Mad Men ….

Last week I had my eyes opened and my ignorance stretched in front of me like a cats guts over a guitar.

I’ll take it from the top … it was turning out to be just another Monday afternoon when a very kind friend of mine offered me tickets to the premier of ‘Made In Dagenham.’ I knew the basic premise, and when I say basic I mean I knew it was about a bunch of women working in a Ford factory. So with this deep insight in mind I gratefully accept the offer, get ready, put on my finest Uniqlo shirt and strut/run uncomfortably down the red carpet in to the comforting womb of the cinema.

We sit down and my word are we greeted with a plethora of goodies. Water, Popcorn and a Weight Watchers Flapjack – which I have to say was bloody delicious. “This is just great,” I think whilst revelling in the oaty goodness of my flapjack. “Oh fucking hell look, that’s Mark Kermode, God he’s a God.” I make a little joke about the row of oldies sitting behind us and I’m just about to make, what in retrospect would have been a pretty tasteless joke about a rather slutty looking middle aged woman who turned out to be Ben Kingsleys wife when I clock ….. Ben Kingsley. He sits down like an absolute player. Has a swig of water and then to my delight rips open his Weight Watchers flapjack. Now, although I could only see the back of his head, the bald creases at the bottom of his skull turned in to what can only be described as a smile as he tucked in to this heavenly low fat treat.

The director and producers come on stage and have a chat, the cast come on stage and have a chat, then the lights are lifted to the bunch of oldies behind us. They are not just any bunch of oldies, they are some of the women this film is based on. I’m impressed, but not absolutely sure why at this point.

The lights dim….ooo….premier….exciting!

The film starts and this is where my eyes are opened and my ignorance is exposed. For anyone who, like me, is unaware of the actual premise of the film. It is about a bunch of women who worked as seamstresses making leather seat covers at a Ford factory in Dagenham but these women were pretty remarkable. All from working class backgrounds, they had worked all their lives and lived, as was expected at the time, like second-class citizens. Even though it was the ‘60s and there was all this free love going on, women on a day-to-day basis were still treated like servants you slept with …..

“I expect dinner on the table at 6pm Bonnie and a hand job at 9pm.”

“Yes Brian, would you like peas with that?”

That kind of thing. Women got paid about half what men did and this was never disputed because its absurdity was never questioned to any beneficial extent. That was until, these women stood up and said “Hang on a minute love, this isn’t right. What we’re doing is skilled labour and it should be paid as such.” They were initially laughed off, and ignored. They’re women, they’re just making a fuss, pay them some attention and they’ll shut up. They didn’t. They kept shouting. They went on strike. They went on strike for so long Ford ran out of seats to put in the cars. Ford has to close the factory. The men are out of work. The women start getting shit from the men because they’re out of work. As one woman perspicaciously points out after being berated for going on strike “All us women came out and supported you men when you went on strike, why is this any different?” It gets harder and harder the longer they’re out of work.

After months of speeches and protests and refusals to back down and be laughed out of the room these women are invited by Barbara Castle (a labour politician, the first female secretary of state and also a woman with massive balls) to the Houses of Parliament. Without permission from the man in power at the time these women that afternoon changed rights for women around the world as much as the Suffragettes did. Because it was recognised that day that women should be paid equally to men it was therefore recognised that they should be treated the same as men and respected to the same degree instead of being fobbed off as something nice to come home to.

How then – did I know none of this? I understand it’s my duty to educate myself but Jesus Christ, why the hell aren’t we taught about this in school? We’re taught briefly about the civil war, the abolition of slavery, the Suffragettes; why aren’t we taught about one of the most revolutionary occurrences to happen this century and it happened in this country! I’m honestly quite ashamed I didn’t know about this. I walk around with my iPhone, my flat and my job (from time to time) not just thinking I should be paid or treated the same as men but expecting it as my right. I’m not saying I should be grateful to be treated with the same respect as a man, but I should be grateful and most certainly aware of the people who made this possible. But then I get confused. Does this mean I’m not to expect chivalry and in line with equality go out and buy my man Milk Tray and Gladioli? I don’t know …. anyway, I’m veering wildly of course here.

So, as the film draws to its end I am busy trying to hold back tears, I don’t know if the fact that these incredible women were sitting behind me made the film all the more poignant but it really did feel incredible to be in such close proximity to these unbelievable people, who for some unknown reason receive barely any recognition for their achievements on a day to day basis. As like me, most people would think they were just any old ladies.

After some idiot from Strictly Come Dancing comes over to them and asks some pretty insensitive questions, we head over to the after party (after walking up and down Wardour Street 2,00000000 (zillion) times trying to find the place.) The after party is perfectly nice. Champagne. Salmon. Dominic Cooper ripping up the dance floor like some sort of crazed jive alien. The band finish and the DJ steps up. All attention is on Dominic Cooper and what turned out to be Rosamund Pike (I need to get some glasses) when ‘The Beatles – All You Need Is Love’ comes on. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a massive Beatles fan but to this song possibly the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen happened. All the old ladies got up from their seats, formed a circle all held hands and swayed and sang along to this, even one of their husbands who looked incredibly frail got up and joined in. I watched them and just thought “You can actually look back on your life, safe in the knowledge that not only did you achieve something with it, you achieved something that every generation of woman is thank full for and will be thank full for.” That must be a pretty incredible feeling.

The evening ended as ‘Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking’ came on and one of the old women strolled over and danced with us to the whole song, as I serenaded her with my ethereal voice I thought “It can’t get better than this….” but then, the old frail looking husband prowled over and after a little boogie, grabbed my face and gave me a nice big smacker.

I couldn’t have been happier.

… And no, I am not suddenly anti-male and sadly, Weight Watchers aren’t paying me for this. It just was truly delicious.

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“YOU FIND NO MAN, AT ALL INTELLECTUAL, WHO IS WILLING TO LEAVE LONDON. NO, SIR, WHEN A MAN IS TIRED OF LONDON, HE IS TIRED OF LIFE; FOR THERE IS IN LONDON ALL THAT LIFE CAN AFFORD.”

Blade Runner – The Eternal Sleep

Blade Runner is a classic. A real cool classic. People with taste like Blade Runner, film buffs like Blade Runner, everyone likes Blade Runner.

I’ve never seen Blade Runner.

This is not through lack of trying. It’s just every time I try to watch it, I fall asleep. So through sci-fi induced narcolepsy it has unfortunately turned in to a film that for years I have lied about and pretended I’ve seen (I would like to point out this is the only film I’ve done this with – well, this and Dirty Dancing, but I think I already know what happens in that; Swayze and some baby have one hell of a party from what I’ve heard.)

The first time I “watched” Blade Runner was a good six or seven years ago, I got pretty stoned, thought “Hell yeah I am so ready for this, Scott it to me Ridley.” Next thing I know it’s Sunday morning, I’m still on the sofa next to a cold cup of herb tea and the dvd menu is running on a loop. “Oh well, never mind,” I think, “I can always try again.”

Years pass. I don’t try again. On numerous occaisions I end up hudddled in circles of cool, smart people and somehow, don’t ask me why, but someone always brings up Blade Runner.  Usually I’m too drunk or stoned (because I’m such a party animal) to be bothered to go through the whole:

Me: “No, don’t know, I’ve never seen it.”

Smart Person: “You’ve never seen Blade Runner?”

Me: “Well, I’ve seen the first 3 minutes ..”

Smart Person: “And…”

Me: “And…then I fell asleep.”

Smart Person: Look of dissaproval.

So I usually just nod along and smile in the right places, go “Yeah that bit was awesome” and hope someone starts talking about Withnail and I.

This social trauma has been part of my life for the last seven years and it kills me that Blade Runner’s entirety hasn’t been. Recently I made this admission to a lovely young man who, sympathetic with my plight kindly lent me his dvd, or his friends, either way nice gesture. I got home, thought “Ok – this is it. There’s been seven years building up to this. I cannot wait. I’m going to be in on this ‘in joke’ that’s not a joke, but I’m finally going to be ‘in’ whatever this clique is.”

Play.

This is great! God look at all those lights! Oh wow cool that’s Harrison Ford, I love Harrison Ford. Oooo .. he’s eating noodles. I’m kind of hungry …….

I fell asleep.

Fuck! How does this keep happening?!  But I’m no fool. I’m not taking this shit from myself. I am going to watch this. So, undeterred from my recent failure as a human I wait for an appropriate time for me to pounce on it, again, again. The time comes last Saturday morning. 10am, fresh from a night of sleep. I am ready for this. I make a coffee and turn that baby on.

This is great! God look at all those lights! Oh wow cool that’s Harrison Ford I love Harrison Ford. Oooo .. he’s eating noodles. I’m kind of hungry. Oh cool, he’s in a space ship. Some guys talking about a tortoise. Pete used to have a tortoise ….

I wake up, no joke, as the credits roll down. It’s nearly 1pm. I make the decision there and then that, like Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate, I have trained myself to fall asleep to Blade Runner. So I may as well give up. It’s over. It will take years of reconditioning to reverse this.

But that would make me A) a tad melodramatic B) a pussy, and more importantly that would be a waste of a dvd loan. So I’d like to announce that this evening my friends, is the big night. I’m keeping the lights on, I’m making coffee, I’m sitting up, like Clockwork Orange I will fasten my eyes open with metal prongs and I will watch the whole of Blade Runner, from beginning to middle to end.

It’s going to be worth all this, right?

SEPTEMBER …

Conkers, bonfires, sheepskin, changing leaves, red wine ….. September is the best month of the year.

Fact.

It holds the day of International Peace, which I feel is not a bad start but it only gets better from there …. I was born! On September the 13th 1986 in Hammersmith hospital this baby came in to the world. Apparently some other things may have happened on this day as well …. On September the 13th 122 AD the beginnings of Hadrian’s Wall commenced, on September the 13th in 1989 Desmond TuTu lead the largest anti-Apartheid march in South Africa, on the September the 13th in 1503 Michael Angelo began work on the statue of David. Unfortunately their work was kind of eclipsed by my birth (my mum told me so.) Ooops.

Now aside from my birth September has a lot about it. It is a month with a weight of transition and change – more so in my opinion than New Years Eve. What ever really changes that night other than your perceptions of some of your ket-head friends?

You can feel it in the misty morning air, this is the month between summer and autumn when you get your act together ready for the coming months. Sexy Mumma Natura kindly gives us a few pointers that it might be a good idea to get our noses back to the grindstone. One being the days start getting noticeably shorter, signalling the end of summer drinking and lax self-discipline, welcoming the point where people start to go home earlier. It could be that we’ve been conditioned to feel this way through school. When we’re kids, every September is a new academic year and so as the days start getting shorter, the long division starts getting longer. Each September signals a new and harder tier in your academic life, and if you’re a closet nerd like me, massive excitement at getting back to school with my brand new Jonny Quest Pencil Case – BOOM. Or it could be inherent and part of some sort of natural cycle we all still adhere to a certain degree. Copying dormice stocking up acorns for winter (yeah, I’ve seen Bambi,) we stop drinking cider and fumbling behind hay bails and harvest all that’s been sown. A month where all the seeds you’ve planted over the year are reaped and put to good use. Either way, inherent or conditioned, there is a certain pressure to kick yourself up the arse this month.

September is also a month of transition in fashion – each year we pack up our flimsy skirts and dresses that weren’t really done any justice by the tepid British Summer and we’re allowed to start wearing some serious clothes. Tailoring becomes important, leather and lambs wool, cashmere and sheepskin are all brought out of the closet and suddenly getting dressed is brilliant. More thought is put in to getting ready, the masses of different fabrics to layer to keep warm. I genuinely find this exciting. I haven’t always; I used to be much more of a flimsy dress girl and loved floaty summer clothes. This was until I went travelling and wore them there. I realised then that they’d never this good walking down Streatham High Road, so I started not to bother.

September is the month when some of the most horrendous acts of terrorism occured. However, I’m nowhere near smart enough to start theorising what change that has brought about. I’ll leave that to the people who think they know what they’re talking about.

Septembers flower is the forget-me-not. For anyone who found or lost love this month.

Enjoy it, it’ll be bloody October soon.

WELCOME ….

And with tentative fingers I type the first entry to my blog …

12 words I never thought I’d hear myself say, in the same sentence.

I say this because I’m pretty selective when it comes to modern technology and the aspects of it I let in to my life/enjoy in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for Facebook; the four horsemen of the apocalypse couldn’t stop me from updating my status, but I never thought a blog was one I would open my proverbial door to. I would’ve rather poked myself in my eye, my proverbial eye.

I don’t really have a plan for the blog part of my blog, surely it should be the simplest part of having a blog, but no. I’m struggling. Reviews? BOOM – There you go reviewed. Interviews? KABLAMO – Interviewed. But the blog? What do I write? I am all too aware that I could easily find myself talking about love and life in the city and then all of a sudden BAM – I have a mass of curly hair and I’m doing a voice over as I type about shagging and shoes. Don’t get me wrong, this would be my dream but sadly someone called Mick Hucknell already did it. How does he always get there first?

When this whole blogging bonanza started I frowned upon it.  It just seemed like a free for all. Suddenly it appeared anyone could have a website dedicated solely to what outfit they’re planning on wearing today  but when a wise young man recently argued that I might be generalising, just a tad, I delved a little deeper and when love is put in to them, there are some really awesome ones out there.

Really, what I’m trying to say is welcome to my blog. I’m a little unsteady on my cyber feet at the moment, so be gentle.  And although it looks like a barren spinster right now, I plan to pump this thing full of love and will do everything I can to avoid mentioning what I’m wearing today. But tomorrow I’m planning on wearing ….

“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

And with tentative fingers I type the first entry to my blog …

12 words I never thought I’d hear myself say, in the same sentence.

I say this because I’m pretty selective when it comes to modern technology and the aspects of it I let in to my life/enjoy in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for Facebook; the four horsemen of the apocalypse couldn’t stop me from updating my status, but I never thought a blog was one I would open my proverbial door to. I would’ve rather poked myself in my eye, my proverbial eye.

I don’t really have a plan for the blog part of my blog, surely it should be the simplest part of having a blog, but no. I’m struggling. Reviews? BOOM – There you go reviewed. Interviews? KABLAMO – Interviewed. But the blog? What do I write? I am all too aware that I could easily find myself talking about love and life in the city and then all of a sudden BAM – I have a mass of curly hair and I’m doing a voice over as I type about shagging and shoes. Don’t get me wrong, this would be my dream but sadly someone called Mick Hucknell already did it. How does he always get there first?

When this whole blogging bonanza started I frowned upon it.  It just seemed like a free for all. Suddenly it appeared anyone could have a website dedicated solely to what outfit they’re planning on wearing today  but when a wise young man recently argued that I might be generalising, just a tad, I delved a little deeper and when love is put in to them, there are some really awesome ones out there.

Really, what I’m trying to say is welcome to my blog. I’m a little unsteady on my cyber feet at the moment, so be gentle.  And although it looks like a barren spinster right now, I plan to pump this thing full of love and will do everything I can to avoid mentioning what I’m wearing today. But tomorrow I’m planning on wearing ….