suzie who wants to take up again where they left off and of course Russell can’t resist so now we have the old telephone give away phenomenon to further the plot. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating," as Emma Coats (writing and directing films) said but I’m not sure I agree with this. In fact just the reverse, in this instance anyway. It just so happens time wise that Suzie is in the bathroom when a phone call from Clare comes through and Russell is busy saying how much he loves her, how much he is missing her, how sorry they couldn’t be together at this moment when Suzie comes out of the bathroom, trips over the wire, loudly apologises, the phone goes dead at the other end and that is the end of this affair. Clare naturally, much to the concern of her husband, Perry, goes down with an attack of the megrims and he can’t understand why, but Russell takes fright and, in case the affair comes to light decides to leave New York and take up an offer of a job a friend (they have long discussions/arguments on morality) has been urging him to take in Washington where, at his very first interview, who should he lunch with but his new boss’s secretary who just happens to be way up his alley and who makes no bones about it that she finds him attractive. And this coincidence is where we came in. Perhaps, had it been better writing, I might have accepted it. I’m sure there are those who consider me to be one but as far as this particular novel is concerned it is definitely in a box labelled HACK.