Tag Archives: Eastenders

I want to be ‘one of those people’

I’ve spent a lifetime wanting to be ‘one of those people’. Whether it was a person with a placard outside an embassy or the person at school that could eat the entirety of a pear (core/pips included) without so much as a flinch, there have been lots of little and much bigger things that I have wished I could do.

Seeing myself as perhaps rather a sedentary bystander (if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron) of life in general, there has always been a kind of knot of frustration deep below the sheltered layers of quilted laziness and fatigue in my under-achieving brain.

I want to do good stuff, great stuff even.

I read history books, I get Wikipedia ‘Articles of the Day’ and that’s not to mention the constant reminders in the news – they are all showing me images, footage and sound of those kind of people out there doing really important things, while I sit under the glow of halogen office lights, my biggest success of the day being typing at a ridiculously fast rate and buying my favourite soup from the food trolley before it sells out. It’s not quite what I had in mind when I drooled half-asleep over A-level set texts and stayed up buzzing on Pro Plus at uni believing that all that shit really did matter.

It’s a curious thing, watching people. And I don’t mean in a creepy, follow-you-home kind of way. The ones around me now are consumed by the screens before them, some plugged in with headphones too, hypnotised by the modernity of technology. But I am talking about those other people again – the ones who find themselves in warzones, in protests, in conversations about things that matter.

How? I have always thought. How do they end up there and how did I end up here? No-one in sandals approaches you when you hit adulthood with a big signpost asking ‘Do you want to do something worthwhile with your life or do you want to focus on you for a bit longer?’ If they did, I was too busy sleeping or watching Eastenders.

And as much admiration as I had for those other people, I couldn’t help but hate them a little bit too. The irony hey? I didn’t just do nothing, but I also resented the people who were doing something.

So it was surprising, even to me, to see myself breaking out of this mould last weekend and becoming ‘one of those people’ who seemed so intangible previously.

There I found myself, among around 7,999 other women walking down Regent Street towards Trafalgar Square, the wind whipping up the passion in our cheeks, the crisp colours of marble statues striking a pose against the sky radiant in blue. It sounds fantastical, magical, and it was.

In my previous experiences as an outsider to days such as this, I had always suspected, and actually hoped, that the event itself was rather dull; that the excitement seen on the faces of those involved was just because they so desperately wanted to be having fun; that really their feet were aching and they were dying for a cup of tea.

Yet on London’s Million Women Rise march on 6 March 2010, as cold as the temperature was that afternoon, I didn’t care one bit.

On a purely personal level, the sense of purpose and unity that arose from being part of ‘something’ that wasn’t an office party or a queue for a bus was really quite enlightening.

Listening to the voices of women whose lives had been about plights of passion and fights for rights seemed to lock into place that knot of frustration that had been tightening in my brain, and it made more sense. The frustration could become motivation instead.

It’s not so hard to be part of something. It only takes finding a cause that you believe in (and there’s a million out there) and actually participating in it, – whether that’s through signing petitions, attending rallies, emailing MPs or telling friends, the gain far outweighs the effort every time.

We are always told that today’s generation lacks that sense of community that existed in previous decades. I don’t personally agree with that, I think we have just become more global and network more extensively through the aid of technology. Yet there is something special about being part of something that matters.

I have chosen women’s and gay rights as my principal areas for concern because I believe deeply in equality. Along with my usual daily grind of work and more work, I am finding time to develop my interests in these areas and, in doing so, have met some wonderful people and learnt some fascinating stuff. The more I learn, the more awake I feel. That empty coma-inducing mentality that I survived on before is learning how to really think and feel again – that incredible self-awareness so key to human beings is no longer being wasted on flickering screens and chit-chat alone.

My individual actions as a fledgling feminist may not make a discernable difference, but knowing that, as a collective, I am part of a movement that has and continues to empower and demand change, is motivating in itself.

So if you’re feeling a little lost/bored/intellectually and morally deadened/any of the above, then just consider becoming ‘one of those people’. I can certainly recommend it.

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Not enough gay girls on film

ellenIt’s Saturday night. Soho is bustling with crowds, all jostling down the cobbles, flashes of colour and lots more besides.

I’m sitting with Vernon Kay and wondering what his wife is like is in bed.

No, not another of my warped dreams, it is in fact, a reality. The Bolton Wanderer is on the TV and the images of Soho are a distant memory in the back of my mind.

It’s Saturday night, and I am sitting in, playing along with a gameshow that used to be on when I was 12. It’s like one elongated menstrual cycle with lots of pain.

Flicking through the TV guide (the printed one, I am rejecting digital until they force it on me in 2012), I see Graham Norton, people jumping over a giant totem pole in lycra, John fucking Barrowman, Graham Norton, Little Britain, more lycra, and did I mention Graham Norton?… I mean, no wonder I am thinking about Tess Daly in a gimp suit (joke, honestly).

But seriously, what the hell am I supposed to do? If I want to see another lesbian, it’s either hop in a cab, watch Bad Girls for some pretend ones, or that increasingly all-too-familiar friend, the internet.

Now, maybe if I did have cable, then I could watch The Ellen Show on repeat or catch a glimpse of a lesbian in Gray’s Anatomy, but I don’t. And I won’t for that matter – it’s a completely baseless point of principle, so don’t ask me to explain, I just like to feel outraged from time to time.

Am I asking too much? In a word, no. Lesbians aren’t an endangered species, but I am more likely to spy one up a mountain, right behind the snow leopard on the BBC’s Planet Earth. So where the hell are we on the small screen?

I’m not talking about the fake ones either – in Hollyoaks, Eastenders etc. I mean, I don’t turn up my nose at these, but it’s a bit like booking a magician for your birthday and ending up with Derren Brown.

What about good old Rhona Cameron I hear you cry? She’s been holding up the entire UK lesbian quota for the past decade it seems, and even she has disappeared down a big L-shaped hole of late. Christ, the poor woman is probably in The Priory for exhaustion.

So who else does that leave representing Britain? Like UHU, I’m stuck. Answers written on the back of a postcard, or maybe a stamp, please.

This really is a national disgrace.

Gay men get on TV more easily than dust. They present primetime TV shows and although they are usually made to come across like crotchless Action Men – gay in spirit, humour and manner, just not in bed – at least they get a look in.

Children growing up, exploring their feelings, look up to people on television as role models. So who are our young lesbians looking up to? Pat Butcher? Now I’m not saying life wouldn’t be easier if all lesbians didn’t wear pink earrings and bitch slap Babs Windsor for a laugh – it would certainly make them easier to spot – but this is a serious issue and one that broadcasters should be taking head on.

It is great when big TV dramas include lesbian storylines, but why not use some gay actors for once? Why are they always straight and pretending? It shouldn’t make a huge difference, and if we were represented substantially, I wouldn’t even be making this point, but we’re not, and it sucks.

Maybe we like to hide our lights under our (ahem) bushells, but why are we not doing something on our television screens regularly, and why when it is, is it always sexual? I mean Christ, there must be a few cat lovers willing to go on Pet Rescue or something.

By sitting back and watching on in silence, we are driving our lesbian youngsters underground; forcing them to seek their only solace in YouTube clips, blush in front of an Emmerdale liplock with their Mum watching on, steal copies of Diva off the top shelf, and have to laugh at silly films by silly boys about vampires.

So unless Tess Daly is about to come out live on the lottery, which is about as likely as my numbers coming in (or Derren Brown predicting his own demise), things aren’t looking promising for my night in. As some bloke called Simon Cowell said recently, Britain has got talent – let us remember, that some of it is, in fact, lesbian.

So a round of applause to that Cowell bloke for taking on America’s most recognised gay woman, Ellen DeGeneres, and giving her a judging role on the biggest TV show in the land, American Idol. Sexuality aside, I am sure she will be a great judge and make a very humorous contribution.

Shit, is American actually becoming the land of the free? Black presidents and gay women on American Idol? With Cameron waiting in the UK government’s wings like Fagan with a hard on, ready to steal our money and our morality, Britain runs the risk of going back to the Stone Ages. As much as it pains me to say it, we should follow America’s example and promote minorities (especially good looking ones – joke) as beacons of hope for the rest of us, who are sat at home in their pyjamas, plotting to kill Graham Norton in despair of it all.

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