Rachel Cooke

British journalist

Rachel Cooke (born 1969) is a British journalist and writer. Cooke began her career as a reporter for The Sunday Times. She is a contributor to the New Statesman as their television critic, and writes for The Observer newspaper.


  • One of these stores is in Sheffield, where I grew up and where half my family still lives. It began its life in 1847 as a silk mercer whose proprietors were some brothers called Cole – the site of the original shop is still known as Coles Corner, a spot immortalised in the song by Richard Hawley – and thanks to this long history, people in the city are heartbroken at its imminent disappearance. (They are furious, too: it’s only six months since the council spent £3.4m buying its current building, the better that it might make its lease more affordable to John Lewis, which Coles became in 2002.)
    "Bad news," wrote my brother on WhatsApp after the closure was announced, a cue for us to remember its toy department, where as children we hankered after Lego, and its cafe, where we lived in hope of a vanilla slice (the cake stand rotated decorously, your hovering hand italicising your greed). On Twitter, the old photographs came thick and fast. My favourite, posted by the editor of the Sheffield Star, Nancy Fielder, was of the crowds at the opening of the store’s new building in Barker's Pool in 1963, the men in ties and flat caps, the women in cat's eye spectacles and mushroom-shaped hats.
  • And who can blame them? After more than 370 pages, I began to feel half mad myself. At times, the world Barnes describes, with its genitalia fashioned from colons and its fierce culture of omertà, feels like some dystopian novel. But it isn’t, of course. It really happened, and she has worked bravely and unstintingly to expose it. This is what journalism is for.
  • In its sights are those people who, even as they loudly proclaim their righteous politics, are apt to label older women as Karens and Terfs; who either roundly ignore or demonise the views of such women, however well-founded or based in experience; who write with open loathing of their bodies, their haircuts and their clothes; who struggle to acknowledge that they have benefited even the smallest bit from the legacy of those who went before them; who would, in effect, like women over the age of 45 either to shut up or to disappear altogether. It is, to be clear, a very good book, one that brilliantly and unrelentingly exposes all the weasel ways in which ageist misogyny enables regressive beliefs to be recast as progressive. In my eyes, it’s a future classic, up there with Joan Smith's Misogynies and Susan Faludi's Backlash. But it's also, I’m afraid, very painful to read. Like many women of my age and background, I feel myself to be approaching my zenith. How agonising to be reminded that, in some senses, this counts for nothing at all.

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