Farewell, Max. I remember you well from my childhood days. Rest in peace.
So I have now been blogging for a year… When I put my first post up last St Patrick’s Day I had no idea what I was doing, to be honest. Still not sure I do. But I have discovered a lot about what is important to me during my 90 posts, some of which have been a surprise.
The main themes I’ve rambled on about have been:
Books (my book in particular…)
70s and 80s nostalgia
Bruce Forsyth (and hurrah, he got his knighthood along the way!)
A little bit of politics (and a lot of Tory-bashing)
God and today’s church
Canada (where I live a parallel life in another space/time log cabin)
Having just read Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman (what a blast of fresh air!), I think it appropriate to dedicate this anniversary to the suffragettes who gave their lives for the rights of their sisters. A hundred years on, what would they think? What would they say to today’s young men and women? How would they feel, knowing that women are still judged by what they look like? Lap-dancing, stripping, plastic surgery, bum implants, pneumatic breasts, Katie Price, Nuts magazine et al, Page 3, and the fact that women in the UK are paid on average 30% less than men despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970…what would they do with this very present and worrying reality?
I have two sons and a daughter and I know I have a duty as a mother to bring all three up as feminists. It helps that we are a liberal-Guardian-reading household and that my husband and I were students in the 80s when Margaret Thatcher had a deep and long-lasting effect on our political beliefs. We talk about stuff, the media, the telly, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding… we debate. We let them ask questions and they know we don’t have all the answers. But they know right from wrong (mostly). And they know it is right to judge people by their actions, not by their looks/clothes/or walk.
Back in the 80s was an exciting time to be a woman. I was an English major, the first of my family to go to a university. But what opened my eyes was the Women’s Studies minor I took, and the unit in Women Writers. I thought the bad times were behind us, that the future was bright for the human race, men and women alike. I thought that things could only get better a good decade ahead of Tony Blair (and even before Professor Brian Cox was a keyboard player). But twenty-five years later, I worry that my teenagers are bombarded with images that suggest women are still second class citizens. That the boys will have better life chances than their sister (though she is a tough cookie despite the obsession with mascara).
Don’t get me wrong … I like being a woman. I like wearing dresses and looking feminine. I like shoes and bags. But this doesn’t mean men should patronise me or think they have the monopoly on a conversation. And I like men too – they are somehow less complicated. You know where you are with them on the whole, even if it’s not always somewhere you want to be…
Maybe that’s why bloggging – and writing in general – can be so therapeutic. You can do it with no one looking at you. If I’m judged, it is by what I write, and the way I write it, including my occasional bad use of adjectives. And that’s fine.
Brucie stars in Morrisons Christmas advert… Finally some recognition of his pulling power… why not, eh?
Congratulations to the star of my childhood, teenage years and motherhood. 70 years in showbiz and he has earned that knighthood. The variety stars of yesteryear will be smiling down on him. Well done, Sir Brucie.
And only just over a month till my novel The Generation Game is published, an homage to Sir Bruce and all the influences of those Saturday night television programmes that pebble-dashed my youth. An homage to love and family.
It’s my birthday today. I’m more of a Christmas person than a birthday one but it does make you get a tad nostalgic as you see another year go by. As you get older you look back more – well, you have more to look back on. I was thinking about Bruce. I have thought about him a lot during the writing of my novel, partly inspired by him and Saturday night telly. Next month the Queen’s birthday honours list will be announced and maybe this time Brucie will get his knighthood. Seven decades in showbiz, in this country, what more does someone have to do?
But as the man himself has said, he’s in good company: Morecambe and Wise, the Two Ronnies, Tommy Cooper, Eric Sykes, Frankie Howard, Les Dawson, Bob Monkhouse. None of these entertainers were recognised with knighthoods. And it’s that word – ‘entertainer’ – that is perhaps the problem, or to be more specific, ‘comedy’. Is there a snobbery about comedy that means it is not recognised in this country?
And think of all those brilliant comic novels that have never won the big awards - Howard Jacobson’s ‘The Finkler Question’ possibly the start of bucking the trend. Why are ‘serious’ novels somehow considered more worthy (as if comedy isn’t deeply serious)?
And what about the women? We have many actresses (‘serious’) who are dames. But what about June Whitfield, Victoria Wood, Julie Walters et al?
Please, please take comedy seriously, powers-that-be. And please please give Brucie the knighthood he deserves.