Experienced dominatrix Madam Rattan shares the story of her journey and experiences in the BDSM community, including several amusing anecdotes and explanations of protocol and practices, in this norm challenging memoir.
Let’s Wind Back the Clock;
A Monster Stops By; #MeToo;
The Start of the Adventure
It’s quite hard to pinpoint exactly how things started. When I look back on growing up, I remember I always used to like watching television, and some of the things I saw on television really made a huge impact on me. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was subconsciously storing all sorts of information that I took on board in a big way. I always felt some of the images on television were intriguing, some extremely thought-provoking, and others very interesting. They definitely piqued more than my curiosity. They struck a chord – though at the time, I didn’t know why!
We’ve all got a certain curiosity for different things. Some people are interested in haunted houses, while some even go to extremes, such as having an interest in murderers, zombies, martial arts, all sorts of things! Some people enjoy activities such as chess, quizzes, bingo, that type of thing; some like to push limits and get an adrenaline rush from mountain climbing, rock climbing, parachuting. Such a diverse cross-section of different things; but my curiosity, my interests, often seemed to involve things of a sexual nature.
When I was around twelve or thirteen years old, I remember seeing a Dominatrix torturing somebody. I think she had him on a step ladder. Anyway, I saw she’d hooked up this pulley system contraption and had his genitals tied up to this rope/braid pulley system, while tugging at these weights in a bucket. I can’t remember much else about it, but that scene just stuck in my head and stayed with me. I’d love to know which programme it was. There were other programmes where I used to watch people doing ‘naughty’ things to other people, which also held my attention.
I always watched TV programmes that had an interest or element about the sex industry. I found them really fascinating – I couldn’t peel my eyes off the screen. There was one series in the nineties I particularly remember called ‘The Vice’. Every episode was filled with various themes of sex-related escapades and predicaments that really opened up my thirst for knowledge about alternative sexualities. I absorbed it all.
In those days, as I remember most, if not all, programmes were about male/female, never about male/male or female/female. How things have changed; thank goodness. People are more open minded, less misogynistic – a politician might say, “the direction of travel is going the right way.” And it certainly is. About time.
My parents were amazing, but poor. They were very hardworking, never smoked or drank, and saved their money to buy bricks and mortar. They were from an era where that was the most important goal to them; both from poor families, the pressure to succeed with the material possession of a house, their castle, was great – that and bringing their children up to have freedom of choice without pressure and to believe they could do whatever they believed they could do.
I loved horses. It all started when we used to drive through the New Forest when we drove down to Bournemouth to see my grandparents; the New Forest is one of the UK’s national parks and is full of wild horses, which are owned by the commoners, who have automatic grazing rights. I loved it. It fuelled my dreams and fantasies on the long, boring car journeys.
It’s an expensive hobby.
Was that going to stop me? No! With luck, determination and ingenuity I bagged a volunteer job at the local riding stables in exchange for rides – lots of rides. I was so hardworking I was even allowed to give others lessons; I was a lovely child and got on so well with just about everyone.
I was even allowed to take a pony to a horse show that was being held locally and sat next to Princess Anne and chatted to her. I had lessons from the daughter of the owner, who was really mean to me and made me have all my lessons bareback, which was extremely hard but so good for my riding technique.
My dad used to transport me and a car full of helpers to and from the stables; my parents were just pleased I wasn’t bored and playing out on the street. In the then-freezing winters my feet would be frozen from morning till I got home; one Saturday a horse trod on my toe and I didn’t realise it was damaged ’til I got home, took my boot off and found my damaged and bloody toe! And I loved every minute, I was so innocent. So naïve. So young and so not streetwise.
And then the stables closed down. We were bereft.
I wasn’t about to let that stop my passion for horses, so my mum and I devised a plan. My father had opened up a bank account for myself and my brother; he ran it and called it ‘instant banking’. He paid interest, and I divided my pocket money into all sorts of different projects; presents, horse, holidays, etc. It really encouraged me with the power of saving for something bigger (I am sure that’s why I am good with figures & bookkeeping).
We saved up (pocket money and housekeeping savings). To help boost our savings we went to the supermarket at the end of the day and bought the marked down purchases; Christmas was best, the shops shut for a few days then and all fresh food had to go, and it went cheap. My dad went round the back of the fruit and veg market stalls, not the fronts, and did deals on boxes of damaged fruit. We ate like kings, sometimes.
Savings, well, we were good at that.
And so, in time we had saved about £ 50 and we went to Reading Horse Sales (my favourite place every month; 50 horses and 700 lots of saddlery, I was in heaven) and bought my little pony. Several moves of stables to keep him in ensued and after much determined study of the locality, I managed to find an unused, huge field which was a few hundred metres from my house! It was the most beautiful pasture, old oak trees, little copses and spinneys, and alongside the local golf course. Bliss: I managed to find a few young lasses who owned ponies and we shared the cost of the rental. We were in heaven.
After a short time there, a disagreeable neighbour found a loophole in the lease; it stated the field was only to be used for livestock, or some such rubbish. We were all evicted at the end of the month. My dream came crashing down, so once again the sheer determination kicked in and the search for a new home for my pony started once more.
I managed to find a stable and small paddock on Mr Podberry’s chicken farm, a few miles away, a bike ride. A lovely old farmer, he had retired but still wanted to remain active and kept chickens. There were hundreds of them, and they loved him and followed him everywhere; he would reach into his brown warehouse coat pocket and sprinkle some chicken feed around for his girls! What a character. I was very lucky to find this facility.
The other girls found a small farm on the main A4 and they moved there.
Of course, we all kept in touch. If I hadn’t been so friendly with them, I often wonder how my life would have gone.
How significant that desire to maintain friendships was.
I was at the most significant junction of my life and had no idea.
The owner of the farm was a young man called Hans. He was charming and fun, and encouraged the girls to play in the straw and have potato fights in the field; he joined in, of course, and when I visited, so did I.
Slowly a relationship formed. He was 24 and I was 10 years younger, 14 years old. In those days, it wasn’t thought of as strange. My parents were poor, and his parents were rich; he dangled riches before me, and I felt unable to refuse.
My parents felt awful they could not provide the means to further my hobby, but they supported me in whatever way they could. They came and helped on the farm and with the ponies there. I was a good rider, good at showjumping; not the best, but I had promise.
He could provide the very thing I had craved, access to a lifestyle I had dreamed about, and that was exactly what he did. He was flashy, with his Lotus sports car and brand new Range Rover. His parents were so rich, their house in Jersey on the seafront, that they would send their Rolls Royce to pick me up from the airport – me, flying! It was unheard of unless you were from a privileged class. The farm they bought him in Henley-on-
Thames when the land on the A4 was sold for building had neighbours like Lord Heseltine and record producers; even George Harrison lived down the road. The possibilities for my future and the temptations were too great for an impressionable and ambitious young girl.
I had spent my younger years dreaming about owning a stable full of horses, planning and drawing the layout of the stable yard, pretending to buy the saddlery, circling adverts of horses for sale in the magazine Horse & Hound, even naming them! Scouring pages of adverts for wooden stables, sheds, showjumps, horse boxes; you name it, I had dreamed it and planned it.
To have someone who tempted me with the fulfilment of that dream, that fantasy; for a young and naïve, unworldly girl, that temptation was impossible to refuse. He took me leaps and bounds closer to achieving my dream, I had all the ideas, he had the cold hard cash – or rather his parents did, and they kept on drip-feeding it to him, bit by bit, and he drew me in, bit by bit.
And yes, then there was the sex. Of course, he held off for a while – when I met him I was only 14 – but once I was on the pill, the situation developed. He had regular sex with me when he wanted; I thought I was being really grown up and clever, being the first girl in my class to have a ‘proper’ boyfriend. Sex education at home and school was non-existent. I had bagged a rich and generous man, and I was way under 16. How easily it happened, and I concealed the sexual part from my parents. I didn’t know much about sex, but did I know deep down that it was wrong?
Lots of kids have sex underage, of course. Had it been just the relationship with sex, well I wouldn’t be writing this and my journey in life would have been very different. But he took pictures – he developed his own pictures, he had a special room and we always went there to take the pictures. Until recently I never thought anything about this.
And I thought I was so clever.
In the very early 1970’s He took me to seedy Soho sex shops and bought me outfits. He loved taking pictures of me in my school uniform, in mini skirt poses while I walked up the stairs, meanwhile drawing me in further and further by dangling the means to a future I had dreamed of.
Still, I thought I was so clever.
When I think back, I also remember that he used to drive past me most days when I was walking to school along the A4; in my naïveté I thought it was fate that had brought us together. Was it?
Did I subconsciously realise this was wrong? Not sure. I thought I was living an exciting life; missing school a lot, my schoolwork suffered, my attitude changed. I was enjoying a life I could not have had under normal circumstances, so if I had doubts, I buried them and continued living a life of which my family had no idea.
A double life, a secret life, an exciting life, a seedy life; a life that was to be buried in my mind for 40-plus years and only surface due to two specific things that happened.
The main reason is the lockdown. It gave me time to slow my mind, to sit and think, to process the past, something I had steadfastly refused to do apart from the occasional flashback.
The other trigger was an account of a shocking act from an abuse survivor who was reaching out to me. Rushing to my thoughts came details I had buried but not forgotten.
For all these years I have been quite a workaholic, burying myself in either work or study. I had either worked a 60-hour week or had two jobs, or had a job and studied hard for formal exams to make up for the way I missed school while under the influence/spell of Hans and his riches and sordidness.
I did all this while being a single parent family for much of the time, with two children and two marriages. I made some truly awful choices in men.
When I had problems with people I would either cut them off completely, or get stuck in a superficial groove, going over and around the issue again and again like a stuck record, keeping myself busy and getting hung up on my day to day problems. I avoided delving into my formative years; maybe it was just too painful. Our minds have a way of protecting us. Maybe I just wasn’t ready or didn’t want to deal with the consequences of what had happened.
The consequences were mental, not physical. Mental scars can be buried forever, or they can be dwelled on daily, enough to prevent people from moving forward.
Or, like me, they can be buried and come back to haunt you at a later date; for me it was when my mind stopped working overtime. It all started to come together and make sense when it was stilled and rested.
I began to feel able to talk more freely about it. Because while I didn’t tell anyone, well, it hadn’t really happened, had it?
Of course, I had never forgotten about this (I had even referred to it a couple of times in the last 10 years); I had refused to be a victim and refused to let it destroy my life, as it can so easily do, though of course it had shaped my life, even though I refused to admit it.
I found a coping strategy that worked well for me: keeping busy and refusing to become a victim that was stuck in a rut of memories, unable to break out. We have all seen that happen, people spending so much time looking back that they fail to see the life they could be enjoying.
But I do think, in some strange way, it eventually allowed me to be open minded about anything to do with sex. How? I don’t know. Maybe because this happening in my formative years, well, I thought taking provocative pictures was the norm; it didn’t occur to me that I was a child of course.
Sex was something adults did, and as a teenager, I probably liked to think I knew it all. I do know that I was troublesome at school; I made some teachers lives unbearable, being unruly, cheeky, and missing a lot of school. My exams suffered and I left grammar school with a meagre O level and a CSE.
Was the journey I eventually took in the world of Female Domination a way of letting go of my anger, though I never felt angry?
Hans taught me a lot about business; his parents had made lots and lots of money, so much they became residents of Jersey. I looked after his farm accounts and did his VAT.
It became apparent he wasn’t as nice as I thought he was; he was cruel to animals. The RSPCA visited him regularly and they even took him to court for cruelty to pigs, and, if my memory serves me correctly, he was banned for life for keeping pigs. He didn’t feed them. He was a horrible man, and feeding his animals, well, that often became my job.
When his parents bought him the farm at Henley-on-Thames, he bought lots of very young calves to fatten for beef. Calves need a lot of milk to grow, but he kept them in a big shed with no water. I had to carry the water every day in five-gallon containers, filled from a standpipe. When he used to go and visit his parents in Jersey, he never left enough food for the animals. One visit, I had to bag up a ton of barley (harvested from his fields) into 1cwt sacks, load them on a tractor and trailer, and take them to the corn and seed merchants to put a credit on the account so I could buy feed. I was strong and very fit then, plus I was very determined.
Later on in our relationship I also had a part-time job in a bank.
Another Jersey trip I managed to get a bank loan of around £ 500 in order to buy the animals their food; he never paid me back, of course. It was a constant battle to feed the animals he insisted on buying. And yet he kept buying me things; he bought me an ex-hurdler from the famous trainer Captain Tim Foster. I loved that horse. When we split, he took him away and shut him up in a stable.
So much happened that I now look back on and wonder about.
I got a job at a bank that he banked with, as he knew the bank manager. I didn’t even have an interview, his influence with the bank made for a job offer for me. I was 16 and had left school with minimal qualifications. My mind had been elsewhere. The first day I started work the manager wasn’t there; the rumour was that he had been sacked for having smutty magazines in his office. Who knows? Just how did Hans wangle me a job?
At Hans’ house, why were the photos always taken in the same room?
I remember one evening we went round to someone’s house, I can’t remember what for; to be friends, I think. I remember that the man was a policeman. Why was he friends with a policeman that he had never mentioned?
I didn’t make sense of all these seemingly insignificant actions until other high-profile cases came to light. I was a naïve child who thought she was a woman who had control and was getting what she dreamed of; was I the one being manipulated and used? Or was this just a catalogue of unrelated and innocent coincidences?
Driving by me on my walk to school;
The bank manager who liked smutty pictures;
The trips to Soho for sexy outfits;
The photographs developed himself;
The one room that was always used.
They could be coincidences, but do the photographs and the room make them something far more sinister altogether?
I do think that he loved me, but his personality was so dark (and spoiled) that I started to resent the way he treated animals and people; I started to argue back, he started to become physically violent.
After the second incident of physical violence, I decided to quit the relationship.
Then followed one of the most emotionally difficult times in my life. He tried to get me to come back to him.
He was angry, threatening to take back every single present he had ever bought me.
He was distraught, begging me to come back.
He even resorted to threatening his own wellbeing.
He promised me the world, said we would get married.
His mum bought him a red Ferrari, a supercar; she did what she always did when her son was upset, spend money on him to soothe his feelings. Did it work? For a little while, maybe. He even insured it for me to drive it and attempted to blackmail me into coming back.
He was still distraught. He would turn up at my house in the evenings begging, crying, shouting, screaming for me to go back. This lasted weeks; it was really hard to stand and watch a grown man cry and beg like that.
The easiest thing would have been to go back, for so many different reasons. But it was too late. When he eventually realised I wasn’t coming back, he turned nasty, as he often did when he didn’t get his own way, and took back every single thing he had bought me, as he had previously threatened.
I didn’t care. I was free of the toxicity of that relationship. Had I stayed, I would have been a possession, that’s all. In a gilded cage, yes, but a possession nonetheless. I learned a lesson that I will never forget: money cannot buy you happiness, and money doesn’t always buy you what you want – sometimes it just buys you a load of trouble. Yes, I know it’s an old cliché, but I can say it with experience of what money can do to people.
Nowadays, the lasting legacy is that I still cannot cope with emotional pressure of people constantly asking for something; I just cave in. I vowed not to get involved with anyone who was emotionally manipulative. I tried anyway.
So, I did all the things we all do; settled down, married (twice), had children, had jobs, was self-employed, moved around. When I needed stability for my children because I was a single parent, in the 1990’s I joined the Civil Service and eventually moved north on promotion and stayed there until my children had both gone to university.