The visit to Bishopsgate Institute was a real highpoint for me. I always look forward to research. Delving into books, images, websites, documentaries, interviewing people and scribbling down first ideas, I just love it. There are multiple possibilities and you can explore any before you have to commit to one. That’s when it gets trickier. Over the last couple of years more and more of my work has involved looking back in time. Reading about historical events or people, some I knew a bit about before, others I’d never heard of. There are so many people and events I feel everyone should know about, they feel important to where we are now.
The start of writing anything for me, is sitting with a pen/ pencil and paper and making notes. I don’t like to talk, I just like to take everything in till my brain picks something out. It’s usually a character or two. The voice of someone I want to know about jumps out from everything. Sometimes an opposite voice I find fascinating leaps up. The Miss World 1970 protest made me smile. I have my own thoughts on how destructive it can be when looks/ beauty is valued over intelligence so it interested me. Possible characters jumped out from the event and more than that, questions. The different protestors, nervous, determined, outraged, passionate. What brought them there? How did each feel? Did they have any doubts? The contestants – what were they thinking when the protest began? Did any of them sympathise, understand, agree or vehemently disagree? The people working backstage and the audience members, what did they all see? As well as the 24 million viewers watching on TV, what was their reaction?
I carried on looking for anything I could find. I read about the first Women’s Liberation Movement Conference earlier that year. Watched clips of women like Jo Robinson one of the protestors. Her description of the thoughts in her head that day, as well as clips of the moment the rattles went off really excited me. Looking further, outside the protest itself, I found more that could be useful. In a separate protest a group the Angry Brigade had left a bomb under a BBC lorry to disrupt the contest. There were also reports of action taken by some women watching the contest on TV. A radio programme which brought together people on different sides of the protest was really informative too. Ideas started growing till I carved out a rough outline for a piece. So now it’s getting down to the hard part.