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Sunday, 29 June 2008
Inverted snobbery

Perplexed by his high-powered lesbian colleagues, a diamond geezer in the excellent TV series This Life asks: "Where is Radclyffe Hall?"

Where indeed? Away with the fairies, that's where.

The Well of Loneliness was one of those worthy books that one was supposed to read. I tried it and got bored. This is probably my fault, but understandable at the time. I was working long hours in a demanding, precarious and tedious job. I felt little sympathy with a character, "invert" or not, who had a private income and nothing to do all day but find herself and get depressed. 

Speaking of self-indulgent, whining bints with nothing to moan about, Virginia Woolf gets a free pass from normally sensible ex-northerner, Jeanette Winterson. (See Theodore Dalrymple's scathing comments on Woolf's "servant problem" for a more realistic view.) Winterson thinks Orlando is “sexy, provocative and tantalising”:

It has every power to suggest that a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life.

Perhaps Orlando is sexy, provocative and tantalising - I haven't read it. But if it suggests that "a commitment to gender is a waste of half a life", then it is silly.

Leaving aside the absurd phrase "commitment to gender", or "genre" as our winning apprentice would call it, this “half a life” thing makes no sense to me. Those magazine articles you see, where a woman lives "as a man" for a day, or vice versa, make no sense either. If I were to spend a typical day - office, pub/theatre/eat, home/eat, TV, blog, bed - "as a man", the main difference for me would be that I would use a different toilet. Much would be the same. I would get up, put on trousers and a shirt (but I call it a top), go to work and so forth. Of course, if I were a man, I would be able to speak forthrightly, and make dirty jokes. Oh, wait…

Many women's lives are different from mine. I have no children, and little interest in make-up. I don't claim to speak for all women or about all men. But generally, I have far more in common with an enlightened Western man - and wear less make-up than some - than with a Saudi or Somali woman.

Islam sees men and women as different species. Ne’er the twain shall meet – at least not as equals. Even the men in Islam waste half a life, and the women have their whole lives wasted for them.

The battle of the sexes must surely take second place to the battle for civilisation.

Posted on 06/29/2008 4:18 PM by Mary Jackson
29 Jun 2008
Hugh Fitzgerald
On the other hand, Vernon Lee -- I can locate only "The Handling of Words," a title which always makes me think of "Handling Synne" -- was apparently untainted by that pathological condition.  Amy Levy liked her.

29 Jun 2008
Hugh Fitzgerald
Who decided, and on what basis,  that "The Well of Loneliness" is a "worthy book"?

29 Jun 2008
Send an emailMary Jackson

Bloody hell, they'd spoil another couple, as they say in the north.

She's like a nasty Noel Coward without the laughs.

29 Jun 2008
Paul Blaskowicz
This pic  of Radclyffe (call me John)  Hall and her sidekick, Lady Una Trowbridge, appeared in the Sunday Times (or perhaps Telegraph) a couple of weeks ago.  She was a nasty piece of work - and looks it.  A hard-faced bitch, as they say in the north.  She  much concerned herself with the Jewish Problem.
When Dame Edna Everage (still plain Mrs Everage  then) came over from Australia desperately seeking her wayward lost  daughter, Valmay, she found her in a huge gothic mansion called Radclyffe Hall.  Edna tugged on the ancient bell-pull, and the door was
opened by a hatchet-faced, collar-and-tie job not unlike the lady in the in the Tongan diplomat's skirt in the photo. Very spooky, as Dame Edna would later recall.