Call me Lola

Star-gazer has very kindly sent me a six-month subscription to the London Review of Books to stop me from sending covetous glances all the way across to Goa. I have just started receiving them and once more they induce in me the deep desire to eat prose. Faced with a fresh issue of LRB I feel like one of those goats in Oman who  have the bewildering ability to eat anything from dried fish to tin-foil.

The writing is extraordinary but the LRB is also a representation of enviable decadence. It is the same as reading the Paris edition of Vogue. Sure the clothes and photography are sensational but when you turn to the listings and find out that the rough yellow scarf costs 750 dollars and the red silk bustier costs 2500 dollars, it is then that you show your true credentials as a  dreamer. Do you continue to WANT the yellow scarf, perhaps with even greater urgency? Do you move to this month's Good Housekeeping without a shrug?

When the revolution comes will my blood stain the streets of Dilli? Nevertheless, I have a confession to make. When I turn to the last pages of the LRB I hopelessly covet the world it comes from.

Three columns of ads for specialist booksellers, an ad for an LRB discussion group in Warsaw, an Amnesty International ad to raise money from second-hand books, two ads for book-finding services, an for a holiday retreat (Retreat on the Greek Gibraltar, Medieval Byzantine town far from the madding crowd, cobblestone alleyways, traditional houses, perfect for writing, painting, meditation. Normandy cottage, ideal for writing and creating in calm, secluded French countryside...All you need are your personal belongings and creative juices), ads by writers, ads by agents, ad for a lecture (Professor Christopher Ricks will speak on Editing and The Errors of our Ways) goes on. Yes, yes I am sure its all mundane. What! Are you kidding me? There is an ad in here from The Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh village that has 1500 inhabitants and 50 bookshops. How can you not want this world where apparently everyone is funny. An ad for a piano goes this way: Upright piano wanted for uptight pianist.

Eventually, the gusty sighs for whimsy and tight prose to permeate your life is best captured in the LRB Personals. The much acclaimed personals are exquisite examples of oneupmanship. Every month, LRB actually gives away a bottle of fine liquor to the best personal ad. This month's winner of Ardbeg whiskey is

Easily distracted cytogeneticist (F,53) seeks anyone capable of enacting a quinacrine banding during their turn at charades. Is it a book? A film? A song? No -- its a mitotic inhibitor being added to a cell culture. Please hold me, Box no. 03/06.

I  like some of the others much better.

You, F, 40s, cannot accept a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which does not exist. Me, M 40s will be fond of your intolerance.

Man, 42, WLTM woman to 50 to help harness the disappointment I routinely create in all my relationships. Own tap shoes an advantage.

I scrimshawed this ad from the tusk of a walrus. Now make love to me. Pathetic man, 49. Box no. 03/09
and of course,

While these ads may reveal the undeniable erudition of these authors, do they actually get anyone laid? Sciolistic female, ponders.

You can actually read a collection of these sweet, funny classifieds in the LRB compendium, They call me Naughty Lola.


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