An Evil Immortal Controlled My Life, by Charmian Hughes

An Evil Immortal Controlled My Life, by Charmian Hughes
When I was a kid, I saw a terrifying Hammer horror film about an immortal evil beautiful white queen of a lost African kingdom. In petrifying hissy fits, she throws screaming love rivals down bottomless pits of fire. In the nightmare finale she shrivels to her real age of two thousand years old in front of her horrified young lover. Gross!
The film was called ‘She’. It starred 29-year-old Bond Girl Ursula Andress as the two-thousand-year-old temptress, John Richardson as the posho sap who pursues her, and Peter Cushing as the voice of common sense in the madness of her irresistible beauty.
Her irresistible beauty drove me mad too:  She got away with everything! She was loved and worshipped because she was gorgeous- people fancied her even as they tumbled to their fiery deaths.
Yet I, a plainer mortal, always got blamed for the slightest thing! It was so unfair.
Worse! This ‘She’ person wasted her gifts. She could have been so happy without killing people. ‘She’ had everything! Brains! Beauty! Riches! Queenly Power. But her greatest gift was her immortal life. ‘She’ had infinite choice!
But she wasn’t interested! All she wanted was a boyfriend, preferably the one she had chucked two thousand years before. And by chucked, I mean stabbed to death in a jealous rage. Thank goodness for
‘She’ spent her immortality just moping around till he turned up again in a new bod.
But while I hated her, her values secretly drip fed into my very soul, much like an ‘’influencer’’ of today.
But I don’t think Kim Kardashian would recommend making Jealousy, Obsession and Revenge your motivational forces. Or setting men deadly quests to make them fancy you. Which became my signature copping-off technique at 17.
The film ‘’She’’ was released in 1965, the middle of a decade of massive British cultural convulsions: Christine Keeler brought down the Tory government (with her irresistible beauty); we were beginning to hear about Women’s Lib in the mainstream, and Britain lost the last of its colonies.
But the 1965 film was based on H Rider Haggard’s book – written in 1887 when Empire and Patriarchy reigned supreme.
And the message was the same - Look what happens when women have power- - their hormones will destroy the world. Or Like Lord Byron said – ‘’Man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence’’. . Yuk!
But here am I - in my grown up wisdomness. So lucky to be born into the modern age where women can experience freedom and have real choices about who we love and how we work. I want to be a good person, a fair person, a reasonable person.
How can a monster like ‘’She’’ have any influence on me now? Well, running into my first-ever boyfriend for the first time in over 40 years was enough to trigger the sleeping ‘’SHE protocols’’.
And to remember the rules of ‘She’
- You NEVER forget your first love.
- You certainly never forgive them!
- Better to torture yourself over what might have been instead of seeing the wonder of the life you have built.
But what really happened and what will happen next?

Charmian Hughes: She! Immortal Horror Queen's Guide To Love, Laughing Horse @ Caroline of Brunswick, Brighton Fringe, June 11 - 13. Tickets and information here.

Picture: Steve Ullathorne  


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