Radio review: Getting away from a controlling relationship

Nuala McCann

Woman's Hour Radio 4


No subject is too serious or too light for Woman's Hour. It's what women talk about – the gender pay gap, the rugby rape trial, children's mental health and how often you should wash your hair.

The story of a woman using the pseudonym Ruth made compelling listening. This was about coercive control.

She met a man and the first few months were wonderful, but little things rang alarm bells.

She was putting concealer under her eyes, and he walked into the bathroom.

“You don't need to put that on,” he said. “I'm a medical doctor, I know what I am talking about.”

After 30 minutes of his argument, she agreed not to put concealer on again. Then he hugged her and said: “Don't make me do that again.”

There was a lot of fun, happiness, she said, but this was a relationship about control.

If they were out with friends and she spoke, he'd stick his nails into her leg. He wanted her to smile, be quiet and look pretty.

When she was pregnant, if she was sick in front of him, she had to apologise for it.

“I wasn't walking right, breathing right,” she said. “But I loved him, I adored him.”

In the end she had to get out.

“I went from somebody who was completely competent, to being unable to look in the mirror,” she said.

Woman's Hour has also followed five women from bump to birth and beyond.

It's funny how babies change you... washing your hair becomes a luxury, breastfeeding can be a real challenge, random strangers feel free to tell you what you're doing wrong.

On clips from Radio 4's PM, you'll find an exclusive confession from Manfred Mann's Paul Jones who wrote the song 5 4 3 2 1 – the theme for Ready, Steady, Go! in the Sixties.

It's very catchy. Anyone of a certain vintage will know it.

If you listen to the lyrics, you'll find Jones has the Trojans waiting at the gate for weeks and sneaking in on a wooden horse. It really should have been the Greeks.

“I did history, I have an A level,” he said.. but he got the story back to front.

“I messed it up but no-one has ever challenged me on this,” he said.

Sixty years later, he fessed up .. amazing what you can get away with.

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