Page 45 Review by Stephen
I adore the little love heart which adorns the cover, replacing the diacritic dot above the 'i' (true fact: it's called a "tittle").
Behold! This silent, A4-sized comic set up on top of a summer's Hampstead Heath, the London Tube system, then somewhere within the Capital's sprawling outer conurbation, is an astutely observed, tender joy!
CRUSHING could not have been more aptly titled, for within the rich blue, early evening covers you will discover vast landscapes to swoon over, crowded commuters all crammed together, and telltale little blushes and flushes that give our game away when we're a wee bit, briefly smitten.
Yes, this is all about crushing.
Oh, but we're British! So what do we do?
Do we receive such often involuntarily leaked, sweet signals as an opportunity to return the kindly meant compliment, perhaps strike up a conversation or at least smile, maybe wave? Oh, how much happier this world would be, were we all to give a little light love back!
But we do not: we react by looking embarrassedly away or hiding behind newspapers in annoyance.
The poor love has already been snubbed up on Hampstead Heath. Yes, she has: by a pigeon!
Pigeons aren't backwards in coming forth and strutting themselves as close as possible in the hope of being thrown a stale crumb. One alights on the back of her park bench, so she generously offers it a whole triangle of fresh, tasty goodness...
Glossy magazines are equally insulting.
Lord, but this is so rich and clever. It will speak volumes to those who are single and seeking love, however inactively.
It will also remind those who have been lucky enough to find it of what it was once like to so solitarily stare from a park bench at a beautiful view which you wished you could share. Maybe you saw other couples, perhaps even their progeny, and wondered what you were missing out on and why? Have you ever felt awkwardly, self-consciously alone in a crowd?
Burrows nails that particular isolation on a double-page spread while waiting for the train to arrive. For a start, there are a hundred-odd commuters as equally crammed together as they will be in the carriage, but there is a markedly massive, empty gap between them and the edge of the platform (mind it!), after which loom the tracks down below. Everyone else is depicted, individualistically to be sure, but in soft grey shading; not so, our solo single lady.
There is a blindingly clever use of colour throughout: each panel bears examining to see what it says.
Later that day (which has since turned to night), our pretty-in-pink protagonist becomes hungry but finds her Hubbard cupboards all bare. She fancies a slice of pizza or two, so ventures out to the local takeaway. Beautifully set up by Sophie in advance, what happens next?
I've just scratched the surface: underneath you will find all sorts of wistful, alone-at-home pining for love.
Top Tip: if you'd like to give a little love back but - like silly old me - become dazed, confused and so discombobulated by compliments, why not carry a copy of CRUSHING around with you? That way, whenever you find yourself the lucky recipient of such affection but cannot quite bring yourself to accept the attention, you could open up its A4 covers and hide behind its sheets, so suggesting by the title that you too may be crushing!
Advanced Skills Option: open up CRUSHING, inside out, to display the pages on which this exact behavioural exchange is occurring. Then look up again, with a bashful smile.