Janis Hetherington – Part 9: "Eccentricity"


Ma is the one in the white silk dress with the flower in her hair and Pa is sitting next to her

Janis Hetherington was the first UK woman in an openly same-sex couple to be artificially inseminated… In this, the ninth part of her exclusive autobiographical series for Biscuit, Janis tackles her controversial upbringing.

It may appear to those who read my last humble offering to Biscuit, “Polyamorality”, that my amoral attitude (as one high court judge dubbed my behaviour, deeming that I was thus not to be trusted) manifests itself without a price. But since we are in the age of the wallowing victim perhaps I can indulge in some pig swill of notmyfaulting.

This last profound profanity should always be wailed out as if death by a thousand cuts was about to be endured for an acrimonious crime over which the culprit had no choice. I am told by those who have suitable medical cognoscente it makes one appear much more human... or perhaps they meant humane. I must take their gags orft next time they mumble their pearls of wisdom. ‘Notmyfaulting’ is a companion of and happy sibling to fibbing. Lying is apparently a perfectly acceptable form of self-preservation, as some renowned anthropologists have discovered. Well they get my vote, since I appear to come from a horde of ancestors more than adept at telling the grandest of porkies. However, being able to brutally portray the truth of actual happenings, if not accounting for the reasoning behind such occurrences, it is always crucial to stun the audience with the facts first.

As those who have read my booky, Love Lies Bleeding, will know from the opening chapter (as well as from my Biscuit articles), my sado/masochistic tendencies manifested themselves at the usual age of around four years old. The fairly recent court case pitted against the News of the Screws by Max Mosely openly allowed the information that his interest in the subject commenced at about that age. Which to me makes perfect sense. It is also about the crucial time cognisance of a variety of sexual orientations occurs (most obviously transsexuality). Pink versus blue, for instance, or Action Man operating unpalatable tasks against a well-coiffured Barbie doll. Now this is where the Freudian nuts start searching for sinister happenings that may even have started coalescing in the womb. In my case: “Oh dear, poor me… Notmyfault mate! Mama must have experienced a flogging of collaborators on the day I was conceived!” Around about Victory Day 1945, so plenty was happening by way of excusing my “unacceptable tendencies”…

Yes, you guessed it, another court case declaration. That sort of limp excuse was used as a plausible explanation in the way my psychobabble clients in my later brothel days (the third phase of my Madaming activities) would contextualise their potty training requirements. Nitty gritty details of which I will not delight you with here. Their interpretation of total delight and palpable pleasure in sucking their thumbs whilst being winded was being unable to let go of this transitionary stage. In mitigation they cited the same trauma was probably experienced by that great fantasist JM Barrie in bringing Peter Pan into “existence”. “All cause and effect, m’dears” they warbled on whilst nibbling on their teats. I tried to elucidate from them (among the half dozen top Harley Street analysts who graced my portals) whether Tinker Bell should carry talc behind her wings but the sad reality was putting up with their nappies and bottles filled with fake (well I don’t know about the one who brought his own!!!) mother’s milk.


Ma is in black next to a tall woman in glasses

And of course if you have read about my villainous school days, where I perfected my stance of “victim” when caught in some dastardly act (usually over or about a woman I lusted after), you will immediately jump to the conclusion that I either needed the funny farm or a sound thrashing. The latter of which if administered by a ladye of my fantasies would have been most welcome, but if threatened by some creature not desired would have elicited my wrath and very nasty revenge. So by what yardstick did I comprehend normality as it was bandied about in my adolescent years in the late 50s and early 60s? Was it to be measured by my lack of fear? My attitude to punishment as something I had no respect for seemed beyond other’s comprehension.

Would the oddity of a mother being at least 15 years older than those who inhabited my Sevenoaksian air space and my papa being the same age as similar papas from “normal” families make me an oddity? Was Mama’s son, who many thought was actually my father, and the various sproglets my actual Papa spawned with another woman (Mama’s knowledge of it apparently condoning this eccentricity) portray my obvious “difference”? Hang –on. You may say how was that possible?. THIS IS SUPER REFINED, SUPER MORAL, SUPERANNUATED Sevenoaks you are talking about? Your ‘respectable Pa was a freemason for fuck’s sake (although chameleon characteristics had seen him as a Methodist and Conchie as well – the latter after he’d been deemed unfit for service and the former after a defection from staunch Catholicism)… He was a pillar of Senoakian Society… How could they get away with it?????? Well my dears, that is the whole point… Genetically perfected lying machines. Like the cinema they ran, which was my celluloid world, it was all sham writ large.


Pa is the one in the tache and dickie bow

The Art Deco emporium was vast by any standards and was my playground. The dozens of staff, with their flunky uniforms, pandered to my every whim. But home… now that was a very different matter. The only meal consumed as a family unit (Mama ran the restaurant at the cinema but could hardly toast a slice of bread without reducing it to ashes) was on a Sunday before my Papa whizzed off to the busiest matinee day, and Mama couldn’t wait to welcome the fawning hoards queuing up in their Sunday best to live out their dreams in three hours of cinematic relief from their humdrum “normal” lives. And I couldn’t wait to escape from the three-bedroomed box that was supposed to be a suburban dream, to the beautiful “palace” where I could reign supreme. Where I could brush with the characters who had been drawn into this make-believe world that gave them such kudos in the perks of free tickets and much more, as I soon gleaned with my eagerness to learn from such villainous tutors. There was a scam to be exploited hidden inside every ice cream tray and under every snogging seat. Fagin’s den looked like Pansy Potter’s parlour in comparison.

A world where a different vocabulary ruled, where words like “poof” and “nancy”, “lezzie” and “whore” were commonplace. The projectionists reckoned they could spot on screen whether someone had “‘ad itup the night before” or “‘ad lollipop lips”, which I soon gleaned meant they could lick you dry. It was the way the shots were edited and spliced together, they boasted. Or as Farty Fred, the head honcho in the revered projection booth, explained in detail: “See they move their gobs in a different way if they’ve wot you call swallowed the evidence between takes… Geddit it gal?” and I did indeed geddit. And used it to shock my “innocent” playmates and gain respect for being “different” and quite frightening.. I relished that difference… It was coq au vin with crème brûlée to follow. To the logical mind I was a child who was being exploited by adults who should have known better. Bullshit.

I don’t mind playing the victim if it gives me a comfortable bosom on which to rest my tortured head and a gentle tongue to lick my wounds… Ooooooh dear. But in reality I was an eager pupil and quick to adopt their lingo and dump my mother’s cut glass monotone that was itself an acquired affectation. What a useful camouflage with which to bind myself had I actually been caught dipping into the cigarette stash or slipping the Mars Bars into my over-sized school satchel…. “Notmyfriggingfault guv… They made me do it.” So using the blame game to my mind is the coward’s retreat – but such a useful excuse if you cannot bear the thought that every child is not born innocently pure and the genetic make-up is relegated to the physical attributes of hair kinks or spotty noses. I think eccentrics beget eccentrics and I must say I don’t mind one fucking teensy lickle bit. Now where did I put the handcuffs????

Next time… The Dastardly Willie Donaldson… (I’ll give you a few mins to Google him and wonder what more I can reveal about the self confessed debaucher.)


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Janis Hetherington

Outrageously, rebelliously outspoken. Sexually incontinent. Avid supporter of lost causes: ever hopeful they will be transformed, ever fearful that once they are they will become the monsters that trampled them. Janis is the author of "Love Lies Bleeding: Memoirs of a Sexual Revolutionary".

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