Revelations: Not killing my father, that's my great regret

Clarissa Dickson Wright, Fat Lady, adds to the gaiety of the nation. That's now. But as a girl she was so filled with hatred for her father that the recipe she sought was not to delight him, but to poison him. Pru Irvine hears a horror story.

My father was 50 when I was born. He was a surgeon - very successful, very powerful and an alcoholic, paranoid to the extreme. Did he practise as an alcoholic? Of course he practised, most certainly. I mean, half the surgeons in the country are practising alcoholics. If you can fly an aeroplane across America or cook a 10-course dinner party - as I did - on automatic pilot, then you can whip out an appendix or perform the odd lobotomy. As far as I know, he never did anything he shouldn't have. Poor man, he was very violent and very terrifying and very cruel and all the things that I subsequently became when I started drinking. I got a great deal of pleasure out of driving him mad. He was a genius and I was devious. I learnt to duck and run at a very early age.

My mother was an Australian heiress, married at 17 straight out of a convent. They met in Singapore and I think he fell in love with the lifestyle rather than her. He was a sod to be married to. She dragged him back to London where he met all the right people and put up his plaque in Wimpole Street. We were rich but my father was incredibly miserly, although the one thing he never stinted on was the household bills. The servants ate what we ate. My mother used to say: "How will they ever learn to cook fillet steak if they don't eat it?" Father was a great gourmet. The only thing we didn't have World War Three about in our house was food.

I remember him driving me to school talking about which O-levels I would sit to prepare me for medicine. I said I was going to be a barrister and he nearly crashed the car. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. He hated lawyers, which was why I decided to be a barrister. When I got a place at Oxford he refused to pay unless I read medicine. I didn't want to read medicine. In the end I read Law as an external student and shamed him into paying the fees - thanks to Edna Katz. Edna owned a shoe shop in Baker Street. She had no children and doted on me. When I told her about my father she wanted to give me the money but I persuaded her to lend it to me. Go to synagogue and tell everyone, I said. I knew how much the Jews valued education and my father had a lot of Jewish clients. I had a lot of Jewish relatives. Within two weeks he'd picked up the tab. It gave me an enormous sense of my own power and a very great deal of pleasure.

Eventually, of course, he went off his head and left home. He really did go quite mad and then became a vegetable and lived out his last few years in a psychiatric hospital. I think having to pay for my 21st birthday party was the last straw. He agreed to my having 200 people to the party. "Go and tell your mother to organise it and send the bills to me," he said. I didn't trust him an inch so I took instructions from my mother and did it myself. She wasn't to speak to anyone or sign anything, not even a delivery note. It was planned for the Saturday before my actual birthday. It was wonderful.

The next day I said: "Thank you, daddy." "Don't thank me," he said, "thank your mother. She signed for everything so she can pay for everything." When I told him I'd organised it he said, "Well, you can pay." "But daddy, I'm not 21 until tomorrow." That was the day he hit me with a red hot poker. He paid because they sued him. Yes, not killing my father is my regret. The law had nothing to do with it. Honestly, if I could have I would have.

I used to pore over botanical volumes. There's this thing called Wolfbane - a scentless, tasteless almost instant poison - which I failed singularly to find in the hedgerows of my childhood. I remember reading once that a Marks & Spencer store was selling it mistakenly as some sort of campanula. I was furious I hadn't been there. I used to hunt the woods for lethal mushrooms but to no avail. I never found anything.

I always thought the world would be a better place if I could kill him. I just never found the right way of doing it.

'Two Fat Ladies' is on BBC2 at 8pm on Christmas Eve

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

    £26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Assistant

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This care provider provides hom...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

    £32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

    £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum