Saturday, 8 September 2012

Once Upon Oscar's Doorstep

Once upon Oscar Wilde's doorstep, I rang the bell in anticipation of cucumber sandwiches.

I was 14 years old, a victim of Child Sexual Abuse, and I needed a safe place to go.

Oscar Wilde (played brilliantly by Peter Egan) was one of the characters in a British TV series titled "Lillie". I fell madly in love with him, waited desperately for each week's episode, and built up a fantasy world that I could visit for hours. Simply closing my eyes took me far away from the unpleasantness of reality, into this wonderful imaginary life where I was accepted and safe. So I would go visit him and his arty friends in London, and have cucumber sandwiches and tea with them all. It did not strike me at all odd that a 14-year-old 20th-century Indian girl should show up and be welcomed heartily by these people.
A year or so later, I got down to actually READING what Oscar Wilde had written, and become even more obsessed. And again, several years on, holidaying in Houston with my brother, I found The Letters of Oscar Wilde at the Rice University Library, which of course, presented more background material and return "visits" to London for more Oscar and cucumber sandwiches. (Anyone with a dirty mind, please note: there is no symbolism here. In those days the sandwiches and their contents were literal, not metaphorical).

I now own that book of Oscar's letters, a rare and wonderful find, after hunting it down on when I was a wealthy adman. (A nice thing to be sometimes, and infinitely nicer than being an impoverished madman). I own all Oscar's works, in fact, as well as collections of his poetry and aphorisms - what a brilliant wit he was. I have biographies - one by his son Vivian Holland - and pictures. My friend Roberta once sent me a postcard with an old photograph of Oscar and Bosie printed on it. I've framed it and put it up. People have asked me if it's one of my ancestors.
Yes, in a way, I suppose he is.

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