See it in your mind. A man and a woman are walking hand-in-hand in a wood in summer.
They are very much in love and they’ve just been laughing. She pushes back her hair and a look is exchanged, and they kiss; then she is leaning against a broad tree and he is pressed against her, helping her to wrap a leg around him.
Another couple walks into the clearing. They stop, aghast, and then stomp away furiously, unnoticed by the lovers.
“It’s disgusting,” says the man.
“It certanly is,” agrees his partner.
Stop a moment. Look at the picture you’ve made. How old are the lovers? That hair that she pushed back– is it gray? The glance they exchanged– was he looking passionately at her through bifocals?
Turn your attention to the couple who walked in on the lovers: Are they older or younger than the passionate pair? Why?
The reason that I ask is because I saw this happen: I was limping slowly by the couple thinking that I had never, ever seen this image in literature or on film. The lovers must have been over 70 and their detractors under 30.
The prejudice of a whole society was embodied in the young couple’s words– and after they had agreed how disgusting the love was, they both added simultaneously and quite openly:
“…at their age.”
Cathy Bryant worked as a life model, civil servant and childminder before winning 12 literary awards, including the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including The London Magazine, The Moth and The Rialto. She co-edited Best of Manchester Poets vols. 1-3, and Cathy’s latest collection, ‘Look at All the Women’, was published by Mother’s Milk Books in 2014. See more at www.cathybryant.co.uk, and see Cathy’s monthly listings for financially-challenged writers at www.compsandcalls.com.