To my chagrin, I must confess to surfing the Daily Mail’s website while I have my lunch. Every few weeks, someone else is ‘It’. At the moment, it’s Amy Winehouse. Amy, apparently, is too thin, and her lifestyle is taking its toll on her looks. Before her, it was Kate Moss. Photographs of 30-something Kate are compared to Kate when she was a teenager. Goodness, can you see the difference? Kate’s lifestyle is apparently taking its toll on her looks. For a while, it was Sienna Miller. How dare Sienna, the paper intimates, dare to be blonde, good looking, and managing to survive without Jude Law? I think the Daily Mail should just be done with it, and call itself the Daily Misogynist.
In my radio days, I had two pseudo-stalkers. The most recent called himself my “biggest fan”, and would telephone the newsroom when I was reading late night and weekend bulletins. Where, he would ask, could he see me perform? Surely I acted as well? It would be a shame not to, he said, with a voice like mine. A few years earlier, at a different radio station, I would receive frilly cards riddled with bad spelling from an ‘admirer’. He would call reception and ask to speak to me. I always refused. Then, I think (I can’t be sure), I met him while ordering drinks at a bar. A surprisingly normal looking person asked me where I was from. “The North East,” I replied. “So is M&M on the radio,” he said. “You sound like her. She’s from Newcastle, you know. Do you know her?” I quickly made my excuses and fled.
I was uncomfortable, although not unduly worried by these experiences. But imagine that magnified by a million and happening every day. When I am a famous author, I shall have a pen name. I shall invent a history for the book jacket. At book signings, I shall wear a black wig, huge black sunglasses and scarlet lipstick. No one will ever know it’s me.