Born just postwar 1949 country childhood in south Essex on an old feudal estate. A sturdy little girl with brown plaits, freely roaming the farm fields. The small village school of Great Warley would one day guide a 21stC education project.
My mother was an extraordinarily beautiful and fascinating woman. She taught me pride in being female long before feminism revived. She guided me to accept life in its fullness, its pain and its joy. Her parents failed her badly on education and she was fiercely determined I should have this crucial tool. I grew up as ‘Barbara’s daughter’ a matter of mixed feelings, as her great assets were my pride but I was a lesser being, in orbit.
There were two fathers both good in their way and together they spliced a whole person: steadiness and enthusiasm, thoroughness and spontaneity.
In 1960 I was sent to a posh boarding school, and my world fell apart in coldness of mind and body, laced with syrupy christian guilt. I ran away, became ill, came home. After thata good grammar school in Kent gave a few happy years. Hot summer grass, playing House of the Rising Sun on a tiny radio. Ran with a local band: Sons of Fred, innocent days.
CHANGE USA But mama was unhappy so it was all change, off to 1960s New York. Soft floaty miniskirts, long long hair, hippie life. They said I was intelligent I had no idea what they meant. All I wanted was pretty clothes, dancing at festivals and a gentle lover to hold hands. The first two were fine but men were not. Like millions of others I was rapidly reduced to meat, and hacked about meat, not physically but just used, used as a naive child in a skimpy dress, they said I was sexy. Prey.
Mother helped and damaged both, Nan helped, and eventually I pulled through the filth and loneliness of living young and female. Death and return, thank you doctor. Good friend Michael Tomkiewicz, oh where did you go?
Philosophy degree (UCL) and feminism hit. Better.
WOMEN”S LIBERATION we called it none of this mealy mouthed feminism. Suddenly the voiceless made a sound, a roaring sound. The price was to give up the ‘individual solution’ so sisterhood was powerful, while still lonely. But Radical Feminism the first group in Britain, hear me roar oh yes Robin Morgan. No elders to guide us, so scared, so exploding. Men were scared too, learning they couldn’t have us unless they shaped up but still women caved in too much.
Tried ‘dropping in’ and it was quite fun. Job, briefcase, bought a flat. Beautiful boyfriend long blond hair, hello Tony, sadly we did not understand alcoholism. Dear Quentin.
TABBIES Dumped the system con, lies, betrayal. Workers are like women, bits of flesh to be used.