Giving choice a voice: The story behind an internet heroine

 

The pregnant woman criticised anti-abortion protesters for “making other women feel guilty” by filming outside an abortion clinic
The pregnant woman criticised anti-abortion protesters for “making other women feel guilty” by filming outside an abortion clinic

Chances are that you will have seen by now the "Pregnant Woman Blasts Anti-Abortion Protesters Outside a Clinic in London" video. At the time of writing, it had registered almost two million views. As you might expect when something is shared in this way, the mainstream media have been climbing over each other to find out who the "pregnant woman" in question is. Sunny Hundal, the journalist who shot the footage, on the other hand, is more interested in raising awareness of the story behind his viral hit.

"The thing no one is talking about," he tells me, "the reason I was there in the first place, is that the clinic, which is mainly a mother and baby drop-in centre, is in danger of having to close down its abortion services because its staff have been intimidated for a few months.

"I wrote a piece about that, and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service asked me to follow it up. So I went down there to film what was going on. As I was filming, the woman appeared from nowhere."

Does he know her? "No. In fact, when she walked off I carried on filming so I didn't even get a chance to talk to her. I've found out since that although she is happy the film has been such a success, she has no interest in being identified."

What would he say to her now, in the light of the public reaction? "I would thank her for helping raise the issue and tell her that she's an internet star who has given a voice to millions of women who feel that way. Also, she delivers the best smackdown of anti-abortionists that I've ever seen."

Lager snouts

Because everyone deserves to be let off the leash from time to time, one company in Belgium has come up with a product called Snuffle, which is being marketed as "the first beer for dogs". The idea is the brainchild of a dog owner called Ben Verbeeck and his friend Kristoff DePrins, and the UK side of the operation is headed up by Tom De Nert, who is keen to point out that Snuffle is not actually a beer at all.

So why, I ask him, is it being sold as such? "Well, it's about sharing that special moment with your best friend, and from the amount I'm having to pack up every night, we seem to be on to something," De Nert says. And how do they know that dogs like it? "We have tested it at trade shows and the reaction has always been positive. Also, I tried it out on my mother-in-law's neighbour's dog and I swear I saw it smile." Have you tried it yourself? "Yes." What does it taste like? "Beef stock."

Finally, is it fit for human consumption? "Absolutely. In fact," says De Nert, "I will gladly provide a few bottles to the first person who wants to go where no man has gone before." Presumably, he'd have to drink it in the Rover's Return.

Shamash hits

Jack Shamash is on a mission. As a writer who has had his fair share of rejection letters from publishers, Shamash has decided to go it alone, and is nine weeks' into the task he has set himself to publish a book a week for the next year – pulling "manuscripts out from under the bed" as well as creating new content to meet the challenge.

"About a year ago, I wrote a book about George V and his stamp collection, which I couldn't get published. So I put it out myself on Kindle and it was mildly successful," he says. Since then, there have been two offbeat novels (one about a snail detective), a book about sketching and, Shamash's top seller, a novella called Marvin the Homosexual Dinosaur (see jackshamash.com for details).

"My latest is called Poems About Sex and Getting Off With Girls," Shamash says. "To celebrate each publication, I throw a launch party in a pub every Thursday night. Last week, for the first, my wife refused to come. Turns out that she was upset that most of the poems were about other women."

Who's counting?

For all the talk about this thing or that thing "breaking the internet", last week the South Korean singer Psy actually did. Turns out the YouTube video for his 2012 single "Gangnam Style" had amassed so many views on YouTube that the counter in the corner couldn't cope any more and got stuck at an astonishing 2,147,483,647 views.

The problem has now been fixed and, if you click on the number, it explains: "We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer, but that was before we met Psy. 'Gangnam Style' has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!"

Thank goodness for that, eh? Breathe a Psy of relief he hasn't had another hit.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

They're the top 50 signs of success,

For those who live life to excess,

The home gym … the skiing,

Though for the time being,

How we'll pay for it's anyone's guess.

twitter.com/@simmyrichman

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