Is it possible to love a writer without having read anything they’ve written? It must be, because I love Caitlin Moran. Her intelligence, her humour, her honesty. She was tremendous on Desert Island Discs earlier in the year, frustrating Kirsty Young with her inability to answer any question seriously. She does talk seriously, though, about her writing. She talks about the joy of feeling like she’s “the first” to write about very real issues like being working class, or periods. Reporting that she’s often asked why she writes for The Times and not The Guardian, she says, “I’m writing to people whose minds I want to change. I should be showing them what this life is like.”
Listening to her talk about the power and joy she finds in writing was truly inspiring, so my favourite extract (below, 32:33-33:50) is my quotation of the week. The BBC have conveniently list-ified the episode for easy consumption: 10 things we learnt from Caitlin Moran’s Desert Island Discs.
Kirsty Young: How much does feeling in touch with where you came from seem important to you now? Because as you say you live the life of a metropolitan elite star journalist and writer.
Caitlin Moran: Yes. Err. What’s the best way to put this. Leading the life that I do, and living where I do, means that it’s impossible not to write constantly about being working class and council estates and weird kids and the people who don’t get written about.
Kirsty Young: Let me just stop you, you say it’s impossible because, what, because you feel…you wouldn’t be doing your duty…?
Caitlin Moran: Because living in media middle class Oxbridge white male London you are constantly living in a world where everyone presumes that’s normal, that that’s not a thing, that that’s neutral, that that’s the baseline of human experience. And that anything outside that is “other” that needs to be specially commissioned or kind of like “now we’ll go and take a look at these lives for twenty minutes underneath this rock” in a kind of Attenborough way. And not understanding that those lives, the working class lives, the lives on benefits, weird kids, autodidacts, the humour, the intelligence, the brilliance, the funny, the joy, the life, is the normal experience. That’s how most people are. And yet those lives are treated like a special case.
I’m putting her books to the top of my reading list immediately.
Cathy Drysdale (producer) and Kirsty Young (presenter), ‘Caitlin Moran, Desert Island Discs’, BBC Radio 4, 27 Jan 2017 [accessed 4 April 2017]