Plus ça change on Mars and Venus

IMG_1023In the Nineties, dare I say so, we all read it.  In fact we read two of them: ‘Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus’, and ‘Mars and Venus on a Date.’

This was a hotly anticipated ‘sermon’ at The School of Life: An audience with John Gray – author of those books.

Back in the day we’d looked to him for guidance in a dating world where we were all a bit confused. As working women we’d been told we could have it all – however those paths to high flying careers had been littered with obstacles, one of which was a conundrum re our relationships with men – or more specifically male and female ‘roles.’

My cousin smiled: “I wonder how he’ll address it today – we’re twenty years on; we didn’t even have the internet back then, let alone smart phones and app dating.”

Conway Hall was busy, sun flitted momentarily past large paned windows on the ceiling.  Hundreds of women (and a few men) sat on the edge of their seats.

After the customary sing-a-long hymn, he came bounding onto the stage. The applause was heartfelt before he said a word – an indication of the bond created by so many conversations back then in a world where we lived in rented flats, had drinks after work, and attended multiple parties on a Saturday night.

He charmed us. “I always pray before these events: ‘Lord give me the right talk for this audience’” he told us, “This is the repressed English sex talk.” Laughter like release followed.

We were under his spell then. From a story about his inspiration for it all – the movie ET, then the influence of The Beatles in the 60’s right up to now by way of several references to his new book, it was slowly dawning on us:  Nothing has changed.

“It’s all about testosterone and oestrogen” he told us.  “They both go up and down, the trick is to get them meeting in the middle – then you have balance, then you have a good loving relationship.” He reminded the women we ‘Need a man to come home and complain to’ and gave the men a couple of tips on how to deal with that. “Forget the anti-depressants” he told us, “That’s what you really need to be happy.”

To rapturous applause he left the stage as we stood to sing Bananarama’s ‘Venus’ with renewed vigour and re-energised resolve.IMG_0986


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