Friday, 25 June 2010

Bromances, love, and the British male

A some point in the Sherlock Holmes’ annals Dr Watson suffers an injury and is touched by the great detective’s concern for his welfare. That’s it – apart from their protective actions in the presence of danger, the affection the men share for the other is unspoken. There’s no “I love you, man” moment.
Despite the regular supply of Hollywood ‘bromances’ or ‘buddy movies’, I would hazard a guess that instances of two heterosexual male Brits declaring love (albeit platonic) for each other are rare. Saving, of course, one was on his deathbed or both were very drunk and even then they are more likely to punch each other in the bicep.
Man-hugs seem to be on the way in but I can’t see us ever getting to the “I love you John”, “I love you Sherlock” stage. Nor should we. Not because it is unmanly but because easy declarations of love have already devalued the currency of the word enough.
The devotion the painter Joseph Severn showed the dying John Keats in accompanying the poet to Rome in 1820 and nursing him until his death went beyond loyalty. Severn spent most of the rest of his long life in Italy; preserved Keats’s memory; and earned the right to be buried along side the poet for all eternity. His love was unstated but was love for all that.
The times I’ve known I am in love are not in the throes of passion but when the object of my affection is away from me. There is a physical ache to be reunited – to be in each other’s presence and not necessarily pants for which the emotion is often confused.

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