|TERRIFYING SUPER- VILLAINS WITH, FOR UNEXPLAINED REASONS, THE NAMES OF CONSUMER ITEMS
The Thigh Master
The Electric Toothbrush
Can women write? It is a controversy that has raged through literary history, with Britain's finest scholars split irreconcilably between those who put the process of authorship "neuro-biologically beyond the mental capabilities of lovely, snuggly womenfolk" (Taffly) and those who find the idea "simply preposterous" (Mrs Taffly).
Women writing non-fiction has, of course, long been known simply to be the illusory results of mass hysteria, but the vast body of women's novels cannot so easily be discredited. Accordingly, the existence of each supposed "female author" has been scientifically disproved in turn, over the years. We all remember from schooling-college, for example, the unmasking in public by Gladstone of that wily foreigner Jean Austen; Bannerbaum's epic tracking and shooting of Virginia Wo"o"lf; Schaffer-Woodne's incontrovertible proofs that the Brontë Sisters were Keith, a 54-year-old labouring-worker from Huddersfield (possibly a docker, depending on whether or not Huddersfield has a dock); and the exposure of George Eliot as George Roper from George and Mildred. Most recently, Mowbry and Zapbang, working with the newest chemical-solutions, conclusively showed that a photograph of history's best-known and -respected woman author, Naomi Campbell (ie, "I, O Man" Campbell), had been erased of side-whiskers and a top hat. But the stumbling-block to a clean sweep of pooh-poohing dismissal has, or possibly have, been the works of Georgina ffowlds-blanquytts.
A few years ago, the writings of ffowlds-blanquytts could be seen on shelves alongside Foucault, Fourier and the Fourth Book of Penguin Golfing Stories. Every middle-class home possessed at least one of her novels, and several generations had sat in front of crackling fires on winter nights and given themselves over to her prose; sometimes concurrently, over a period of years, sometimes all together, if the generations were alive and living in the same house, and one person was reading aloud. But nothing was known of the author beyond her oeuvre, and this, the very obscurity of ffowld-blanquytts's life, made examining her claims to femaleship near-impossible, if not near near-impossible.
Today, The Weekly can reveal new evidence which throws the very question of the puzzle of the mystery of ffowlds-blanquytts's womanlinesses into doubts.
Recently, The Weekly found itself in Exmouth, and began a comprehensive re-examination of ffowlds-blanquytts's work, with a view to establishing unarguably the identity of the last female author, or at least to filling the rollingly empty hours until the bus station was open again. We took as our starting point the mystifying dedication in ffowlds-blanquytts's sixth novel, The Sea's Bitter Harvest - "To my wife, Cynthia." Could this be a clue?
Hard evidence in the form of the original correspondence and contracts between ffowlds-blanquytts and her publishers, Mintley & Aches, no longer exists. The company headquarters burned down in 1956, and, while all records and legal documents were kept at their Edinburgh branch, these were lost when that building too burned down shortly after staff relocation; the second in a series of fourteen still-unexplained tragedies the particulars of which we owe to the valuably detailed autobiography of Mintley & Aches's long-standing chief commissioning editor, James "Pyromaniac" Henshaw.
What little work there has been to uncover ffowlds-blanquytts's identity as a man we dismissed as conjecture - for example, the most public investigation, by Roger de Roger, which pointed to Sir Alfred Beaksworth, citing Beaksworth's many publishing contacts, his prolific writing career under his own name, and his undisguised passion for dressing up in women's clothes, was fatally flawed; ffowlds-blanquytts's first novel, Tears Of Lace, was published when Beaksworth was only three years old, and it is generally accepted that many passages in the book are of a sophistication that could only have been achieved by a person at least twice that age. Similarly, the theory of the great literary authority and teddy-boy Joseph "Seph" Hoots, that ffowlds-blanquytts was, in fact, Tom Evans, while briefly popular, had never recovered from the setback of Hoots's death ten minutes later as he opened his mouth to explain who was, exactly, Tom Evans,
and was stung in the throat by a wasp.
We realised that the only witness we could rely upon was the witness of the witnessing text itself. By painstaking analysis we believe we have isolated several passages which throw new light on ffowlds-blanquytts's deceptive face.
The first passage comes from ffowlds-blanquytts's third novel, Destiny's Wings. The heroine, Destiny O'Mara, is at a ball with her friend, Toot, when she first sees the hero, Richard Fire.
veryone in Warwickshire society was there, but they faded from my vision when I saw him enter the room. I saw him enter the room and it was as if the music became more sweet, the wine in my glass more sweet and the flowers on the tables also more sweet as well. He removed his hat and cloak, using his hands to lift off the one and untie the other then put them both down. Then he glanced my way - glanced at me... and smiled. My breath stood still. I was gagging for it. Absolutely gagging for it.
We need hardly point out that the choice of Warwickshire (Warwickshire) as the scene of action indicates a highly masculine mindset. The "untie" reference when speaking about the cloak is strongly suggestive of the author's experience of male garments. (Women's cloaks untied too, but few outside the clothing trade would have known this was true for both sexes.)
The second extract, from the typical middle period work, The Dawn Cannot Wake Me, is short but evocative.
omen!" said the Prime Minister wryly, shuffling his papers, and the Members on both sides of the House united briefly in chuckling.
- for who except a man could demonstrate such an exact knowledge of the workings of Parliament?
The final piece we have isolated is from the book widely regarded as ffowlds-blanquytts's mistresspiece, I Have Only The Wind, and contains similar, striking clues. At this point in the book, p249 in the critically acclaimed Malaysian Newsprint Pirate Edition, the narrator, Mary, is distraught following an argument with her husband of barely a year, Trent, over the necessity of whipping an insolent stable-boy, Character Unnamed. Desperate, Mary visits her sister, Flame, to ask advice.
lame sat across the table from me, a wisp of her long, soft yet manageable blonde hair having come free and fallen, twisting, down her cheek.
"Oh - what am I to do, sister?" I sobbed. "I can't think how this whole silly argument came about, but I'm sure it must have been my fault. I have tried to be the best wife I can. Do all" - I blushed - "that a wife should. But perhaps I have yet been too selfish - it is entirely possible I have been so consumed with my own vain desires that I have ignored his needs. Oh, dearest one - what am I to do!"
Flame smiled gently, placed her hand on top of mine and stroked it.
"There, there, my love," she said, "dry your eyes. You'll not win him back with your pretty, well-defined face all screwed up and puffy like that of an old fat woman who bawls and nags all day, that's a certainty!"
She stroked my hand again, touching the skin momentarily with the intriguing yielding sharpness of her long, shapely fingernails, and I felt a strange tingle. An odd kind of longing, as though I'd always wanted to do something but never had the courage to try.
"Perhaps you and I both should go to see Trent?" I suggested. "Maybe there is something that, together, as twins differentiated solely by the directions of our secret curling birthmarks, we could do that would soothe his troubled soul." I ran my finger slowly backwards and forwards between hers. "Some kind of small play, perhaps, that would convey by inference that I did truly love him?"
Her eyes closing, Flame shook her head. Running the tip of her finger smoothly around her lips, as she always did when deep in thought, she sighed, "Oh I wish I could, dear sister. To be intimately involved in the happiness of you and Trent is my fondest wish. Many is the time I lie here at night, in these severe nun's robes, and think about you and Trent and the joy you share and how I could become involved in that joy. It is only natural that I should."
I gave her a squeeze with both of my hands. "Then come with me, Flame! Together we can surely assuage Trent"s perfectly justifiable anger. Together, in our play, we will be gentle persuasion. Let him at first just watch."
Flame smiled, and, her breathing becoming deeper, began to nod, but at that moment a messenger ran in to announce the outbreak of war.
Again, crucially, war is the dominant feature, casting aside the plans for reconciliation - ruthless, analytical purpose driving out reactive, delightfully silly emotion.
It is with these passages, and more, that we at The Weekly intend to prove before the Royal Literary Society the true gender of Georgina ffowlds-blanquytts, and to debunk at last the enduring myth that women write, just as soon as we've finished menstruating.
|IMPRESSIVE SUPER- HEROES WITH, FOR UNEXPLAINED REASONS, THE NAMES OF CONSUMER ITEMS
The Power Sander