Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles (1943)

To inspire us this New Year’s Day, the very surreal tale of two genteel women who go off the rails in spectacular fashion.

New Year’s Eve carries high expectations. On those rare occasions when one does not struggle home on a crowded night bus thinking ‘why the hot damn did I not stay in with a bottle of prosecco and Alan Carr tonight?’ and instead has what I believe the youths call a ‘banging time’, the aforesaid bangingness is usually founded on the formation of random, fleeting but extremely-meaningful-we-will-be-best-friends-forever friendships. You tell each other your life story. Profound pearls of wisdom are exchanged lovingly. You may even end up at their gaff for an after party. I ended up on a stag night once. It was amazing. Turns out men also cry in the corner after one too many lagers, but that’s a story for another time.

Now, imagine that, instead of forever departing from these new found besties at 5am amidst drunken unkept promises of ‘bruh we will be more than facebook friends, you know I’ve got your back cos you’ve got mine, etc’, YOU ACTUALLY SET UP HOME WITH THEM. This is essentially what happens in Two Serious Ladies: these two acquaintances, whose stories intertwine at the beginning and end of this humourous novel, are basically on an extended version of a banging New Year’s Eve party. One of them sets up home with a Panamanian prostitute following a trip to South America with her husband. The other gives up her posh New York abode to live on Staten Island with an array of hangers on. It all gets rather cray-cray.

Now, although I had my usual working-class-chip-on-shoulder misgivings of ‘well it’s easy for a coupla posh birds to drop out, as John Peel said you can only drop out if you’ve dropped in, etc’, I have nevertheless selected this as a fitting New Year’s tale as it makes me consider the magic of what might happen if I truly threw caution to the wind. As one of these ladies wisely opines:

One must allow that a certain amount of carelessness in one’s nature often accomplishes what the will is incapable of doing.

Perhaps that’s where I’ve been going wrong. World be warned. I’m going to throw some caution to dat wind. Though I’m going to check the oven’s off first. You can have fun while nodding to health and safety. 

Happy New Year!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. This sounds fun – I’ll check my teetering Virago TBR pile and see if it’s in there. Happy New Year Bronte!

    Like

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