Saturday, August 6, 2011

Misogynists and me!

Janette Miller Greece

Why is it that the three men who at one time or another saw something in me enough to love me, to help me and become an important part of my and their life were all misogynists? In spite of themselves all three of them who were confirmed women dislikers, 'haters' would be too strong a word, found to their astonishment and I suspect much against their will that I was in fact 'rather nice' and en par with their male colleagues and peers and yet? All three were brilliant men at the top of their professions so I must have been quite something to attract their attention in my own right.

All three went out of their way for me and yet I feel I was almost an embarrassment. One even went so far as to marry me! This came as a shock to all his friends and family as he was 44 a confirmed bachelor and had a boarding house full of men at the time! I was something of a novelty. Oxford Educated Dr. Miles Heffernan was something of a 'catch'! It took 8 years and a 'kick' from  a mutual friend Noel 'Cupid' Tovey to make Miles propose.

The other two misogynists kept me very much in the background. The composer Britten who had many boy friends first met me as a 'necessity'. He was desperate for a young Flora found that I was brilliant musically at the age of 15 and watched me grow into a very attractive 19 year old English rose. I feel sure much  to his astonishment he enjoyed my company. I think I may have been the only 19 year old female Britten ever took home alone in this sports car after rehearsals having turfed out Peter Pears. It is a bit sad when I think about it now. I could have been a bit nicer. I was around for nearly 5 years. You did not stay around Britten if he did not like you! But you will not find me in any biography. It is as if I do not exist. Am I that embarrassing? But I do exist!

The last misogynist was the late Peter Goodwin who was a Master Bookbinder. I met him at my philatelic & bookbinding clubs and he would never talk to me. In fact for three years he never said one word. It was so bad I even complained but because the club bindery was shut much to my annoyance the offer was made that if ever I needed to use the equipment I could use Peter's. "You wouldn't complain if you could use a real bindery". He said smugly!  This offer was made because he never thought I should take it up! I did.

A brush with the hospital super bug Clostridium Difficele had left my nervous system in tatters. All I could do was Photoshop and book bind and I needed an embosser. I took Peter up, he saw I needed a helping hand  and I went to work for him. For three months I was an apprentice to a master craftsman. I soon discovered Peter was a Free Mason and his brothers came first. A bad marriage had left him bitter and he really did not like women but he too enjoyed my company and for nine years we met each week. I filmed him for posterity on DVD. Each festival Christmas, Easter, his birthday's he would spend with me and my small family and I went to the Masonic 'dos' when he needed a partner.

However all three men compartmentalized their relationships. For two of them I was a 'secret' my husband had no choice but to acknowledge me as I was not the 'living together' sort. It was only at Peter's funeral that I discovered how much of a 'secret' I was.  There was no room in the chapel for me as it was filled to the brim with over 300 of his brothers who had never heard of me. I refused to watch his funeral  outside on the TV but I did feel that the man being buried was not the man I knew. I was airbrushed out of his life as if I had never existed.

I had bought a posy of camillas which he loved. I took them often to the bindery. I wanted to place them on the coffin as it was laid in earth but again it was his 300 brothers who were invited to place an acacia twig on the coffin. I felt almost redundant. Fortunately a mason noticed and told me to push forward and place my flowers. He must have had a word with the vicar as I was then invited to do so but it was a close run thing. I wonder how many of his brothers will visit his grave and why none had invited him for Xmas dinner?

It was not their fault that 'my men' distrusted women. They were born in an age where women were definitely second class citizens who were uneducated and could be dispensed with and it says much that they rebelled or at least relaxed to allow me into their personal circle. The  secret world of the all male club where membership relies on having a penis is slightly unpleasant today but is still alive and kicking. I can vouch for that.

For Peter and Miles I have given them their posterity. Peter on DVD, Miles on YouTube. Britten has given me mine. All three have airbrushed me out of their official lives. I do not exist but I do and I live to tell the tale!

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