The dreamy painting on this week’s cover is The Swing, by Jean-HonoreÌ Fragonard. It’s a thing of absolute rococo splendour and one of my favourite works of art. Luckily, The Swing is on permanent display at The Wallace Collection in central London so I often swing by myself for a quick fix in between meetings or when I’m early for a lunch appointment, which is often.
Things that pop into my head while I stand marvelling at The Swing include: who is that older man in the shadows pulling the strings? Erm, is the young suitor staring up her skirt? And did she ever find that flying slipper again? Yes, it’s an image of peak romanticism but, as with all matters of the heart, it’s complicated and full of intrigue. Whoever said, ‘The course of true love never did run smooth’ — Shakespeare? Or was it Maya Jama? (Btw: read her My London) — wasn’t kidding.
With that in mind and to celebrate the coming of Valentine’s Day, we present six mini essays on the thorny subject of amour. Suzannah Ramsdale argues in favour of separate beds, there are excerpts from Lotte Jeff’s new book, This Love, and David Baker’s The Shortest History of Sex (prepare to be shocked!), Emily Phillips on 10 ways to keep 10 years of marriage fresh, ‘Juliana Close’ (please don’t bother asking, I can’t reveal her true identity) pleads the case for being the other woman and, lastly, Hayley Spencer plans on avoiding V Day altogether.
Me? We’ve got the builders in (not a euphemism) so I’ll just be glad to spend 14 Feb not discussing the metal finish on taps.