I’ve always had an aversion to the idea of couples, even though I’ve been married so many times. Each time I think it will be different but it never is. After the eighteen month cool-off period boredom sets in and the old wound opens , resulting in a terrible feeling of entrapment and despair. But I’m fascinated by the couples who do manage to make a go of it and I have to own that my Welsh dresser is loaded down with cruets, those quaint salt and pepper sets that of course always come in twos. So there is definitely a fascination in the subject, even if it is being driven by cultural imperatives, rather than free will (if such a thing exists). I am particularly interested, as I grow older, in the relationships where the male is what is known as curmudgeonly. Oh how I love that word. It rolls around the mouth and ends up sounding exactly what it describes- an ill-natured, churlish fellow. I’ve met a few in my time and now I take great delight in watching at a distance(often with more than a touch of schadenfreude), as patient women sort out such fellows in cafes, supermarkets, streets and parks.
I suspect that Frank Lloyd Wright might have been curmudgeonly. He cetainly led Alistair Cooke a merry dance when he tried to do a TV programme with him in 1959. He was what the young have taken to calling legend. Cooke himself described him as having the most highly advertised ego of his time. How could a woman possibly live in coupledom with a man who said he,” put a cushion of mud under the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in1922 with the express purpose of withstanding(as it did) the wrath of God. I understand He has been sulking ever since.”
This morning while diverted from shopping for essential supplies by the music coming from the British Heart Foundation Charity Bookshop, I followed my nose and it took me straight to a cloth bound copy of his autobiography, looking very vintage New York and only £3 to boot. It is inscribed on the fly page “To my co-author Olgivanna from her own “author”- Frank Lloyd Wright. Now there’s a sentence to mull over-not that I have had time to yet. But I have already clocked that she doesn’t appear until page 533.Yet he married her and on their honeymoon he read her to sleep with a fairy tale. Later he writes,”Just to be with her uplifts my heart and strengthens my spirit when the going gets hard and no less so when the going is good.” Yet they were not young when they met and the man himself says that he is glad about that for they both seem to add up to just about the right age for them.
I have no idea what Olgivanna thought about living with Lloyd Wright but I’ve already read enough to make me want to find out. In 1966 she wrote a book, Frank Lloyd Wright:His life, His Work, His Words. I’ll look out for it. In the meantime it might well be Guardian Soulmates and a request for someone to read me to sleep with fairy tales. Maybe couples are not such a bad idea after all.