Wrong Rooms – – Mark Sanderson

WRThis moving novel is definitely of its time: Mateus Rose, The Little Book of Hugs, a Mannekin Pis bottle opener, a camcorder

Any relationship involves giving up something – you feel more in control when alone. Yet ‘Crosswords are easier to solve than real life.’ Is there something missing when you are alone. ‘Affairs make people unhappy because only unhappy people have them in the first place.’ Even thouth the narrator hated games at school he went to gym. How else do you get in shape so that someone will fancy you?

If you wanted to find a mate back then you went to noisy clubs playing Hi NRG, saunas or smelly loos, since this is before the internet became wildly available. An alternative was the contact ad. Alex’s ad took 5 mins, to write, Drew’s 5 days, then he wrote a long letter.

They wanted this relationship to work, especially after seeing another’s’ relationship break up when they thought it was ideal role-model, so they don’t go to bed straight away – then one needs eight sleep and has to put up with the other’s snoring.

There are some particularly endearing things about their relationship: 8 Valentines cards, keeping monthly ‘anniversaries’. Commuting meant that they had little time to see each other yet there is something better in knowing one body in detail rather than having lots of flings

When the illness starts, because it’s gay man, one assumed it was HIV. The humorous get well card from colleagues reads: not been feeling yourself lately, at least you’re cured of something. As it progresses, visits to hospital make for anxiety – speed bumps and ambulances. The invitation to ‘Kiss Lumpy’ is reminiscent of St. Francis kissing lepers. That ‘ready meals had longer use-by date than Drew’ makes for urgency and for making the most of their time together. On Good Friday, their last supper is poignant

Loneliness is particularly acute for the surviving partner – “he kept his friends whereas I was all he had.” When he is told by a psychiatrist that his sorrow is morbid and his mourning ‘pathological’, he rightly becomes sceptical – psychiatry as suggested long-term is about making more money, not helping. Yet  ‘We had not been missed. Life went on in the capital as usual.’ In the sort of coincidence that happens occasionally, when he leaves it is the same taxi driver as took him and his late partner to chemotherapy. (Something else that can happen – the paper boy rang the doorbell because the key had been left in the lock overnight)

The Times review said that this book is the most powerful argument against euthanasia. How the reviewer came to hat conclusion, I cannot fathom. Indeed, I’d say it was the exact opposite. Even the priest said what the narrator did was not wrong – and the police haven’t arrested the author.

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