Comic Relief Challenge day 4 – Ugly Little Dreams

March 8, 2013

Today’s choice for my Comic Relief  Team Tracey Thorn Challenge has been picked by none other than @tracey_thorn. The choice was between Ugly Little Dreams and When All’s Well from 1985’s Love Not Money. Tracey tweeted; “Ugly Little Dreams deffo. International Women’s Day innit, you can go all feminist on our ass. Or something.”

Let’s face it, it’s going to be ‘or something’.

Ugly Little Dreams, like yesterday’s Draining The Bar, is another of Everything But The Girl’s country & western tinged songs.

The song is dedicated to Frances Farmer.

In 1985 when I was 23 I had no idea who Frances Farmer was (despite the film Frances, starring Jessica Lange, having come out in 1982).  Somewhere down the line, before Wikipedia, before computers, I found out*. Way back then my best understanding of Ugly Little Dreams was garnered from these lines:

What chance for such girls/ How can we compete?/ In a world that likes it’s women/ Stupid and sweet

Way back then. Of course, 28 years later (or 60 odd years later from Frances’ time), the world is a vastly different place isn’t it. Just ask Hilary Mantel.

Now, I’m not saying that David Cameron called for Hilary Mantel to be lobotomised (beheaded?) for her thoughtful and intelligent critique of how the media mould(ed) and shape(d) Princess whatsername, but… well, he kind of did, didn’t he? Had he even read the article?

What chance for such girls/ How can they compete?/ In a world that has a Prime Minister/ So stupid and… neat?

They’re my words, not Tracey’s.

What is he up to? Let’s be frank. Let’s put (party) politics to one side. David Cameron is not stupid. He’s, I guess, oh go on then, if we must… he’s clever.

He’s more of a disingeuous **** than stupid (call me a coward for using asterixes, but it is International Women’s Day, and, being frank again, that’s a whole new argument I’m just not getting into).

Yeah, he’s just a shameless **** who, for the sake of votes, is afraid to show his true intelligence; is afraid to say what he knows in his heart; that Hilary Mantel’s article was just fine.

I bet he read it. I bet Ed did too. He can’t get away with it either. He’s a **** (please substitute some different consonants and vowels for variety’s sake).

They’re all cowards afraid of being true to themselves, afraid of showing a little intelligence, in case, just like Mantel, they become ‘hate figures’; little knowing they are already on their way. They are Frances Farmer negatives.

I could be losing you. I’m no good at polemic and I almost undoubtedly take short cuts in my attempts at an argument. And you may have come here for jokes. ‘He wasn’t like this when he swung his pants’, someone in my head says.

Perhaps Wikipedia can do some of my work for me. If you can spare the time, have a read about Frances Farmer and then come back.

Are you back?

I’ve been watching Frances on This Is Your Life, from 1958. Astonishing stuff. Here’s part one. In it Frances wins an award at the age of 17 for a school essay entitled God Dies. Her teacher at the time, Miss Belle Mackenzie, comes onto the programme and Frances is very happy to see her again, giving her a big hug.

And then Professor Glen Hughes comes on. I’m not so sure Frances is quite as pleased to see him. Glen says: “Well, of course, the first place, she was very lovely. Secondly, she was intelligent and (unclear). She always had a sort of intellectual chip on her shoulder.”

It’s enough to make you mad/ But it’s safer just to break down and cry



Part two is hard to watch. Frances is clearly uncomfortable with the host’s simple-minded summing up of her life, but there’s some fight left in her; “If you’re treated like a patient you are apt to act like one.”



Here’s Ugly Little Dreams.



If you can, please give some money to Comic Relief. You can sponsor me here.

(* It’s thanks to Tony Wilson that I started to look up things. He was being interviewed on TV once about the Situationists. The interviewer asked him what it was and he told him, and anyone interested, to go and look it up. He wasn’t being arsey (well…), he was just making us all do our homework.)

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