I’ve never really got the hang of romantic love. Even in my teens and twenties, I wasn’t looking for someone to bring me flowers and gaze into my eyes, or someone to settle down with in a semi and have two point three children. I wanted someone to have my back in a fight, and stand beside me on the barricades. Not really surprising I never married, I guess.

Then again, some ideas of romance are just downright reprehensible. They were talking on the radio about the film Elvira Madigan, and since I’ve never seen it and knew nothing about it, I looked it up. In case you don’t know either, it’s about a young girl who works in a circus and an aristocratic older man who falls for her; they run away together, and finding no means of earning a living they agree to commit suicide. This is considered by many to be romantic.

Then I looked up the historical incidents on which it was based. The man apparently pursued the girl, writing her endless letters, threatening to kill himself if she didn’t go with him. He omitted to mention that he was married, or that he had frittered away all his money. In the end he persuaded her to go with him, and in the end he shot her and then himself. This is apparently also considered by some to be romantic.

The other day I had occasion similarly to look up a very well-regarded 19th century novel, Effi Briest. Young woman marries older man, has affair, husband and lover fight duel, lover dies, and young woman goes to pieces and dies young. Again, I looked up the “true story”. Not too far off – except the woman didn’t go to pieces and die young, she devoted herself to good works and died at an advanced age, full of honours. But that, of course, is not romantic, nor a fitting end for a faithless woman.

And I thought, there are far too many people who find women acceptable only when they are dead, and this is very distressing.