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Romantic Failures – HBC

15 September, 2012

I haven’t brought you a Romantic Failure story for a bit, so here is another. Success and failure are often relative. You can judge for yourself how much of this story is success, how much failure.


I am drawn to the artistic type. For example T in my recent post was an actress. So was HBC. Still is in fact, an extremely talented one. But we have yet to act together.

She caught my eye when she appeared in the Merchant Ivory production of Howards End, and I fell for her pretty much instantly. I watched it a few more times, fell deeper in love, and decided she was the woman for me, I had to meet her, to be with her, to marry her. She has famous and titled relatives who I looked up in Who’s Who, but even though I found out their address and therefore, as I knew she lived with her parents, her address, turning up at the door with a bunch of roses and a ring would not do the job. So I wrote a letter to her instead, telling her I had seen her on the screen, was impressed with her work, with her, could I ask for a signed photo. And a signed wedding certificate. But I threw that letter away, it wasn’t unique enough, it wouldn’t stand out amongst the thousands of other letters she obviously received.

Instead, I looked at the question from the other end of the telescope. I found a photo taken of me at a party, a little drunk I admit, looking deadpan but with a cuddly elephant on my head. I signed it, dedicated to her, and slipped it in an envelope. But the real inspiration was the covering letter. I was delighted that she had written, I said. Yes of course she could have a signed photo, and I enclosed one for her. And although her proposal of marriage was a pleasant surprise, perhaps it was a little sudden – should we meet first? I sent the picture and letter off, and waited by the front door for a reply, fantasising about our meeting, our romance, our wedding, our film career. But nothing came of it.

Two or three months later, her birthday came round. I sent her a card, and enclosed a note. I told her I understood it must have been a knockback about the proposal, maybe I had been hasty. Perhaps I could make amends by asking her for her hand?

A couple of weeks went by, I assumed our liaison, however brief and imaginary, was over. Then suddenly, an innocent, plain white envelope brought me a signed picture of her. How my heart sang! There was no letter, but on the reverse was the following message:

‘Thanks for writing, and sorry for not having the time to write back more fully. With best wishes for whatever you choose to do in life…’

So she hadn’t said yes, but she had noticed me. I did write back, the contents of that letter are long forgotten though (by me at least). Maybe my letter was lost in the post. Or maybe she decided the best way to forget me, forget our love that could never be, was to break all ties between us and go off and sleep with Kenneth Branagh instead. That bastard. Either way, she never replied and our relationship fizzled out.

Anyway, I still watch her films, still hold a candle for her. I hear she is living in America now, happily married with kids and everything. I still have that photo framed in my lounge, I like to look at it and imagine. That could have been me, married to her with the kids and the joint film careers, I tell myself. But sadly we never met.


  1. Ahh, HBC. Hell, I’m a straight woman and even *I* have the hots for her.

  2. What an excellent story. I am very impressed with your creative letter. It would have gotten my attention if I were her! You’re great at writing last lines, you know. Your final line always includes something witty, clever, and/or funny.

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