A little bit of politics

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…)

Popular culture


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)

Music (pop)


Mental health


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.

A Tale of Two Book Launches

a pile of lovely books
My mum reading my book; my aunt looking serious
Last Thursday saw the London launch of my debut novel The Generation Game. It was an amazing evening, hosted by Red and Legend Press in Great Windmill Street, opposite The Windmill Theatre (where, appropriately, Sir Brucie started out on his long career).
It was really moving to have such special people there: family, university friends, old neighbours. And it was lovely to have Luke Bitmead’s mother there, Elaine, to join in the celebrations; without her son’s legacy I would not be holding a copy of my own book. Thank you, Luke, for caring about us struggling writers.  And how cool that Elaine’s good friend, Philippa (Pip), was there seeing as The Generation Game is all about another Philippa.
Elaine, me, Pip
It was a really friendly atmosphere, people chatting, cameras clicking, wine flowing, retro sweets to eat, 70s cheesy music (remember Manhattan Transfer?). Such fun.
Then it was time to sign some books and I realised I didn’t have a pen… somebody, I can’t remember who, shoved one in my hand – thank you. (You can see more photos on the link below.)
And then there was last night, the Devon launch at Torbay Books in Paignton. It was just as fun with loads of friends and family, fellow writers and book lovers.  I even managed to make a brief speech without notes or too much rambling. Though I forgot to bring a pen again… Thank you to all who came through the holiday traffic on such a scorcher of an evening. And thank you to Matthew and Sarah for being such good hosts.
Photos to follow.