Sunday, 30 March 2008

Margaret Lockwood

The first time I saw Margaret Lockwood in film, I was around 15, staying at home with flu from school, and miserably tucked up on the sofa watching The Wicked Lady.

As a young girl, not only did I think she was beautiful, but I loved the typecast roles of a gold-digging minx she played in this film and others. They suited her, but they were a disappointment to her own acting ambitions.

Recently there has been a Lockwood season at the BFI and I have indulged in a couple of afternoons watching The Man in Grey and Jassy. The former is actually a hugely enjoyable film - with a script amusingly identical to The Wicked Lady, but that's okay, because if she had been in twenty films that are a variation of The Wicked Lady, I'd be happy. The second film, Jassy, is a bit daft and unfortunately shot in colour and this doesn't detract from her beauty, but she seems less mysteriously mischevious somehow.

The woman should always have played a gun-toting social climber. In her acting career and in her personal life she was uncompromising. As Phil Norman notes in his book 'TV Cream's Anatomy of Cinema', 'at RADA,
she refused to kowtow to the strangulated 'how verreh verreh love-lay' diction drilled into the other pupils'. Apparently too, she had a filthy, kitchen hand's laugh and a crude tongue that would make a naval officer blush. Less of a wicked lady, more of a minx, in my opinion.

And so...until our next merry meeting 'heroine addicts'...

Margaret Lockwood (born 15 September, 1916 )

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Jilly Cooper

In the 70s, there was only one Queen of the columnists . and this was Jilly Cooper, and what a sexy young filly she was too.

I've recently read three of her books from the 70s/80s - not those nonsense novels about being horsehipped by a man in a tuxedo, but whimsical guides. These self-survival offerings cover topics ranging from the secrets of a long marriage (and believe me, there are some real pearls of wisdom in there), to how to survive being a step-mum (very candid, rivalling anything being published now), to how to have an 'affaire' and get away with it. Classy.

Jilly on men: ' I find I resent the fact that I can't live without them, that they hurt me emotionally, that I hate yet secretly enjoy being bullied by them, that they can do tasks domestic far better than I can, that they enjoy the company of other men so much, and on the whole prefer a bat to a bit on the side'. (Super Men and Super Women, Magnum Books, 1977).

She is for some part, at least, a woman after my own heart. Before landing a job as a writer, she undertook umpteen office jobs - a bit like myself, and she writes with clever wit about the horrors and benalities of office life.

A full list of her non-fiction, which I've read and enjoyed hugely, is here.

Jilly Cooper (born 21 February, 1937)

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Paula Yates

I love Paula Yates - always have done.

The other night I ploughed through hours and hours of Tube footage, and some good tracks were unlocked from the memory, but what really held me aghast were those dresses. I want every single one of them.

Well documented is the confusion over her origin. Until May 1997, she believed that her father was her mother's husband, Jess Yates. However, a DNA test proved that her biological father was Hughie Green, presenter of Opportunity Knocks.

She'll always be an epitome of girly randomness but she was also the near-perfect madonna (she took her children absolutely everywhere with her), and her death was a sharp intake of breath 'WHAT?' moment. What a shame she died so young; a heroine of the first order.

Who else would have persuaded rock stars to pose in their underpants?

Here she is getting down and flirty with Simon Le Bon.
Paula Yates (born 24 April 1959)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


I've always been a punk sympathiser - liked people who are a bit different from the rest. I've always admired strong women with multi-coloured, back-combed barnets (well, I did when I was 7).

The first album I bought with my own money was Anthem. This was Toyah's most successful album - with hit singles "It's A Mystery" and "I Want To Be Free" within. The other songs are mindfully awful, but that's okay; what 7 year-old girl was really listening anyway?

I just lay belly-down, gazing admiringly at her, determinedly peering into the future - dreaming of a day when I could get away with hair like that. I never bothered of course. Toyah was the woman I dared never be, but there were to be plenty of others ...

Toyah Ann Willcox (born May 18, 1958)

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Joanne Catherall

There are two Human League women, so I have to be ruthless.

I have chosen Joanne over Suzanne - which is odd because my name is Suzanne, but Joanne is a brunette like me and this wins hands-down every time in the role model stakes. Now there's a female thing! Do men like other men because of their hair colour?

Joanne was a teen singer. Plucked from the streets of Sheffield by father-figure Phil Oakey, the girls rose to fame by smearing on the blusher to nuclear effect, and by, well, merely looking so bored. This was ultimately their appeal because their singing was flatter than a clubbed slice of Hovis, but still, maybe this was their appeal too.

Here is a wonderful clip of the Human League in the first episode of OTT singing Do or Die. Look out for Joanne's Siouxsie Sioux type eye make-up under that uncompromising fringe.

Joanne Catherall (born 18 September 1962)

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Long Distance Clara

As a kid of around 6 or 7, I used to really look forward to Pigeon Street - not for Mr Macadoo and his pals, mind you - no, for Long Distance Clara. Long Distance Clara was a woman on a mission. In a strictly male dominated world of trucking, she was a red-haired, no-nonsense, can-do kinda girl - punctually 'picking up and dropping off' her wares.

'She can drive across the Sahara - nothing's too far away'. Well, exactly.

'Always on time, she's never late'. A tip-top feminist role model.

Long distance Clara appears between 06.12 and 07.52 in the clip below.