Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Don't wear purple - you'll pee!

We all know that advertising is a craft designed to manipulate our desires, but every once in a while it seems to say something else altogether.

I’m worried about men.

If they see a bunch of women laughing and they’re wearing purple, they know they are all wetting themselves. But it’s ok – they’ve got Tena Lady or Always panty liners on.

And if they meet a hot chick in the lift and she giggles and she’s wearing purple – on no! She’s just wet herself, too!

Worse still, these women are barely 40
What are they trying to tell us? That as we approach ‘the change’, we’ll also lose bladder control in everyday situations? Great. And also- not true. I for one would like to point out that if you catch me laughing my head off –relax –I’m not leaking. Perhaps I have Pilates to thank for that.

Approaching ‘the change’, perimenopause or menopause doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s like your teens all over again – a time for reinvention or rediscovery.

I’ve been talking with another author around the launch of her latest novel (Jane McLoughlin and ‘The Unfriended’). Her novel begins with four young women arriving at university and their ensuing growth – working out who they are and what they want from the world. Much the same as my character Kate in …But I love You. Some of us might look back at those years with a shudder: some lessons were harder to learn than others. Some of us look back at those years with joy at the freedom they offered, the freedom to grow into yourself.

Well, I intend to take this period of change with that latter spirit. I’m going to grow into my new self, possibly a little disgracefully, but for now, without the need for Tena Lady.
I’m off to the comedy club on Saturday – I think I’ll wear purple!

If you’re local, join Jane and I in conversation at Brendon Books, Taunton on Thursday 19th Nov at 6pm as part of Taunton Literary Festival.  

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Banksy's Dismaland disregards Disability

Dear Banksy, 

Thank you for bringing Dismaland to my HOME!!

When you set up your bemusement park a mere 15 minutes away my son was thrilled. He has been a fan for many years…though that may now have changed.

My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and the fact that he ‘got’ your work is a miracle in itself. He admired it, questioned it, and learned from it.

As soon as he learned Dismaland was open, he dogged me to get tickets. (When I say ‘dogged’, Aspie’s are notoriously obsessive when they have a goal – and yes, I am the one who has to respond). Needless to say, your abysmal website failed to produce time and time again. And sorry, you may be cool and clever, but I am not paying £50 for tickets that cost £3, as the other touting websites offered.

After many a rant at my inadequate attempts via the website, my son accepted that he was going to have to chance queuing up. We worked out a strategy to make this feel manageable, so off he went with his support worker, full of hope and excitement.

Well, you know where this ends – in an interminable queue.

He phoned for advice having stood for two hours, only to be told that there was the slightest chance they’d get in –AFTER the next hour it would take to process the people with tickets, then the long queue in front of him. They were also told that there was further queuing inside the site. If you know anything of Asperger’s, you didn’t just create Dismaland, you created hell.

Perhaps that’s what you wanted. It has been said that it’s all part of the ‘dismal’ experience. Well, guess what – I don’t appreciate having a miserable reality forced upon the world I work really hard to make pleasant for a young man who faces crap every day.

Thanks for hurting him and disappointing him. Thank you for your witty cruelty. 

As your brochure says, ‘It’s not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster’.
Congratulations on your art: I’m still fixing the disaster.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Rebuilding burnt bridges: your job or mine?

Let me give this a little context, given that there have been several over the years.

You do something that lets me down terribly, that causes great pain, that calls into question everything I believed our close relationship to be, something that has repercussions among my friends and family…so I step away from you in shock and disappointment.

Surprisingly, this is not the outcome you anticipated.

Some years later, a mutual friend delivers a message, your message: ‘the bridges aren’t burnt’.

That’s generous – to inform me that the damage I caused can still be undone. Because that is what you mean – that I can come back to you and all will be forgiven and forgotten.

Um, wee problem here. How have you twisted that situation so that I am invited to rebuild the bridge that you burned? When did that become my responsibility? Because in your grandiose statement, ‘the bridges aren’t burnt’ you are offering to forgive me. You’re saying, ‘I’m here anytime you want to build that bridge.’ 

It’s clever. Even as I write this I’m almost talking myself around.

So let’s get this straight: if you want something to happen here, you get to build the new bridge.
I’d start with an apology.

But if that’s too much, I’d start with a point of recognition – of the day you did something so monumental you fucked this relationship.

When you see that, and own it, and still want to say the bridges aren’t burnt…start building.
And tell me a really safe spot to meet you on and talk to you, if I decide I am interested in your bridge.