The recent advent of Mad Men series two on BBC4 has reminded me that I never watched the first one, and this has been an omission I’ve been rectifying, thanks to LoveFilm. Annoyingly, they’ll only send me one disc of the box set at a time, but at least I’m not going on enormous telly binges like when me and Andy got The Wire and then neglected to wash or get dressed until we’d seen all sixty-plus hours of it.
I love watching American stuff about ‘wholesome’ families in the sixties. I love the glamour and well-roundedness of it all, even if things are distinctly darker below the surface. I love Mad Men for the secretary’s hairstyles as much as the plot intricacies. There’s one woman (a satisfyingly shapely woman, in these size zero times) who has the most incredible hair. It seriously must be glued in place. There’s no hairspray strong enough to maintain such perfection.
Coincidentally, I’m reading Rabbit, Run by John Updike at the moment, another tale of young wholesome 1960s families who fall apart at the seams, albeit in gorgeous lace nightgowns and with ribbons in their hair. In keeping with my ability to discover authors via their obituaries (see also Kurt Vonnegut and Iris Murdoch) I’m new to Updike, but I chose Rabbit, Run as my introduction because of I kept seeing it referred to as the suburban equivalent of a Kerouac novel. I hated On The Road, partly because I don’t think the man can string a decent sentence together, but also because I already know what it’s like to get pissed and sleep on someone’s floor. It seems silly, considering all these books and films and TV shows about 1960s America are about society’s dysfunction (I daren’t go anywhere near Revolutionary Road in case it depresses me too much), but when you live in one of the more notorious districts of south Manchester, where gun crime is rife and rainfall is above the national average, the idea of wearing a ribbon in my hair and cooking dinner for my white collar husband in upstate New York feels like the very epitome of escapism.
(Yes, I know that Rabbit’s wife is a alcoholic and he runs off to live with a whore, but at least she’s a shapely whore! She has hips and tits and ass, and that gives this fat woman hope.)