Notes On a Scandal


I do apologise for not having written anything for so long. The fact is, I haven’t felt well of late. Not surprising really, given I’m 111, older probably than most of you bloggers out there. But I’m feeling well enough now thank you, to resume writing, seeing films, and reading books. Today – my first day back, as it were – I would like to tell you of the most recent film I’ve seen, “Notes on a Scandal”, that I’m sure you’ve heard of, since those Oscar fellows in America nominated Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett for their performances in this film.

Notes on a Scandal is about two lady teachers at this school in somewhere London, who become friends of a sort, despite that one, Sheba (Cate Blanchett) is quite young, and the other, Barbara (Judi Dench) is quite old, and that Sheba is married with children, whereas Barbara is an old maid, and well-nigh friendless, apart from her cat. So Barbara is always on the look out for anyone who might want to be her friend. Sheba is a good prospect because she’s quite new at the school, and so has been receptive to Barbara’s help and advice.

But Sheba senses Barbara’s neediness, and so keeps her at arm’s length. But she doesn’t keep at arms length one of her male pupils, a fifteen year-old, with whom she enters upon a passionate affair, conducted for the most part at the side of some railway tracks sufficiently hidden from curious passers-by. Barbara learns about it, and is consumed with jealousy because she, well, fancies Sheba. But it also gives Barbara power over Sheba because should Sheba and the young man be discovered, Sheba would be in trouble big time.

Notes on a Scandal brings out, for me, two issues. One, is how bitter and vengeful someone can be if they are unloved, as Barbara is. The second, is how our laws make no distinction in moral turpitude and criminality between a woman of thirty-seven seducing a fifteen year old boy, and a man of thirty-seven seducing a fifteen year old girl.

I do understand why a thirty-seven year old man shouldn’t seduce a fifteen year old girl for all the ordinary common-sense reasons. But a thirty-seven year old woman seducing a fifteen year old boy? I mean, what red blooded pubescent boy wouldn’t die to be seduced and bedded by a beautiful thirty-something woman?

Yes, when I was an adolescent – the age of Sheba’s (Cate Blanchett’s) pubescent lover in “Notes On A Scandal” – I fantasised about beautiful older women. I expect they are now dead, since they would be 135, or thereabouts, if still alive. But were they still alive and I were to encounter them, would I see behind their very old visages, the outlines of the beautiful thirty-something women they were, circa 1910?

I confess to sometimes still seeing them in my mind. In fact, despite the intervening ninety-five years, they have – in my still febrile mind – become even more desirable than they were in 1910. This isn’t emotionally healthy, I know, but I do enjoy the ghostly presences of these most desirable women. So if their visitations cause me to die earlier than I otherwise would, it will have been worth it.

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