Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The day the blog went international

I've just finished listening to an interview I pre-recorded last week for broadcaster Nancy Richards' radio show 'Otherwise' on South Africa FM. I must say I was somewhat apprehensive about hearing the recording as this is the first time I've ever done anything like this.

In way of some background information, I met Nancy Richards during last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, when I was working as a fringe reviewer and book correspondent at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I came away from the experience (the festival and my meeting with Nancy) with a sense that I had to create an outlet for the many ideas and things I had encountered over those four weeks. Most particularly my renewed sense of feminism and need for social activism. The result was this blog.

By wonderful chance Nancy invited me to speak on her radio show in a slot where she interviews bloggers from around the world. She asked me to talk from the perspective of a Scottish blogger interested in women's issues. It seems silly that what I write should yield any interest at all, given the very tiny, minuscule dent I've made in cyberspace with what is essentially an outlet for channelling my creative energy. And yet there is something I said during the interview that has stayed with me. It went along the lines of, that I believe all this creativity - by which I mean all the blogs written by ordinary women - are surely acts of feminism.

Indeed 'Cocktails and Feminism' the title I have given to this blog is for me both an act of creativity and feminism. And quite often I fear I've diverged from the subject at hand, like I've gone off course from the place where I've started, and yet that is exactly the point of a blog. Its very nature and beauty is in its ability to take your imagination anywhere. Here is a free outlet to discuss whatever one wants.

Sometimes I worry the title is totally meaningless. It sprung out of a conversation in a fringe venue ahead of a comedy show we had tickets to see. We were discussing how, if at all one could make feminism more engaging and fashionable for young women. I had some vague notion that if you got women together in a familiar space (across the road was fashionable George Street, in Edinburgh, peppered with trendy bars and hip restaurants), over a cocktail, they'd talk as women invariably do about being women. I think the point was all the stuff we talk about, relationships, work, food, our bodies is actually feminism. Perhaps its feminism with a small 'f' but its still engaging with the issues that make a woman a woman in the 21st century.

I never discussed the origins of this blog's title when I first started writing on here. Indeed I simply threw myself into the task at hand - to write and to write about female experience. And of course to some this experience will seem narrow, but I never set out to be some kind of spokeswoman. Hopefully the small amount of readers who come here enjoy what I write and understand what I do.

Recently I attended a concert with American Jazz singer Melody Gardot (who features often on this blog because I am full of admiration for her, one day soon I'll dedicate a post to her). At the end she thanked the audience for being a small part of her life that would always be a presence, even if she were not making a success of her music. She said she'd still be singing, there was nothing else she could do, but it was damn swell that we were there to enjoy some of it too. A blog is a bit like this.

I'd just like to say a special thanks to Nancy for giving me the opportunity to speak on her radio show. I listened to the rest of the show today and the stories of what other women writers are doing to make ordinary women's voices heard in South Africa were inspiring and thought-provoking. I come back to this idea a lot, but its things like this which help one come away with a renewed understanding of the world, people and our creative possibilities.

I will hopefully at some point get a copy of the interview and I will see what I can do about putting it up here in writing.

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