In defence of Dominic Cummings and his secret penchant for feminist books

25th October 2019

David Cameron once called him “a career psychopath.” Marina Hyde, a “crap Rasputin”. And now the feminists are getting stuck in, branding Dominic Cummings a “demonic succubus.”

What’s he gone and done this time, you might wonder? Shockingly, appallingly and unprecedentedly – he’s been photographed toting a book bag for the Persephone bookshop, revealing a hitherto unknown penchant for obscure women’s literature. 

Some say Cummings is a genius – and he certainly is, when it comes to hurling insults. (He’s called David Davis “thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus”, Ed Llewellyn “a classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant”, Cameron “a sphinx without a riddle” and Nick Clegg “self-obsessed, sanctimonious and so dishonest.”)

So one imagines that being denounced as a female demon who has sex with sleeping men will sadden him profoundly – surely they mean “incubus”? If our public intellectuals have no basic grasp of Latin what hope is there for bright young brains languishing in the state school system? Whatever happens Brexit-wise, his efforts at the Department of Education will always keep him secure in the heart of this inadequately educated comprehensive school girl…

Read on at The Daily Telegraph

There’s something thoroughly un-British about spontaneously bursting into applause

11th September 2019

‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’ is a hideously repetitive nursery song many of us were brainwashed with as children – which perhaps explains the spontaneous applause when Speaker Bercow resigned in the House of Commons earlier this week. 

Ultimately, it is a mass behaviour. Watching Bercow’s resignation at home, I almost found myself rising up to join in. Not because I felt he deserved any tribute but because whenever I hear anyone else clapping I can’t help but start clapping too. Like yawning, it’s irresistibly contagious…

Daily Telegraph

CARRY ON UP THE ZAMBEZI: ALEXANDRA FULLER’S ‘TRAVEL LIGHT, MOVE FAST’ REVIEWED

7th September 2019

I loved this book so much I was appalled. Why, when bookshops are stacked full of memoirs by authors who can’t write, isn’t Alexandra Fuller heaped up in perilous piles so near the till it’s impossible to evade her? This is like one of the most alluring Svetlana Alexievich testimonies, as if it had wandered out of the USSR and got lost in central Africa by way of a hospital in Budapest. It’s packed with exquisite jokes, quotes and details — such as when a doctor appears and ‘his gauzy green scrubs puffed out in great billows, the surgical-garb equivalent of Princess Di’s wedding dress…’

The Spectator

‘Bob Dylan? He’s like Confucius’: Cerys Matthews interviewed

31st August 2019

‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ was a Christmas classic for more than half a century until people suddenly began to worry that it was about yuletide date rape. ‘It was because of the video Tom Jones and I made,’ says Cerys Matthews, in her smoky Welsh lilt. She recorded a cover with Jones in 1999. The video showed the craggy old Welsh crooner slip something in her drink that turns Cerys into a high camp vamp. ‘The song is really innocent and beautiful and fun — it’s got a huge heap of humour and wit and I love it. That song is not our enemy. That woman is a strong woman. She’s there because she wants to be! It’s cold outside. They’re making love. Come on!’

The Spectator

Woman’s Hour

On Tuesday 20th August 2019, I was on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour with Jane Garvey talking about being single – the listener’s demanded it which was very exciting… Our segment starts at 30.18 & Rip Her To Shreds (the story about wearing leopard print to a party can be read here.)