Valentine’s Day

A Valentine’s Day post

The first time I was truly in love, I was 15. I was properly, deeply, painfully, uncontrollably smitten, a condition made all the more so by my love being unrequited. I had fallen for her immediately. How could I not? She was wilful, intelligent, possessed of a rare imagination. Her childlike enthusiasm was infectious and, despite, or perhaps because of, her odd and at times oppressive upbringing, she had a fairy-tale-like take on the world in which I revelled. Her secret room in the attic, the charcoal drawings with which she covered the walls, her mad dress sense, her sulking face. Sure, she could be impatient, immature and self-absorbed. So could I. We were perfect for one another. Furthermore she was beautiful; an uncommon, sensuous beauty. Her black hair was wild and her sullen mouth was full and rich — her eyes smoldered.

And then, before my 16th birthday, she drowned.

Possibly suicide.

I was inconsolable. For weeks I barely ate, slept less, saw no-one.

Hence the unrequited, you might think.

But no, that wasn’t it.


It was unrequited, quite simply, because she had never really existed. She was fiction. She was Fuchsia, daughter of Lord Groan in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. Yet how I loved her, such was the power of Peake’s story-telling and a 15 year old boy’s imagination. Truth is, I love her still.

But I’m not the only one. Robert Smith of The Cure is also a huge fan of the Gormenghast books. He too was particularly taken with Fuchsia. On Faith, the best of all Cure albums, there is the all-pervasive atmosphere of Castle Groan. Occasionally the lyrics are direct lifts from the novels and no more so than on The Drowning Man, a song about Fuchsia’s death.

She stands twelve feet above the flood
She stares
Across the water

The loneliness grows and slowly
Fills her frozen body
Sliding downwards

One by one her senses die
The memories fade
And leave her eyes
Still seeing worlds that never were
And one by one the bright birds leave her …

Starting at the violent sound
She tries to turn
But final
Slips and strikes her soft dark head
The water bows
Receives her
And drowns her at its ease
Drowns her at its ease

I would have left the world all bleeding
Could I only help you love
The fleeting shapes
So many years ago
So young and beautiful and brave

Everything was true
It couldn’t be a story

I wish it was all true
I wish it couldn’t be a story
The words all left me
Breathing like the drowning man

Oh Fuchsia
You leave me
Breathing like the drowning man
Breathing like the drowning man


So, Happy Valentine’s Day and here’s The Cure’s The Drowning Man.


No cakes, no treats. Just coffee, bitter, black.



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