It was such a pleasure for my latest Nostalgia Interview to catch up with Kate Fox – poet, stand up comedian, academic, journalist, broadcaster and ethnographer.
Kate talks about her last gig before lockdown, our love of lattes and living by the sea, and her connection with the University of Kent through comedy studies and the Autism and the Arts festivals. We discuss our conference food experiences and how buffets and carveries are likely to be casualties of the pandemic.
Kate relays her lockdown experiences and what has changed for her. We learn that she recorded an episode of Radio 4’s Pick of the Week from her living room on her phone and why she has no urge to do proper stand up in front of a Zoom audience.
Kate has written a book about Northern women, and she talks about whether Covid has given us a chance to do things differently in this new hybrid world as well as about the way in which universities have changed since the 1990s in terms of the way they deal with disability and neurodiversity and enabling students to flourish.
Kate did communication and media studies at Loughborough and comes from a working class background. She had to prove why she needed to go to university in order to become a journalist and we learn about the advice she received from Ian Hislop.
Her PhD looked at Northern women and the idea of resistance and class and why she found doing it so empowering. She explains why we can have the carnivalesque in academia and Kate talks about the countercultural nature of comedy studies.
We talk about how she discovered Leonard Cohen when she was 16 and how her two favourite films at university were Clueless and Schindler’s List.
Kate worked for commercial local radio and we learn why her northern voice was a barrier to reading the news. She ended up having a regular poetry slot on Radio 4’s Saturday Live, and Kate talks about her book on northern women and how some northern women radio and TV presenters from the past, such as Joan Bakewell, may no longer get work because they are perceived as being too posh.
Kate reflects on why some people are nostalgic for the idea of a strong northern woman such as Betty Boothroyd and Hilda Ogden, she talks about what her younger self would think about what she has done with her life, and at the end of the interview I ask Kate if she considers herself to be a trailblazer. We also learn why Kate is totally stuck in the 1980s.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Kate Fox and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.