For throughout history, you can read the stories of women who – against all the odds – got being a woman right, but ended up being compromised, unhappy, hobbled or ruined, because all around them, society was still wrong. Show a girl a pioneering hero – Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc – and you also, more often than not, show a girl a woman who was eventually crushed.

I have a rule for working out if the root problem of something is, in fact, sexism. And it is this: asking ‘Are the boys doing it? Are the boys having to worry about this stuff? Are the boys the centre of a gigantic global debate on this subject?

If I don’t keep this job, then my only future career-options are working in Argos, or being a prostitute,’ I say, wildly.

‘Maybe you could work in Argos as a prostitute,’ my mother says, merrily. She appears to be enjoying this conversation. ‘They could list you in the catalogue, and people could queue up, and wait for you to come down the conveyor belt.

Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’.

The idea that I might not– in an earlier era, or a different country– have a choice in the matter seems both emotionally and physically barbaric.

It’s the silliness–the profligacy, and the silliness–that’s so dizzying: a seven-year-old will run downstairs, kiss you hard, and then run back upstairs again, all in less than 30 seconds. It’s as urgent an item on their daily agenda as eating or singing. It’s like being mugged by Cupid.

Now I know what happens at a gig, I will be ready for it, next time–I will come in just a T-shirt and shorts and books, and fight my way to the front, like a quietly determined soldier, and then let the band take my head off. I want to walk into rooms like that every night, with a sense of something happening.

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