Sometimes I read a book that has such an impact on me that I know it will remain with me, provoking thought and reflection in me. Talking to Myself by Anna Raeburn is such a book. It’s a remarkable book in that it was written at a time when Anna was already a well known woman.
I enjoyed this book, turning each page to see what was to happen next, drawing me into Anna’s world, her adventures, triumphs, and misfortunes. It enchanted me.
Anna grew up in the town of Middlesbrough on the coast of northeast England into a warm and loving family. Though she did well in grammar school her interests were more toward the world of theatre and the arts. Her parents and her sister were important in her life and yet by her 17th birthday in 1961 she arrived in London, cashed in her return ticket, fell in love with London, and courageously set out to become famous. And indeed she did.
The descriptions of places she lived and people she met brought visual imagery to me, almost as if I was with her. London was an exciting place and she met many people, expanding her horizons, learning of the strangeness of other behaviors and cultures, surviving illness, struggling with a series of poorly paid office jobs, moving from place to place, always working hard with the vision of success in her mind.
By the time she was 19 she set out for America. I laughed at her description of ‘terrible Tenafly’ and being a live-in domestic housekeeper, poor wages, and not at all nice employers. I loved the way in which she ventured into Manhattan, began acting classes, and met an enormous number of people, found Greenwich Village, in thrall to the sexual freedom and drug culture of the times. Not that she lost herself in it. Anna was determined, and bold, frequently introspective about herself, making observations about others that would lay a foundation for her later life.
Anna was what was to be described as a liberated woman, a pioneer in exploring relationships.
By the time she returned home to England a few years later I was in delight at what I was reading. As a man it gave me a vivid insight into gender oppression and a woman’s view of sex. Illness and the stupidity of men afflicted her though at times she did find love. She kept moving from place to place, making observations, determined, and working hard.
She moved into the world of writing and public relations, was hired by Penthouse, and returned to America on a publicity tour to launch Forum, a sex magazine. On returning to England she soon became known as a good speaker, giving presentations to various groups and made her debut on British TV. Another short return to America for a publicity tour followed.
She became a columnist for a magazine, Woman, was interviewed on TV by David Frost, became a radio personality, and from her column in Woman and her radio program dealing with sexual problems and relationships soon became known as England’s ‘agony aunt’. Much that she doesn’t like the term.
There is much more of course of this wonderful book, finding love, having her son Taylor, becoming ‘the Anna Raeburn’, but I urge you to buy this book and enjoy the pleasure I have had in reading it.
Gender oppression is a horrid thing. I found an article about a Tuareg girl in Niger to be uplifting: http://tinyurl.com/zuoaa6j
I was fascinated to read that European languages and some Asian languages have a common origin in the not too distant past. I was enchanted to listen to a reconstruction of that language by a linguist. Maybe I’m biased but I think I detected some phonemes found in Gaelic: http://tinyurl.com/pvsjcv6
Do you know carbon emissions stopped an Ice Age: http://tinyurl.com/jbko43k
Scientists are eagerly searching for a distant planet thought to be about ten times the mass of Earth out in the distant region of our solar system: http://tinyurl.com/heo3pq8
February 27, 2016