A turnup for the books

Love HateThere 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.

8 responses to “A turnup for the books

  1. See the bit in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency when the main character reflects on Dirk – someone who could have appeared so shiningly alive at university has become so mundane, so shabbily *real* since, it’s kind of disappointing.

    I have NOT got mundane. Nor do I intend to.

  2. On another note: I do like that t-shirt. At first I idly assumed there was some photoshoppery going on. On second viewing, it’s apparent it’s an ambigram. Brilliant! Thing is, wearing that shirt you’d be forever looking for a mirror to stand beside…

  3. i am afraid that this is really a post that I can’t comment on,it involving British politics and such, although the photograph is interesting and i assume it has something to do wit the story, or does it? Yes, I do know who Blair was, see, I said was! And the name Patricia Hewitt sounds familiar, it does ring a bell somewhere. But then I guess you lot don’t know much about Dutch politics either do you? Can we forgive each other? Our politicians are as misguided as yours, believe me!

  4. It is an ambigram! Well spotted. I thought it was a P’shop job, too.

  5. I wouldn’t have called being an MP mundane, SoRB. It’s just that out the people I went to University with, Catriona seemed to have the least political sensibility of us all. Mind you, being one of Blair’s Babes hardly requires political sensibilities, so maybe I shouldn’t be quite so shocked.

    The T-shirt is cool, isn’t it? I had to look at it twice, and I still check it with pleasure to make sure that it really does work.

    Irene, you are quite right, I know nothing about Dutch politics, and cannot expect you to know any thing about mine. The T-shirt is there merely there as an illustrating things are not always what they seem, and can end up surprising us as Catriona surprised me.

    Thanks both for reading and commenting.


  6. Oh hi Weasel, we simulposted there. Thanks for dropping by.


  7. I had an opposite experience the other month. I met a girl I used to go to school with many years ago. At school she was really mousy, dowdy, quiet and, if I’m brutally honest, deadly dull. She’s now quite bohemian and arty with outlandish clothes and wild hair! She works in local theatre and was really chatty, full of scandalous anecdotes about various actors. Really good company.

  8. Pingback: Sorting the sheep from the coats « Aphra Behn - danger of eclectic shock

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