In the media is a weekly round-up of features written by, about or containing female writers that have appeared during the previous week and I think are insightful, interesting and/or thought provoking. Linking to them is not necessarily a sign that I agree with everything that’s said but it’s definitely an indication that they’ve made me think. I’m using the term ‘media’ to include social media, so links to blog posts as well as traditional media are likely and the categories used are a guide, not definitives.
There are so many flash fiction timed competitions now, the sort where you are given a photo or word prompt and a set time – often mere hours – to write a punchy flash fiction. I sign up to them and swear blind I’ll enter this week honestly, but I never do.
It’s the time element that doesn’t suit me, I think; but I’ve used such prompts quite a lot and worked on the flashes until I’m happy with them. I saw this photo on the Angry Hourglass site back in October 2014:
The photo reminded me of the sort of characters we have in Liverpool. The city is full of them, the wonderful busker Jacky (aka Plinkety Plink, because he mimed playing a cardboard guitar and sang “plinkety-plink” to Beatles songs, no matter the actual lyric) who performed outside Probe Records in the 1980s. Jacky died and was replaced by a doppleganger who carried on in his stead, like a tribute act of sorts.
I remember too Cherry Red frequenting pubs in the city centre, so called because he put shoe polish on his head in an effort to conceal his balding pate. The Cherry Red and Plinkety-Plink monikers were not meant as cruel or nasty, but affectionately and both men are still spoken about with fondness.
So when I saw the pic of the man in his top hat on Angry Hourglass I imagined him prancing about in Liverpool or another city and getting up to all sorts. I wrote a flash fiction about him called Follow The Finger; it went quite dark in the end, as my flashes often do. Last week some six months after I first saw the photo Follow The Finger was published over at Flash Fiction Magazine. You can read it here.
I am not a wealthy woman, but consider two things apart from food and water as essential tools for life – a good red lipstick and Chanel No5. No matter the time or day I wear both, typically bold scarlet on my mouth and my Chanel No5 eau de toilette on my pulse points – I save the perfume for posh.
Because I work from home, my postman is now accustomed to me answering the door in my pyjamas and my hair still wildly bed head, but with immaculately applied lipstick and smelling pretty darn good. He was a bit disturbed at first, but he’s used to me now.
The fact is, EVERY woman looks great in red lippy.
Red lipstick gives confidence, like a magic elixir. It suits every woman, always; don’t let anyone tell you different.
It enhances any skin tone, adds a slash of unexpected colour, elegance. I was at an event recently, a woman sitting in front of me had the most glorious shade on. She looked wonderful. I just had to tap her on the shoulder and compliment her on it.
Speaking to another woman on Twitter last week, I was gutted to hear she wasn’t allowed red lipstick in her workplace. Her boss doesn’t think red lipstick is “appropriate” for a bank cashier, presumably because the public would see it…and what? Be appalled, shocked, their moral values affronted? Go and speak to your union representative immediately, I insisted. You have your rights.
What a foolish man. Unbeknownst to him, delighted female customers in his bank are, instead of taking offence, more likely to lean in and enquire “where on earth did you get that gorgeous lippy?”
This week I heard about Red My Lips, a movement to encourage women to wear red lippy this April to raise awareness about sexual violence & speak out about victim blaming. More info here.
I don’t watch television. It’s a recent thing, this non-telly lark. It happened in January. Over Christmas we watched hardly any of the repeats and thin dramas dished up, resorting instead to DVD boxsets, playing records and reading.
It was good.
When January made an appearance I switched the telly on one day because Columbo was on. Everybody loves Columbo. My mum fancied Peter Faulk, she liked the fact he only had one eye (am still not sure what all that was about) so the programme always reminds me of her, in a good way.
So I start watching Columbo on this January afternoon and really get into it, Mrs Columbo bakes the felon a cake, Faulk really getting under the killer’s skin, winding him up; then an advertising break starts. (Bear in mind that by January I hadn’t really watched live telly for weeks, commercial TV none at all, so this is all a bit of a shock – I’ve been deprogrammed by this point). Instead of getting up and making myself a brew like I should have done I sat through the break, and they start trying to sell me loads of crap I don’t need. A diet powders ad was the one that got me the most, the advert shouted at me I need to sort myself out, NOW. How bloody rude. Ok, I did need to sort myself out but not by buying their stupid powder. I watch a bit more of Columbo and every fifteen minutes they’re trying to flog me rubbish and the diet powder AGAIN, so I turn it off. I know who the killer is, but it still wrecks my afternoon.
I haven’t watched live TV since. I have one exception to the rule – Only Connect, my Monday night bliss on BBC2. I watched the leaders debate on ITV too, but that’s been my only one off.
The Guardian is not happy that Labour Party leader Ed Miliband admits he does not watch television:
“We’ve all met people who don’t watch television, and we’ve all been immediately creeped out by them. It’s a generally accepted fact that the only people worse than people who don’t watch television are people who don’t own televisions, and the only people worse than those people are people who use internet comment sections to tell other people that they don’t own televisions.”
I know people who can’t afford the TV licence anymore, or have had to sell their own sets to make a few bob. Are they “creepy”? I reckon not. I call them sensible. The Guardian should try it on for size, eschewing the box. It’s good, a life with no TV interrupting you. Our TV set still lives in the corner, we just don’t switch it on. It’s taking up room if I’m being honest. To me life is calmer and quieter if I don’t watch telly, it frees up time. I find chat and panel shows sneery and competitive, the news channel and bulletins as biased as hell, and advertising breaks keep telling you that you need x y and z and sachets of diet powder, or else…
With telly watching, I just don’t enjoy it anymore. Maybe one day I’ll go back to it, who knows? But for now, friends are slowly realising that “did you watch…” is mostly replied to with a “no”. To be honest it makes for more interesting conversations, once telly talk is dispensed with. Wasting time watching crap telly is bad enough, wasting time talking about it, just as bad.
In the media is a weekly round-up of features written by, about or containing female writers that have appeared during the previous week and I think are insightful, interesting and/or thought provoking. Linking to them is not necessarily a sign that I agree with everything that’s said but it’s definitely an indication that they’ve made me think. Also, just a note to make it clear that I’m using the term ‘media’ to include social media, so links to blog posts as well as traditional media are likely.
As In the Media seems to be growing by the week, I’ve divided it into more categories. Comments welcome on what you think of the change and whether you’d prefer different/more section headings.
The big news this week is the launch of The Pool, a free, online resource written by women, for women. Writer and broadcaster, Lauren Laverne and writer and former…
I read an emotional piece by a long time Joni Mitchell fan this weekend, about her sadness at the singer songwriter’s illness and recent hospitalisation. It’s a tale is of fandom, a love for Mitchell’s work, what she signifies as an artist, her meaning over the decades.
I get it. We all have someone like that; I have artists I love, I adore their work. If I like someone I buy their work obsessively (I was going to say borderline obsessive, but that would be wrong; it’s obsessive alright and I’m proud of it). I hate to have gaps in my collection. This why my house is crammed with books and records; my husband is the same. (We desperately need a bigger house.)
Fandom is a personal pursuit; we each deal with it in our own way. Some fans don’t like the label fan at all, so deride and mock it as a blind faith. But to me fandom is not that; it’s a joy, a pleasure; with no shame attached.
In the Joni piece fandom of the singer songwriter is examined from every angle; Joni love lasts forever, not like our silly teen fandom of tennybop stars, where when we get older and know better we cringe and shudder at the memory of the posters on our bedroom wall, and the crushes we had…
Erm…hang on a minute. We should cringe and shudder at our teen fandom? Be ashamed of something we got immense pleasure from? Rub out and cancel a significant part of our formative years like they never existed?
I don’t think so.
Ok, it’s easy to take the piss out of teenybop stars and those who follow them. It’s not rocket science to see why it happens:
Boy and girl bands don’t stay around for long, nor do the dancing prancing boy-men trilling soppy ballads.
The music is poppy, light and fluffy, disposable, here today and ta-ra tomorrow.
Pop tarts have short careers, product dissed and dating easily.
They’re not credible,but instead a Grammy free zone.
But…so what? Why does pop music have to be classic ( a problematic notion in itself, but that’s another article entirely) to be enjoyed? Everything has to stand the test of time, or else it’s worth nowt? Really? We’re going with that, are we?
We live in a time of the temporary, fashion clothes lasting for a handful of washes at best; every household implement seems to be made out of crackable plastic with a sell by date looming ever closer but let’s not fool ourselves; trends are nothing new. Trends are called trends for a reason, spiking high and harsh then falling off the grid, plunging into a freefall of obscurity.
Adults indulge happily in trends/temporary fandom, but are not invited to mock themselves. Faith in football teams and players is no different to the hoards of girls who camp out for One Direction tickets, the sense of tribalism, being part of a gang, spending time with peers is identical. Only we don’t take the piss out of men and women who trot off to the match every Saturday, handing over £LOTS for the pleasure, do we?
And quite right too, because it’s bloody rude apart from anything else.
We should NEVER be ashamed of our teeny bop fandom. The consumption of pop music by teenage and prepubescent girls is constantly dismissed as frivolous or silly, people get offended by it. Personally I think it scares adults, the notion of girls getting together, bonding over the same pursuit and passion. I’m still working out why such a thing is so frightening (answers on a postcard, please – or the comment box below).
The thing is, being a teenager is shit. Everyone’s teenage years carry different shades and levels of that shit. As a teenager you have to conform, your home and school life demanding different types of behaviour; you can’t stand out too much at school or else you’ll get battered (or was that just my school?) but stand out enough so the teacher thinks well of you; don’t work too hard or else you’re a swot, but if you don’t…
The GCSE pressure cooker is hell, friends aren’t always friends at all, they shift allegiances as and when. Teenagers’ parents never understand them and no wonder; teenagers don’t understand themselves, for fuck’s sake.
Sometimes, teenage girls have one constant; teeny bop fandom. Posters on the bedroom wall, tunes on an iPod, they’re the things always there, lifelines both and a comfort. I don’t have a problem with that and can’t understand why anyone else would. Just because teenybop pop stars are a temporary comfort takes nothing away from their value, a very precious value at that.
My own sister was a Bay City Rollers fan as a teenager. You can read about that here.