Is it just me or do other people have fantasies of being in a position of power over someone who has somehow belittled them in the past? The man you fancied who didn’t fancy you back or the sales assistant who looked down her nose as she said she didn’t think they would have anything in your size! Something miraculous would happen and the object of my unrequited love would fall under my spell or I would lose several stone and go back to the snooty boutique only to find all their clothes too big!!! Those sort of dreams rarely come true and bearing a grudge or allowing something to ruin your life is a waste of time. The Chinese, who have proverbs for almost every occasion, have two ones that I really like: the first says that before you seek revenge you should make sure you dig two graves and the other is that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
If someone pinches your bottom – and believe me in the ’good old days’ that was a common occurrence – it would be far more satisfying to fail to recognise them next time you saw them (preferably selling a copy of the Big Issue as you sail past in your Rolls Royce – well we still have to fantasise a bit!) than to have been in therapy for the last twenty years. Nothing could more satisfactory than bumping into the gorgeous, popular girl who bullied you at school fifty years ago and seeing that she is grey haired, fat and living a very boring life while you have just climbed Kilimanjaro. School reunions must be purgatory – I have only ever been to one when I went with a friend whose daughter was there – but I failed to remember any of the people there. Even the names were lost in the mists of time. ‘I’m Piffy, or Puffy or Biffy or Buffy’ they screeched at me as I tried to fix a pleasant smile on my face while I desperately tried to work out if this person had been my best friend or my arch enemy. So I suppose that was a triumph of a sort.
We did of course have some more safety in our youth. Presumably terrible things happened but we weren’t so aware of them. People kept things to themselves. An unmarried girl who ‘fell’ pregnant (such a strange way to describe conception) would be deeply ashamed, as would her parents and it would be kept hidden from the world. Sometimes the child would be passed off as the girl’s sister with her parents bringing it up and others were adopted. There must have been many horrible assaults and rapes – probably just as many as today – but everything was brushed under the carpet and people were expected to get on with life. And that may or may not have been a bad thing. Nice, middle class girls were a bit safer. They wouldn’t go out after dark on their own. We were brought up to be hyper vigilant because men only wanted one thing! I wasn’t at all clear what that one thing was for several years. When I was caught kissing a boy in the garden of my boarding school the headmistress had me into her study and gave me the dire warning that ‘No one wants to buy a cake after a slice has been taken’ – something that I subsequently discovered to be a big fat lie. But had a boy attempted to go further than a kiss I would have stopped him with the greatest vigour. As breast implants weren’t an option I had to make do with my brother’s football socks and I’m not sure I would have survived the mortification of anyone seeing these as they popped out of my bra. Added to which we were forced to wear the misnamed ‘roll on’ – it was more like a heave on requiring huge physical strength and danger of dislocating a digit. The idea that that any man would have the strength to have his way with you after he had succeeded in releasing you from this tortuous garment was inconceivable. Obviously, an assault is a nasty and possibly traumatic thing although I’m not certain that it often results in the much bandied about PTSD. I talked to a girl recently who told me she had PTSD because her neighbour was playing loud music. This just belittles the suffering of soldiers coming back from facing the terrible atrocities of war who often bear mental as well as physical scars. But as we can see from the Invictus games if you can create a triumph over tragedy your life will be so much better. Anyone who has been subject to a violent assault will have their life changed forever, but how people deal with that change makes a difference. Katie Piper is an extraordinary young woman who was the victim of a brutal acid attack by a spurned boyfriend. She was an extremely pretty girl and she (after many, many surgeries) is a beautiful woman who has become an author, activist and television presenter amongst other things. She has undoubtedly had some very black moments during this time but she has gone on to lead her very best life. Everyone can remember her but who even knows the name of the pathetic apology of a human being who threw acid in her face. She is the epitome of living well being the best revenge
Ah, yes – living well is indeed the best revenge. Although I do harbour fantasies of sweet revenge – mostly through having the perfect comebacks which have no possible comeback themselves – living well not only gives a message to the world, it gives a message to ourselves, and then we may just find that the revenge is not nearly so interesting after all 🙂
You are so right and very well put – life usually evens things out a bit and people mostly get their comeuppance in the end and by which time you have moved on!
Dear Stella, As usual we both enjoyed your latest blog! It seems to me that we both had very similar experiences at our boarding houses. I once arranged an assignation with my boyfriend in the garden shed of my friend (a day girl) who lived next door. A kiss would have been all he would have got too and not a particularly passionate one from my memory. The gym mistress caught me climbing the wall in order to reach the shed. I don’t think I received a lecture as a result although it’s a wonder I didn’t. I probably lost an outing (yet again). I seemed to have hardly any each year. We hope all is well with you. Isn’t it lovely that spring seems to be finally here even though it is bitterly cold. Hope to see you soon, with love, Philippa and Roger xx
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