There I was, listening to a recent radio programme about the NME, and I wondered whatever happened to the girl I was at University with who applied for a job there. I couldn’t remember if she’d got it.
When I knew her, she was one of the sharp post-punk glam-girls; there were three of them who stood out iconically that year: Jeanette had black hair and looked like Julie Burchall without the pout, Helen was a bottle blonde and looked like Courtney Love without the pout, and Catriona was a natural red-head and looked like herself. She was stylish and arty; slightly BoHo, I guess. At this distance I cannot remember the clothes she’d wear but I do remember her energy, good humour, kindness, nervousness and above all her sense of musical and visual style. She arranged her books by size and colour. She wrote and laid out the music pages of the student newspaper and I knew her because I edited the forthcoming events page. This was in the days of letraset, scalpels and cow-gum.
I met up with her a year or two after we’d both left, and she was still using letraset, scalpels and cow-gum but being paid to do it by an insurance paper. Anything less like Catriona was hard to imagine, but it paid her London rent, and she was clear working with the Suits was a job which could get her a job which could get her a job.
So here I am, listening to the radio programme about the NME and wondering whatever happened to Catriona. Nothing easier than to google her. I put in her name and get pages and pages of guff about an MP. A Blairite MP. A Blairite MP who voted for the gulf war and against an investigation into the gulf war. An incredibly unstylish Blairite MP with shaggy unmanaged hair and Diedre Barlow glasses and a “please like me” grin.
The hair is red. She went to the same university and studied the same degree as my Catriona. She came from the same home town. She had a career working on women’s magazines.
Someone, sometime, took this attractive, stylish, sexy, sharp, FUN person, and replaced her with your earnest rather geeky kid sister, extracting her ability to think for herself, her brains, integrity and wit in the process and making her vote for Tony fucking Blair.
It could be worse, I suppose. She could be Patricia Hewitt.