In more recent years, after a long absence from public life, she appeared on the documentary Lyn Krunch in Profile produced by Spall's Spools, though so far it has only appeared on a satellite channel (but keep a lookout!). While she had lost none of her punchiness (indeed at one stage it looked as though she was literally about to punch one of her interviewers, Clarissa Spall), a shift in her position on one or two subjects was perceived, along with a certain disdain for more recent feminists. This she denies, though she has been heard to remark that she was 'fed up of permanently outraged little madams.'
I should say from the outset that Lyn gave the interview completely free of charge, suggesting instead that I give a small donation to her favourite charity. She took me to that charity for the second half of the interview, and while I will not give its name, the words 'Red' and 'Lion' were on the sign above the entrance.
We started in Lyn's somewhat untidy study in her house in Snaresbrook. I was thrilled to be in this house, not only because this was the place where she had produced her more recent work but also because I knew that Shane Stenning had stayed with her here for several months. I had been curious about this, for I found it odd that she should have invited such a young man, part-time farm labourer, part-time student, into her inner sanctum. I knew that there cannot have been any romance there, given that she was famously lesbian, and I stressed that when I put the question to her.
'He needed somewhere to stay for a few months and I knew we'd get on. I'd known him for a couple of years by then. I took to him when I first met him because he had the guts to contradict me. I liked that. The way honest men are usually afraid to contradict feminists is bad for them and bad for feminism. I'm not talking about the morons, of course, but the ones who have reasoned arguments they feel they have to keep quiet. Shane had read The Female Onlooker and told me I hadn't taken on board the way boys are brought up mainly by women and are imbued with female views from an early age. This comes out particularly in romantic fiction, where even male writers often tend to subscribe to the female view of romance, and those who try to sound like a bloke are seen as aberrant or contrary. In my time in California and since none of my male colleagues ever said that to me, and I couldn't imagine them having the courage to. It was that which made me wonder.'
'Was it then that your views started to change?' I ventured.
'Don't be ridiculous!' she laughed. 'You don't change just like that. It was a slow infusion. In some ways Shane took me back forty years to almost the last man I respected who had contradicted me. Leo Abse, the Labour MP, was a fellow campaigner for women's rights in those days, and it was thanks largely to him that the laws on homosexuality were reformed. Yet infuriatingly to me at the time, he was always anti-abortion, maintaining that a socialist should be protecting the defenceless. Once a child was conceived it had as much a right to be here as the rest of us. Potty, of course.'
'But you did modify your stance a little.'
'A bit, is suppose, but not until later. The terminology some feminists use will sow the seeds of their own destruction. It's because I don't want that to happen that I avoid talk of a right to choose to take another life. You can hardly campaign against violence once you've said that.'
She suggested we adjourn to her local hostelry (the 'charity' I had agreed to support). Over a couple of pints of London Pride we continued the interview.
'You see,' she pursued, 'what impressed me about Leo and later Shane was the way they refused to subscribe to a shopping list of beliefs or causes. They believed every issue has to be judged on its merits and they were prepared to agree on some things but not on others. So few people have the courage to do that now. It's difficult enough here, but in the States it's almost impossible. If someone tells you they believe in two or three things you can be fairly sure what they'll say about everything on the current list. Abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment and so on. But all of them are different, all should be examined on their own merits. If people agree with whole lists like that it suggests they haven't thought about them properly and, as Shane says, they seem to be more concerned about how they will be seen. The people who bring about real change are those with the courage to go against their own "side" when they think it's right to do so.'
I would dearly like to tell you the rest of our conversation, but after three more pints it all became a bit vague.
Several other characters from The Ceramic Cottage have agreed to give me interviews, which I will relate in due course. They do not all share Lyn's views, of course.
The Ceramic Cottage is available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle, price £1.99/$3,00. Not that I'm pushing it, mind!