Features

  • The Observer: Hands off Sisters!

    The new pornography is way too complex and sophisticated to be taken on by feminists in isolation.

    This week, as students start filtering back for the new term, we’ll no doubt witness the return to our streets of the dreaded slogan T-shirt. Personally, I’ve never quite been able to grasp this quaint custom of wearing ones heart on ones...heart. No matter how noble the sentiment, going public with your polemic leaves you open to ridicule - and the occasional slap if the dictum is provocative enough. When I was a student such sloganeering tended to be simplistic: ‘No To War! ’, or ‘Yes to Peace!’. For the hip post-feminists of the new millennium, there was a low-cut novelty Tee (available in pink for that added sprinkle of irony) that pulled no punches with its ‘These Tits are Real!’ declaration, and underneath, in italics, ‘Touch them and see!’ Once, and only once, I observed the command and felt the full stinging force of girl power, right across my cheek. Read more



    The Observer: Looking back on New Labour

    New Labour has done more for gay and bisexual rights than any other government.

    As the final votes were being totted up on 1 May 1997, the atmosphere in Liverpool was coltishly optimistic. After 18 rounds with the Tories, the city was more than ready for change. It wasn't a case of things can only get better – things had to get better. For all his glib posturing, cheesy smile and simpering attempts at being down with the kids, the bullishness of the young Tony Blair was infectious. It seemed like he really might be the man to make it all happen. Read more



  • The Observer: My First Love

    Powerful memoir about discovering clubbing, house music and ecstasy.

    Everybody has a pivotal moment that they come to look back upon as life-changing. Without a doubt, mine was going up the steps and crossing over into the other world that was Legends for the first time in June 1990. The moment I walked through the door into that sweaty, dingy, pulsating, magical place I knew I'd stumbled upon something enormous and incomprehensible. Read more



    The Observer: My Week

    Diary about visiting Finland, vying for a label-free society and dealing with difficult audiences.

    I'm staying in a writers' commune, a small log cabin perched on the lip of the Baltic. It's dark when I arrive and from my window I can see balletic silhouettes gliding across the sea's frozen surface. I feel I should make artistic capital from the loveliness of my surroundings, so I boot up my laptop and turn my desk lamp down low. The romance lasts all of five minutes Read more



  • The Hearld: In Defense of Amy

    Documenting the pleasures and pains of singer Amy Winehouse's rollercoaster life and work.

    On first sight of Amy Winehouse, I took an urgent and instant disliking to her. That was five years ago, around about the time she debuted with Stronger Than Me. For me, the whole package reeked of artifice - the put-on accent, the chain smoking, the beehive, the bad girl attitude... And yet, as 2003 wore into 2004, there was something of La Winehouse that became a guilty pleasure of mine.



    The Independent: Chelsea was too pretty to be a thug

    Critical essay on beauty, peer pressure, gang violence and manslaughter.

    Female gang violence is by no means a new product. As a schoolgirl in the Nineties I would be wary of taking certain bus routes home, for fear of muggings or random attacks at the hands of hard, vicious girl-gangs. These girls were almost butch, macho in their posturing and language, callous in their brutality and ugly as sin. Read more



  • Meet Me At The Gate: Why I love Pimp

    Rhapsody on Iceberg Slim and his urban hymns filled with gritty characters, unforgettable scenes and compelling jive-ass street-lingo.

    At a time when I was making my first jerky ventures into writing, I knew I prized honesty, authenticity above all things in fiction. Story, character, truth - everything has to ring true, from heart to heart, soul to soul, or your tale goes untold. I knew intuitively, without actually knowing it, that characters could not always be sympathetic - not real characters, at least, anyway. And then I read Pimp and it blasted the scales from my eyes. Misogynist, cruel, cynical, unflinching and utterly hypnotic, Pimp is a pageturner so horrible you just can't tear yourself away. Read more





 



© 2017 Helen Walsh