Jayne Dawson: Fabulous Dolly Parton is the biggest feminist in town

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She wouldn’t consider it for a moment I’m sure, but Dolly Parton should really be wearing one of those T-shirts.

You know the ones that say “This is what a feminist looks like”.

My grandson has one and he looks almost edible in it; admittedly he’s only five months old and not in charge of his own wardrobe, but I am certain he will, one day, be proud.

But Dolly is particular about what she wears. Her garments have to hold her monumental bosoms as if Newton had never discovered gravity, they have to wrap around her ribs tighter than a python squeezing its lunch to death and they have to shine forth like laser beams hitting the night sky.

That’s a lot to ask of a T-shirt. Plus, you probably wouldn’t be able to read the full slogan for all the undulation on the Parton torso.

But still. The point is, we should now recognise Dolly for the fantastic female role model she is.

Right now, she is enjoying a bit of British adulation for her music. She wowed us at the Leeds arena and then she wowed them at Glastonbury. I watched both, and they were both amazing.

Yes, the patter was the same. Dolly has perfected a country-girl backstory of poverty and family love from which she never deviates but it’s a good one, so who cares if she tells it the same way every time?

The reality is that Dolly had made her first record by the time she was ten years old and left her family home the minute she finished school, intent on becoming the biggest star in the universe, but that only makes her more impressive.

Her Barbie-doll image is the window dressing for a woman who is creative, smart and, by the way, keen to do some good in the world.

When her popularity faded for a while, she simply built up a load of businesses instead, from Dolly wigs to Dollywood , a theme park which helps her make yet more money but also employs people from the community where she was raised - including members of her own family since she was one of 12.

And she has launched a reading scheme helping children - since her own father could neither read nor write - and that has spread across America and into the UK.

In her way she is every bit as philanthropic as the serious, geeky Bill Gates but we don’t see it so clearly behind the hair, make-up and rhinestones.

She has also reputedly written around 5,000 songs, plays many instruments, and controls that candy floss image with smooth efficiency.

We only know of Dolly what she wants us to know: there is a husband but he plays a backroom role; there are no children and Dolly was always clear that she wanted the kind of career that probably ruled them out.

But most important of all, Dolly is at the peak of that career even though she is 68 years old. She says she wants to wear out, not rust away, proving right there that she is sassy and smart as a whip.

If that isn’t a worthy feminist role model, I don’t know what is. Heck, if she wasn’t from the Deep South, Dolly would be one of our National Treasures.

The Queen would have a rival, and not just in the sparkles department.

Dolly has created herself from nothing, and doesn’t care who knows it.

She makes us laugh by telling us it takes a lot of money to look that cheap, and that she doesn’t know how long it takes to do her hair because she is never there.

She has been trying to tell us for years that it’s okay to look like her, and now she is telling us that it’s okay to be a woman approaching 70 and still be ambitious, powerful and passionate. I’m listening, pass the rhinestones.

This is quite possibly the worst idea in the entire world

sensors attached to their heads which measured their mood, and then changed fibre optics in the blankets to the appropriate colour. Weirdly, blue was chosen to show happiness and contentment.

The idea was to allow the airline to discover ways to improve.

I find this completely wrong-headed and a dangerous precedent.

Our whole lives are built on never letting our inner feelings be known - unless we have a tantrum and can’t help them exploding out in a messy and regrettable way.

We are a crowded island in a crowded world. Everywhere we go there are others, and those others annoy us. That’s just how it is.

But our protective mechanism, for the greater good, is to pretend that this is not true.

We call this politeness. We smile even when the primitive person inside wants to yell and whack somebody round the head with a bison leg.

The workplace sees this in its most pure form. Imagine everyone around you sitting there wearing a blanket revealing how they were really feeling at all times of the day.


Which is why everyone should just put up and shut up - and step away from the blankets.

I’m so rock and roll my flask was almost confiscated

Well, get me. I’ve only been and gone to a festival. No, not Glastonbury, nothing big.

Just a little one in Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire and just for the one evening, not to camp or anything. My friend says that anywhere with a longer queue for the coffee than the beer is not really a festival, but I beg to differ. There were tents and people wearing wellingtons for goodness sake - surely the very definition of a festival.

I’m new to it all because we Seventies Girls didn’t do outdoor music. They were for middle-class, hippie drippy types. What we did was the Mecca in the Merrion Centre, so I never got the festival habit. But I liked my taster and I didn’t queue for coffee, but only because I took my own. In fact, there was a thrilling moment when the security man asked if I had any metal objects, and I pointed to my metal flask.

He hesitated for just a second and I knew he was wondering if I intended to set about Paul Weller with it, but in the end he decided not. I was disappointed. He could at least have confiscated it - how rock and roll would that have been?

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