I Don't Want to Be Normal

By Young, Toby | The Spectator, May 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

I Don't Want to Be Normal


Young, Toby, The Spectator


A relatively sober lunch with my old mucker Julie Burchill

Seeing Julie Burchill sitting at the back of the restaurant near Victoria Station, I feel a surge of affection. Chin up, sunglasses on, lips fixed in a pout, she is presenting her usual defiant face to the world. In the past, I've always thought of her as being like a screen goddess from Hollywood's golden age - Marlene Dietrich, for instance. Now, she seems more like a fading Broadway diva and I half expect her to break into a rendition of 'I'm Still Here' by Stephen Sondheim.

The one-time enfant terrible of Fleet Street is now 53 and lives in Brighton, but she is very much still here. Earlier this year, a column she wrote for the Observer in which she referred to transsexuals as 'bed-wetters in bad wigs' caused no end of trouble and this month sees the re-release of Ambition , her 1989 bonkbuster about a female newspaper editor with a penchant for sadomasochism. This seems like a blatant attempt on the part of her publisher to cash in on the success of 50 Shades of Grey , a book Julie says she hasn't read.

'Remember how Gore Vidal said television's for appearing on, not for watching?' she says. 'I feel a bit like that about porn. It's for writing, not for reading.'

I'm a little nervous about seeing her, because the last time we had lunch we both got quite pissed and my wife takes a dim view of lunchtime drinking, particularly when I'm due to pick up the kids from school. But Julie allays my fears - initially, at least - by explaining that the reason she's in London is because she's just been to see a hypnotist in an effort to curb her excessive eating and drinking. Or, rather, for the purposes of writing a Daily Mail article Daily Mail Daily Mail about trying to curb her excessive eating and drinking, which isn't quite the same thing.

'Can I have another double scotch on the rocks please?' she asks the waitress, holding up an empty tumbler. Then, turning to me, she says, 'Didn't work, did it?'

Julie is completely unembarrassed about her love of alcohol. We briefly discuss a recent Sunday Times interview she did with Camilla Long, winner of the 2013 Hatchet Job of the Year. The piece began with Julie being sick over herself in the Groucho Club and ended with her falling asleep on Brighton Beach, having drunk a bottle of Calvados.

Given that Julie used to work for the Sunday Times - and occupied a similarly exalted position to Camilla - she is remarkably sanguine about it.

'I was so nervous when that piece came out because I thought I'd slapped the make on her, ' she says, laughing. 'Have you seen her? She's gorgeous and she was wearing this ridiculously low-cut top. I thought it was some kind of honey trap. Thank God I didn't.'

Since the pinnacle of her career in the mid-1990s, Julie has worked for a succession of different broadsheets, including the Guardian, the Times and the Independent, but she doesn't currently have a column.

She claims not to mind this since it leaves her with the time to concentrate on writing Unchosen, a memoir about her lifelong love affair with the Jews. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

I Don't Want to Be Normal
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.