JENNI MURRAY: Harry will wish he’d waited to tell all like I did
- Jenni Murray penned Memoirs Of A Not So Dutiful Daughter 14 years ago
- Couldn’t have published ‘truth’ if parents and grandparents had still been alive
- UK-based columnist advises Prince Harry not to release his ‘heartfelt’ memoir
Oh Harry, I can’t say I’m surprised at your plan to publish a tell-all memoir, despite all your pleas for privacy and vows never to cash in on your royal status.
You clearly intend to explain in detail what you’ve discovered over the course of your life so far — ‘the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned’ — in what you describe as ‘a first-hand account that’s accurate and wholly truthful’.
I’ll be surprised if there is anything left to tell that hasn’t already been blurted out since you’ve had Meghan at your side, encouraging you to follow the American way of ‘telling your truth’.
But please, be warned by me, an old hackette who wrote her own memoir 14 years ago. Your truth may be very different from that of the people who will, inevitably, appear in your book.
Jenni Murray, who penned a memoir 14 years ago, advises Prince Harry not to publish his book next year. Pictured: Meghan and Harry
Unlike the TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, a book is not a transitory thing. It will be re-read, analysed and studied, and will have a profound impact on the history of the Royal Family.
My book was called Memoirs Of A Not So Dutiful Daughter. It traced a year, from June 2006 to July 2007. It was the worst year of my life, when both my parents died and I dealt with breast cancer.
As I wrote about that year’s horrors, I slipped back into the story of an only daughter from a working-class family who had grappled for years with a difficult, controlling, jealous mother.
Jealous, I think, because I had opportunities that had simply not been available to her generation.
I would never have wanted my mother to read about how, in the days before my first wedding, she she went ‘into nuptial overdrive’, calling me a slut when I appeared in my dressing gown in front of my husband-to-be.
She didn’t know we had lived together for two years and that my white dress was simply me ‘dressing up as a virgin for the day’!
I could not have published ‘my truth’ if my parents and grandparents had still been alive. They would have been heartbroken.
They thought they had done their best to feed, clothe, educate and love me, as, indeed, they had. They would have been horrified to think I agreed with the words of Philip Larkin’s poem: ‘They f*** you up, your Mum and Dad/ They may not mean to, but they do.’
Jenni (pictured) said she could not have published her ‘truth’ if her parents and grandparents had still been alive
I would never have wanted them to feel they had failed me.
I tried very hard to explain in the memoir why I was writing it — partly to show how much I had in common with other postwar baby-boomer women, but also to point out how hard we needed to try to forgive those mothers who had given us such a hard time.
They grew up in an era when expectations of what it meant to be a good woman, wife and mother had to be strictly fulfilled.
It has been claimed that writers need a heart of stone or a spine of steel to risk incurring the wrath of family and friends when writing an ‘honest’ story. Harry, I don’t believe you possess either.
Next year, when you plan to publish your book, will be your grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrating a lifetime of devotion to work and family. She should fill you with pride, not resentment.
Don’t be flattered by publishers who call you a ‘fascinating and influential global figure’. You are not. You’re a man who lost his mum far too soon, ran away from responsibility and developed a talent for oversharing which doesn’t go down well here.
One day you may need and want the family you left behind. So this ‘intimate and heartfelt memoir’? Just don’t do it.
A great Bond, but his daubs are dire
Jenni said she’s delighted Pierce Brosnan (pictured) has found pleasure in painting later in life, but his work left her neither shaken nor stirred
For me, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond was a work of art. He was beyond handsome. He was charming, witty, elegant, the kind of man to leave you weak at the knees — and, in my eyes, the best 007.
I’m delighted he has found pleasure in painting later in life but, sometimes, a hobby should just be kept at home and not displayed in a gallery. I’m sorry to say his work left me neither shaken nor stirred.
No wonder women feel teed off!
It was once said Margaret Thatcher had trouble with the men around her because she wasn’t ‘clubbable’.
Brenda Dean, head of the print union SOGAT until 1991, told me she also had difficulties: ‘They used to plot in the Gents’ toilet and I couldn’t go in there.’
Women in the City still face a similar handicap. Golf courses are where business is done.
Large companies preach inclusion, but employees at the accountancy giant EY say ‘knowing the difference between a putter and a driver could give you the edge’.
Yet some golf clubs were men-only until two years ago.
The scandal of family courts laid bare
How can a court concerned with child welfare order the removal at dead of night of youngsters from the safe home where they are sleeping to the home of a parent they don’t want to live with?
That’s what we saw this week in an upsetting documentary on Channel 4 about the secretive family courts.
Hundreds of disputes are heard by these courts and it is illegal to report on them, supposedly to protect children’s privacy. But the reporter Louise Tickle uncovered many stories that made no sense. How, for instance, was a convicted paedophile allowed to return to a family court 37 times to fight for equal access to his young children?
In 2017, Cafcass and Women’s Aid found that 62 per cent of the cases before these courts contained allegations of domestic abuse. A woman who claims her partner is violent is often accused by him of turning the children against him.
The court tries to give kids a relationship with both parents. But what child wants to live with a violent parent, male or female?
A retired family court judge, Sir James Munby, acknowledged that many judges and magistrates have a poor understanding of rape, domestic abuse and coercive control. All, he said, should have training — a requirement for which was included in recent legislation but removed by the Government for fear of interfering with the judiciary’s independence.
It must be reinstated. Some lawyers claim the courts’ secrecy is enabling abusers. Sir James Munby believes they need to be opened — and he is right.
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