Yes, Annie Bessant, yes Benazir Bhutto, yes Doris Lessing, yes Emmeline Pankhurst, yes Louise Bourgeois, yes Patti Smith, yes Zaha Hadid. Yes, yes, yes to all of these and so many more.
Today is International Women's Day. It is also my birthday. The two are vaguely related. It is a day when I'll read on average, around 4.5 editorial features celebrating women. These usually occur in the form of a list, some ascending some descending, some grouped in chronological or alphabetical order and some with accompanying pictures. And whilst all of this is great, necessary even, I can't help thinking about the women that have been left out - the women that have made me think, laugh, cry or even just inspired me to wear my hair in a side ponytail. This is my Alternative Women's list. Because it's my birthday and therefore I can:
Michaela made everything look like such a laugh didn't she? Whether she was trying not to gag at the sight of Timmy Mallett's legs in a pair of Bermuda shorts on the Wide Awake Club or dodging the sweat from Pete Waterman's upper lip on the dance floor of The Ritzy Halifax in Hit Man & Her. Life was such a ball. Even Terry Nutkins couldn't break her spirit. Her accessible Superdrug beauty was something I'd try to emulate later in my teenage years with a haphazardly-cut fringe, a back garden tan and a cavalier attitude towards hair brushing. She even won first place in a Gurning Contest that she'd entered at a local Crab fair just for A LAUGH. Who even does that? Micheala Strachan, that's who.
Penny from Inspector Gadget
Penny (presumably Gadget) was the blonde pigtailed niece of clusterfucked cyborg Inspector Gadget who rocked my childhood tea-time televisual viewing. Encapsulating both brains and beauty and with an uncanny ability to escape from tight spaces without a fringe hair out of place, she pioneered Nerdy Cool before Nerdy Cool was even an actual thing. An early adopter of gadgets - Penny was at the forefront of 80s technology. Talking watch? Like, duh! Book that's actually a portable computer? Obvo. Bipedal talking dog? Standard. If she was around today she so would so have a subscription to Wired magazine and be presenting the gadget roundup on Something for the Weekend. I'd like to see Tim Lovejoy try his patronising face on her.
Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing
No other TV drunk comes close to Linda Gray playing Sue Ellen Ewing in Dallas. Or Swellen' as she was known in my house and possibly yours too. Wife to philandering oil baron JR Ewing, she wildly glamorised alcoholism in ways that really shouldn't be allowed. Often seen staring pensively out of a window with a wild glint in her eye and clutching a crystal glass with a perfect manicure, she was all smudged eyeliner and drippy mascara tracks on enormous shoulder pads. In a show 'conceived by men, written by men & produced by men' Linda petitioned the producers to spice up her character, resulting in gripping storylines like waking up next to a hobo by some bins. Ah come on, we've all been there.
Susie Dent from Dictionary Corner
The meek, mild mannered brunette that sits in Dictionary corner on Countdown. Providing the Ying to Carol Vorderman's Yang. Or whoever that sparkly blonde is that's replaced her. Susie's unpretentious style and quiet poise as she regularly slams the panel with her nine lettered words makes her more likeable than she really should be. Her ability to appear unruffled when encountering rude words is commendable. When MINGES cropped up back in April 2007, Susie managed to keep a straight face. You've got to admire that. Her restraint with the PenCam is also noteworthy - how she manages to refrain from inserting it into her co-adjudicators ear canal is truly remarkable.
Wendy James from Transvision Vamp
I remember first seeing the video for Baby I Don't Care on a caravanning holiday in Cornwall. It was 1989 and raining. The chemical toilet was broken and I had nothing to wear to the disco. A seagull had shat on my head. I was not having a good day. Then POW, through the portable steps a peroxide princess in pink lipstick, all pouty faced and attitude-y. It was clear where my life was heading. To this day, sharing a hand dryer with her in an East London hotel toilet back in 2005 is one of my fonder memories. Nice Shoes. I said. Thanks a lot. Said she.
Happy Women's Day Women.
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