On this most romantic of days, not everyone has a Romeo or Juliet of their own to hand (good thing too, says Mark Vernon as that, like our greatest of love stories is above all else, a tragedy). Love is nice, but there are a myriad of good things about flying solo too.
Think of Sherlock Holmes: intelligent and insightful, there’s simply no space inside his mind-palace for anyone else. Satisfied by a good mystery solved and with plenty of time to cultivate a thriving bromance, I see nothing wrong with Holmes’ way of life. It seems to be a theme amongst the best detectives as Miss Marple, Poirot and Jessica Fletcher are all largely uncoupled. They have time to think, write, travel as they please and grow impressive moustaches, well, in Poirot’s case anyway.
Many of the best characters have other sorts of love in their lives. Consider To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch. He’s a compassionate humanitarian who cares deeply for his child, his client and the community, and even has sympathy for the accuser. Miss Honey from Matilda is another example of a loving person; her happy ending is sharing her life with a bright and bookish adopted daughter.
Mary Poppins is a single woman who enjoys her freedom. She swoops in when she feels like it, cheers people up, meets chimney sweeps and penguins, then flies off on her umbrella when she fancies going elsewhere. A tied down Mary Poppins simply would not do.
Bertie Wooster spends his life trying to avoid being engaged so that he can do as he pleases with his gentleman’s gentleman, the wonderful Jeeves. Though he goes through infatuations, Bertie dreads a woman taking him away from having bun fights at his club and generally having jolly japes. Consider this as exemplar: ‘In fact there was a time when I had an idea I was in love with Cynthia. However, it blew over. A dashed pretty and lively and attractive girl, mind you, but full of ideals and all that.
I may be wronging her, but I have an idea that she’s the sort of girl who would want a fellow to carve out a career and what not. I know I’ve heard her speak favourably of Napoleon. So what with one thing and another the jolly old frenzy sort of petered out, and now we’re just pals. I think she’s a topper, and she thinks me next door to a looney, so everything’s nice and matey.’
Generally, single people have had the time and focus to forge careers, friendships and full lives. The single women of Cranford, Larkrise to Candleford and other such classics have a great time.
Not forgetting Batman – you can’t keep that much secret technology hidden when someone else moves into the manor and he’d have far less time to perch moodily on the high ledges, staring out over the city.
Most of these people are single most of the time to the best of my knowledge – I’m aware dalliances and trysts may have occurred. Can you think of any more? I’d love to see them in the comments!
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‘I like being single, I’m always there when I need me.’ – Art Leo