THE RANT.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m up to speed with America on True Blood, I’ve seen Twilight: Eclipse (for my sins).

First off, let’s get one thing straight: I am not band-wagon jumping. I was digging vamps before you lot had heard of the Voltori, let alone Daywalkers, The Eliminati or death-by-beheading. And I’m not a sci-fi nerd. With the exception of my beloved Doctor, and the occasional Twilight Zone fest, if it ain’t undead, it ain’t for me. I’m a child of the Buffy generation, and I’m not a purist. I’ve read my Kevin Jackson, and I’m always on the lookout for an intelligent new mythology, or a smart new spin on an old one. Vampires allergic to silver? Fine. That’s got some dignity – and it does one of my favourite tricks, which is to play with the idea that the ‘truth’ about Fangers and their occult brethren has been distorted into popular myth; traditionally silver does away with werewolves, but there’s no reason that we shouldn’t think that because someone misunderstood which impossible beast they saw slain… and so on. But despite being able to go on the record as being Team Edward (because I’m suspicious of the racial stereotyping, and because Twilight wolves might as well be pussycats), I remain entirely opposed to the whole day-glo excercise in monster castration. Here’s for why.

Fang Bangers, or The Lady and The Vamp.

Buffy Summers is a superhero. She alone in her generation (except Kendra and Faith, obvs) can fight the vampires, demons and forces of darkness. Long story short, she alone among contemporary fang fiction heroines, hits back. And that’s entirely central to making Buffy the groundbreaking enterprise that it was. The appeal of having the lover who is, to all intents and purposes, part animal, and barely able to contain his bloodlust when he is around you (Angel, Bill Compton, Edward Cullen) is powerful, because it gets steamy scenes in under the censor’s radar. It’s a particularly potent device to use on a young audience who are likely to be doing their first ‘wanting to be wanted’ at round about the same time as they’re tuning in. Sexy TV is a good thing, I’m all for it – but I’m utterly opposed to daft gratuity or to using adolescents’ libidos to uphold a rightwing, repressive world view. So here’s how Buffy gets it right, and Twilight gets it so very very wrong.

Both the Twilight franchise and BTVS use vamps and demons as a metaphor for the internal demons every adolescent has to face. Big, scary, life-changing things that you could never, as a child, have imagined were out there, things that wreak havoc with your emotions and with your body. This is explicated in Buffy episodes like The Pack or The Freshman in particular. When Buffy first goes to bed with her undead lover, everything goes horribly wrong and is irrevocably changed – when he has his soul ripped from his body, the result of a long-standing gypsy curse. Buffy finds this easier than she thought she would to discuss with her mother, Joyce: ‘What, he wasn’t the same guy you fell in love with?’ says mom, wryly. Buffy is, obviously, devastated: but she fights back. She rallies troops, she gathers strength, she has a season-long battle that results in sending Angel off to his own personal (and one must assume introspective) hell, to come back to her redeemed. She moves on, and she gives the blighter who treated her badly what for. She grows up.

Twilight’s Bella Swan isn’t given the opportunity to grow up. Because her big tough monster-men (lucky Bella has two – vamp Edward and wolf  Jacob) make her decisions for her. Edward doesn’t believe he has a soul – but he’s sure as hell going to marry her before he’ll sleep with her, just to make sure hers doesn’t get damaged in the process. Even though he is undead. Even though she is willing to die, just to be with him. At one point in Twilight: Eclipse, competitors Jacob and Edward even discuss Bella and her feelings, and what is best for her, over the top of her head as she sleeps. And yet this pile of clap-trap likes to masquerade as feminist, having Bella at least attempt to resist Edward’s marriage proposals, and call the men who wolf-whistle her and her friends as they try on prom dresses ‘disgusting’. But the truth of the franchise is revealed all too clearly when she breaks her hand clocking Jacob on the jaw for kissing her against her will. She is completely, utterly helpless. She is, after all, a girl. Edward Cullen, in his tough-to-resist R-Patz package, shouldn’t be on screens where young hetero women can see him; he is dangerous. He says it himself: ‘My face, my body, even the way I smell… it’s all designed to attract you’ (or summat like that. All Twilight quotes approximate). On screen as well as in the movie’s mythology, the whole shebang is designed to make you believe him, and the awful, Palin-ite bilge that he propounds.

Briefly, True Blood should get some props on this point. Sookie Stackhouse can at least protect herself – although she reminds me somewhat of Sue Storm, in that her powers (thus far…) are all about empathy, protection and self-defence, whereas Buffy and Faith are straight-up badass. But True Blood and Buffy are also the only ones to buck the hetero-normative trend: True Blood has gay and bisexual characters amongst heroes, villains and somewhere-inbetween-ers alike, which makes the whole ‘male as sexual predator’ schtick harder to uphold.

And that’s not even what really gets my goat about Twilight.

Vampires are Scary.

Basic. Bloody. Truth. A vampire franchise that introduces a safe, cuddly alternative before establishing just how terrifying these creatures of the night are, is almost certainly doomed from the outset. True Blood trod a fine line on this one, but Bill Compton’s pallor and extreme strength and speed are demonstrated from the outset – as is his complex moral position: even as he orders some (synthetic) Tru Blood from Merlotte’s bar, he talks about his predilection for drinking blood from a particular vein in a woman’s groin. He’s obviously a bit of a monster, and he also has the decency to lurk in the shadows, only come out at night, not talk much and generally behave like a massive sinister weirdo. From the outset on Buffy, vamps were allowed to be savvy and funny – but they also brutally murdered teenagers, and belonged to a cult in an underground church, where they worshipped an ancient, shrivelled beast known only as ‘The master’. There are crypts, mausoleums, and moments of classic gothic horror interspersed with the stressful glamour of SoCal high-school life.

Edward Cullen goes to high school. Edward Cullen Glitters in Sunlight. He is a vegetarian. He shows willing by lurking in Bella’s room as she sleeps, making her think it’s a dream, à la Dracula, but only because she is So Damn Cute. Vampire-as-metaphor only works if the viewer’s disbelief is in crisis, and there is some kind of frisson around whether this is just a bad, lusty man or a real life, actual, blood-sucking fiend who can bring you into his thrall and control you for centuries to come.  The worst Cullen can offer is a severe case of puppy-dog eyes and a tendency to want to hold hands at moments of extreme crisis. Moments of extreme crisis that it’s rather hard to believe would ever come about, because this immortal individual is just SO DAMN BORING.

Redeeming features of the Twilight Saga: Washington State landscapes (although I recommend walking holidays or Twin Peaks as better sources), Bella’s dad, who worries and tries to advise, but also listens, respects her and gives her independence (utterly wasted on this youth, who is as boring as her paramour). He likes the outdoors and he likes fishing. And I jolly well like him. Everybody is very pretty, but a bit pale – except the wolf pack, who are First Nations Americans – because this is Hollywood. There are quotas to be met, but absolutely no necessity for those quotas to be reached without crude resort to racial stereotyping.

In conclusion: Vampires are good. Vampires are great. They’re subversive, they’re liberating, they’re sexy. But vampires are only good as long as they’re bad.

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Notes from the Inside

March 17, 2010

THE RANT

Hello, blogosphere. Sincerest apologies for being entirely useless in 2010. The reason for it is simple enough; remember I told you that I had resolved to take up reading fiction again? Well, it transpires that the habit is easy to get back into, and I have been sucked, wholly and happily, back into the bookworm ways of my childhood.

Now a qualified journalist, however, I have not been allowed to give up on the internship circuit. Last month I cut my teeth as a sub-editor (read: spell-checker and hole-puncher) at a rather lovely literary monthly, and I am cominatcha right now from the offices of The Other Sunday Paper.

It’s rather nice here. Overwhelmingly female and well-dressed, friendly and welcoming – although thus far, rather slow.

My first job was to get inky fingers cataloguing papers from the past six months. Then I got to read through the letters to the editor…

What a bizarre box of tricks they are. Not one of them is in response to anything printed in the last edition of the paper; one is a comparison of modernisations under Labour to The Long March through the Industries in China, one a condemnation of calls for the Catholic church to recognise same-sex marriages. A couple were very affecting letters from people with mental disabilities, and the very very lonely. A young hopeful like myself sent in a feature on the off-chance that it get picked up. Word of friendly advice on this: if you try that tack, please PLEASE don’t write about the weather…

And then there was a letter about the unions. I like unions, in principal at least, and I’m interested in any available information about who’s in them and what the membership really think of the structures – whether it is just a representative body to cover your back, or whether it is (as it should be) a body for self-representation, and fighting pro-actively for better conditions. Union leaders though are not always angels, and do not always have the best interest of their membership at heart. Person X shares my view on union bureaucrats – although for rather different reasons.

Person X is a British Jobs for British Workers kind of a character, who holds the opinion that union bureaucrats are selling out their membership by fighting the battles of migrant workers and allowing them to unionise. Person X feels that Brits should leave their unions, and re-form into a parallel union structure, refusing to share workplaces with the takinig-our-jobs migrants.

So far so racist, but not an unheard of position; let’s get to the good bit. Person X also feels that David Cameron should take a substantially stronger line on immigration and the EU (possibly even propose leaving it, certainly not get any closer). Person X goes on to propose that Cameron should reach out to the (new) unions, making it clear that his line on immigration is a direct attempt to represent the will of, and to protect, the working people of Britain.

Sorry, what? This is insane. I have seldom come across a political position so totally out of touch with… any kind of reality.  Person X is entirely sincere, as far as I have been able to ascertain, in the belief that the next government should listen to the will of the working class, organised through democratic, rank-and-file trade unions. Good; there’s the Old Labour line. Next though Person X is equally sincere in their Euro-phobia and xenophobia generally, sharing a line with UKIP. Thirdly, Person X has no doubt that David Cameron’s conservative party is the only organisation that can lead us forward to this racially pure, worker-lead future.

It is at this stage in the reasoning that my mind unravels, and I find that I am very glad indeed to open a letter from somebody’s grandad who is very, very upset about the idea that the House of Lords might be on its last legs.

So ends my initiation to the world of the news room nutcase.

THREE WEIRD THINGS I HAVE DONE FOR FREE THIS WEEK

  1. Made binding holes in BOTH sides of a manustcript by accident, and spent ten minutes trimming the edges.
  2. Worn gloves in the office for an entire week, following an allergic reaction at The Literary Monthly.
  3. Phoned an art gallery to turn down a private view invitaton, because the editor was meeting with a Prominent Scotsman…

THINGS I AM DOING TO KEEP MYSELF SANE

Baking cookies. Applying applying applying for jobs. Drinking beer with Repertoire. Listening to Repertoire’s jokes, repeating them far and wide. Reading Terry Pratchett (yes, I know I’m supposed to be a grown-up). Reading Patti Smith’s new book (see? Redeemed). Listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to the exclusion of everything else.

Jan. 6th

Jack – It’s  beautiful in Dublin. The business is doing well. I know you’ve always loved the city – won’t you come and visit us?  Gavin was here last week. He took us out for dinner, Holly and her fella too. I am so proud of our boy! He looks more like you with every passing year. Love always. Your friend, S.

Jan. 6th

Darling Gav – So good to see your face, be sure not to forget your old Ma. You’re always welcome in our house – Ella and I have not stopped laughing since you left. Certainly you taught us a thing or two about scandal, we were beginning to think we had a monopoly on it! Found a picture of the pub and knew you’d like to be reminded. Thank you for everything, and I mean that. Ma. Xxx

Mar. 14th

Alright there Sinead me old mucker. We’re settled in Dublin now and I’m put in mind of Dylan Thomas: It’s a “pretty, shitty, city” right enough. And such a contradiction! You’ve got your man in the post office throwing us filthy looks for buying stamps, yet nobody bats an eyelid when we walk down the street holding hands. Not free yet, but fighting. Will right you properly soon. Much love, S.

April 21st

Aoife  darling, no word from you in a while. Miss you very much. There’s a new Bacon exhibit opening at the national gallery next month, mightn’t you come and look at it with me? I can recommend places to stay, now, if you’re still not happy at ours. Ella sends her best. With love,  your Ma. Xxx

May 19th

Aoife love, come and visit us soon – before Holly’s wedding at least? I know you love the Liffey, wondered whether another glimpse of it wouldn’t tempt you… Love always, your Ma. Xxx

June 15th

Jack – there’s no space on a postcard to express how excited I am at the thought of having the whole family together, and at our darling daughter’s nuptials! I tell you I think I’d go mad if it wasn’t for Holly living up here in Dublin with us. Sure and we’ve had our troubles, but she’s helped us settle in – showed us all the trendy joints like! Still silence from Aoife but I suppose it’s fair enough. Be sure to give her my love won’t you? Now will you be staying with us, when you come? Call soon, and let me know. Love from Ella and me, as always. S. Xxx

Jun. 30th

Gav darling – another little snapshot of Dublin in the hope that it’ll bring you back to us EARLY for Holly’s wedding.  Still can’t believe you’re living in Blighty these days anyway, you little traitor to my blood you, (d’you think they’ll put MI5 on my scent for this card? Wouldn’t it be funny…) but be sure and remember you’ve to get EURO for this visit, you’re coming home to a country that can see its way clear into the future! (And still those blighters you call family can’t use email, I know, I know). With love, and much excitement! Your Ma. Xxx

Aug. 18th

Dear Sinead –

It’s not took me as long to get round to writing you as it might seem – been scrawling you little notes here and there for the last six-month, so sorry if this turns into a bit of a mammoth… I miss you and I miss home, of course. Where we grew up from girls is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, not to mention in Ireland. As to you, well, if I start in on everything you’ve meant to me over time, we’ll never reach an end! Besides which nostalgia puts everything so definitely in the past, and our friendship’s one that’s to forge itself a sturdy old future, d’you hear me?

Anyway, I suppose you’ve heard some of our little dramas from one source or another by now, but I’m afraid I shall insist on telling it all again from my angle – and hearing your take on it, too. Do I start with Aoife’s ice-queen turn at the wedding? She’s got my mother’s blood in her and no mistake! She arrived in perfect demure blue-and-white, suffering face like the Sacred Heart herself you’d be led to believe, and though we were all to be sat together, bride’s family like, the closest I get to a hello from my own daughter is the scent of her perfume from the end of a pew. Well she can do as she pleases, we’ve enough on our plates Ella and I fighting those who go out of the way to make their prejudices active, at lease the worst she does is ignore us. Ah I try to make light of it, Sinead, or to be angry, but as you well know she’s breaking my heart. My own little daughter can’t love me as I am, what am I going to be worth when I’m gone, if all I’ve taught one of my children is bitterness? I love her and if she said the same there’d not be any questions of “forgiveness”. The anger I do feel is the same anger we’ve always shared, against Big Brother and the Holy Catholic Church. I worry that it was my vitriol against the institution that turned her so devout.

Ella is recovering – and thank-you for your beautiful card, by the way. It really cheered us on to know we had your thoughts. She gave me the most awful scare there for a while. I thought I’d lose her Sinead, really I did. My girl and my own dear love, I thought she was…  you know how your mind plays tricks and you can see no result but the worst in these situations. I think it’s testimony to how she’s doing, though,  that just before Gavin left  – he came to stay to help me out for a while right after it all happened – she INSISTED on taking him to the Hairy Lemon (I shit you not my girl, it’s a very fine pub about two blocks from here) drinking near on a bottle of red wine, “for the iron levels”! And then, as if she weren’t already slaughtered, seeing off his whisky,  for the reason that “his teeth are rather new”. Of course then she played the invalid, and had him carry her on home to me. The doctor says it’s an escapade not to be repeated at least until she’s good and well again, but I swear she did it just because she’d been told she shouldn’t. I think her recovery, which is steady so far, is nine-tenths down to stubbornness. That woman. My grey hairs have grey hairs on her account but I tell you, being allowed to look after her and treat her openly like she’s a precious thing is as much of a treat for me as it is a torture for her!

Holly got back from honeymoon about a month ago, I suppose, and all seems to be going well for her and Edward. She’s Holly Finan now – can you believe that any child of mine would change her name for a man? I’m joking, of course, it’s quite her own decision, and they’re at least talking in terms of kittens rather than kiddies yet a while. She may be married but she’s a sensible girl – woman – and won’t move at anybody’s pace but her own.

What’s the gossip with you anyway? Have you married a rich man and made all our fortunes yet? I’m counting on you – you promised me you’d do it when we were fourteen-year-olds who thought smoking was the height of chic, and I’ll hold you to it!

Come and visit me soon, my sister under the skin.

Sarah.

Aug. 31st

Jack – Thanks on Ella’s part for the flowers, they’re just beautiful, and so thoughtful. Gavin is strength to strength it seems and still calling us every other day, the old mother hen. I was good to catch up with you after the wedding, but I hear from Sinead that you’re keeping the gossip from me? Who is this Jenna creature then? Look forward to hearing from you. Your friend, S.

Sep. 27th

Precious angel Gavin, Mammy’s little pumpkin pie… I only wrote that in the hope that Helen will be the one to pick up the card, and give you a right good laughing at. Nothing much to say but I thought you’d like the photograph, from that Bacon retrospective in January. And you needn’t call so often! I appreciate the attention, really, but I’m not care-home decrepit yet, besides you only do it because you feel guilty for living so far off… visit us soon, West Briton! Ma. Xxx

Nov. 14th

Holly and Ed – happy new home! Not that I forgive you for moving away from Dublin but I understand that you’ve to go where the work is. Let us know as soon as you’re settled, and we’ll come a-bothering. Don’t you be working too hard, either! We might have news for you ourselves soon, watch this space. Love, Ma (and Ella, of course). Xxx

Dec. 5th

 Gavin – I’ve got news so exciting I didn’t trust myself to say it on the phone and still make sense. Don’t tell the authorities round these parts but we’ll be visiting you across the pond before Christmas time. Ella says she had too close a call and she doesn’t want to die knowing she did anything by half measures, so she’s taking me to England and we’re to be married! So, keep the 18th free, I suppose! Love, Ma.

 

Bright Lights, Big City.

December 22, 2009

THE RANT

Okay, first things first: my computer is complaining about the fact that I’m logging on from – shock horror – somewhere new, so please forgive bizarre typos, will have to publish the second I’m through writing. Provided I get tht far. Ah, technology…

So.

London. Steaming megalosaurus, people-monster. Arrived yesterday p.m., work experience at The Sunday Paper (National ahoy!) starts tomorrow. I haven’t had time to get wound up and excited about it yet, owing in a large part to the fact that I have rather mixed feeling about London, and am attempting to overcome these before I get all caught up in my mediabubble.

It’s an exciting place, of course. For the first few chapters of my life it was the land of plays, ballets and concerts – in fact, I began to suspect at one time that the only reason ANYONE came to London was to see Bob Dylan.

More recently, it has been the land of political activity – a-to-b marches, planning meetings, climate camps and long, long hours being kettled in the banking district, facing down police lines as rumours flew around that a man had died at their hands.

For this reason, London has become more and more stressful for me as I have come to know it better. It is also huge, and faceless, and provides ample opportunity for botched meetings.

Take, for example, the last two days of my life. Me, my suitcase and my enormous basket full of Christmas things left Cambridge at twenty past two, arriving at Oval, where the kind and wonderful friends who are putting me up live, at four pm. Now I had said that I expected to arrive around five, and here I was an hour early. Not a problem, thought I. Hadn’t asked them to come and meet me, they said they would be at a friend’s around the corner from two, and to ring when I arrived. So I rang. And I rang, and I rang, and I rang. Then I sat and read the paper, and wept at the sight of the total failure that was the Hopenhagen Copout, and then, I rang again. I apologise again my love, if you are reading, for the superabundance of missed calls.

At half past five, My friend arrived full of apologies, hugs and, most importantly, the promise of a cup of tea. Not London’s fault, I hear you cry. You shouln’t’ve got there so early. She should’ve turned her phone up louder. Maybe, but where else in the country do you have TRAIN stations in the middle of nowhere without even an indoor seat? Which other UK city puts its stations so far from cafés, pubs, other sources of human comforts? London, you are cold. You do not think of human needs.

Today, a friend and I has enormous trouble meeting for lunch at P*zza Exp*ess in the South Bank. Why? Because there are THREE. All ten minutes walk from one another. I made certain to clarify that I wanted to meet at the “one near The National”. THEATRE. Not blooming design museum. Oh, what a what a nightmare. Then, attempting to liaise with my mother at Oxford circus, we came up against the perennial “my-train-is-delayed-but-one-of-us-is-MILES UNDER GROUND” situation. If we hadn’t been such patient people, we may well have abandoned hope and never made it to Oxford Street…

Oxford Street. Riddle me the, readers. WHY? I have never been anywhere so horrible horrible horrible. That said, Ma and I had a blast. Those in the city and in the mood for a giggle, I reccommend the price tags in Selfridges.

THREE THINGS I HAVE DONE “BECAUSE IT’S CHRISTMAS”

  1. King’s College carol service at the Royal Albert Hall. Sublime. Made up for Oxford street and then some.
  2. Been to see Disney’s A Christmas Carol in 3D, and enjoyed it whole-heartedly and without cynicism. I am very, very excited about 3D.
  3. PLAYED IN THE SNOW LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS. Oh, snow!

THINGS I AM DOING TO KEEP MYSELF SANE.

All of the above. Drawing trees. Catching up with old friends, reading actual novels.

Steps to Success.

November 22, 2009

Two weeks ago, I did an experiment. The Editor wasn’t giving me the chances I deserved to prove myself, and the soles had finally fallen off my  last year’s boots, so my default choice of footwear was immediately ruled out.  As I lay out my work experience clothes for the next day, my perspex-heeled, hand-embroidered turquoise Irr*gular Cho*ce spike heels winked at me from the line of shoes by the door.

I put away my cheap suit, and got out my LBD. I coupled it with warm winter tights and a plain black jacket. I accessorised with a turquoise silk scarf, silver watch, silver ring and those shoes.

The difference that it made was enormous – and problematic. It wasn’t just that The Editor commented on my shoes three times throughout the day and took down the web address to pass on to his partner. He also gave me three stories, and sent me out on my first call. Admittedly it was a rather uninteresting one (for anyone else – I am a local government nerd and was entirely fascinated), but it was a call nonetheless. All that for a pair of shoes – not a pumpkin carriage and a handsome prince, granted, but it will do for now.

It is not practical for journalists to wear heels everyday, and I worry that I have now set the bar, and must continue to cripple myself, physically and financially, in pursuit of my career.

Now, I love shoes. As somebody who tries very hard to challenge main-stream conceptions of beauty, this is a source of conflict for me anyway. It is hard to square the desire to march beneath the banner of freedom and liberty for all with the urge to do it in cherry-red peep-toes. This is a personal hobby, though: just like I’m into amateur dramatics, or have an unhealthy appetite for glossy vampire t.v. shows. It should not impact on how I have to appear or behave at work.

In cannot believe that we should be judged on our appearance, and I certainly do not think that we should be judged by our bank balances; if I wear glamorous shoes to work again, it will be the same pair of glamorous shoes. I do not own any others, and I’m embarrassed by how close I have come in the last week or so to buying more, when my savings are at present very clearly marked “food” and “rent”.

Unsure of what to feel or how to proceed after Heelgate, I canvassed the opinion of four very dear friends of mine. All are close to my heart, all are very successful in their own fields, and all see the world very differently.

SITUATION ANALYSIS.

THE PUBLISHER: Don’t over-think it. All that happened was, you gave your editor a talking point. You got the extra work because you gave him the chance to come and talk to you, get the measure of your enthusiasm and your intelligence. Your shoes didn’t automatically get you assignments, you did that yourself. They just got his attention. Now you know that you can approach him and engage him, you can start asking for things. All you needed was an “in”.

THE SOCIOLOGIST: Oh my god, patriarchy fail. That’s awful, it shouldn’t have happened. Why did you do it? It was just an experiment, right? Oh god, you hear stories about this sort of thing… you’re so silly for getting worried about it. Now you know what you’re up against. You’re not going to wear them again, are you?

THE PA: Duh. What did you expect? It’s completely rubbish that women have to make all this extra effort, but it is just the way the world works at the moment. It makes a massive difference because the way you dress demonstrates your commitment. People can tell that you’re serious and that you want attention… I’ll come shopping with you. You have to make sure that everything is professional, but not boring. Careful with accessories. Pearl earrings are good at work. Never wear earrings, necklace bracelet and rings together. As for make-up, you’re quite lucky. You don’t really need foundation, but make sure you wear blusher. Get a good brush, so the bristles won’t fall out…

THE CRITIC: Ha! You whore. I love it. I love conflicted people. You’re going to do it again next week, right?

It is hard to draw a verdict from all that, except that everybody seems to agree that there is a double standard in the workplace, and that it is not unusual for women to be expected (almost always implicitly these days, thankfully) to go that extra mile. To match shoes and bag, to wear make-up, to walk on tip-toe and to smile. To maintain a manicure when typing all day. I have a suspicion however that what it boils down to at the end of the day is confidence. I agree with The Publisher: it was a conversation, and not shoes, that got me stories. I only needed them because I didn’t have the guts to stride on up to The Editor and ask for more work in the first place. I also agree with The PA, that these cosmetic things make a difference. They make a difference because we are taught that it is the trappings of femininity that give us confidence, and that unless we meet these paradigms, we are not successful people.

Society has got it backwards. I will never tell another person not to wear make-up or not to wear those shoes because they are “buying into harmful stereotypes”. I have heard those lines often enough myself and they make me feel like rubbish. Suddenly I’m not trendy enough to be beautiful and not right-on enough to be radical, either. It’s true, the extremes of the beauty industry are bad for your body and they are bad for your brain. I needed a boost to my confidence. I have got it, and in future, I won’t use shoes to start a conversation, I will damn well start it myself. In that respect, Heelgate has given me a wake-up call.

But if wearing make-up does make you feel more confident, if you do love your shoes or think your personality is in your turn-ups, far be it from me to tell you not to use it. We are supposed to be in the business of making each other more confident, not less.

WEIRD THINGS I HAVE DONE FOR FREE THIS WEEK

  1. Attended the Young Journalist of the Year awards, presented by the Periodicals Training Council. Included schmoozing and boozing, a masterclass from top industry names, and an absolutely, phenomenally, gorgeous lunch.
  2. Did a pub shift. Pretty annoyed about this, actually. It’s so standard to pay people for trial shifts during the interview process these days that I didn’t think to ask. That’s five hours I’ll never have again, and there are 65 people competing for the job. Outlook: poor.

TO KEEP MYSELF SANE I AM

Attending Revolutionary Alcoholics. The whole of the left-ish spectrum, form Lib Dem LGBT activists to card carrying socialists (and anarchists who refuse to carry cards) meet in a tower room of a beautiful old college to drink until we can’t talk politics anymore. Tweeting. I love twitter. You don’t have to think, it is pure, knee-jerk reaction. Cue “new blog post” tweet…