Primrose Hill Revisited – the complete book online - chapter one

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chapter one

If you ask me all this kerfuffle about Claudia (unless you’ve been shut up in a reality-TV-show compound in Tasmania for the past few weeks you know WHO I MEAN) is, as my twelve-year-old media-personalitrix-presumptive would opine, WELL O.T.T. I know it isn’t done to speak ill of the dead fashionable, but I didn’t get where I am today — (if you must know, in the kitchen, still in my jimjams, the coffee cold — stale, ashy guilt rising from the stub of the second fag of the day — the laptop on the refectory table scungy with dollops of Kiddylicious Jungle Pasta with Cheese, Tomato and Broccoli hurled in an act of unilateral aggression by The Brat, who is HOWLING) — by jumping on bandwagons.

Okay, Claudia achieved the pinnacle of self-realisation, or as my autodidact boyfriend would say, the Absolute Penultimate: her own personal Magnificat (though the metaphor is misplaced — the text of that evensong being the hymn of the Virgin). She has achieved ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY MINUTES of fame. I mean, having a movie made about your life is Virtual Reincarnation. It gives you a chance to set everything right, the way it should have been, in front of hundreds of people sitting in the dark and weeping into their hankies and at the end everyone applauds. There was a standing ovation at the première, a little bird told me. A snotty little bird called Publicity Assistant who rang me the next day to find out why I got up and left early. The truth is I thought the film was over. I mean, it usually IS OVER when they start showing the credits, isn’t it? But apparently it wasn’t. (I didn’t tell Little Bird the TRUTH of course. I told her I had to get home before my babysitter found the key to the stash and turned into a pumpkin.)

Who wouldn’t kill for Hollywood immortality, or at least assassinate a few characters? Which is what Claudia did. And the main character she assassinated is Woman. I mean, she was living in the SIXTIES, for God’s sake. (Well, maybe not for His sake, because it was about that time they discovered He might be Her, or most likely was Dead anyway.) But she was right THERE, strutting her stuff in swinging London, when we’re told it all happened. When people wearing long, frilly gear and long scarves and silly hats on top of their long, frilly Pre-Raphaelite hair — both men and women — stormed the universities, the courts and the media, ripped the shibboleths from the flagstaffs of the Establishment and stripped Little England of its pretensions. And invented sex.

It was a time when the world was intoxicated with hope: everyone was young and everything was up for grabs. And what did Claudia do? She became a member of the Resistance. She had a chance to shack up with a gorgeous young hunk who was, by this account, desperately in love with her, and, would you believe, she HESITATED. Because he was fifteen years younger. FIFTEEN years! I ask you. What about Sonny and Cher? I wouldn’t hesitate long enough for the hunk to get his posing pouch off. I MEAN, I would like to know what was going on in her head. When her career ran into the sand she whined and moped and then sold herself to a man she loathed like someone from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. Why not just GET ANOTHER JOB? (Okay, she had a disabled kiddy but there are special schools.) And she was HOMOPHOBIC. When the world all about her was liberating the word ‘gay’.

A hero of the Counter-cultural Revolution? (She would say ‘heroine’, of course.) Don’t make me laugh. She was a pathetic wimp, a professional Victim. You, Sweet Reader, may be more charitable and say she was hard done by. I say, like the 1960s hot pants she wouldn’t have been seen dead in, she came to a sticky end and good riddance. (Did I ever tell you I had that scrummy Jake O’Sullivan in the back of a stretch limo once? Maybe next week.)

— © Dee Dee Twist, Sentinel Newspapers

 

To the Editor:

Dee Dee Twist needs no lessons in character assassination, but she does need a few history lessons.

1. Not everyone was young and foolish in the sixties. Some of us were middle-aged and foolish.

2. Sonny and Cher, whoever they may be, don’t sound like the kind of couple one would have invited to a dinner party in the ‘60s. Particularly if he was wearing short trousers.

3. Get another job? In the late ’60s two women had important jobs in the London media. Claudia and myself. To borrow your strident typography, there WERE NO OTHER JOBS for women. Unless you could type and make tea. We blazed your trail, Dee Dee. You would have had to change your sex (as well as your frivolous name) to get a media job then.

4. We called them — and they called themselves — homosexuals. (The corruption of the useful word ‘gay’ was imported later, as usual from America; the London Gay Liberation Front was not founded until the next decade.) They gathered in a secret, oppressed and oppressive brotherhood, in an underworld atmosphere associated in the public mind with blackmail and treason. Homosexual acts between consenting adults in private were criminal until the passage of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967. Few ‘gays’ stepped out of the closet until much later because professional and social pressures were strong. These remain relevant today in certain spheres, as recent ‘kerfuffles’ in political circles bear witness. Claudia was never homophobic — she didn’t fear anything except failing to get as much as she could out of life. She just didn’t want to share a bed with one.

5. The handful of state schools for children with special needs was poor, woefully underfunded and not yet integrated within the educational system.

6. Hot pants did not come in until 1971. Claudia wore them and jolly fetching she was, too.

7. Little Bird was right. You should have waited until the end of the movie. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

— Daphne Boot, formerly Women’s Page Editor, The London Sentinel