Liam Farrell: Love should be something to exploit in others

I like to consider myself widely read, but I have to admit that Fifty Shades of Grey has not yet graced my bookshelf.

I understand that its themes are the joys of love, sadomasochism and sexual perversity, but I'm too old for that stuff. Been there, done that, wore the very sweaty T-shirt, preferred doing it to reading about it, and I remember well the first time I had sex; I still have the receipt.

Call me cynical, but love is a weakness, something to exploit in others, not to sink into like quicksand. As the immortal Groucho Marx said in A Day at the Races: 'Have the florist send some roses to Mrs Upjohn, and write "Emily, I love you" on the back of the bill.'

Love can be inconvenient and manipulative as well.

'I love you, doctor,' she said, her eyes shining (though maybe that was due to the drugs). I hasten to add that this incident happened long, long ago, when I was young and gorgeous; like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, I was adored once too. I must also admit I prefer young women, the younger the better, but that is purely because their medical histories are shorter.

'And do you love me?' she asked.

'As a secular humanist,' I extemporised, not wanting to be unnecessarily brusque and hurtful. 'We believe in loving everyone for their own sake and not as per the instruction of some imaginary mythical being. But it's a global thing, you understand, and shouldn't be taken personally.'

'But the way you touched me just now, I definitely felt something,' she said.

'Taking your BP cannot in any way be construed as an erotic activity,' I replied, getting ready to push the emergency button and remembering that we hadn't actually got round to connecting it up. 'Any physical contact was a medical necessity.'

'You can't hide your feelings,' she said.

'Madame,' I said. 'My feelings are irrelevant. From your perspective, I am not a man, I am a doctor. You may consider me an asexual robot, or maybe a mutant, the damnably handsome kind.'

'So our love can never be,' she said.

'Never,' I agreed.

'Oh well,' she said. 'Can I have some antibiotics then?' 'Sure,' I said, feeling relieved and yet manipulated.

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