“Keep it light-hearted,” the producer tells me. “We’ve got a big feature on breast cancer so this item needs to be funny.”
The subject of my discussion on Woman’s Hour today is a new book written by a Dutch woman called Dutch women don’t get depressed. By the end of it, I am. I try a whole host of jokes, like Dutch men being so jolly despite bossy, scruffy women due to high drug intake and French women refusing to wear clogs (rarely in fashion). They all fall on deaf (Dutch) ears. Not even a snigger. The woman has no sense of humour whatsoever.
To make matters worse I get back home to a seriously POISONOUS comment on my blog about my performance. I am apparently snide, xenophobic and smug. And that’s on a good day. “I suppose, however, its all that can be expected from a woman who writes books with such ridiculous titles like ‘Two Lipsticks and a Lover’,” writes the rather bitter Abigail. (Rather smugly I notice she can’t spell it’s).
But I am safe. As I lie down for an afternoon sleep with my ill daughter (I am also ill having been out until 2am which only happens about once a decade, why did it have to happen last night?) she comforts me. “Don’t worry about that silly woman mummy,” she says. “Just go to sleep and pretend like it didn’t happen. I’ll look after you And I’ve got Max and Wolfie on my team.” Abigail beware.
PS By popular demand, here is the ghastly comment, posted on the About Helena section and also emailed to me just in case I missed it:
I just listened to a program on Radio 4 Women’s Hour on which you made an appearance – a discussion of Ellen de Bruin’s book ‘Dutch Women Don’t Get Depresssed’ and its sentiment. It is, of course (as de Bruin readily admitted) another example of a ready habit that many people have to stereotype nationalities in a wildly uninformed manner. I can’t say I’m very interested in buying the book or discussing such silly stereotypes, but de Bruin seemed like a pleasant enough woman.
Despite the fact that we were listening a discussion on de Bruin’s book, however, it was your drawling sarcastic comments and performance that really stood out. And not, I assure you, in a positive way. You seem to have an unpleasant obsesion with perpetrating such mindless, crude stereotypes, and some of your responses verged on xenophobic. The one about how Dutch people were happy because they smoked drugs? Embarassing. As for your claim about how women are happier when they believe they look better? I can only judge from the ridiculously smug picture you posted of yourself on this page that you at least are wholly believing that you look ‘good’? Your snappy tone and silly jibes on Woman’s Hour, however, was not the behaviour of a happy woman.
I suppose, however, its all that can be expected from a woman who writes books with such ridiculous titles like ‘Two Lipsticks and a Lover’
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007