Protests at the Miss World contest in London 1970: Reviews and comments
See Independent article of 27 November, 2020
Australian News article of 27 November, 2020
Waltham Forest Echo article of 26 December, 2020
From Amanda Sebasteyn:
I got the book through the post from Housmans yesterday and read all night and all day! It is brilliant. I also loved the thought and analysis embedded.
From Val Charlton:
Just writing to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Misbehaving. Its wonderful, all the great illustrations, it hits exactly the right note with images from that time. It was so enlightening to read about your lives and how brave you all were. I loved your piece and Jo made me laugh, all those pots of disgusting liquids. I remember that in my family, no ensuit in those days. I'm so full of admiration for what you did. You will go down in history not just for that inspired act but for all you did afterwards. You can all be very, very proud. I can't wait to see the film. I've booked my ticket for the launch on 20th.
Your fabulous book is there for all to see and solves my Christmas present problem. I'm so proud to have a tiny piece in it.
From Mavis Kirkham:
I very much enjoyed the book. It really took me back, reminding me of what we have gained as well as all the things still needed. I couldn't help feeling some nostalgia. "Miss World on Steroids" is a great chapter, the hinge the whole book hangs on, I wonder if it should have been the opening chapter.
I like the stories and the different approaches the contributors took. I would be interested to know how young women react to the content and the way it is structured. Very reminiscent of a time before our attention-span became eroded. I remember so well churning out such dense duplicated documents, which people did read, they don't in the present age of videos and sound bites.
Thanks so much.
From: Anthony Swash
I really enjoyed reading this book but reviewing it is hard as a lot of personal memories of some old friends gets mixed up with reading it as an account of an historic event.
To start with the historic event. Books like this are so valuable because they help make the past come alive and they capture precious information about how and why things happen, what the people living through the history actually experienced, before that information is lost in the mists of time. The book's strength is that rather than telling the story in a single homogenised narrative it allows the various women involved to tell the story of how they each remember it, and every story and each account is different both in terms of the way they are told and in the subtle details of what is remembered.
When conventional histories are written long after the events recounted everything can seem so clear and history is often told as a more or less single coherent story that starts somewhere and progresses to somewhere else. In reality when people live through history everything is a jumble, in the heat of the moment what's happening and where things are heading are never very clear. Everybody experiences the rush of events differently, people encounter historical turning points at different points in their lives and are sent off in different directions. The book captures a particular moment really well as a lived experience by different, mostly very young, women who came together in the heart of the birth of the women's movement and collectively unleashed huge political and social energies that changed the world, and changed for the better the lives of women who came later. What you get to feel and understand as you read the various personal stories of the women who planned and carried out the very brave disruption of a live global TV event is where the women's movement came from, why women were so pissed off, and why the movement resonated with the lived experience of so many women and thus attracted such widespread support so quickly.
It's easy to forget now that although it had deep roots the women's movement seemed to arrive very suddenly, erupting seemingly from nowhere and quickly galvanising the political energies of tens of thousands of women. And right in the middle of this historic turning point was the action to disrupt the 1970 Miss World competition. The details of the planning for that action, the imaginative tactics used, the wonderfully powerful slogans created, all communicate the power of what feminism had unleashed, and also captures how chaotic everything was and yet how successfully it all worked. I loved the account of some crucial moments, like Sarah's action to trigger the disruption and Jenny sitting on a park bench to work out what to do about the trial knowing that the decision probably meant a change in the direction in a her entire life.
On a more personal note it was so great to read the personal stories about the lives of of some very old friends. I don't want to gush but I feel really lucky that I, a teenage working class lad from Islington, met and became friends with such an amazing bunch of women. I met Jo sometime in early 1970 when she and Chris came round to visit me in my mum and dads crappy old house. I remember meeting Sarah and Jane in very early 1972 when I was only out of prison a few days after a year inside and everything seemed to glow with that post release euphoria. But because we were so young, because it was always the moment that mattered, we almost never discovered much about where we had all come from, what our personal back stories were, so this book was a delight for me as it filled in many blanks.
It must have been an interesting and challenging experience (that's a fine piece of English understatement) to come together to undertake a sort of collective remembering, after all everybody's memory of the same event or period are always different. I did some autobiographical writing a while back and I discovered that it was a very therapeutic but challenging experience as I had to rewrite the stuff over and over again as I peeled away layers of my own sanitised memory of my life to dig down to what was really going on, why I really did certain things. Did anyone get prompted by writing for this book to write more about their lives? The stuff we all lived through back then was so complex and interesting, and we are all getting so old, that I really think people should write their life stories down now before our memory goes completely, even if you leave stuff in a draw (like I have done) for people to read after I am gone.