Monday, October 18, 2004

Sliding doors

Lionel Blue, Britain's most famous gay rabbi (some would say Britain's most famous rabbi, period), has an astonishing revelation in his memoirs, published this week: he was once close to marrying a woman -- and the fact that he didn't go through with it is the "biggest regret" of his life. From the London Times:
His undergraduate relationship with [Joanna] Hughes was physical but unconsummated, as was quite normal in the early 1950s, a period when comparatively few students were having sex. After Oxford they met up from time to time and discussed marriage.
“We talked about it. I know she was beginning to love me, too. She had a tremendous capacity for love but there was the difficulty of religion. She was Christian and did not want to convert,” he said.
Eventually Hughes met another man and married. But the relationship with Blue was rekindled in the 1960s when her marriage was annulled. Their friendship developed into a sexual affair even though Blue was still living with his first male lover, whom he refers to in his memoirs as JB.
“But I was about to leave him anyway,” said Blue. “JB had met Janny and disliked her.” This next phase in the relationship with Hughes, who was a historian and writer, lasted for several months.
Forty years on, Blue admits that he does not know if he might have made a success of marriage: “Or would it have been prison to me? How do other couples fare in situations like ours?” Blue now accepts the fact that he passed on the prospect of marriage because he was “a coward”.
He said: “I was still struggling with my slough of despond and I don’t know if I could carry her problems as well as mine......
After her death 17 years ago, Blue admits that “Janny continues to live in me. Her voice says to me, giggling, ‘Lionel, you can’t do this’ or we just fall into each other’s imaginary arms.”

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