Today the news is that there will be no more bare breasts in The Sun. Only if you live in the UK will you understand how big that news is. It was the lead item on the BBC’s Today programme this morning. This is the remarkable culmination of a brilliant three-year social media campaign, #nomorepage3, set up three years ago by Lucy Ann Holmes.
I know Lucy because she’s an occasional member of the writers’ group I’m in. C J Sansom’s new book, Lamentation, has a beautiful dedication to us: “To Roz Brody, Mike Holmes, Jan King and William Shaw, the stalwart writers’ group, for all their comments and suggestions for Lamentation, as for the last seven books.” We read each others early drafts over a beer every few weeks and have done for longer than I care to remember.
Lucy is Mike’s daughter. She only turns up now and then; these days if she does, she’s increasingly distracted. I remember one time last year when we were trying to find a wi-fi signal in the pub so she could find out what David Cameron was saying about her campaign. Like you do.
Lucy started coming along several years ago with an idea for a book called 50 Ways To Find A Lover. We were still at the tail end of the era in which bloggers were being snapped up by publishers with little idea of whether their blogs would turn into books or not – something we’re about to repeat following the success of Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online. So I suggested, more than slightly cynically I admit, that she hastily start a blog. That way she’d find a publisher in no time at all; she did and, of course, got a contract. She then embarked on a successful career writing books that are very sharp and very funny indeed. She had become a chick lit writer. She wouldn’t thank me for calling her that, but that’s certainly how her publisher’s marketing departments regarded her. They dressed her in pink and put cartoons on her covers.
And you could sense Lucy’s increasing frustration at being marketed that way. Especially as her revulsion with Page 3 grew and transformed her into one of the faces of a new type of feminism.
Anyway. She won. She took on the behemoth of Murdoch’s biggest selling UK newspaper, and she bloody won.
I watched her on Newsnight last night as the news broke, feeling incredibly proud of her and of my tangential association with her. Instead of the swirly girly writing that graced her covers, she wore a plain t-shirt that spelled out the slogan of her campaign one last time in bold caps. NO MORE PAGE 3. No longer a slogan, but now a fact.
She will be the last person to say It Was Lucy Wot Won It; she’ll insist that she was only one part of a very broad grass roots campaign, which is true, but she was the one who started it.
Anyway. I hope this leaves her more time to write another book soon. If she does, I know it will be a very different one.