“Very Intelligent Woman, Marilyn Monroe”

‘Very intelligent woman, Marilyn Monroe.’

Thank you, Dad, for saying this.

I remembered this remark the other day as I watched ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. I say ‘thanks’ to my father because this is the only comment I can recall he ever made about Marilyn. He must have made this remark years and years ago, but for some reason, it stuck in my head. No comment on her appearance. No comment on her mental health. Just a positive comment about her brains.

It brings to mind as well the account Dad gave of the one conversation he’d ever had with his father-in-law, on the occasion of his engagement to Mum. They’d gone out for a drink together. ‘His attitude to women was disgusting’, Dad muttered through visibly clenched teeth. ‘Disgusting.’  And refused to elaborate.

‘Women can do anything that men can do’, he was fond of saying, ‘only they usually do it better’. The middle son of a woman who started life as the illegitimate daughter of a Victorian barmaid and ended up as a Cardiff schoolteacher, he had a high opinion of women’s potential. ‘You could do anything in life you want to do,’ he used to say to me, ‘Anything.’

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