Goodness Gracious Me!
Cover for "Amazing Disgrace: A Book About Shame", Illustrations by Alice Skinner.
Words Morgan Bowden
Why every girl should love their vagina and invoice their one-night stands; Amazing Disgrace: A Book About "Shame", by Grace Campbell.
It’s no mean feat for a writer’s first book to be a memoir; but Grace Campbell is bold enough to tackle it. Though she is only 26, the daughter of Alastair Campbell (who grew up wishing her father would spend more time on her rather than Tony Blair) brazenly addresses the trials and tribulations of simply being a girl with a blatant disregard for being “ladylike” in her approach. For this, you do have to commend her. When we talk about what attributes being “ladylike,” what we mean is to be inoffensive. Demure. Impartial. Impossibly elegant and, of course, graceful. Grace turns this dated concept on its head and speaks openly about the cold, and sometimes hard, realities that occur in a woman’s formative years and coming-of-age.
Nuanced as her memoir is, these realities range from the not-so-elusive fanny fart, to her earliest memories of masturbation, the quest for a perfect body (and the consequent fuck it, I am who I am realisation) — to the heavier topics such as sexual assault and rape. Naturally, this is an overtly personal account of Grace’s life. We learn in detail about both her brilliant friends and the men that she’s woefully encountered. For any ounce of shame a man has shown her, she reclaims it by attacking their spineless character with humour and effortless wit — the same wit that sees her describe Boris Johnson as “the kind of guy who will cum in you when you’ve asked him not to” over on her Instagram series “Ranking Politicians as Lovers.” Please Grace, never stop doing these.
Grace Campbell with father Alastair and Ed Miliband
Grace Campbell as a child on Downing Street, 1997.
Despite the nature of a memoir being specific to its author, Grace’s experiences are entirely universal, and that’s what makes it a great, binge-worthy read. Whilst we can’t all relate to meeting Vladimir Putin at the tender age of seven, unfortunately many women can put themselves in her shoes when it comes to queuing up in Boots on a Sunday morning to part with £35 for the morning-after pill, undoing the damage of a one night stand who ignored strict “pull out” instructions. Grace has been there, I’ve been there, countless friends have all been there. And trust me, there’s no feeling of shame quite like the pharmacist casting a judgemental eye that says; wow, you really had unprotected sex, huh?
The road from girlhood to womanhood is paved with shame, not just at the hands of men but from women too. Though times are changing and the discourse is improving, Grace’s memoir offers an undeniable solace which reiterates that your negative experiences do not devalue you, all the while preaching the important message to not be jealous of other women, but to support and lift them up as we would want to be ourselves. There’s also some brilliant little life lessons to be learned along the way; if a man ignores you telling him to pull out — don’t hesitate for one moment to invoice him that £35 bill.
Amazing Disgrace: A Book About "Shame", published by Hodder & Stroughton, available now. Listen to our podcast with Grace below.
Hannah Karpel talks to stand up comedian and author of 'Amazing Disgrace', Grace Campbell, in Episode 1 of the FW Magazine Podcast.