I am actually posting excerpts of the memoir (first draft!) on a blog, not here but out in the wider blogosphere, with my own name on it and all. And I post links to the episodes on facebook and Google+. It seems I am a bit of a storyteller after all – just not in fiction. At any rate, people say they enjoy reading it and urge me to keep going.
The last episode got very, very personal about my sex life. My sex life in my twenties, that is; there's not a lot to disclose now. But back then there was dysfunction closely followed by adultery. I hadn't thought to disclose so much detail as I did. I found that I needed to in order to tell the real story. I was proud of myself when I'd got it all down, for the way I dealt with it and the fact that I told so much of the unpalatable truth.
What surprises me is that there has been so little comment on facebook. I finally struck them dumb, eh?
2. Self Image
I have spent all my life thinking I was ugly; only attractive to those men who could see past the physical. In the course of writing the memoir, remembering back, I realise that lots of men thought I was attractive enough that they wanted to go out with me – more than I am including in the memoir, because I am only including the men who were important in my life. And actually, there were a fair few of them too. And they were all good-looking fellows themselves. It finally dawns on me that I simply couldn't have been as ugly as I thought.
Why did I think so? I believe I know.
When I was very young – maybe five – I went to stay with my aunty and uncle and cousins in another town, for a holiday. My aunty found my long hair difficult to manage. Dad, who was a travelling salesman, called in when he was down that way. My aunty asked him if she could cut my hair, and he gave consent. It was blonde, and had been nearly down to my waist. She cut it straight across, neck length. When it was time to go back home, Dad came and fetched me. We arrived back at our own place, and my Mum came rushing out to meet us. She saw me, stopped in her tracks, and wailed at him, 'Oh Rob, her hair – it was her One Beauty!' (I swear I heard those capital letters.)
I think, now, it said a lot more about her than me. But I was five.
Perhaps it says even more about a society where there was one standard of beauty, and if you were female it mattered very much. But it was more than 70 years ago.
And I'm still buying it, one way or another! All the same, it's good to finally realise I can't have been all that ugly after all.