The Grazia Salon event with Bryony Gordon
BOOKS. BOOKS. BOOKS (and a cocktail). What more does a person need on a Wednesday night in London?
Last night I went to Momo for a very exciting event: The (first) Grazia Salon, a night which hosted the most fantastic panel EVER: Bryony Gordon, the ace Telegraph columnist and author of hilarious book The Wrong Knickers, Alexandra Heminsley author of “Running Like a Girl” (amongst others) and Helen Walsh author of the fantastic Lemon Grove.
Wait, there’s more. The conversation was chaired by one of my favourite writers of all time: Elizabeth Day, columnist the Observer and author of two novels. AND SHE WAS LOVELY. Too many awesome people in one room basically. I’m sorry if I am sounding like a chipmunk on drugs bouncing around like a presenter on a children’s TV show but as you can tell, to say I’m a bit of a FAN of all these women is a slight understatement.
As we took our seats the conversation jumped straight in to the real stuff. There was to be no fluffing about with these ladies. The theme, or should I say question of the night was “are we sexually liberated?” which was quite the debate driver. The nice thing about the mixture of authors was that each of their books cover aspects of sexuality and womanhood in many different ways.
They were all hilarious. And extremely honest and open about their books and their intentions in wanting to change stereotypes and perceptions to do with sex. Helen Walsh made some really strong points about female sexuality still being “heavily policed”. She’s right, somehow it continues to still be a bit of a controversial topic: the idea of a woman being sexually “free” – and here we are in the 21st century, the almost futuristic sounding 2014. Yet we’re discussing what it means to be happy and “liberal” in the context of our own bodies and the decisions we make concerning sex and sexuality. Bonkers.
It made think. Are we sexually “free” when we just go out and do what we want? Or is it deeper than that, is it more about being in control all the time? Is it the freedom to say “no” when all you’re after is a snog and not the whole shebang? Is it the freedom to know exactly what you want? Is it Miley Cyrus leotards? It was a very open question, with a lot of different answers.
A topic that arose was whether the porn industry was to blame about the high expectations of a woman’s nether regions. Helen Walsh made a rather funny point that “women are expecting to be bush-free, whilst men are allowed to have horrible beards”. I mean, I’m a fan of beards, but she had a point there.
Bryony spoke about that transition from free-and-single 20-something to married-woman-with-a-baby. I love how honest her book is about her sexual adventures when she was younger. She didn’t hold back. She described it as “vomiting onto the page”. One of the questions from the audience was “do you regret writing any of it?” Her answer was lovely: Simply no. She doesn’t regret writing any of it. After all, it made her who she is today. All the chaos led her to her daughter Edie.
Alexandra Helminsley gave some really funny anecdotes about writing her book. “Ex in The City“ a memoir about getting dumped, and the trials and tribulations of ending up single again and again, in many different locations. She mentioned that writing the book was therapeutic, a way to package up all the heart-ache and be done with it. Ironically, when off on a family holiday the book had just been published and on sale in the airport. Naturally all of her family bought the book and sat by the pool reading it, to her horror. It was like opening a can of worms again. (On flip-side, Bryony said her husband refuses to read The Wrong Knickers. A wise decision perhaps? It made me laugh.)
All in all, it was a lovely lovely evening of inspirational chat. Was amazing to meet all the authors and have a natter. THANK YOU GRAZIA!
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic