CAROL Fox is a woman of whom Edinburgh should be proud. You may not know of her but she is a mum, lawyer, campaigner, feminist – there are probably many other adjectives but they will do for the moment.
She is a woman who has lived according to the principle that anyone who tells her to shut up will find themselves feeling somewhat futile in their demand.
She’s a kind of silver-haired, red-lipsticked, whack-a-mole for the misogynists in society. Tell her she can’t do a thing and you’ll soon find her popping up somewhere else doing exactly that very thing.
For instance, when at the age of 29 and looking for help to have a child, she was told by fertility doctors in Scotland that she “didn’t know her own mind”, that she was “young and attractive enough to still find a man” and that they would not help – this despite her having suffered a catastrophic event to both her ovaries – so she stuck up a metaphorical two fingers to them and headed off to London where she found what she needed.
She got into terrific debt in her desire to have a baby but after many failed cycles – 12 before she became pregnant – she did just that. On June 6, 1992, after a labour which lasted for 12 hours and involved eight pints of transfused blood, Natasha was born.
Then, as a social worker and trade unionist, she banged the drum for childcare – rather than company cars – to become an issue on which the National Union of Public Employees should campaign.
Returning to Scotland she came to Edinburgh, a more enlightened city, she felt, than the west coast from which she originally hails. She trained as a lawyer – and was prepared to take the Law Society of Scotland to court for discrimination when they ruled she couldn’t train part-time. They capitulated.
She also tried for a sibling for her daughter but 17 more cycles of IVF and sadly there was no result. Her attempt to do so as a single mum made front page news – and got her into trouble with Scottish Labour, for whom she was standing as a candidate in Edinburgh West.
Even the male chairman of the constituency – this was 1999 remember, not 1979 – tried to lecture her on family values.
And all through this she launched her own legal firm and championed the rights of female council staff who have had to fight tooth and nail to get equal pay – money to which they are legally entitled but which councils had for years refused to pay. Many women have died waiting for the money before their cases – fought for by Carol – were finally upheld.
She has stood as a Labour Party candidate in Edinburgh West in the past but abandoned the politics of her life because of the way Labour councils – “run by men for men”, she says – were treating their female employees.
You may well have seen her more recently on television as she became a champion of the group Women for Independence, getting involved in politics once more. And now she’s written a memoir of her “feminist life” for Natasha.
Whether or not you agree with Fox’s politics, whether or not you believe her quest to have a child was right – and even she agrees that it’s no-one’s “right” to have children – you cannot doubt her indefatigability in the face of much opposition, usually from men. She should serve as an inspiration to all women who feel the dice are always against them.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Fox is one mother who deserves to put her feet up. At least for the day.
BY GEORGE, I’M IN . .
AN Edinburgh dinner date with George Clooney is up for grabs for just £5, if you are the lucky name drawn out the hat. Wonder how much more it would cost to get him to don his ER scrubs?
Denise can be a real trailblazer
IT’S quite remarkable that it is news that a woman is standing for election to lead the firefighters union, but there are still too many occupations where having two X chromosomes is regarded as a major drawback. I hope that Denise Christie gets the votes she needs and leads the Fire Brigades Union Scotland into the 21st century – with sirens on and blue lights flashing.
Will M be able to fork handle it?
THE new list of names given to babies born in Scotland in the last year is out. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to give a child a unique name – who wouldn’t love to really be able to declare “I am Spartacus”? – my pet hate are names spelled incorrectly just to make them “different”.
This year there’s Rabecca, Daanyal, Caara . . . but perhaps this is just the result of being taught to spell phonetically? I feel for the boy called M though, whose life could become a Two Ronnies sketch.
Steve’s exit was always on cards
STEVE Cardownie is no longer the deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council. He’s no longer the leader of the SNP group. He is no longer convener for festivals, fun and frolics.
Did he jump before he was pushed? It’s certainly been no secret that the enlarged SNP group has questioned his leadership for some time – especially as he only scraped in at the last council elections – and that he’s managed to fend off at least two coups since then.
He had tried to control his departure on Tuesday evening and had his replacement organised in Councillor Gavin Barrie. But that plan failed and now Cllr Sandy Howat is in pole position.
I wonder if we’ll hear much more dissent from the SNP now in terms of its coalition with Labour.