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Canberra Today 2°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Always love’s flame, unless it flutters and fades

Irving Berlin and his wife Ellin Mackay, circa 1926.

“A lot has changed since Mr Berlin pledged his loving dedication together with the royalties of the song from 1926. But the power of love is not one of them,” writes The Gadfly columnist ROBERT MACKLIN.

I’ll be loving you, Always

With a love that’s true, Always… 

Some of us got lucky and scored the wondrous mutual declaration recorded by Irving Berlin in his 1925 gift to his wife Ellin Mackay. 

But from the scary front-page news across the country last weekend, we seem to be in a distinct minority.

“Not men’s punching bags,” says a defiant pair of teenage girls. “Women across Australia rally against violence and abuse in response to the shocking murder of NSW woman Molly Ticehurst and dozens of other deaths at the hands of men this year alone.”

A lot has changed since Mr Berlin pledged his loving dedication together with the royalties of the song from 1926. But the power of love is not one of them. 

In the 1960s, for example, The Beatles – and Elvis – rode to world adoration on the glorious steed called “love”, be it of the “tender” variety or simply the plea to “love me, do”.

I’m not so sure about the lyrics in the catalogue of today’s superstars such as Taylor Swift’s Don’t blame Me: 

Don’t blame me, love made me crazy; 

If it doesn’t, you ain’t doin’ it right; 

Lord, save me, my drug is my baby; 

I’ll be usin’ for the rest of my life. 

That sounds more like the excuse offered by a (male) stalker.

As to the raft of rappers who pollute today’s airwaves, I’m afraid their lyrics (if they can be so described) escape my understanding. In any case, I’m sure the garbled “poems” are neither the cause nor the background melodies to the horrors of which the protesting women complain. 

On the contrary, the marchers seem to be inferring that that there’s something vile and sexually lethal in all men, that the jolly old “battle of the sexes” has transformed itself into women’s literal struggle for survival in a vicious male world.

It is true that there are clear differences between men and women. For example, earlier Gadflys have advocated a female-dominated political arena to produce more sensible compromises in our various levels of governance. And I’m pleased to say that the trend is heading that way. 

A new Domestic Violence Force, with similar powers to the regular police, should be developed, together with a magistrate’s court with exclusive responsibility for the area. 

In such conflicts we’ve suggested that it is the aggressor – almost invariably the male – who should be forced out of the family home. And if he breaks the conditions of a Domestic Violence Order he should be imprisoned (with time out for employment) until he passes a redemptive course. Both parties should be involved in any decision for him to return to the family home. 

However, not all the blame should be sheeted home to the male. In some ways, men and women living together is like the unplanned nature of our old roads where the same strip of bitumen is used for vehicles travelling at death-defying speed in opposite directions. The wonder is that there aren’t more fatal collisions. In fact, our road toll is an extraordinary demonstration of maturity and responsibility in a species that in other areas – climate change, for example – gives way to greed and stupidity. 

The same might be said for men and women living in such close proximity, when and if that first romantic flame threatens to flutter and fade. 

Days may not be fair, Always, 

That’s when I’ll be there, Always,

Not for just an hour,

Not for just a day

Not for just a year,

But Always.

robert@robertmacklin.com

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