Monday, November 30, 2009

Festive Victim Blaming

'Tis the season to be ... raped apparently. The police have really outdone themselves this time with a series of adverts in which they effectively tell women (and potential rapists) that it is women who are to blame for being raped if they dare to have a few drinks at the Christmas party. The police of course claim they are alerting both men and women to the fact "a large proportion of reported rape cases feature alcohol as a factor - whether it is consumed by the victim or the offender" but that in itself completely misses the point - it implies there is no distinction to be made in terms of blame between the "victim" and the "offender".

Here are other things that increase a woman's likelihood of being raped:

1) Leaving her specially installed "safe room".

2) Having a vagina.

3) Saying "no".

Where is the police's advertising campaign to get women to stop doing these things?

On top of this the police claim their campaign aims to encourage rape victims to come forward. But with a 5.3% conviction rate and horror stories everywhere you turn, you have to think that what's stopping women coming forward it the fact that they have a genuine understanding of the treatment they really are likely to receive. No mention is made of the women being prosecuted for daring to accuse someone of rape without first collecting irrefutable evidence.

No doubt the police would point to the fact that a second part of the same campaign focusses on telling men that they could end up in prison if they rape someone. But that should really be the only point of the police advertising and of course where the story has been picked up in the press the headlines are all based on "warning" women not to drink too much. Sky News went with "Women Urged Not To Be Rapists' Prey This Xmas", the Metro preferred "Rape warning over festive drinks" with a subtitle that made it clear it was women on the receiving end of the warning.

And how are we supposed to believe that the attitude of the police towards rape victims is improving when even their advertising says the exact opposite?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mystery of the Day

Remember recently when Chris Knight from the Lap Dancing Association angrily told me that the existing law on lap-dancing "works perfectly"? How then can it be that a lap-dancing club in London has been closed down and eight others raided after the police found out that sex was for sale on the premises as well as drugs. Could it be that Chris Knight is a lying asshole? You decide.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tory Politics

I'm quoted in an article about Tory plans to "de-incentivise" (i.e. rip off) single and teenage mothers leaving them without the benefits they need to raise their children. Apparently this will make our country a better place...? You can read the full article here.

Although the quotes from me are totally accurate and I have no problem with them or the way they are expressed - I did actually say a lot more than that to the journalist and (of course) she has chosen the bits that fit the feel of her article rather than quoting me in full. Still for the benefit of Cru-blog readers: here is the full interview I gave:

(The journalist asked) There was an article in the Daily Mail recently by Quentin Letts entitled: "The First Ladette: How Germaine Greer's legacy is an entire generation of loose-knickered lady louts". Would be great to get a response from you on your thoughts on equating feminism with a)rising violence towards women, b)rising teenage pregnancies c) women getting drunk and 'immodest'.

Also would you be able to comment on the Tory policy towards women and the family - more specifically de-incentivising teenage pregnancies and single parent families by taking away social support?

(And I responded) I was appalled by the Daily Mail article, it seemed to be totally missing the point. To blame feminism for rising violence against women makes no sense to me. Women have rights and if men's reaction to women exercising those rights is to respond violently then it is men who are in the wrong and those men responsible should have their rights taken away (by being imprisoned).

Teenage pregnancies are not a new phenomenon. In fact they have been around forever. The difference over the last fifty years the big change is that we can talk about these things - rather than keeping secrets. My grandmother found out on her wedding day that her aunt who she believed had raised her after her real mother died was actually her mother. The ramifications were traumatic for everyone involved. Every family in Britain has one of these skeletons in the closet if you dig hard enough. If the sexual revolution means we can now talk about the fact that many teenagers have sex then great - that means we can also talk to them about contraception, sexual health and issues surrounding pregnancy choices and then support them when they choose to keep and raise their children without adding an extra burden of shame to their worries.

Finally the notion of women being drunk and "immodest". Well I feel that if women want to get drunk then that's their choice and we should respect it. Women still drink considerably less than men and drunk men are responsible for much greater amount of crime and disorder than drunk women. So if we think society has a problem with alcohol abuse then we should start by cracking down on men. And the term "immodest" - well - by traditional Islamic standards what you are wearing right now (and since we're talking by email I can't even see what you're wearing) is definitely "immodest". But really "immodest" in this context probably means "in a way that stands out and is conspicuous" and if young women choose to stand out and be conspicuous then I am thrilled about that and support them fully.

I don't see Tory policies on removing benefits for single mothers and teenage mothers as "di-incentivising". I see these policies as purely punishing women for having sex. What would benefit single and teenage mothers is support to help them raise their children well. Of course we should also be chasing up absent fathers who fail to contribute financially to their children's well-being. Also addressing inequality in the workplace both in terms of the pay gap (we need gender pay, promotion and recruitment audits) and in terms of companies who fail to offer flexible working to carers and who discriminate against pregnant employees would make a big difference.

Overall I guess I am just horrifed at the notion that giving women rights can be seen as taking something away from women. I may have made some bad choices in my life which I regret, but I don't regret that I had the choice to make my own mistakes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Racism: No Laughing Matter

Oh dear, this is really awful. Where to start?

I have never written a biography of Sir John Betjeman. Somehow though I don't think that entirely invalidates my views on comedy.

A.N Wilson - who has written just such a biography - but who appears to have nothing else under his belt to recommend him to the world of comedy critiquing - is today complaining in the Daily Mail that sexists jokes are not, well, sexist.

Now first up he totally misses the point on the Jordan Wimmer case. As has been repeatedly stated throughout the case - no-one denies that Ms Wimmer complained about sexist jokes long before she decided to take legal action. If someone makes an error of judgement and genuinely apologises and stops the behaviour when it is pointed out, I'm all for giving them a break. However when someone persists in saying inappropriate things after they have had the fact pointed out to them - that is deliberate abuse.

Plus remember that Wimmer is also claiming that her former boss Mark Lowe brought an "escort" dressed in hotpants into meetings. Wilson says that Lowe "hotly denies" this. He would do though given he's in a court of law and looking like he's not got a leg to stand on.

But Wilson's point is really not about the rights and wrongs of the case - it's about comedy and how we all ought to lighten up about a little harmless racism. Yes really - that is his point.

"Making remarks or jokes which you know will be upsetting to another person in your hearing is obviously the mark of a bully and it cannot be defended"

Now firstly - that is exactly what Mark Lowe did - he make jokes about blonde women in hearing range of a blonde woman who had complained about such jokes previously. But secondly - no, it is not ok to tell sexist jokes when there aren't any women in earshot, nor racist jokes in an all-white group. The problem with such jokes is actually much less that individuals are offended but that they normalise attitudes of prejudice and stereotypes which lead to hatred.

"Some of Bernard Manning’s jokes were offensive. But some were really quite good jokes: “If you dial 999 in Bradford, you don’t get the police coming round – you get the Bengal Lancers.”"

That one sounds racist to me. Definitely racist.

"I think you would need to be an incredibly humourless Bangladeshi not to see that this reference to a regiment from the high days of the British Raj was quite a funny joke about immigrants."

And that's racist too - insisting that only Bangladeshis would "not get" the joke.

"Manning was not making a mockery of people from Bengal because they were from Bengal. He was making a joke about the fact that Bradford is very full of Asians.

And in so far as jokes depend upon an element of surprise, there is something picturesque about expecting the arrival of Z-cars and getting instead the Bengal Lancers on their horses, dressed in topis and turbans."

Seriously - could he dig himself any deeper? Is there anything more he could say at this point that would make it any worse?

And then he gives and example of a joke that he is offended: something about "intimate parts of the Queen's anatomy"*. And then four pages later in the same paper there's a cartoon that shows the Queen and Prince Phillip sat on sofas with a large matron-like character in the background and the Queen saying "Call out the guard, Philip! There's a deranged person here who keeps saying "Get yer kit off, it's bathtime"" ... which would be ... oh hold on ... a joke about the Queen being ordered to expose her intimate parts ... no?

Now the irony of the juxtaposition of Wilson's despicable article and the Queen's bathtime cartoon strikes me as a lot funnier than any Bernard Manning line he cares to quote.

*That's what she uses when she has a "royal wee"!

Proper Nightmares

I am not an expert on sleep disorders. I have no idea what sort of strange mental disorder - if any - would cause a man to dream there was an intruder in the house and sleep-walk his way to murdering his own wife. What I do know is this: if you can convince a court that you have such a mental disorder and as a result are cleared of murder then since I am not aware of any wonder-drugs that instantly cure sleep-uxoricidality I can only conclude that you should remain in a secure mental health facility for the rest of your life for the safety of others.

Seems like sentencing those who commit violence against women is having a bad week in general. In Scotland a man was given 18 months probabtion for "having sex with" a 13-year-old (and when the BBC says "having sex" you will realise that what they mean is "raping" since 13-year-olds are not considered old enough to give meaningful consent under British law). Still no doubt being on probation for a few months will make him think twice about doing it again..?

By way of comparison if you accuse someone of rape but then turn out to be an "escort" (and check the double-speak here because aren't escorts supposed to be "high-class" prostitutes who are at liberty to pick and choose which of their clients they have sex with?) and therefore are presumed to have consented to any and all sex ... you get two years in prison.

My advice if you're planning on getting sexually assaulted this weekend (because of course it is women asking for it - not men perpetrating it, remember!) try to get your case heard in front of (a) Judge Paul Downes or (b) whoever sits at Preston Crown Court who seem to have a better grasp of how to deal with rapists.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Whoopee, We're All Gonna Die

Just in case you didn't read the news today (maybe you were watching Michael McIntyre's latest DVD, or singing along to Jedward...) - just to let you know: Remember back in 2007 when the IPCC said that the planet was headed towards catastrophic climate change? They highlighted a range of possible outcomes depending on at-the-time untested variables projecting the impact on the planet of continues CO2 emissions.

Well following some more research (i.e. having tested those variables) it turns out that of the possible scenarios the one we're actually heading for is the worst case scenario - 6C of global temperature rise, large parts of the earth becoming uninhabitable, massive waves of migration towards dwindling resources leading to wars and genocides and ultimately potentially the end of the human race forever.

I think - if we survive - one day our grandchildren will look back on those of us who didn't campaign to stop climate change the way we look back now on ancestors who supported slavery. The future equivalent of shows like Who Do You Think You Are? will see our descendants digging through records deserately hoping to turn up an eco-warrior and quick to stop the cameras rolling if the National Facebook Profile Archive lists your favourite TV shows as Top Gear.

Ultimately though the government needs to take action. And I don't mean by putting out adverts with images of dolphins on and softly worded guilt-trips about recycling. If only those who choose to reduce their footprint then those who don't are placed at an economic advantage, incentivising others to do the same. Nor do I mean by fining people who put two pieces of garden waste into the blue box. I mean by actively funding research - here and overseas - into alternative energy sources, by actually paying for people to have their homes insulted and double-glazed, by removing tax breaks on airline fuel, subsidising public transport, cutting the number of flights that can be made, cracking down on emissions from factories and power plants and making sure that developing countries have the support they need to do the same without compromising progress.

If you didn't already - sign up to Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plane Stupid and/or some of the other amazing environmental organisations out there today.

Old Jokes

When I pay good money for my daily copy of The Independent I have to say it angers me to see the same story I've read in the paper on the Daily Mail website. But then most articles by Dominic Lawson annoy me and frankly they deserve to be in the Daily Mail since they amount to little more than hate-mongering. This one (repeated here in the Mail) I feel I should say something about because it's about comedy.

Firstly Lawson says he doesn't know what "alternative comedy" means and how it differs from "not alternative" comedy. But surely Lawson is old enough to remember the days when comedy simply meant racism. Bernard Manning, Roy Chubby Brown and Jim Davidson? Club comedians who often all told the same jokes as each other, crude mother-in-law jokes and bawdy references to women, etc. So alternative comedy was originally conceived to counter that - as something that was progressive and often overtly political.

There is no denying that the line nowadays has somewhat blurred. Many of the acts perceived as the most "alternative" are doing jokes about rape and about women that Bernard Manning would be proud of. In fact Jimmy Carr once did a joke so suitable for Jim Davidson that the latter literally nicked it and had to later apologise.

Now apparently the antidote to this latest wave of offensiveness is Michael McIntyre, a very brilliant and very competent comic whose material is consistently about the minutae of day-to-day life and who flinches from politics and controversian subjects like a slug in a salt dish. And I don't mean that as a criticism - some people prefer their comedy funny and unchallenging. It's not my taste but even I have to admit that he's great at what he does.

There are two issues I have though...

Firstly I think when it comes to offensive comedy the media has got it all wrong. There's nothing offensive about doing a joke about rape. What is offensive is when the punchline to that joke is that the woman in question "deserved" it or "was asking for" it. If you write a joke about rape where the punchline is about the dreadfully low conviction rate or the poor attitude of the police then great.

Lawson mentions the incident with Andrew Sachs and Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and seems to be offended that sex was discussed on air when what was offensive about that situation was this noxious idea that a woman's Grandfather is or should be the guardian of her chastity.

Jimmy Carr's joke about British soldiers forming a great Paralympic team for 2012 is a joke about the incompetence of government policy - it's one of the best lines I've heard from him. On the other hand I've seen him do jokes about rape and about Roma people which I found offensive.

The solution to offensive material not to demand that comedy focus only on topics which would make a good episode of The Tellytubbies but to seek out comedians using their art to express something meaningful and valid, breaking through prejudice rather than compounding it (Translation: Give me my own series!).

Secondly Lawson seems to be implying that McIntyre has been a victim of some sort of conspiracy to keep him off the airwaves because he's overtly middle class. He quotes McIntyre as saying "People used to come to my show and love it, and critics were coming and not seeing that...".

Well sure but why should we believe that is specifically middle class hatred. I'm a political feminist comedienne and after six years I've yet to be reviewed on the biggest UK comedy website Chortle. And while I'd love to be reviewed by them, I don't see it as a conspiracy that I haven't been. And if I do get reviewed by someone who doesn't find me to their taste or is in a bad mood that day or catches me on an off night then I can make my case against the review but I can't imagine concluding that it's because I'm middle class. The vast majority of comics on TV are middle class as far as I can see.

But for another thing - the reviewers may have a good point. Sometimes I go to a comedy show and laugh more or less the whole way through but come away feeling empty and unsatisfied. Other times I might only laugh a few times but I also learn something new, understand something new and see the world in a new light and I come away feeling uplifted. So which is the better "comedy" show? For my money the latter. To measure comedy against a laughs-per-minute ratio seems to me a very clinical and limiting way of looking at it. If reviewers have seen past that, good for them.

And finally the notion that it's been so tough for McIntyre and that the odds have been so terribly stacked against him seems to have been countered recently by the fact that every DVD shop I go past has his grinning cardboard face looming out of the window above a legend about ideal Christmas presents for all the family. Whatever wrong the establishment did him on the way up - I think they're making up for it now.

But then that wouldn't exactly fit with the Daily Mail/Dominic Lawson vision of the poor hard-done-to straight white male. That sort of revolutionary talk would be better suited to .. erm .. The Independent... Oh shit.

In fact clearly what is happening here is I, your humble blogstress, should be writing for The Independent and instead they've gone ahead and hired a posh straight white bloke called Dominic Naffing Lawson!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vine Again

Back on BBC Radio Two again today (click link, listen again, then forward to 1h 40) to discuss whether or not Colonel Gadaffi is pro-women. Pretty obvious to me that you can't call a man who runs a country where women are imprisoned for being victims of rape "pro-women". Still my opponent's point wasn't that she denied any of this (nor should she - since I was quoting directly from the Human Rights Watch report I had in front of me). Her point was that women around the world - especially in Islamic countries - have few rights, so we should be grateful for the fact that Gadaffi is a little bit better than other Islamic countries.

I however fail to see how gratitude is helping our cause. Was it after men saw how grateful we were to have some women allowed to vote in 1918 that they decided in 1928 to give the rest of us the vote? No - it happened because women continued to fight for their rights. And thats the thing about rights - you have a right to them - so you don't have to be grateful when you get them and you certainly don't have to be grateful when you get a few of them and not others.

Lots of celebrity "spots" in the studios today - just as I was arriving Alan Davies was leaving and while I was waiting on the sofa outside the studio Graeme Norton walked by. Most exciting of all for me though was the guest before me in the studio - Judge Constance Briscoe (pictured) - author of the brilliant autobiography of her early years of abuse "Ugly". Well I lent her my pen as she was going in to do her interview (she is before me on the show if you are interested - though not talking about her childhood or book, but about sentencing regulations) and she forgot to give it back so I guess she still has it - and she is very welcome to it... (spot the sad groupie!).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes I know it's Dangerous

...but this is still really cool!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Doing Vine

Ah, after the horrors of LBC yesterday there was something little short of warm and cuddly about being on today's Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio Two. Sure they had brought in not one but two right wing idiots to argue with me (in the form of Spectator columnist Venetia Thompson and UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom) but we actually had the debate, you know like where everyone gets a chance to give their opinions and respond to the comments of others. Radical stuff.
Up for discussion was the line between office banter and sexual harrassment and discrimination, in the light of a new tribunal case being brought by Jordan Wimmer. You have seven days to listen to the discussion (which starts eight minutes into the show) by clicking "listen again" here.
...and please do go listen - it's only ten minutes and I do a smashing job!

Boris Balls-Up Link of the Day

Boris' policy on women...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Asshole of the Week: Nick Ferrari

Did one of the most infuriating radio spots of my life this morning. LBC rang me up and asked if I would go on Nick Ferrari's breakfast show and talk about the group of female MPs who are complaining that the new expenses regime will mean they have to sometimes take late night trains home and that this could put them at risk of sexual assault.

Now I agree, travelling late at night alone is dangerous. I have to do it all the time so I should know how frightening and intimidating it can be, and of course we all know the statistics on how rape is dealt with by the police which are even more frightening. But at the same time I don't think the solution to that problem is to give MPs more expenses money - the solution needs to protect not just MPs but all women in the UK and involve a major overhaul of the law and policing policy.

Now first of all I've had problems with LBC before - a very misogynist station in general, they often have "debates" along the lines of "should women be allowed to do XYZ?" or "have women's rights gone too far?" which I just conceptually don't understand. Plus one time before I was on there and the presenter (one N. Ferrari) started screaming at me towards the end of the interview and kept changing the subject, so we went from "Should the current maternity pay scheme be extended?" to "Why should women get maternity pay at all?" to "Why should single Mums get benefits, why do we let them sponge of the state?" in less than a minute without my getting a real chance to answer any of those stupid questions.

But this morning really took the biscuit. Before I got to say a word he did a huge intorduction in which he criticised these MPs in the harshest possible terms for even raising the issue. He said things like "Women say they want equality but as soon as the going gets tough..." and "I'm not going to hold back, I'm going to name and shame the women who are doing this right now, right here on air..." and finished up with a tirade about how if they have this kind of attitude the country is better off without them.

I started to explain why I think that we do need real answers to the issues of rape and sexual violence against women but that the connection to MPs expenses was something of a red herring. Clearly unhappy he interrupts to say that I might not think so but other feminists support these MPs... Effectively by this stage he's arguing with himself and screaming at me that this shows that women in general are - well - generally wrong about everything (I'm paraphrasing here). I actually had to threaten to hang up just to get him to listen to me for a few seconds.

So I said "hold on this is only four MPs...". Now bearing in mind I only found out about the interview ten minutes before I was live on air, it came as little supririse to me to be informed that in fact it's five MPs in the group who have made this statement. I am happy to be corrected. Instead I get screamed at "GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT", "IF YOU'RE GOING TO COME ON HERE..."

And the stupid thing is this guy is the presenter! If it was me and some uber-right wing nutter with a presenter refereeing things to make sure we all got our say it would be a bit much but I would probably put up with it. What is the point of having a guest on so you can ignore what they say and harangue them about what you assume other people, not on your show, think? Seriously the whole interview was like "here's a feminist - I'm going to shout at her".

LBC call themselves "London's Biggest Conversation" but a conversation is where two of more people exchange opinions. When one person expressly invites another person to "discuss" something and then fabricates their opinion and screams over every word they say I think we're out of the realm of "conversation" and closer to the realm of "psychopath".

I may stop doing LBC interviews, they are fairly poorly paid and one of the researchers told me one time - you're the only feminist who ever agrees to go on air with us... so maybe it will leave them in the lurch.

Quick Polljack

Polljack, noun, the art of getting everyone you know to visit the Daily Mail website and spoil their hate-filled polls.

Today's poll is (wait for it) "Are greater rights for mothers making women less employable?"

So click here and vote "NO" and lets see if we can spoil their attempts to spread the hate!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Catch-Up Post

So I haven't been blogging much lately and I know there are a number of big subjects I just haven't covered at all...

Firstly stuff I've been doing:

Some people are still talking about my plinthing (pictured), including the fabulous Daily (Maybe).

I hosted the 2009 Feminism in London conference which was awesome. The highlight for me was a speech by Rebecca Mott about her experiences of being a prostituted woman. You can read the transcript of what she said here. I didn't get to see much else of the conference because I was running about organising things although I was very touched to see the contribution from the London Pro-Feminist Men's Group - they were running the creche! There are hundreds of photos of the event here.

After the conference we held a cabaret party with an all-female line-up which again I hosted and which raised over £600 towards the cost of running next year's conference and was followed by a DJ and most of the conference organisers and me hitting the dancefloor to let our hair down!

Meanwhile Soho Comedy Club, where I am resident compere, has been expanding and now takes up two rooms on a Saturday night (if you want to see me - ask at the door which room I am compering and you'll be sent the right way). We've had several brilliant Swedish comedians on tour recently including Magnus Betner, Tobias Persson (his blog is in Swedish but you can use google-translate), Lasse Nielsen and last night Fredrik Anderssen. This coming Friday (13th) we host one of the most outspoken acts you will ever see - Norwegian Dag Soras. There are a few tickets left but if you want to come please book now at the Soho Comedy website.

And as things are going so well there I have moved my Comedy Manifesto show over to Soho Comedy Club's main venue. We're there now every Thursday. It's a (the UK most popular and most successful) live topical panel show. And since it's all been rolled into Soho Comedy Club again you can buy tickets in the same place - hope to see you there some time soon.

I also did two runs of my solo show (The New At Kate) from Edinburgh at two brilliant places - one at Goldsmith's College and one at a great monthly show in Camden called Better Living Through Comedy. Thanks to everyone who came along to those. The next performance I'm doing of that show is in Southport on Sat 21st Nov. It's at the Floral Hall and is a benefit for striking journalists. Support, I hear, will be brilliant all-female sketch group Ladygarden. I'm not sure where you can get tickets but if all else fails show up on the night and I reckon they'll let you in for a modest fee.

I've also been on a few radio shows. On Friday night I was on the Stephen Nolan show on BBC Radio Five Live, just before midnight. I was supposed to be talking about office Christmas parties [have yours at Soho Comedy Club...] but we got distracted and ended up talking about sex education at school and how important it is. The good news here is that the government is going to make sex education compulsory from the age of 15. So even those kids whose parents choose to opt them out will have to have one year of sex ed before they leave school at 16. The bad news is: 15 is very very late to find out how your body works. By that age kids will have heard about sex in the playground, seen pornpgraphy on the internet or in newsagents and many of them will have already had sex. Still it's a start.

And secondly what's been happening in politics:

Well there was some good news here. The House of Lords passed Clause 14 which will criminalise the buying of sex from a person who has been exploited. In other words "I didn't know" will no longer be an excuse for buying sex from a woman being prostituted against her will. And if you're thinking "Oh no, what about my right to buy women's bodies for sex?" then surprise - you don't have such a right... But women do have a right not to be exploited. The campaign continues here.

Less encouraging is the announced closure of the Karma Nirvana helpline for women at risk of forced marriage and so-called "honour" killing [by which I mean brutal and pointless murder]. The government has decided quite randomly to cut funding for services supporting such women. You can sign the petition to urge Gordon Brown to reverse this decision here. Of course Gordon Brown is probably too busy to worry about stuff like women getting murdered - he has to focus on issues of national importance like who's going to win X-Factor... no really.

Johann Hari had a great - if very frightening - piece about David Cameron's policies in the Indie. And rather than looking at how dreadfully his manifesto betrays Britain's poor or coming out in support of funding for the Karma Nirvana helpline, Cameron decided to spend his time announcing to the world that he's deeply religious.

A report out about gender-related bullying in the school playground makes for disturbing reading but all the more reason to get involved with the Pink Stinks campaign to promote exciting female role models to young children which I found out about through their stall at the Feminism in London conference.

And what's coming up:

Sadly (but also happily) I will be away doing my show for striking journalists on Sat 21st Nov but what I will be missing is this year's Reclaim The Night march in London. I cannot urge my female readers enough to go along and male readers to show up afterwards for the rally and party - it's just one of those things that make you feel great and inspires you to go out and start changing the world. Have a great time.