Think about what it means when someone tells you to ‘man up’, or ‘be a man about it’. They aren’t asking you to grow a penis, or thrust yours about uncontrollably if you have one already.
Genitals haven’t really got anything to do with it at all. ‘To be a man’ about something is so much more about identifying with the male stereotype. It’s about being strong, tough, and handling a circumstance or problem in a manner that suggests you can handle just about anything.
For want of a better example than this foolish, outdated stereotype, it’s food for thought in light of Germaine Greer’s recent comments about transgender women, and that surgery ‘doesn’t make any difference’, no matter how much you may want it to. Her views as a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) being that ‘I don’t think surgery will turn a man into a woman’ (or vice versa), i.e. transgender women are not actually ‘real women’. Rather, TERFs believe that it’s a lady’s womb that solely defines her emotional and physical identity.
The Country Living Christmas Fair – the mother of all Christmas fairs, the festive enthusiasts’ festival a.k.a. my kind of paradise – starts again in only a matter of weeks, and I’m delighted to announce that my tickets jumped through our letterbox first thing this morning.
Truth is, I’m a firm believer in the wise words once sung by the British glam rock and beard-lovin’ band Wizzard, most famous for their 1973 hit ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’. I, too, have these hope and dreams, that one day we will live in an eternal state of festivity with sleigh bells and Mariah played on a loop. Just imagine. Christmas ain’t just for Christmas, it’s a way of life. It’s called OCD (Obsessive Christmas Disorder), and I revel in it.
Last year, I went to see one of my all-time favourite writers, Caitlin Moran, give a talk at the Troxy theatre in London. None of my friends or family wanted to tag along, so I bought myself a single ticket and headed to Tower Hamlets on the train by myself, anticipating a night I’d probably never forget.
It’s often said you should try doing things on your own and this independent adventure sure felt pretty exciting, be it fairly tame. Navigation is not my specialty so I had to find the theatre on my own, be punctual and avoid looking awkward as I sat in my seat with nobody to talk to, waiting for the show to begin.
As Caitlin arrived on the stage with Times columnist David Aaronovitch in tow, the room seemed totally in awe before she’d even started to speak. She was as fabulous in person as she always had been on paper. She was funny and smart, and delivered her words so well.
When I was thirteen, I wrote my best friend at the time a ‘cheque’ from the Bank of Friendship which declared the (seemingly) inevitable longevity of our special bond, and I for one truly believed that we would be joined at the hip forever and always.
I still see her occasionally, she remains as fabulous as ever and I do still consider her a friend. But like mates do, we grew apart and life gets in the way – that’s that.
The best friends I have now have been in my life for the past eight or so years, some a little more, a few a little less. Since leaving school, we’ve changed in bits and followed our own paths, most have moved out (and moved back in – because living on your own is fucking expensive). We’ve all got jobs and dreams and hazy drunken memories to share and make us laugh until we cry. We’re all going somewhere, some of us have the destination clear in sight, others of us are floating and hoping the destination will eventually find us. We’re all very different but all kind of the same, in a funny sort of way.
We’re over half way through the year now, which means it’s almost time to put your deccies up and start sourcing those all-important prezzies for your nearest and dearest. Those that know me best won’t be surprised to learn that Christmas is already on my mind – not helped by the fact that the magazine I write for is currently two seasons ahead, which means I’ve had my head filled with tinsel and turkey* since at least the middle of June.
I won’t bore you with a post about Christmas because I know not everyone is as weird as me, but I thought it might be good to do a little half-year round-up of all the cool things that have happened in the past eight months. And lots of cool things have happened, way more than I had expected, in fact.