Warning: This post contains details of domestic abuse some may find triggering.
In 1936, Louis Didier was thirty-four and financially well-off. A man from humble origins, he had risen remarkably quickly through the ranks of French society and he now ran a company in Lille. Initiated into an esoteric lodge of Freemasonry, he adhered to an extremely dark spiritual vision of a fallen world governed by grim forces.
That year he met a man, a miner from the town of Fives, who was struggling to feed his many children. Louis Didier suggested the miner ‘entrust’ to him his youngest child, a flaxen-haired six-year-old girl. ‘Jeannine will never want for anything; she will have a brilliant education and enjoy a very comfortable life. My only condition is that you will no longer see her.’ It’s unclear whether there was a financial transaction.
The miner agreed. Jeannine left to live under Louis Didier’s protection and never saw her family again. Louis Didier kept his promise. Jeannine was sent to boarding school and received an excellent education. When she reached the age of consent, she came back to live with her guardian. He had her study philosophy and Latin at university in Lille, and made sure she earned her degree.
I don’t know when Louis Didier revealed his grand project to Jeannine. Did he talk about it when she was still a little girl who spent only holidays with him? Or did he wait until she’d grown up and become his wife? I think that deep down Jeannine ‘always knew’ what her mission was: to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education.
Louis believed that the child Jeannine brought into the world would be, like her father, ‘chosen’—and that later in life she would be called upon to ‘raise up humanity’. Thanks to her mother’s qualifications, this child would be raised away from the polluting influences of the outside world. Louis Didier would be responsible for training her physically and mentally to become a ‘superior being’, equipped to undertake the difficult and momentous task he had assigned her. Twenty-two years after he took possession of Jeannine, Louis Didier decided the time had come for her to bring his daughter into the world and that the date of birth should be November 23rd, 1957.
On November 23rd, 1957, Jeannine gave birth to a very blonde little girl. Three years later, aged fifty-nine, Louis Didier liquidated his assets, bought a house near Cassel, between Lille and Dunkirk, and withdrew to live there with Jeannine in order to devote himself entirely to carrying out the project he had devised back in 1936: to make his child a superhuman being. That child was me.
The upkeep of the garden takes a lot of work: digging, planting vegetables, picking fruit, repainting fences. My mother and I devote many hours to it. The most monotonous chore is weeding. My mother has special gloves ordered from the Manufrance mail-order catalogue so, in theory, she’s the one who is supposed to pull out the thistles. But, depending on my father’s mood, I am sometimes told to do it. I work with my bare hands. I make every effort to grip the thistles right down at the root, but I’m not very good at it and my hands often get covered in prickles.