Kerry Hudson is Working Girl Tess McGill
Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Growing up in a succession of council estates, kiss-me-quick seaside B&Bs and caravan parks provided her with a sharp eye for idiosyncratic behaviour, and a love of travel. Her raw, funny debut Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float before He Stole My Ma began life as a collection of short stories, based on tales told to her by her mother and grandmother, but was honed into book form over a six-month stint in Vietnam. She lives and writes in East London. Below, she tells us why her cinematic alter ego is Working Girl Tess McGill. EITHNE FARRY
I ask you, which of us hasn’t quoted the immortal lines ‘I’ve a head for business and a bod for sin’ while tanked up on tequila and anti-histamines? Or prepared for the meeting of our lives by repeating ‘do not fuck it up, do not fuck it up, do not fuck it up’ like a mantra? Maybe cradled an ice-cold Coors on the commute home after an awful day? OK, maybe that’s just me but it’s for all these reasons, and so many more, that my cinematic alter ego had to be Tess from Working Girl. That’s right, the ultimate sister doing it for herself, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with a funny accent, big dreams and a night school diploma; Tess McGill I salute you!
As a child of the 80s, also the period my debut novel is set in, I enjoyed Working Girl a few years after release from the comfort of my own living room; there was Tess, trying to get promoted with her giant hair, shoulder pads and frankly sublime hosiery (seriously, re-watch and marvel…) and when following the rules didn’t work, Tess decided to play them at their own game. But she wasn’t faking it. She was faking the accent and the outfits (clearly happier with her mega-teased bouffant and 27 bracelets up each arm than with the Maggie Thatcher blouses) but everything else was her ‘just hittin’ em with the smarts’.
Sadly I don’t possess Miss McGill’s ability with equity markets, backcombing or infiltrating tropically themed society weddings but, like her, I do often feel I’ve entered a world where I don’t entirely belong. So while my book is on the shelves now and sometimes I get invited to a party or two, like Tess I’m really just that blonde cradling a Coors on the 149 bus, hoping my smarts will see me right and I’ll win myself a monogrammed lunchbox too.