Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Six Women I'd Like Around My Dinner Table

You *might* have noticed that today is International Women's Day. No doubt your social media feeds have been clogged up with well-meaning (if sometimes slightly annoying) memes, political discourse and a general appreciation of the mothers/sisters/friends/NASA scientist in your life. 

I mean, women are awesome and you certainly don't need me to remind you of it (or the fact that huge numbers of females right across the globe do not have access to the very basic tenets of equality, sadly.) 

So I'm not going to go all political or post a picture of myself in a 'We Are All Feminists' t shirt. I shall not be using the word 'bad ass' anywhere in this post. Instead, I'll be dedicating a few words to well known women, both living and dead, who I think are quite brilliant. They're not people who have changed the world through science, activism or physical endeavour - you're lacking a few brain cells if you can't see the incalculable contribution women have made to the truly important stuff in our world, and I don't want to pay lip service to women who we all know are truly incredible.

Instead, here's a little tribute to some of my favourite women on International Women's Day. They're the ladies who mean something to me on a very personal level; people I really admire and who I've looked up to at various points in my life. Basically, the women who, if I was to have a fantasy dinner party, would be the first get an invite. 

Judy Blume

Is there a girl of the 80s who didn't grow up with Judy Blume as an imaginary friend? Writer of stories tackling everything from periods to divorce, Judy's books were a mainstay of my adolescent years and I still have all my collection safely stashed in the loft. 

While I can't revisit them with my two boys (books like Deenie and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret don't make for unisex reading matter) I can't bring myself to throw them away - they'll forever remind me of long summers and the excitement and wonder that accompanies the pre-teen years. I'll always be grateful that through her writing I realised that there is no 'normal' and that it's fine to feel different sometimes. 

Caitlin Moran

Staying with the subject of periods, Caitlin Moran is the only woman who has made me laugh out loud about menstrual cycles. Never preachy, but always on point, I love Caitlin's writing. She also recently made me cry over a much more serious subject (miscarriage); is there a writer currently in existence who can deftly turn their pen to such a wide scope of subjects? Anyone who can educate themselves while helping to raise a gaggle of siblings and still manage to get a job in journalism is utterly inspiring to me. 

I love the honesty that shines through in her writing, whether she's talking about her depression or growing up in a financially challenged household. It's the perfect antidote to the glossy surface that characterises so much of what we see on social media.

If you haven't seen this already, you MUST read Caitlin's piece for Esquire magazine here(the most popular story it's ever published, incidentally) 

Audrey Hepburn

Three words: Breakfast at Tiffany's. A favourite book and film, I fell completely under Audrey's spell after I saw her bring Holly Golightly to life. Quite the most exquisite person to look at, Audrey remains my ultimate style icon. I even chose a wedding dress that I thought looked like something she would wear. 

I was already deep in love with Audrey when I found out a bit more about her back story in the Second World War so you can imagine there was no going back after that. And of course, she appeared to be a wonderful mother and dedicated the latter part of her life to humanitarian work.

Kate Bush

Now, this is a weird one because Kate Bush used to scare me as a child. But it was a toss up between her or Madonna and after some deliberation, it's got to be Kate. Why? Because where Madonna over exposes Kate Bush remains an enigma. And I love people on the reclusive spectrum. Far too complex for a child to understand, I've developed a fascination with Kate Bush and an appreciation of her music later in life. 

There is, quite simply, no one else like her. You can't compare her to anyone. She acts strangely on stage. She sings songs about unborn babies not wanting to be born because there's been a nuclear war. She's a devoted mother. But she sounds so normal when you (on very rare occasions) hear her interviewed. 

She defies all musical categorisation and every new album she makes sounds like nothing else around at the time. I can't say I like all of her music, but I absolutely adore her uniqueness. 

Sophia Coppola

Totally the cool girl at my fantasy dinner party. But a geeky cool girl who makes clever films and doesn't show off about it. She obviously had the right connections to make something of herself in the film industry but I don't think Francis is responsible for Sophia's very distinctive aesthetic. 

I love how she directs and the look of her films - I even really liked Marie Antoinette even if the critics didn't. And has there ever been a more poignant expression of mid life crisis and missed romantic opportunity than Lost in Translation?

Julie Walters

When I see Julie Walters, I feel warm inside. To me, she's just the most expressive, moving actress, able to render me utterly overcome with hysterics or an emotional wreck. 

From her wonderful turn in Educating Rita to her partnership with Victoria Wood, she has the same effect on me as Jim Broadbent - basically, the world feels like a better place with her in it. 



  1. Lost in Translation is just fantastic. And Judy Blume - i remember Not the end of the world (i think - it was a long time ago now :/)

    1. Oh yes! That book was one of my faves too. I've been introducing the Superfudge books to my youngest. Some of the language is a bit 80s now but they're still great!


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