I’ve been thinking about Michael Fassbender.
It started at a girls dinner. ‘The thing I like best about him,’ My friend began thoughtfully. ‘He has those eyes, eyes that look as though they’ve seen a lot of pain.’ I stared at my friend (with clear, pain-free eyes). ‘I’m sorry?’ I asked politely. ‘Yes,’ My friend continued. ‘He looks as though he’s seen stuff.’ ‘You like him because he’s not visually impaired?’ I asked, snorting at my own wit. My friend ignored me. ‘I’m thinking of going to see ‘Shame’,’ I tell the table. There are murmurs of agreement. I am lying. In fact, it is unlikely I will ever manage to see ‘Shame’. Let me explain.
When I was 13 years old, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was released. I went to see it. With my Grandmother.
It was at that moment, watching Gwyneth and Joseph having the sex, and wondering why God had forsaken me, and if it was possible to crawl out of my own skin, that I vowed never again to put myself in that position. (A few years ago, Odeon created postcards which read: ‘To cover eyes in case of scenes of a sexual nature’. I still have a healthy supply). And apart from the Christmas where they aired ‘Bridget Jones’ on the TV while we were at my grandparents, I have managed.
I’m not suggesting that the only people willing to go to a film with me are my grandparents. (They’re actually much busier than I am, and far more popular. It’s fairly galling). It’s just that I don’t really like to watch sex scenes with anyone. It hurts my head. I spend all my time staring icily ahead, wondering what my face is looking like.
It’s absolutely exhausting. ‘I hear you see a lot of Fassbender’s penis,’ I say airily. ‘Yes,’ My friend agrees. ‘But you see it so often that you start looking at his face.’ Oh God, we’re back to his eyes. I doubt I would have given Michael Fassbender another thought, had I not picked up last week’s ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’. I don’t lay claim to much. But one of the funniest things I have ever introduced is the practice of referring to a low-level erection (usually called a ‘semi’) as a ‘Henman’ (after Tim Henman, who never gets past the semis). And here, brazenly, in a well-respected Sunday paper supplement, we have Michael Fassbender talking about the difficulty of getting a Henman whilst filming ‘Shame’. So, I have not yet seen ‘Shame’ for two reasons. Neither of which are to do with Michael Fassbender’s eyes.