An illustrative anecdote about Morgana:

i was talking about Bob the Coward, a friend who dumped his girlfriend in Costa Coffee ten years ago at university, explicitly because Costa Coffee was the worst, least hospitable, least alluring of Durham’s few coffee shops. The girlfriend was a nice person; my friend dumped her not for grave moral defects but simply because she kept asking, plaintively, “it’s not just sex, is it?” and “do you love me?” – to which the answers were, respectively, yes and no. When he told me of the dumping venue i was naturally amazed. He explained thus: “I didn’t want to dump her in my room in case she started crying and refused to leave. That would be really uncomfortable. I’d have to leave and hope she’d clear out by the time I got back.  If I told her in Cafe Nero’s, and she made a scene, I could never go back there, and I practically live in Nero’s. But I don’t care if I never go back to Costa Coffee, because it’s a dump.”

i’m not exactly a sensitive New Man – actually, i’m a loathsome misogynist and borderline psychotic –  but even i was gobsmacked by his reasoning, and so i started laughing in horrified mirth, pointing at him and wheezing: “you cold-hearted bastard” through my laughter, as he grew increasingly uncomfortable.

When i told Morgana, i got as far as “he dumped her in the worst coffee bar he could find” – she interjected “I think I know why. He thought if it was really painful, and she had bad associations with the place, at least if it was in this horrible place she would never go there anyway, so it doesn’t matter. But if she had bad associations with a nice place, she could never go back, it would be too painful for her. So he wanted to protect her.”

i was as gobsmacked by this as i had been by the real reason, ten years ago. For her it was so obvious – of course, even though he could not stand the girl’s whining, he would still wish to protect her, so subtly, so carefully – to the extent that he would contrive an unpleasant meeting in order to contain the unpleasantness, to confine it to an already unpleasant place. The curious recklessness and care, impetuous and considering, and perfectly capable of inflicting pain, in rage or coldness alike.

As she concluded: “If I shagged one of my friends, even someone I really liked, and he, or she, kept whining about love, I’d dump them too.” Followed by a cruel elvish laugh. As i observed her distinctly elvish features, the pointed ears, David Bowie-like mismatched eyes, the aura of destruction and chaos and murder, i wondered how differently Tolkien might have imagined elves, had he met Morgana.

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