Apparently there’s a hoo-hah over Stephen Fry’s imminent marriage to a twenty-something comedian. People (especially on that new-fangled instrument, the interweb), are without so much as a by your leave suggesting that the 30-year age gap is perhaps somewhat wide. Hannah Jane Parkinson has written an article which unwittingly explains exactly why scepticism surrounding the shelf-life of such relationships is rather well-founded.
Let’s examine the evidence.
HJP remarks that she finds old people hot. Nothing wrong with that. ‘More life experience means more interesting conversations,’ she opines, ‘plus, old people are good at crosswords. I’ve dated both older men and women who have children, and fallen for them even more because of that part of them. (Also, there’s a free cute kid into the bargain).’
Ok. She’s twenty-five. She’s dated ‘both older men and women’, which is absolutely fine, though one might baulk at her description of the ‘free cute kid’, she thinks older people are better at sex, more interesting, and so on. Naturally, I wouldn’t argue with any of this. But the argument thins somewhat when it attempts expansion.
‘I realised while living in Russia that I was more interested in the intellectualism of an Alexei Karenin than the dashing, whippersnapper partying of a Count Vronsky,’ she notes, dropping casually into the conversation that she once lived in Russia. This is plainly her selling point, as noted in her Guardian profile, ‘She lives in London and previously lived in Russia, Oxford and Liverpool.’ I love the way Russia is bundled with Oxford (let us guess) and Liverpool. ‘I’m no Anna’ is what she’s saying. There’s more:
‘But society (and my friends) view age-gap relationships as odd. There are myriad banal reasons, such as “but all of your cultural references are different”. Well, no, not so much, when the internet and box-sets and streaming music services exist.’
Ah, cultural references. Sorry, but you don’t understand culture. Watching Blackadder on DVD or listening to doo-wop is not the same as going to school knowing that the buzz will be who can remember Lord Melchett’s best lines. Reading about the 70s doesn’t tell you anything about how brown the decade was.
She has a small point about maturity and life-stages but, jeepers, does anyone want to date a forty-something who still lives at home? And yes, relationships with big age-gaps can and do work, but when they break down it’s probably not going to be because one of you remembers when The Clangers first came out, it’ll be because one of you is forty and having their first mid-life crisis, while the ‘senior partner’ will be collecting their pension. The fact that she compares Elliot to a ‘trophy wife’ is just another nail …
But all things considered there are two real kickers in this piece. The first is that while her point about why she might prefer an older partner makes some sense, she spends so much time trying to sound all growed-up an ting (though only in the article – check out her twitter feed) that you wonder what on earth anyone more mature ever sees in a young whippersnapper. Apart from pert buttocks. The second is that all her relationships, one must infer, have been relatively short. Now, I have no problem with this (I mean, I can talk, right?), but Fry and Elliot are getting married. They have been dating since ‘at least November’. At least November?
The age difference is one thing, but everyone’s bleating about it because they don’t dare say what they really think: don’t do it guys.