B is for Bacchus
He’s the God of Wine. I need say no more!
B is for Bread
It sums up my life wonderfully – the whole comedy and tragedy thing. You know – the two masks.
Listen to most comedians/funny people/those who make people laugh/stand-ups/etc., and the majority have a dark side. These days, a lot of them are classified as bi-polar. Oh the wonders of modern science. There are generations of people who thought they were thick, and had been labelled as such. Then someone discovered dyslexia. Manic depressives are, I guess, still manic depressives. I don’t think I am. I am just extremely mercurial. I fantasise about being bi-polar, but deep down in my heart I know that I’m just not clever enough! People like Stephen Fry are bi-polar. I rest my case.
Anyway. The Bread Incident. I was about 11 years old. We used to have the most wonderful bread from a baker in the local village. One of my favourites was a cottage loaf. It looked like the head of an elderly, well-bred woman - her hair brushed up, and then a wholesome bun on the top. The smell of the fresh bread was intoxicating. I remember one day succumbing to the aroma and I pulled off a small section of the crust on the ‘bun’ bit and ate it. A few hours later, my Jekyll and Hyde father (who was being the bad one at the time) summoned me to the kitchen. I could tell he was being the bad one from the tone and timbre of his voice, and the fact that he just shouted ‘Rosalind’. He only ever called me Rosalind when he was in a bad mood and I was going to be punished. I’ve been called by my nickname, Nonny, since birth.
“Rosalind – have you STOLEN some of this bread?”
He had an issue about things being STOLEN and people telling LIES. Gosh, anyone would have thought I had committed a heinous crime. We’re talking about a minute piece of irresistible crust here! Heaven knows what made me say it, but I said “No”.
The inquisition started. There was always an inquisition when he was in a bad mood – a sort of court case where he was the flamboyant and frightening lawyer who always got the defendant in the dock in such a state that they pleaded guilty whether they were guilty or not. I came up with ridiculous things like “It must have been a mouse”.
There was no way I was going to win. I didn’t. I was found guilty of this dreadful crime and sent to my room. He followed me up and sat on my bed. I knew what was coming. I had to pull my knickers down and lie across his lap whilst he beat my buttocks with his hand. He only once used a belt, but he didn’t need to really. His hand hurt a LOT and I could never sit down for a couple of days.
Beatings were always the same. If I told the truth, then I would only get one beating. If I told a lie, then I’d get two. Looking back on it, I think this is why, to this day, I have trouble with lying. I am just incapable of doing it and have a passionate dislike of people who do tell lies.
So, I had told a lie and I was up for two beatings. But this time it was different. Something inside me decided that this was the day when he wasn’t going to win. He always stopped when I cried and screamed a lot. Today I was not going to scream or cry. The pain of the first beating was bad.
“That’s for stealing the crust,” he said, “And this is for telling a lie,” and the second beating started. I remember biting my lip so hard that it broke the skin. I could taste the blood in my mouth. I have a scar on my upper lip to this day as evidence of that event from decades ago. It seemed to go on and on and on but I didn’t make a sound.
He appeared to go through a period of frustration at my silence and then even he knew that what he was doing was wrong – and he stopped. He threw me a cruel glance and just walked out of the room and back downstairs.
My bottom really hurt but, bloody hell, the feeling of victory was absolutely wonderful!