On Saturday I had afternoon tea in Selfridges in Birmingham. This sounds a lot posher than it actually was. It was in the food hall, it was really crowded and hot, and there was some confusion about where you could sit if you’d paid for things from different stands. For “tea at Selfridges” it was an altogether plebby experience. But the blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake was nice.
To accompany our tea-at-Selfridges experience, and to allow for any lulls in conversation, my partner and I had bought a copy of Grazia. As it happened, we didn’t run out of things to talk about. Snow White and the Huntsman kept us going all weekend. But we did have a cursory flick through the magazine and happened upon a feature entitled The New Rule Britannia Crew:
To mark the Diamond Jubilee, we asked the Brits who’ve shaped the last 60 years to nominate the people they reckon will be the next big thing. Take note of tomorrow’s stars…
It’s interesting, first of all, to see who Grazia considers to have “shaped the last 60 years”. These special people include David Gandy, Louise Mensch, Julian Fellowes and Katie Grand (a stylist, apparently. I’d never heard of her, but then I’m not stylish). Let’s be honest, though: I know if you’re bodging together an article in celebration of the Jubilee it might be hard to find people who really have “shaped the last 60 years”, but this is really taking the piss. Louise Mensch? I hardly think so. And if we’re looking ahead to the next 60 years, I sodding well hope not. It’s tremendously depressing, out of 25 judges, to find not one feminist. Just someone who uses the hashtag #feminism on Twitter when they, and they alone, are attacked. This is not what changes the world.
But if these are the stars of yesterday, who are the stars of tomorrow? Well, they come in all shapes and sizes. Only kidding – they’re all thin. What I meant to say is, they fit into lots of different categories, such as ‘Daddy’s girl’ (for John Rocha’s daughter), ‘English rose’ (the actress Lydia Wilson) and ‘Great expectation’ (the actress Vanessa Kirby, who did, to be fair, play Estella in Great Expectations – but let’s face it, anyone would run a mile from a ‘great expectation’ category. It totally sounds like the kiss of death). Anyhow, these are all quite boring categories, made for pretty arty/fashion-y people. The two that really interest me are these: ‘Political treasure’ and ‘Activist’.
The ‘Political treasure’ nomination goes to Conservative MP Chloe Smith. Let’s see what Louise Mensch has to say:
She’s a great image of a modernising party, a humanist and future Cabinet minister. Maybe even the first woman Chancellor?
Well, maybe, maybe not. But hey, perhaps I should vote Conservative, just in case? It all sounds really ace and forward-looking.
The ‘Activist’ nomination, meanwhile, goes to journalist Laurie Penny, whose ‘strident rants attract fierce debate’. Here’s what India Knight has to say:
I disagree with 70% of what Laurie writes, but the whole point of youth is verve and fearlessness, and she has plenty of both. AND she has glorious hair.
Ha ha! Silly little Laurie, with her “strident rants” and 70% wrongness rate! But hey, let’s patronise the shit out of her, because she’s young and amusing, and has that fire in her belly that will eventually die out, once she learns to toe the line and do what Grazia tells her to. Hee hee!
I mean, for christ’s sake, Grazia. I never thought you were Morning Star, but do you have to make your political allegiances THAT obvious? If it’s like this when Grazia actually likes you, god only knows what it’s like to fall out of favour with the editorial powers that be.
Well, I for one am going to spend the next 60 years continuing to be as unsuccessful as possible, in order to avoid ever appearing in a Grazia next big thing listing. And ideally, by the time I’m 97, I hope to see Laurie Penny, by then aged 85, still having as many “strident rants” as she sodding well likes. By which time Chloe Smith will have seen the light and turned on Louise Mensch for blinding her with the Conservative light of misery. All of this will come to pass. In the meantime, I’m not bothering with tea in Selfridges again. It’s just not all it’s cracked up to be.