i’m Spartacus!

By amy ~ November 17th, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

amypics 004Firstly this week, I would like to offer heartfelt and sincere congratulations, my sympathies and a little apology to our newest outed lady member, the delightful Dr Brooke Magnanti aka ‘Belle de Jour’ diarist and therefore by proxy, much-discussed sensationalist television staple.

Dr Magnanti (who is fortunate indeed to be blessed with a given name which already sounds wonderfully like one of a decidedly upscale working lady) has, not entirely of her own volition, revealed her identity and told all to the good people of the assembled press, apparently a bare five minutes before either the Daily Mail (whose reporter was  recently escorted from Bristol University’s site) or a less than discreet and seemingly shirty ex-boyfriend did it for her.

I would like to enthusiastically congratulate Brooke on her fabulous achievements as a scientist and researcher, and her career as a respected specialist in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology in a hospital research group in Bristol …and yes, I (being a respected specialist in nothing) did have to cut and paste that. The almost universal amazement by the usual media stalwarts at the revelation that some working prostitutes are educated, trained and qualified to do things other than drop their knickers (and therefore must be doing so because they have chosen to) is entirely predictable, but it never hurts to keep reinforcing it.

However, it has to be said that many of us are equally content just to be comfortably financially independent and supporting ourselves  and our families, and to say that it is ‘better’ or more valid to spend one’s earnings on tuition than on clothes, food or anything else, necessary or not, is in my view just as dubious. We all earn our money as we see fit, and to tell someone what they ‘should’ then be spending it on is ridiculous, no matter what one’s occupation. Encouragingly, anyone who listened to the  Jeremy Vine phone-in on Radio Two yesterday lunchtime will have heard many supportive comments from listeners; ordinary people who were not only clearly able to understand the situation but also to differentiate between those who are exploited by others and need help and those who are very much in control of their working lives, and do not.

I also congratulate Brooke on her success as a writer, although this is where the apology comes in – I have only rarely read her blog, but like many other ladies always doubted it’s validity simply because there were a good few things which didn’t quite ring true. It would seem that the reason for this is simply that Brooke/Belle worked part time and not for very long, in other words, she didn’t do the job long enough to pick up some of the knowledge of the business and the norms which the more raddled old tarts amongst us accept as the ‘done thing’. Hardly the crime of the century, and my bad – quite understandably, Dr Magnanti has had other things to concentrate on, such as the possibility of curing child cancer. I do hope Ms Harman (whose silence throughout has been deafening) and the esteemed Dr John Sentamu (whom I once used to like and respect before the abolitionist claptrap; this from a man who believes not only that the earth was created from scratch in a week by a supreme being, but that a virgin gave birth and a man rose from the dead) are reading too.

It is heartening also that her employers have emphatically supported her; according to Personnel Today: ‘Bosses at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health said: “This aspect of her past bears no relevance to her current role at the university”. A month ago she revealed her secret to her colleagues at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health, who were “amazingly kind and supportive“.’ Unlike the asinine journos who couldn’t let the opportunity slip by to compare, yet again, the ‘tiny minority’ of fortunate women (who have decided of their own free will to work relatively few hours for very good money in order to be able to concentrate on other areas of their lives) with the street scene, which is familiar to few if any of us and a completely separate issue which needs dealing with sensitively and appropriately by specialist support workers and sensible, decent Government policy, not by lumping everyone in the industry in together and slapping a label on us. Comparing like with like would be a start, but admittedly wouldn’t sell many papers.

Anyway, and back at the ranch, Christmas would appear to have come early this week, and I am feeling very spoilt indeed having been the lucky recipient of gifts galore! From champagne, wine and (fancier than I deserve) chocolates to a ‘wish bottle’ brought by a kind visitor last weekend and which I am still deciding about in terms of where to start. The charming gentlemen who have been arriving bearing these gifts have been a real breath of fresh air, and whilst I am planning a quieter and more relaxing week to follow, such pleasant company has put a real spring in my step, as did my brief London trip where a fine time was had by all , and it was proved to me once again that there is no substitute for sharing experiences with those in the same boat as you. I have also been busy starting a new run of pictures (sneak preview above), and am hoping to have a gleaming new set on site soon!

Talk of Christmas brings me to availability – book early! I am planning a quiet one as ever, but will be about if anyone is feeling magnanimous enough to share some cheer, and may even stretch to some mince pies. I am planning more visits to brighten up the New Year – already on the cards are Edinburgh, Bristol and possibly a sojourn to Wales; as ever, watch this space!

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