Bridget Jones, Chicklits, Love Actually & Me

The Christmas classic movies will mean something different this year. With London's lockdown tier 4 announcement it means the exodus to the Home Counties or internationally is now defunct. Watching the films with the same members of family quoting or interrupting is all a part of the traditional viewing experience. 

Before, I became a writer I was out in the world collecting experiences, truth stranger than fiction style, I used to do the odd spot of Film Extra Work between BBC contracts and facilitating media workshops. As a result by some twisted finger of festive fate, I have become the anecdotal queen of the Christmas movie because I have been in Bridget Jones ll, Love Actually and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2. I can be overheard braying "Christmas film? Pick one, any one - I'm all over them!" after which I proceed to share, drink in hand, boring anyone in earshot. Always a grateful audience gleeful at an excuse to swerve the tradition. Not so with my own family...nothing impresses them, but as an invited guest, there is no greater conversation starter. A role I've come to take in my stride. 

No embellishments required, the facts are intriguing enough. I am no celeb. Just an extra on the cutting room floor for the most part. A black face for the 'industry' quotas required mostly. Unmissable when crowd scenes get altered on set as the 2nd AD shuffles us all about. Between each take, by reset the blacks are in the shadows, out of shot or simply moved off set. Black extras get to know each other, huddled together, we know the score. The blatant bias in the workplace is unacceptable now. Union exceptions were made for the film game. I thought it was ugly then as now. Today things are are on the move at speed, but there must be underlying tensions having been excused for an age. Let's leave that there.

Actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor had a major supporting role in Love Actually so I daren't go too right on. I only saw it for the first time 5 years ago and even then fast forwarded it to spot myself. Same goes for HarryPotter. I have anecdotes and will resist the temptation to write them here because that's my annual Christmas small talk material busted when in new company. 

I have gone completely off-track. So I watched the writer, Helen Fielding documentary on BBC2 '25 Years of Bridget Jones' earlier this evening. Mainly because I enjoy watching author interviews in my down time. Down time? Don't listen to me. That is all there is at the moment in lockdown. She spawned a new genre - Chick Literature (Chick Lit) of which I am an indie Not-A-Best-Seller author. 

I was relieved to see that they covered the unavoidable misogyny of the story. It was reflective of the time and the attitudes and even the comic factor has altered for good. As a civil society we are expected to continually evolve in terms of values. Fielding said she could not imagine making the film post the Me Too movement. I was keen to hear her response because I am at odds with it myself. 

I wrote my first book inspired by 50 Shades, Diary Of A Call Girl, Memoirs Of A Geisha, Sex And The City as well as Bridget Jones Diary, like many authors have. Would any of these get commissioned today? I am still squirming at the title of my first chick lit novella - DJ Whore. It's like I have insulted every woman who ever kissed, shagged or married a night club disk jockey. I was adamant the controversial title stayed. But I question my motives. A discussion for another day.

The title must be off putting to the chick lit reader I was hoping to attract. I always said that it was a chick lit with a twist. Not quite the charmingly self effacing, relatable content expected. But I hoped that no one could deny they had the friend that had a penchant for 'copping off with the DJ' of a night out. But have I reclaimed the insult completely? The word whore is pretty harsh. Facebook and Instagram repeatedly rejected the title a few times when I attempt to pay for advertising over their platforms. My money is no good. 

Is my book out of date in terms of attitudes? Afraid not. The reality of the lives depicted is still a thing. The club scene is global. The music transcends race and religion. Recreational drug use is integral to it. DJs are predominately male who are the whores technically. 

I noticed the lack of books about a culture of people since 1985 completely ignored bar a slither of scenes in the odd drama. The films that have been made are testosterone heavy. These generations of folk - many still partying their middle age away, are unrepresented, but they are not a minority. What is that all about? I had no answers and set about writing a book I would want to read. 

Whatever happens, my book is modern history. More than ever in our new world, it is hard to believe we revelled hugging and kissing in crowd filled fields, warehouses and super clubs worldwide. A portaloo lifestyle, gone for good, once a scourge of good times and now how we marvel! It is impossible to preempt a zeitgeist or the legacy, but that is exactly my goal. Set on a club scene in dot, dot, dot as opposed to set on a Mid-Western Plain in...It should be a stand alone genre.

I heard a male DJ use the expression DJ whore, as a term of endearment, I hasten to add. I am not judging. All I've done is use it as an ironic marketing tool. [Long pause] 

One for the focus group then.

I bought the book Queenie (as yet unread) and expect Candice Carty-Williams and the generations that follow to bring the new world and the insecurities of her generation. It is still worthwhile to see what went before. 

Let me end on this note. It was truly magical to meet the dashing Colin Firth aka Mr Darcy in not one but two films. Those huge hazel brown eyes have to be seen close up - swoon. Before the 2nd AD ousted me, you can just make out the shoulder of my jacquard coat, Actually. No chit visible. 


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