From bacon to Bowie via FGM and feminism: the writer both inspires and frustrates
The one thing you cannot fault Moranifesto on is its title. It is accurate and reflects the best and worst of this book. If you like Caitlin Moran you will love how Moranifesto (mostly a collection of her columns in The Times, strung together as a “rallying call for our times”) feels as though she has plonked herself down next to you in the pub and is knocking back gin while holding forth on topics such as high heels, cystitis, the Oscars and FGM. Yet the book’s sheer eclecticism is also its drawback. At times it seems that there is no coherent theory linking the opinions in it, other than Moran herself. Which is great for a column, but is it enough for a declaration on life?
Reading a book that is essentially like getting drunk with Moran is, of course, brilliant. I could spend every weekend necking Prosecco with her in the loos of a Vauxhall gay club. I love how unpretentious she is. The way she writes about why bacon rules and Ant and Dec rock. She is hilarious on hipsters and hangovers and gorgeous on music. And her pieces on David Bowie, “pale like bone; voice like ice breaking”, are only more beautiful given what has passed since.
Still, politically, I can’t make sense of Moran. At times, on working-class matters she is excellent. She is right that her (once) working-class voice is rare in the media, and insightful on issues such as the spare room subsidy, London’s spiralling property prices and Benefits Street.
But if at points she nails class, at others she ignores it. It is frustrating reading her euphoria about London 2012 when she fails to discuss the aftereffects. In one chapter she is trilling about how the Olympics made the whole world “fancy London”. In another, she is worrying about London’s grotesque rents, without ever connecting the dots. It was, after all, the Games that helped boost East London’s property prices, forcing some locals out.
It feels odd that someone who understands the inequality that capitalism perpetuates (and highlights how people raised on benefits struggle to make it to London, let alone into the media) can support prostitution without examining the economic conditions that might lead someone to make that career choice.
Image: DAVID LEVENSON/GETTY IMAGES
Ebury £20 pp435