Rose Bretécher has OCD, but not as you know it. Pure is the true story of her life with intensive sexual thoughts – a rampant but little-known symptom of the disorder. It tracks her farcical ten-year path to redemption, from the time she was first seized by graphic mental images to her eventual recovery through therapy, acceptance and love.
The book describes her obsessive questioning of her identity and her compulsive search for an answer: driving across the world in a bus; debating the erotic allure of Cherie and Tony Blair; watching Jake Gyllenhaal’s face turn into a chubby vagina… Eventually, after stepping back from the iron railings of a snow-swept balcony in East London, she finds joy in the inescapable truth that when it comes to who we are, there are no neat conclusions.
At its core, Pure is about uncertainty and insecurity, and how trying to banish these things in the pursuit of happiness will paradoxically make us unhappy. It’s about finding beauty in greyness, and embracing the unfathomable weirdness of the human mind.
No-one could have guessed that something was going to explode inside me. I was a happy child.
I was the youngest of four kids in a big, Catholic family, and there was always dressing-up and water-fights and conkering and Captain Haddock; orphaned pigeons to break our hearts over and trips to pat the pigs down Pig’s Lane. I remember the electric hush when we saw a wild deer in the Wyre forest, and the low buzz of Dad’s voice through his back when he carried me, even though I was a bit too big to be carried. I remember Mom’s hand reaching from the front seat to stroke the chubby little knee behind her. How she’d rearrange my saggy socks without looking.
I remember the thrill of naughtiness when my parents’ backs were turned – the daily acts of gleeful perversion: mixing cat poo poison in jam jars; singing Gregorian chants over dead mice; pulling faces at Father John at the ‘body of Christ’ bit. And I remember the bums – me and my older brother Pat were positively enraptured by bums. We made sourdough bums; we drew bums on frosted windows; we painted faces on our bums and made sumo bums with our swimming trunks. On rainy afternoons we’d huddle under the bed with the neighbours’ kids and sniff each other’s fingers after a diligent bum-scratch, adopting the mannerisms of the most sincere sommeliers and applauding the hints and top notes. It became a game. We called it Smell Bums.
Our biggest brother Ted knew very well that he could elicit shrieks of delight from his younger siblings by mooning out of a bedroom window on Easter morning, or spelling ‘ARSE’ on the scrabble board, or farting during mealtimes. How we’d roll with laughter at Dad’s disgruntled face and booming reprimands: ‘You’re a DRAAAIN, Ted, a true vulgarian’.Read more...
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