Belfast Telegraph

Who could write script for when Marty met Elizabeth?

By Nuala McKeever

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey yet? No, it's not a guide to Northern Ireland's weather; it's a runaway bestseller by English woman E L James, in the genre they're calling 'Mummy porn'. That's erotica for women with kids, not stories about dead Egyptians in bandages.

I think I'll die happy if I never read it. The heroine's all quivering, virginal, lip-biting innocence and the hero's all smouldering, trouser-bulging, emotionally-damaged alpha male. So far, so where's-the-sick-bag?

I prefer my male/female relationships to be fictionalised with wit and insight. One of the best at this was the brilliant Nora Ephron who died last week. She wrote some of the most wonderful films of the past 30 years - When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Silkwood and Heartburn, to name a few.

I imagine how the two women would have presented last week's meeting between the Queen and Martin McGuinness.

E L James would give us Fifty Shades of Green:

Their eyes met across the room. She was his Queen, but he let her know with a few manly words (in Irish) that he would not be bowed. He wanted her ... to get the hell out of his country. But she would not be taken easily (Phil the Greek, her henchman, was ever present, except when he had to nip to the loo). Her eyes dropped to his waist. "Oh my," she gasped, inwardly. "Was that a bulge in his trousers?" No, those days were long gone. He was here unarmed now. And he was certainly disarming her. The Ice Queen was about to melt. She gazed at him with undisguised interest. "And what do you do?" she enquired, holding his handshake just a little longer than necessary. "Oh, y'know," he replied, twinkling his normally smouldering eyes at her, "Whatever it takes."

In contrast, given the Nora Ephron treatment, we would have had a classic When Marty Met Lizzie scene:

Marty: You realise of course that we could never be friends.

Lizzie: Why not?

Marty: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that Irish men and English women can't be friends because the history part always gets in the way.

Lizzie: That's not true. I have a number of Irish men friends and there is no history involved.

Marty: No you don't.

Lizzie: Yes I do.

Marty: You only think you do.

Lizzie: You're saying that I'm having history with these men without my knowledge?

Marty: No, what I'm saying is they all do have history with you, but they pretend it doesn't matter.

Lizzie: They do not.

Marty: Do too.

Lizzie: How do you know?

Marty: Because no Irish man can ever be friends with an English woman who he finds attractive. He will always want to bring up 1916 with her.

Lizzie: So, you're saying that an Irish man can only be friends with an English woman who he finds unattractive?

Marty: No, you pretty much want to bore the pants off them too.

Lizzie: What if they don't want to have that conversation with you?

Marty: Doesn't matter because the history thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.

Lizzie: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.

Marty: Guess not.

Lizzie: That's too bad. You were the only person that I recognised in Belfast city.


From Belfast Telegraph