I feel sad that it is now statistically unlikely that a man will look into my eyes and say, “I’ ll give you a go around like you’ve never had,” like Duck Phillips promises Peggy in last night’s episode of Mad Men. How could she resist a line like that? Well she didn’t.
It takes me back to a brief Manhattan sojourn in the sixties, when I worked in an agency just like Sterling Cooper. Anyone living there then will instantly catch the meaning of the falling man in the credits and the subtle undertow of the title itself. It was a world of drink and men dressed convincingly but inappropriately as grown-ups. I had a few good go arounds in those days and it’s hard to imagine the canvas that stretches ahead coloured with the fine wash of celibacy. But hey, there’s plenty of other stuff to occupy me and I mustn’t ever forget the tears and the terrible hangovers that accompany the glorious act of seduction.
Driving back from Mimi’s across Salisbury Plain in the exquisite misty light, I played Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, a piece of music that simply can’t be played in the confines of my flat. But within the panorama of field and hills, with the milky sun dipping in and out of clouds, it was magnificent. I drove on the developing variation of his twelve tone technique and in the moment loved my life with its own counterpoints. Alban Berg’s music is much like my developing inner world. It seems to look back but in fact it is essentially of the future -developing as it is out of something familiar, yet with each phrase still intrinsically different and interesting. Caught up in the elegiac and romantic patterns of Menuhin’s playing, I reflected as the miles flew past, on the profound pleasure that I now draw from something that was incomprehensible to me in my youth.
Alban Berg, who looked awfully like Elvis don’t you think, came to a tragic end before I was born. He died from blood poisoning after his wife tried a little home surgery, with the kitchen scissors, on a boil. She must have felt terrible. It’s the sort of thing that could happen in the Draper household. Betts, with her glacial Grace Kelly looks, is nurturing a black heart and the mood in that household seems to be working up to some awful denoument. Don moves through the domestic landscape like the archetypal outsider. He is not a type I have ever met in the flesh. Well- suited, confidently manly, cruel, enigmatic and in charge, at least on the outside. The typical unavailable male. Such men never make a girl happy, as Betty is finding out.
But man, is he attractive! For women brought up by the emotionally absent post war men, the unreadable, difficult and dangerous Don is irresistible. It’s a good thing that time is taking me on the inevitable journey from men to music. But thanks to the memories I have plenty of material to sew a vivid mind tapestry in the years ahead.