- A girl I was at university with once told me that I reminded her of Madame Bovary.
- She just…said it, and I sort of smiled at her, and it is all too possible that I even said, thanks.
- It took me a number of years to realise that I had been dealt a mortal blow.
- The reasons for this belated awakening are various, and one of the least important is that I had not yet read Madame Bovary when she said that to me.
- You don’t have to have actually read Madame Bovary from cover to cover to understand that when someone tells you that you remind them of Emma, they are making a brutal assessment of your character.
- They are going straight for the jugular.
- Ripping a big chunk of flesh out your calf.
- I refused to see this though, in a feat of willed obliviousness that calls to mind Emma herself.
- I thought she was saying I was chic or something!
- I thought she was saying I had some attractive anxious habits, or that I had the aura of a woman who would own an elegant dog.
- I thought she was saying I had a kind of romantic, nervous panache!
- Not so, obviously, but it certainly took me a while to arrive at this conclusion.
- An insult of that scale and viciousness can lie dormant within a person for many years, like rabies.
- You have been bitten, and you know that it hurt, but it is only when the insult embeds itself in your central nervous system that you realise how bad it actually is.
- What bothers me is that I have certainly been on the receiving end of other attacks and swipes of this nature, but I am too much of a simpleton to work it out just yet.
- I will probably spend the rest of my life periodically moaning in shame and anguish as I realise many years after the fact that I have been viciously insulted once again.
- You don’t seem like the kind of person who would have a problem like this.
- You seem like the kind of person who would know in a heartbeat, in real time, whether or not you had been insulted, and to what precise degree.
- You seem like you would have had a special diary for that.
- We know from your travel diary, at least, that your first meal of the day consisted of “eggs, vegetables, cheese or fruit, and a cup of cold chocolate.”
- We know also that “after dinner, which generally lasted from seven to nine, dusk often found them there, looking out at moonlight flecking the water and fisherman casting their hoop nets for eel.”
- “For eel.”
- A reasonable supposition is one which appeals to common sense, and common sense says that a man who recorded his and his companions’ hunt for eels will have also jotted down his own personal gripes and grievances.
- I for one would have loved to see that diary.
- Happy Birthday.
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