Digression: Q & A
Updated: Nov 25, 2018
So more questions have come in so again I'll try my best to answer them.
Q. You seem to be able to write about the awful things that happened to you in a very calm way, didn't they upset you?
Well yes, obviously they did. A lot. They affected my whole life. There are days I can't stop crying and I am often suicidal and have attempted suicide. I suffer from PTSD with multiple focuses and depression of the can't-get-out-of-bed sort. So the repeated traumas have left their mark. But - with the greatest respect to those who feel differently - I have never viewed myself as a victim. I see myself as a survivor. I mean, quite literally, as a person who has survived beatings that could easily have killed me, and repeated sexual assaults and abuse that could have precipitated suicide via depression. I have often wondered why I can at one and the same time feel these things in the very fibres of my spirit like a fresh acid burn and yet also view them in quite a detached way. It's been suggested that in order to survive a difficult family life, then the other traumas, I must at some point have split part of my mind away from the pain and observed the problems, possibly as a survival mechanism. I don't really know if that's the case but it sounds likely. Also I do have a strong sense of humour, albeit quite a dark and also ridiculous one. That helped a lot. Of course this detachment has also been a hindrance as women who don't exhibit traditional reactions to assault and abuse are judged as being unnatural or unfeminine, which in turn leads to them being treated differently to other women in the same boat. 'You're so strong' becomes an excuse for not helping that woman, for not protecting her or acknowledging her fragility or needs. 'You seem to have coped OK' becomes a reason to devalue that woman's experiences and trauma, as if it isn't as 'as bad as' or as valid as that of women who react more traditionally. Strength is very useful but it isn't endless or a fixed thing. It varies. I have often felt utterly broken recently, with no hope for the future, but the habit of survival continues. I used to joke when I was young that I wouldn't kill myself because with my luck, the minute I did a letter containing a million pound cheque from an unknown benefactor would plop through the letterbox, or an invitation to the party of a lifetime. Now I think the time will come, as it did with my father, that I no longer have physical dignity or mental capacity, at which point, I'm off. But not yet. I have wonderful, kind, understanding friends, a secure home with a great garden, my cat Scout Stormcloud and a loving husband. I have very happy moments and live for my work which is OK by me. And in the meantime I have these stories to finish.
Q: I am worried that by reading these stories I am being disloyal to the band, in case you write something horrible about a band member I consider a hero.
It's a band, not a religious cult. You will not be struck by lightening for reading about human beings doing human things. Also, I'm not here to grant or withhold permission for people to read what I have written. If you feel your pleasure in the music might be marred by finding out the men who create it are in fact humans just like yourself, don't read the work. Or read it and understand as I do that firstly, you can't get along with everyone in life just as they can't get on with you, secondly that if you want your heroes to be flawless, messianic and pure, rock music is hardly the place to find them and thirdly, I am not writing 'horrible' things but real things that happened to me. Yes, some will be offended by the truth. They will blame me and say I'm lying, I'm mad, I'm vindictive and other such things designed to invalidate my lived experiences. I can't help that. I will never disparage or dismiss the immense talents of all concerned with the band and the sheer hard work that goes into creating those songs and the shows that seem so effortless and perfect every time. Those things are undeniable. The band is in my opinion, the best rock band going, by far. But do I think the men who create this brilliance are morally and ethically pure inhuman superheroes? No. I don't. It is their very flaws and humanity that create and inform the art they make. I salute them for that at the same time I will indeed detail many of the men's unwillingness to owe anything to a woman some of them consisted a freak and an imposition, despite the fact without me they wouldn't have that band to showcase their talents. That's not appropriating a narrative not my own, it's an historical truth.
Q: Aren't you afraid the people you write about will never speak to you again?
I daresay some of them won't, but as they don't speak to me now anyway, it won't be a huge loss. If people, both men and women, have behaved positively towards me, I will have nothing but love and praise for them, as is their due for their kindness and courtesy. If they behaved negatively, that was their call. They chose to do that of their own free will. You might say, oh but you were aggressive, awkward, and of course, difficult - it wasn't their fault, you annoyed them. In that case, they could have walked away. They could have asked for a meeting to discuss my 'unruly behaviour'. They could have asked to speak to me directly about it. Far too many of them instead used physical or psychological force or coercion, gaslighting and guilt-tripping to attempt to subdue me and some used rape and sexual assault. Some played the martyr to others to show how 'scary' I was in order to make themselves seem delicate and in need of protection. Many used foul abusive language to me, language they would have hesitated to use to another woman, as they regarded me as beyond the Pale and had dehumanised me. They spat at me. They abused me on and offline. For 40 years - yes, forty years, I have received death, violence, rape and arson threats - most from people calling themselves fans of the band. There are people who called, and continue to call me a monster, evil, manipulative, even dangerous. Ask yourself a question: would you care to seek the friendship and approval of such people, people who in the main, don't even know you personally? No. I'm not here to get revenge, run innocent people down or make myself out nicer than I am. I am here to tell my life story.