23. March 2015

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Laugh a minute

There was an odd moment the other night. We were at Up the Creek, the comedy venue in Greenwich, and it had already been a curious evening. There was a restless air of violence, as though the whole crowd was saying, ‘you looking’ at me?’ in that moody, twitchy, dying-for-a-fight kind of way. Someone had already been thrown out by the bouncers and there were hecklers yelling out random belligerent nonsense even before the first comedian came out on stage. I was surprised, and quite entertained. The first time I’d been here, last year, had been a sedate evening when a group of Radio 4 comics honed their acts for the Edinburgh fringe. Funny? Yes, very. Edgy? No. Tonight was  different, though, and made a change from a quiet invalid’s evening of crochet.

We had finally got to the headline act, after various comedians had come and gone and attempted to silence the hecklers (impossible). The last chap was a very funny Irish comedian, who had been on Radio 4 quite a lot, but also knew how to swear. He soon got the measure of the antsy crowd and was making lots of jokes about the extraordinary toughness of South Londoners. This goes down a storm with South Londoners (even the ones who do crochet), so we were all getting along famously. And then he made some sexist crack about something. I can’t remember what, which explains why I do the crochet instead of the comedy, but it was a nasty joke at a woman’s expense. And after it, there was a silence. There wasn’t even the embarrassed laughter that comes when you find a joke funny but know you shouldn’t. It just plained bombed. Even the men didn’t think it was funny, and most of them seemed so drunk that they were even laughing at the hecklers at this point.

It didn’t really seem like a powerful moment at the time. I just felt that squirm that comes from seeing someone failing on stage, and wished he’d move on. But not enough, any more, to give a token laugh to the horrible joke.

And, when I got home and thought about it, I realised that was the difference. Women aren’t laughing politely at rubbish sexist jokes any more. And that makes continuing with them rather difficult, it seems. This comedian, a clever chap, rapidly adjusted his act to fit the audience, and came up with lots more about our ineffable Sarf Lunnen toughness. It was a small moment, but that’s all it took to steer him away from a night of the sort of cheap anti-women jokes we’ve all heard a billion times.

It made me wonder if women’s polite laughs through the ages at rubbish sexist jokes, just to spare the blushes of flailing male comedians,  have allowed the genre to flourish, though that would be blaming women – yet again. I remember comics like Les Dawson in my youth coming out with streams of mother-in-law jokes, some of which definitely seemed funny to me at the time. All were based on the premise that middle-aged women were jealous, bossy and domineering, both to men and other women, an idea which I find a lot less funny now of course!

les

 

 

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17. March 2015

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Testing times

I’m not at all surprised at today’s newspaper reports that children from poorer backgrounds (are we even still allowed to say that?) are much less likely to go to the ‘better’ universities.  It seems that without all the relentless parental hovering over their reading as tots, without the improving visits to museums and galleries, without […]

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5. March 2015

4 Comments

So this is what it takes ….

A friend of mine has been playing hostess to a young relative for several months. He tipped up from his home in foreign parts with vague thoughts of maybe working, maybe not, and has been pootling happily around London ever since, lucky thing, his options open, his horizons wonderfully wide and a comfortable home with […]

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5. March 2015

2 Comments

Sponsored video: Milking it

Sponsored video: Milking it

Child Two has always had a problem with milk. As soon as she started on formula at a year old, she began to develop mysteriously persistent coughs and colds, which for a long while I put down to Belgium’s climate (even damper than the UK). It got so bad that I had to take her […]

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27. February 2015

2 Comments

Down with it

Down with it

OK, I admit it, I did look at the clip of Madonna falling on her backside at the Brit Awards. But I (sort of) had no choice, as the TV was blaring on in a waiting room …. and I was curious. I already knew about her tumble, because all the freebie commuter papers yesterday […]

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24. February 2015

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And the winners are ….

And the winners are ….

Wow and well done to Patricia Arquette. Admittedly, fantastically beautiful Oscar winners don’t really come across as the most oppressed group on the planet, so I doubt she’ll be the one who finally forces the patriarchy to stump up equal pay. But on the other hand, when does a woman ever otherwise get such a […]

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22. February 2015

2 Comments

Is it just me?

Is it just me?

OK, can you read on, please, and tell me if this ever happens to you: 1. I decided I HAD to have a new waterproof mascara to take to hospital. As you do. I think I was envisaging brave tears of pain, without panda smears. Little did I know there is no pain in hospital […]

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10. February 2015

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Ten things I found out in hospital …..

Ten things I found out in hospital …..

1. Nurses are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Well, of course we all know that – but it probably takes seeing them working 12 hour shifts with a bunch of difficult customers to appreciate fully just how lovely they are. 2. More goes on in one day on an NHS ward than in a year’s worth of […]

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13. January 2015

7 Comments

Votive of thanks

Sponsored  It’s hard to know what to say when a child confesses they’ve been awake all night worrying that you’re going to die. So I did what any good parent would do – and lied my head off. ‘Of course I’m not going to die. What a ridiculous idea,’ I blustered, knowing all the while […]

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13. January 2015

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Dos and Don’ts at Christmas

It’s been a while, what with all the medical stuff – in a nutshell, there’s another operation to get through in January, then that should be IT. There’s no radiotherapy or chemo with melanoma as it doesn’t work, so I might try to get on a drugs trial ….sounds more fun than it is, probably. […]

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