Judy Golding portrays the Lord of the Flies author as a man who could be a wonderfully entertaining father but also capable of cruelty towards his offspring.
In her memoir, Children of Lovers Judy Golding writes that “I need to make these two men one, the warm, embracing man I adored, and the indifferent, sometimes self-centred, occasionally cruel man, who could drink too much, could be crushing, contemptuous, defeating, deadening. This is hard.”
Speaking at the Telegraph Ways With Words festival, Judy, now 66, said that she “did not take lightly the decision to lay bare the family’s secrets.” Golding goes on to explain, “I hesitated hugely and was bolstered by very good friends, one of whom said to me every few months, Are you going to tell the truth about your father? I know that I come over as quite angry and in a sense you have to be fuelled by a sort of anger. But I certainly don’t regret it.”
Golding and his wife, Ann, were devoted to one another—to the exclusion of Judy and her brother, David. The title of the memoir is taken from the proverb the children of lovers are orphans.
“Every parent—and this is true of my parents as much as anyone—would like to do the best for their children. But it’s certainly true that their relationship did feel exclusive to me and I think to my brother as well,” she said.
“I just felt my parents looked at each other and found in each other a mirror. They were entwined in some fairytale and we were on the outside. But children normalise those things and get on with it.” Judy said of her father, who died in 1993: “He was an extremely funny man, and I remember as a child lying on the floor and my stomach hurting because I was laughing so much…. But you saw the other side too and that was his tendency to—there is a phrase for it now—self-medicate with alcohol.”
Despite that, “the overwhelming thing for me was that I just loved him,” she told the audience. “And I think, really, when all this other stuff is gone through, the biggest thing for me is writing about him and telling stories about him.”
“The benefits [of being Golding’s daughter] far outweighed anything else and one of the benefits was just living with this astonishing man.”
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