In an Andrew Davies TV play shown in Christmas week, Jack Shepherd was allowed to give voice to a rather profound insight. His contention was that Tolstoy had been quite wrong about families: when he said, in Anna Karenina, that ‘all happy families are alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion’, he was being merely epigrammatic. In fact, said Shepherd, surely the opposite is true. Every happy family is happy after its own fashion (in having found some idiosyncratic accommodation that will allow the doomed unit to function), while the miserable families are all bloody miserable for precisely identical reasons.
Leaving aside all the psychotherapists in the world, there was one person who knew this fact already: Bernice Rubens. She knows that all our sadness and anger comes from the mum and dad who fuck you up: mothers (fathers) who don’t love enough; fathers (mothers) who set impossible standards; the