Suzanne Moore: Extremism in Ipswich
If al-Qaeda had been around when I was growing up in Ipswich, I would have joined it.
As you would expect, I am sitting in a shrine to Diana. There are loads where I live. They are called Turkish restaurants, and nearly all of them have portraits of Our Lady of the Landmines among snaps of the caves of Cappadocia. Suddenly my eldest daughter erupts. I must explain that she is fairly placid and a student, so this is unusual. True, she marched against the war, but the only other thing she might get incensed about is if the Beeb suddenly moved the time of Neighbours. Anyway, she goes nuts. "I bloody hate that!" she shouts. "What?" "That!" She points to a sticker that says "Back the bid". "What a waste of time. Just how am I meant to back the Olympic bid, exactly? How?"
She is right. We must campaign, I think, against the public but pointless exhortations that surround us. Outside the infamous Finsbury Park Mosque hangs a daft, jargon-filled banner, banging on about "a new beginning for the mosque" and working to improve community relations or some such nonsense. In a cave somewhere, some hapless image consultant is busy rebranding Osama Bin Laden, using the words "community", "facilitate", "rebuild" and "antisocial behaviour" in no particular order.
On that score, I see Diane Abbott, my MP, has done her bit. A leaflet plops through the letter box. Abbott has the gall to say: "Hackney North and Stoke Newington has many good schools. Diane is working to bring all of them up to the standard of the best." Really? The best is still not good enough for her own child. Still, we don't want the Tories, do we? Even the most delectable of them. I went to see the run-through of David Blunkett: the musical the other night, which superbly takes the piss out of the Sextator goings-on and has great tunes as well. It was brilliant to see Boris Johnson (played by Robert Bathurst) rapping and Petronella Wyatt (Zigi Ellison) as his "ho". But it reminds you that, as lovely as he is, you don't actually want people like that running the country.
Back to the threat to kill all of us in north London. Oh, to live in less interesting places in less interesting times - ricin to the right, loony mullahs to the left. Yet we're still having that inane conversation about why young men are drawn to extremism. Thankfully, I am not a politician, or worse, a politician's wife, so I am allowed to state the bleeding obvious. I perfectly well understand why people get caught up in this - the excitement. Possibly I empathise with it because I grew up in Ipswich. God, it was deadly. It's lucky that al-Qaeda wasn't around then, as I would have done anything to get out of the house. One of my boyfriends ran off to join the IRA. Was he Irish? No. A republican? Not to my knowledge. Extremely bored? Yes.
When it all goes belly up - any day now - I will set up my own phone line, I have decided: Fone-a-Feminist. The media want feminist opinions, but they're getting them too easy at the moment. Should Wayne slap Coleen? Er . . . no. Should that old dog Lucian Freud paint a woman hanging off his leg like . . . a dog? Debatable. Should we be sad about Andrea Dworkin's death? Yes, definitely. I see one queer website referred to her as "a pissed-off lesbian with a husband". There are plenty worse things to be.
Dworkin, in death if not in life, has finally been taken seriously. She was a magnificent writer. To read her was to be made to think again. About everything. Her obesity, though, has been much misunderstood. She wasn't fat to get at men somehow. Her eating disorder, her morbid obesity, was a form of self-harming. If she had stuck a needle in her arm, instead of food down her gullet, she would have been mythologised as a self-destructive genius. Instead, she was mocked for her habit. She was fearless and enraged about what happens to women's bodies. But what did she do with all that fear and anger? She swallowed it.
Multicultural education is a total failure most of the time, but at least it gives us parents something to moan about.
A friend told me his little boy came home from school with a dot in the middle of his forehead. A bindi? "That's lovely, darling. What is it?"
"I don't fucking know."