Ok, let’s deal with the biggie first. Once again, Mumsnet managed to sneak a controversial ‘this will get them going’ session in at the end of the day. Last year Caitlin Moran rescued our senses of humour from Liz Jones, this time Jo Brand got the gig. As she made clear, she’s faced worst audiences. But she managed to raise the thermostat from ice queen to tipsy giggler in seconds.
I’m not going to get into the ‘she said.. then she said..’ as it’s already been done much better by far superior Mumsnet Bloggers. For me there was just a nostalgic, heady thrill to be in a room full of women TALKING ABOUT FEMINISM. I haven’t done that for about 20 years, and for a long time I didn’t think I’d witness it ever again. For it also to be at a conference dominated by mothers just felt, well, exciting. The heartfelt exchange of views – some of which, it has to be said, were lobbed to and from the stage like live ‘think bombs’ – just shows how many strong articulate women there are whose voices are so often still ignored. Frankly Mumsnet didn’t even need to give the session such a provocative title, “Can you be a Mummy Blogger and still be a Feminist?”. Just “Feminism. Discuss” probably would have been enough to set us all off, especially with a panel that strong. It felt as if feminism was alive and well throughout the day, from Stella Creasy’s rebuttals of Toby Young to Sue Black‘s inspirational claim that educating mothers in technology educates the nation. Powerful, life-enhancing stuff. No one was asked about their favourite biscuit. Jammy Dodgers all round, I expect.
Which leads me on to the next major point of Blogfest. The food. I’d like to consider myself a connoisseur now, having sampled last year’s grub as well as this year’s. And I’m sorry, but I reckon 2012 had the edge. Mini croissants, mini cupcakes, mini lemon drizzle… the sweet offerings were all just a bit… small. To the extent they ran out mid-afternoon. The horror! And I’m not sure whose idea the oodles of cabbage was. Sorry, Mumsnet, but was that an ironic nod to the cabbage diet?
Luckily, there were still plenty of freebies to keep us all happy. Mooched around the beach bar but decided I needed a clear head to find out how to tell a better story with a brilliant panel including AL Kennedy and Lionel Shriver. Wish there had been a non-alcoholic cocktail – Feminista Sista, perhaps? With a dollop of jam? Loved the G&Ts at the end of the day, we were all in need of a drink by then. And when it was finally home time, I have to confess I was the one rifling through all the goody bags to make sure Lionel Shriver was in there… though not literally, sadly. Lovely chocolates, some great kids’ stuff and some rather suspect boob firmer (really, Mumsnet!) all kept me entertained on the train home. My head was absolutely spinning with ideas. I wish I’d recorded the whole day and could tap into it at leisure. Instead I’ve got my tweets to look back on and a sense of righteous indignation, courtesy of Jo Brand.
Or rather, family holidays. Because in a shameless attempt to bag a free Mark Warner trip, I’m crowbarring in a top tip for holiday fun. And it’s this – TRY SOMETHING NEW. Everyone should have a go at something different, whether it’s swimming in the sea, eating a mussel or crazy golf, as the new experiences make the best memories. If your kids see you getting out of your comfort zone, they’ll have a go too. And the day ‘Mum screamed on the mini rollercoaster’ will enter family history. I still haven’t lived it down.