D’you Wanna Be in My Gang?


Tears flowed a bit today. 

Ludicrous, I know. I have a great family and wonderful friends, but it suddenly got me, and not for the first time. I’ve never been a part of an “in” crowd – and I really, really want to belong.

It was the pictures of Simon Cowell being given his Hollywood star that set me off. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so thrilled for him and he really deserves it. I’ve known him for a couple of decades and he’s always been lovely to me . . . but I’ve never been part of his  IN crowd. 

The people he takes to Ascot. Wimbledon. On his boat. Who he invites to his Christmas and Summer parties. I have my theories as to whom he chooses to have around him – I just wish I’d been one of them.

But then I’ve never been the IN crowd. Much as I love my married friends, for the most part they hang out with other married couples. My single friends hang out with people they’ve known for decades or those they work with. My family have their own lives – as they should; indeed, as everyone should. Nobody I have worked with in over three decades has ever invited me to their house.

Coming up to 60, though, has made me a bit melancholy. I have no regrets about not having been married or not having had children. I am extremely close to my friends’ children, who (obviously) think I am the coolest person on the planet (little do they know that if I were their mother, I would be ten times the monster than the one they have). But I’ve always wanted to be part of a “gang” (and not in a bad way): like the people hanging round the bar in Cheers, or the four women in Sex and the City.

I’ve spent most of my life alone as a writer, which has undoubtedly diminished my gang potential. But I get on really, really well with gangs when I get the chance. I think you’d be hard pushed to find any TV crew who would say I was anything less than a joy to work with – and I them. I love the camaraderie, the bonding, the endless laughter. I’ve yet to do a shoot on which we were not all in tears at the end.

I just want it to go on. And on. And on. I’m never more lonely than the “It’s a wrap” moment, the lights go off and you’re left with the sound that is less than a whisper when the last crew member departs.

In school, I was never part of the IN crowd, either: the kid outside the Wendy House while her friends played with plastiscine tea-cakes inside; the one who never got to be picked for the hockey team, despite having scored three goals in the last game (“It never plays to be too competitive in life,’ Mrs Davies, the games teacher, told me); the girl who never got the attention of boys because I was short, spotty and my breasts still looked like a couple of contact lenses when I was 16.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself or sad; I’m just pondering what it takes to become part of an IN crowd. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But I’m embarking on my 7th decade and still feeling like an outsider. Is that why I run, city to city, country to country?

I have no idea, but in recent months, I can honestly say I’ve never felt so isolated and in need of a gang.

I was thinking back today of a song that was big when I was growing up – Gary Glitter’s D’you wanna Be in My Gang? Bad example, in his case, but I remember thinking I just wanted to be in one. Anything. To belong.

“Only connect the prose and the passion,” said Forster in Howard’s End. 

If only it were that easy.