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Hello Sweet Art: Sex, Poverty and Morrissey's Penis

How is it possible that the greatest lyricist that ever lived could come up with something that reads like the GCSE creative writing coursework of a morbid teenager who has just inhaled an entire thesaurus?

What a clamorous rollercoaster of culture this week has been for me. I can barely hide my bulbous salutation. Speaking of which...

List of the Lost by Morrissey

What it is: An unreadable frenzy of adjectives and disdain, a.k.a. Morrissey's first novel

Morrissey once sang that he'd started something that he couldn't finish.

Unfortunately, it wasn't this novel, which he started, finished, and then got published as an actual book. None of this should ever have happened.

How is it possible that the greatest lyricist that ever lived could come up with something that reads like the GCSE creative writing coursework of a morbid teenager who has just inhaled an entire thesaurus? God's honest truth, if a double decker bus crashes into us, we probably wouldn't notice because we'd still be trying to get to the end of this interminable sentence:

Don't get me wrong. I love Morrissey. I have a Morrissey t-shirt that I wear to bed every night. But I just can't condone this. In fact I'm so appalled that I have come up with some alternative novel ideas for Morrissey should he wish to atone for his actions:

1) A boy who wakes up and realises he has a heavenly falsetto that gives him superpowers to fight evil.

2) The story of a melancholy vegetarian who goes on the rampage against the Royal Family.

3) The tale of a man with a magic quiff who turns Manchester into a Wildean centre of debauchery before things get a bit too much and the quiff tragically eats his face.

Brenda, The Yard

What it is: A quiet but haunting play by EV Crowe, about a woman called Brenda who thinks she's not a person

Brenda is unapologetically cerebral. It is often wordless, and when speech comes, it is sparse. But it is loaded with the key to humanity. It is about what happens when society denies people the opportunity to be people.

It's a quiet two-hander, with Brenda and her boyfriend Robert preparing to ask a community group for support - they need a job, somewhere to live, all the constituent parts that make really living possible. Except are they even a couple? And is Brenda really Brenda?

What makes me think everyone involved with this has sizeable brains is the ease with which they are able to demonstrate that our shrinking welfare state is always asking those who need help to prove themselves. The constant heightened anxiety of an impending performance is a reminder that poverty is often fetishized; if the desperate are to become visible, at some level, they must become a consumable spectacle.

Brenda keeps insisting she's not a person, and this is her liberation. Like Bartleby, she prefers not to - but if you reject a system that rejects you, you're salvaging nothing. You have nothing left to fear, but what do you have to participate in?

I honestly love this knotty Beckett shit. It's dark as a bat's eyeballs but it tells you the truth about what it means to be alive.

Doctor Foster, BBC One

What it is: BBC drama about a doctor with a husband who needs to see a doctor about the fact his penis keeps liberating itself from his trousers

When you receive multiple messages from your friends saying HAVE YOU WATCHED DOCTOR FOSTER YET GODS MEN ARE SO AWFUL, of course I am going to spend my free time watching it in order to compile evidence to add to my militant feminist dossier of why men should all be castrated.

But I have to be honest with you, I think Doctor Foster is bad for feminism. It's about a man who is having an affair when he has a perfectly lovely wife and son. My issue is that the woman he is having an affair with is a completely two-dimensional stereotypical hot blonde. I'm not sure those women really exist; actually, they have feelings, GCSEs - loads of stuff other than just tits and nice hair and an aura of evil. So I have to object when I am proffered a vacuous but sexy woman who I am encouraged to hate, because, sure, women might unleash hell with their vaginas sometimes, but more often than not they at least have personalities while they are doing it.

Sister, Soho Theatre

What it is: A playful but possibly problematic performance exploring sisters and sex

I've never watched a play before where two audience members get given a naked lapdance for the first five minutes. It was all quite exciting because obviously I've never been to a real strip club so it was a bit like peeking behind the semen-encrusted curtain and seeing how my schlong-carrying earth partners sometimes live.

There were things in Sister that I loved. It felt so important for a woman to admit that so many of her early sexual experiences were done through a sense of obligation planted in her head by porn, rather than a conscious choice made because of real desire. It's easy to laugh at a series of unpleasant blow job anecdotes, but if you really think about it properly, why on earth is it okay that so many women have men's actual nobs rammed down their mouths and feel nothing but pain and disgust?

There's also a beautiful moment where the silhouette of one sister lapdancing overshadows an old childhood video. It's a reminder that being highly sexualized doesn't mean you aren't a human with a history.

But there's also a disturbing sense at times that Sister's view of sex work is limited by its own privilege. At one point Amy reads a letter to her mum explaining that sex work was her choice and she enjoys it. Fine, sure. I'm not going to get my feminist sex rulebook out, chaps say it's a bit of a moodkiller.

They never claimed to speak on behalf of all women, but it feels irresponsible to ignore the fact that for so many sex work is not a choice, and that it exposes women to relentless exploitation and danger. It wasn't helpful when Billie Piper made us believe that prostitution was all larks and guzzling prosecco and penises, so I don't think these guys should get away with it either.

Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion

We will not deny it: a number of us in the Huffington Post UK office are strongly in favour of Carly Rae Jepsen's new album. Utter. Banger.

List of the Lost by Morrissey is out now, published by Penguin

Brenda is at The Yard until 17 October

Doctor Foster is on BBC One on Tuesdays at 9pm

Sister is at Soho until 3 October

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