It was the Duke of Wellington who said: “Publish and be damned.” He was responding to a blackmail threat from Harriette Wilson, the famous courtesan, who was about to publish her memoirs which included details of her lovers.
An article of mine is due to appear in tomorrow’s You Magazine about how my aunt is refusing to speak to me since she read my memoir, Ciao Bella (see publish and be damned blog).
I have tried reconciliation. I wrote her a groveling letter to which I’ve had no response. My father even went to Rome to try to make the peace but got nowhere.
“If you insist on talking about it I shall leave the restaurant,” she said. He tells me she is considering legal action.
It’s not like I used to speak to my aunt every day, or see her very often. But ever since it happened I have had this horrible feeling inside that I get if I think someone doesn’t like me. I used to have it a lot when I was a little girl. I was always so desperate to please and be loved that I was incredibly polite and nice; I would do anything to avoid that feeling of non-approval.
I remember when I was about eight years old in the village we lived there were two girls who had been best friends before I arrived called Alison and Penny. The dynamics were so that we couldn’t all be friends together for some reason. I had to choose between the two. But I was so desperate not to upset either of them I would pretend to be friends with both and often get caught out. It was like having an affair.
I now get that same feeling it if I get a nasty letter about one of my articles or someone posts a dreadful Amazon review of one of my books; although working for the British press I have developed a slightly tougher skin than I had as a little girl.
And of course I don’t go around worrying about my aunt all day long; I have other things to worry about like my hair extensions and what to wear to my book signing this afternoon.
But if I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s often the first thing I think about and I feel just like a little girl longing for approval again.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007