Saturday, 5 June 2010

Shut up and kiss me - Michelle Lovric

I’m fed up with love songs that tell people not to use words.

And why is it so often men who sing them, to women?

I just heard Ronan Keating’s ‘You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All’. Hardly a tribute to the lover’s eloquence. To the meeting of true minds, it is surely an impediment if the woman is not allowed to speak.

And what about my personal bugbear, ‘I Like You Just the Way You Are’ … the bit where Billy Joel warbles that he’s happy with this woman because ‘I don’t want clever conversation’?

And don’t let’s get started on Elvis and conversation.

My least favourite film is The Piano. I’ve always been suspicious that it’s acclaimed as an erotic masterpiece precisely because the central female character cannot talk.

And then there are mermaids. Liz Kessler, Mary Hoffman and I have all written mermaids who are quite keen on chat. But the official legend is that when a mermaid wants to marry a human man, she has to give up the power of speech. What’s that about?

Women are guilty too. Empress Catherine of Russia, when asked how she communicated with her strapping foreign lover, is said to have answered smugly, ‘Speech doesn’t happen to be his language.’

(Sadly, the scholar Virginia Rounding assures me this is apocryphal, but I am including it as it is the kind of thing people think Catherine would say.)

Even the otherwise estimable Mary Chapin Carpenter sings ‘Shut up and kiss me’.

All very well, but when the 18.6 months of physical passion is over (according to the biologists), what is left?

Conversation, that’s what.

And without conversation (to paraphrase and abridge Alice) what would be the point of books?

Michelle Lovric’s website
Mary Hoffman’s website
Liz Kessler’s website


Jeff Cotton said...

And let's not forget 'Rabbit' by Chas and Dave.

No, you wont stop talkin',
why don't you give it a rest?
You got more rabbit than Sainsbury's,
its time you got it off your chest.

Rabbit x 20

Katherine Langrish said...

Or John Donne?

And whilst our souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay ;
All day, the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.

catdownunder said...

I have spent my entire working life in the field of what might be called "human communication". When people ask me why I chose this (not that I did - it chose me) I tell them, "The most important thing a human being learns to do is communicate." Without that you cannot say, "I love you". It does not have to be words but words help more than any of us can comprehend. They can mean the difference between love and despair, peace and war, life and death.

奕希紋謙 said...


Elen Caldecott said...

Sometimes silence can be used brilliantly. I'm thinking of my favourite Buffy episode - Hush. Everyone loses their voice and have to find other ways to communicate. It's a fantastic piece of writing...considering there are no words.

Charlie Butler said...

Then there's the wonderfully verbal Beatrice, whose last speech ends thus:

I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.

Peace! I will stop your mouth.

Kissing her

Liz Kessler said...

Great article Michelle, and thanks for the mention! I've always thought that Ronan song was just a very polite way of saying "Oh, for *%$&&^$%'s sake woman, will you just SHUT UP!"

But yes, silence, and body language - and kissing! - all have a part in communication too!! : )