Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Booker Prize Won by Julian Barnes

Here's an example of breakfast-time conversation in Bookblog's house:

"The Booker prizewinner this year is Julian Barnes."

"Who's Julian Barnes?"

"I'll never forget Julian Barnes.  He came to give a talk in our local library, in 1985.  Our elder daughter was just about a month old.  I went to the talk, sat down in the front row, and immediately fell asleep.  I went up to him afterwards and apologised.  'It's not you - I've just had a baby.'

Complete silence and lack of response.

This dialogue unfortunately revived many bad memories for me.  Instead of thinking about the (then young and handsome) author, whose early semi-autobiographical novel "Metro-land" had charmed and beguiled me with its recognizable picture of my teenage years, and congratulating him on his hard-won success, (at the fourth attempt), I thought about the early days of motherhood.

The apparently complete lack of any understanding of maternal exhaustion and sleep deprivation.  Insisting on going out on New Year's Eve, taking a two-week old baby to friend's house, so that instead of going to bed at 8.00pm, I had to stay up until the small hours.  Moving out of the marital bedroom until the babe started sleeping through the night, on the grounds that "My needs are more important than yours.  I have to go to work - you don't".  Never once making me a cup of tea during a night feed, unlike the famed "other husbands" in the neighbourhood.

I am sure that his side of the story would be different.  However, there is no doubt that the birth of this first child stuck daggers in the sides of both of us, and the relationship was never the same afterwards. 


  1. Yes, it is sad, but the relationship has survived, as posted below in "A Very Dry Season." We have seen many others fall apart, including one or two of the ones where husbands made tea ....

    We did go on to have another child,(despite the mutual trauma of the adjustment to parenthood) and we gain enormous pleasure from spending time with our adult children as a family.

    I have my revenge now, by going to bed at 8.30pm most nights of the week, and never making hubby a cup of tea (friends expressed surprise that I didn't know whether hubby took sugar in his tea)....

    The flip side of the coin is that hubby is still capable of making me collapse with laughter from time to time, as happened this morning. The chemistry of a marriage is impenetrable, a will-o' the wisp, not to be analysed in too much detail.