Love is a drug, as Bryan Ferry noted; the chance to be intoxicated by it comes along all too rarely; and I for one believe the chance is worth plenty of adjustments – in terms of who I think I am, how my life is supposed to go – and even, perhaps, in terms of how cold the water is that I can stand. – Naomi Wolf, “Midlife Passion”, Sunday Times Style Magazine, 14 Feb 2010
Naomi Wolf’s comments about ‘second chance love’ could not be more true. The rush of love is all more precious and delicious when it is found and enjoyed after one has been wounded and bruised in prior skirmishes on the battlefield of amour.
This is certainly a thing to be celebrated, and I was delighted to read such a heady, breathless, almost frothy account of “midlife passion” from Naomi Wolf, a stalwart of the American feminist movement.
She writes: “I am sure that some of the feelings of intense wellbeing I have around my lover has to do with things as simple and inexplicable as the fact that the rhythm of our heartbeats and breathing happen to be in alignment. When I am near his pulse, I calm down. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
I know exactly what she means.
The D.E.B. and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple this weekend. And what a weekend it was! A weekend full of tears (happy ones), joy and laughter.
Valentine’s weekend started for me with bang. On Friday, I was invited to appear as a “Coffee Club” guest on “The Annie Othen Show” on BBC Radio. Annie and her team had planned an exciting pre-Valentine’s Day special, which included a vast, in-studio chocolate fountain; and a bit of retail therapy, with us three Coffee Club guests doing a blind sample test of candles and hand cream.
The piece de la resistance was a special appearance by Mr. England 2009, Andreas Kattou. A Warwickshire lad from the town of Rugby, Andreas is of Greek Cypriot extraction. His family own and run a popular local fish and chip shop in Rugby, he has already raised millions for charity (“Children in Need” and “Help the Heroes”), and he loves his mum. He was a doll.
As is probably no surprise, when Mr. England arrived, and chocolate body paint surfaced. Annie Othen asked me to have a go painting Mr. England with the chocolate paste. Jane Austen character that I am, I painted a big chocolate heart on his arm, but refused to lick it off!
Annie had invited me to be on the Valentine’s show as I had developed a reputation as an incurable romantic the last time she had had me as a guest on her show.
At the top of the show, Annie asked each of us our thoughts on Valentine’s Day. The two other guests gave very realist and borderline cynical responses. To be far, Pam, a ‘Virtual Vicar’ with iChurch, made a very good point that Valentine’s Day can be a very difficult time for the lonely, the single, the bereaved, the divorced, &etc.
As such, I feared sounding sappy or superficial by comparison. But, hey, when you’ve got a good thing going on, why be shy about it? So, I said, that yes, I was very, very excited about Valentine’s Day, and very much in love. But, I tempered this enthusiastic response by adding that the D.E.B. and I – being second timers – strive to love and care for each other so that every day is Valentine’s Day.
I could hear the sound of the world puking collectively in the corner, but I didn’t care. What I had to say was as true as rain on a summer’s day in England. The D.E.B. is so wonderful and loving, that he makes me want to be a better wife to/for him, everyday.
“Most marriages don’t need work. What they need is laughter, forgiveness and the odd lie-in.” – Andrew Clover
On Sunday, the D.E.B. and I rose early, and exchanged Valentine’s presents over morning coffee, and then went to a special “Thanksgiving for and Celebration of Marriage” service at St. Peter’s Church.
The Vicar had us invited to take a special role in the service. Mid-way through the service, the D.E.B. and I stood in front of the congregation, representing all the husbands and wives present, and then led the married couples in a re-affirmation of their wedding vows, and in a litany of praise, thanking God for the blessing and expression of God's Love that is marriage.
It was just like getting married all over again. *SIGH*
It was a very powerful service, with married couples of all ages and lengths of time being married taking part. The choir did an amazing job, and performed Bach’s anthem “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a popular wedding favo(u)rite. Around the church there were streams of happy tears as people reminisced together quietly on their own wedding days.
After church, the D.E.B. & I came home, wrote cards, wrapped the chocolate chip cookies I’d baked the night before, and delivered them to four of our friends in the village, who are alone and/or recent/recent-ish widows.
The Virtual Vicar on the Annie Othen show had made me think about this, and the importance of spreading some love to those dear women, so that they would receive a card of love on Valentine's Day.
Then we took a little road trip to Woodstock, down near Oxford, to Blenheim Palace -- the stately home where Winston Churchill was born. It was beautiful day. Cold, but beautiful. And, Blenheim is a remarkable and amazing place.
I was also able to arrange a special Valentine’s Day Sunday Lunch for us in 'The Orangery' at Blenheim. It was dreamy. The restaurant itself is quite grand – I wore cashmere – and the views over the gardens and grounds from the restaurant are just breathtaking.
Moments like this, I think, are what Naomi Wolf is talking about in her essay. Those moments when there is no one else in the world; where you are surrounded by beauty; where you could sit for hours, for days, with a bottle of wine and talk about everything, and absolutely nothing. With a dollop of chocolat marquis just for good measure.