Elsewhere (127)
When Suddenly

Princesses and Peas

In which we share the unending woes of three Guardian columnists. First, Nell Frizzell conjures a grand tale of sorrow and social injustice from her own unremarkable sleeping patterns and tells us that “going to bed early is our last great social taboo.” You heard her. Going to bed “before midnight” is a great social taboo. The last one. Such waywardness is, we learn, “a one-way ticket to condescension… and pariahdom.” “You will be ridiculed,” says Ms Frizzell. “If not shunned.” She is, nevertheless, being very, very brave. “It won’t stop me.”

Meanwhile, Bella Mackie, a Guardian comment moderator and daughter of the paper’s editor Alan Rusbridger, recounts her own fearless, indeed Herculean struggle with an addiction to… Diet Coke: “Giving up my favourite drink was as difficult as I had feared. I set about it with a determination to go cold turkey, knowing that even one can would make me slip back into old habits.” There followed a dark downward spiral. “For the first month, I felt exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open at my desk. Then came the nerves, the feeling that something was missing.” Yes, dear reader. Feel her pain and weep.

And finally, the chronically unhappy professional lesbian Julie Bindel bemoans the evils of marriage, including same-sex marriage, and is sternly disapproving of the fact that “there seems to be an almost total acceptance of [marriage] by lesbians today.” Specifically, what troubles her is that so many gay people, an overwhelming majority, “have a desire for ‘ordinariness’ and do not want to be seen as living ‘alternative’ lifestyles.” Given Ms Bindel’s niche career as a quarrelsome misfit and radical ‘activist’, this desire for bourgeois normativity simply will not do. And so she invokes the wisdom of feminist lecturer Nicola Barker, who tells us, flatly, that, “Same-sex marriage fits comfortably within the conservative ideology of the self-sufficient family and contributes to the politics of state austerity.”

Of course Ms Bindel goes further, as she must, and in doing so coughs up a contender for our series of classic Guardian sentences: “Isn’t marriage merely a clever ploy to keep us quiet about the trickier issues such as the deportation of lesbian asylum seekers?”

A question foremost on everyone’s lips.