I had always been self-conscious and pathologically shy, so found it difficult living in a school. And a girls’ school at that! My holidays didn’t often mesh with those of New College, and there would be times when I was at home while the school was in session. I would mostly hide away in my bedroom during those periods, the feeling of being scrutinized was so uncomfortable.
I don’t know how it started, I don’t think it had anything to do with living at New College, but I began to feel deformed and misshapen. It was a feeling that gradually turned into an obsession. I craved invisibility, and tried to grow my hair sufficiently long that it covered my eyes. If I couldn’t see out then, naturally, no-one could see me. This paranoia steadily took over my waking life.
In March 1972, during the Spring half term, while hiding in my bedroom, I resolved to commit suicide. There was a gas tap on the wall by my bed (goodness knows why it was there) and I opened it up, lay down, and waited for oblivion. Unfortunately, Dad happened to come upstairs several minutes later and noticed the smell of gas. He came into the room, realised what I’d done, and demanded an explanation. After I told him I was trying to kill myself he ranted for a while (quite reasonably under the circumstances) that the whole building could have exploded.
Then he told me to go and get my hair cut.
Later that evening, dad snapped:
“What’s All This Rubbish about committing suicide?”
There was no point in replying. Whenever he asked a question which started with “What’s All This Rubbish…” , he either spoke over your reply or simply ignored you. It was just one of his vehicles for expressing contempt.