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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Sunday, 21 February 2016
Last month I published "These Twain" the last part of my Clayhanger trilogy. It is selling well both here and in the USA. Several people whose opinion I value have commented on the authenticity of the marital conflict between Edwin and Hilda. It is authentic because it reflects my own experience! I wonder now why I married, though it seemed a good idea at the time. There is the sexual side of things of course but the price for fleeting moments of sexual release seems inordinately high.
Perhaps Marguerite is a particularly difficult woman, certainly she is very temperamental, but I suspect that the struggle for power in a relationship goes on in most marriages, at least outside the labouring classes. There the issue would be resolved in favour of the man by means of a few sharp blows, or it would be surrendered. In the more 'enlightened' strata of society the war is prolonged and hard fought, subtly contested and rarely brought to a satisfactory conclusion. That is my experience.
Only a few days ago I was ambushed one night by Marguerite. She came into my room as I was preparing for bed (we have separate bedrooms)and I thought it was to say good night. I have an established ritual of getting ready for bed, of which she is perfectly aware - it is perhaps too poetic and artistic but easy to accommodate. She said: "Is it good night or .....? I said: "It is good night". Presumably this was an invitation to engage in sexual activity, but I was unwell and exhausted whereas she was evidently stimulated by amusements in London during the day. She became upset and tearful, which surprised me extremely and cost me a very bad night, the third, and I was in no way to blame. I have never been able to get the idea of jealousy out of her head so I no longer try, but I find it rather offensive. She seems to think, or at least she alleges, that her trips to London offend me but in fact they don't and often she returns in a 'frisky' mood which I enjoy if I am in good health. She is still an attractive woman and though I am now nearing 50 I can still 'keep my end up' as they say in the Five Towns!
Where will it all end? I intend to struggle on, and in fact, with all my war work, I have little time to think seriously about any alternative. Maybe we will find some sort of accommodation but I doubt it. Perhaps when the war is over there will be more opportunity for distraction and so less conflict, but I am not optimistic. Will the marriage between Edwin and Hilda survive? About as long as mine I should think!