Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fab Belle de Jour IS the Fab Dr. Brooke Magnanti!

I am a creature of habit. Since 2003, I check daily for new blog entries from one of my favorite authors, Belle de Jour.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Belle de Jour had been the nom de plume of a celebrated erotic author, and award-winning blogger, who was also a London call girl for two years.

Despite the continued best endeavors of the worldwide media, she had remained anonymous. I, for one, always respected her decision to remain unknown, as her writing is known and speaks volumes for her.

I also knew that she had struggled with disclosing her identity for some time, but I remained confident that whatever she decided to do would be in the best interests of all concerned. Frankly, the only thing I have ever cared about was that she be OK, and that she keeps writing!

Well – this has turned out to be quite a day. When I checked Belle’s blog, I found that she had revealed her identity! Turns out, while I was sleeping, she was meeting with a reporter from the London Sunday Times, officially and voluntarily “coming out” of the literary closet.

She disclosed that her real name is Brooke Magnanti, she's 34, and she’s a research doctor!

That interview landed on the front page, and has since gone across the UK like a tidal wave.

Even though I never knew her name until now, I know her. She has become a dear friend through her writing. Not only has she written about her sexual adventures and misadventures while having worked in the sex industry, but so very much more. In truth, Belle/Brooke has always written about life.

What sets her writing apart is not merely the topics she chooses, and the point of view, but the way she writes. She has a unique style, an unforgettable voice. Equal parts humor, wit, wisdom and shining, literate brilliance, there is unflinching truth within her writing; all this while somehow managing to be incredibly entertaining.

In addition, she is a sex-positive woman who likes men! I don’t mean just in bed, but as a species. Can you imagine? In this day and age of constant man bashing by so-called feminists, it’s refreshing to read a different approach.

Belle/Brooke breaks every mold, and challenges tired and offensive stereotypes, while having a wonderfully sex-filled time of it all!

Here are some excerpts from today’s London Sunday Times interview:

“The thing is that people are complex. People lead complicated lives. I’m not the only person walking around who’s an ex-call-girl, believe me. And you can’t say I’m not real, and that my experience isn’t real, because here I am.”

There’s no chance of finding Dr. Brooke Magnanti on duty in hospital or as a GP: this is medical science, not clinical practice. “I decided against being a medic years ago because, ironically enough, my bedside manner is terrible.”

And the blog that kickstarted all this? “The blog will continue for the time being, even though it doesn’t feel authentic to keep on being Belle. But I’ll keep on for a bit. I’d like her to have a happy ending.”

Her writing has had a profound impact on my life – which is wholly true and no understatement. NONE OF THAT HAS CHANGED! The only difference is that there is now a name, and a beautiful face, attached to The Legend.

Sadly, I have no doubt that her life will be a living hell for a time, until the media frenzy thus begun eventually subsides. I only hope that Belle/Brooke takes care of herself in the building maelstrom.

Thus, it is my heartfelt wish that Belle has a VERY happy ending, and that Brooke has an equally joyous beginning. I will be first in line for anything and everything that Brooke Magnanti EVER writes!

To honor and respect Belle/Brooke, I have decided it best simply to include her blog entry and the London Sunday Times article in total. I know that readers could use the web links I have provided, but Belle/Brooke deserves to have MY blog run both pieces without editing one word – complete with British spellings. Cheers to you always, m’dear!

Blog Entry of Belle de Jour:

dimanche, novembre 15

Now I'm not anonymous...

Looking back over my diaries is sometimes embarrassing, sometimes hilarious (often unintentionally so). After a page or two I'm right back there – living in London, keeping up a double life, with all the effort that entails...

Which is just too difficult to do long-term. I suppose I always thought that the part of my life I wrote about would fade away, that I could stick it in a box and move on. Totally separate it from the ‘real me.’

What it took me years to realise is that while I've changed a lot since writing these diaries – my life has moved on so much, in part thanks to the things that happened then – Belle will always be a part of me. She doesn't belong in a little box, but as a fully acknowledged side of a real person. The non-Belle part of my life isn't the only ‘real’ bit, it’s ALL real.

Belle and the person who wrote her had been apart too long. I had to bring them back together.

So a perfect storm of feelings and circumstances drew me out of hiding. And do you know what? It feels so much better on this side. Not to have to tell lies, hide things from the people I care about. To be able to defend what my experience of sex work is like to all the sceptics and doubters.

Anonymity had a purpose then – it will always have a reason to exist, for writers whose work is too damaging or too controversial to put their names on. But for me, it became important to acknowledge that aspect of my life and my personality to the world at large.

I am a woman. I lived in London. I was a call girl.

The people, the places, the actions and feelings are as true now as they were then, and I stand behind every word with pride. Thank you for reading and following my adventures.

Love, Belle

Posted by belle at 6:00 AM


London Sunday Times
Nov. 15
News Feature
by India Knight

"I'm Belle de Jour"

Meet Belle de Jour, the anonymous blogger and former prostitute whose explicit, funny, articulate, eye-popping online Diary of a London Call Girl has fascinated millions of readers worldwide.

Here she is: Belle, the famous tart, whose books became runaway bestsellers, who was played on screen by Billie Piper in the television series based on them, whose brand is instantly recognisable to anyone who uses the internet or bookshops and who has stirred up a considerable amount of controversy through her writing-as-a-whore career, not least because she has always refused to condemn prostitution as being necessarily bad or sad: our very own second-wave Happy Hooker.

Speculation about the author’s identity has been rife for six long years. Belle is the blogger who was never busted, though nearly every media organisation in Britain has thrown its resources at outing her. Was she really a call girl for 14 months? Was she writing fiction? Was she a man? Was she a famous man — an author, say, because the quality of Belle’s prose is high — amusing himself? Or was she, variously and among others, the chick-lit novelist Isabel Wolff, the journalist Toby Young or Rowan Pelling, former editor of the Erotic Review?

A professor and “literary detective” called Don Foster — he outed the author of Primary Colors — claimed in The Times that she was a Mancunian novelist called Sarah Champion. And so it went on, for years. And still nobody knows. Who is Belle? Is she even real?

She’s real, all right, and I’m sitting on the bed next to her. Her name is Dr. Brooke Magnanti. Her specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a Ph.D in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is part of a team researching the effects of exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos on foetuses and infants.

From 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a prostitute via a London escort agency; she started blogging as Belle de Jour — after the Buñuel film starring Catherine Deneuve as a well-to-do housewife who has sex for money because she’s bored — shortly into her career as a call girl, after an incident she thought funny enough to write down.

She charged £300 an hour for her services, of which she got £200. The average appointment lasted two hours; she saw clients two or three times a week, “sometimes less, sometimes a great deal more”. How many men has she slept with for money? “A lot.” Dozens? Hundreds? “I can’t honestly remember,” she says, laughing. “Somewhere between dozens and hundreds.”

The laughter isn’t entirely convincing — but then, until we met today, only six people knew Belle’s true identity. Not even her agent knew her real name until, asked for evidence by me, she copied him into an e-mail she sent me. “It was better that way,” she says. “He couldn’t ever blurt it out by accident.”

“When did you tell your parents?” I ask her.

“Um, I’m telling my mother some time tomorrow,” she says. “I’ve prepped her. I’ve said, ‘There’s something big coming; I’m going to have to have a proper chat with you. Don’t worry: it’s not illegal’.”

Does her mother have any inkling? “I don’t know that she does, no. But she’s a proper lass, so for all I know she’ll say, ‘I’ve known that all along’.” Brooke is not in contact with her father, whom she will describe only vaguely as “a bit of a do-gooder...he helps women.” She admits: “I feel a bit awkward about ringing him out of the blue, but obviously I’ll need to. So, er...I’m still trying to think of an opener. Maybe: ‘You know all those lovely streetwalkers that you try to help?’”

Brooke’s colleagues at the hospital in Bristol have known for a month; an all-woman team, they have been, she says, “amazingly kind and supportive.”

I am — as you would be — completely fascinated by meeting Belle/Brooke. She has contacted me because she’s had enough of being anonymous. There is also an ex-boyfriend with a big mouth lurking in the background; outing herself while she still has a measure of control over how it happens seems the sensible option.

“The what-ifs are what make me upset,” she says. “What if this happened; what if that happened? And I thought, well, there’s only one way to find out.”

Of course, having been anonymous for so long, she needs to prove to me that she is who she says she is before I agree to meet her. This turns out to be incredibly difficult and throws up interesting questions about authorship. I can’t very well ask to see her passport or utility bills — they may say Brooke Magnanti but they’re hardly going to say Belle de Jour.

Is she the real Belle? You or I could claim to be Belle de Jour; all we’d have to do is talk persuasively to someone about being on the game, using information that we could lift verbatim from the real Belle’s blog and books. (It’s rather odd that nobody thought of this: if you wanted to flush out the real Belle, surely all you’d have to do is produce a fake one.) We’re in e-mail contact before we meet; she tells me she’s in Croatia, but her agent tells me she’s in the West Country. Which is it? He says she’s recently told her mother about her former career; she tells me she hasn’t yet. She offers to show me her laptop, with her Belle typescripts on it, but I don’t have the time to wade through thousands of words checking for verisimilitude.

And yet I believe her — call it instinct. Brooke/Belle tells me her real name and provides details of an authoritative source that handles Belle de Jour’s cunningly concealed money trail. The Sunday Times newsdesk speaks to him; he confirms that Brooke is Belle and that the payments end up in an account belonging to Brooke Magnanti. After our interview, I ask her to post something cryptic up on her blog; this she does.

When I meet her, with my antennae on full alert, she is charming and complicated, with a strange opacity about her. She is as articulate in person as she is in print, and the cadences of her speech echo those of her writing, as do her jokes. She has the tough-breakable thing that’s so hard to manufacture and that I also recognise in Belle.

Of course, the whole thing could be an elaborate setup — some form of retribution, punishment for the uncharitable review I wrote of her Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl when it was published. I was convinced she was a man — some sad-loser perv, writing titillation for other sad-loser pervs, in the guise of that great male fantasy, the prostitute who enjoys her work. But who, other than the real Belle, would want to get their own back by stitching me up?

Despite all this, there is still 10% of me that expects to be met by some rubicund older man — some literary roué of the old school, guffawing at the joke — at the Soho hotel where we are doing the interview. Instead, there is Brooke: 34 years old, small, slight, wearing a purple sweater dress and flat boots with woolly socks folded over the top, her blonde hair in a clip, holding a box of biscuits she’s brought me from Croatia, where she’s just been for her medical work.

She is pretty (“I’m pretty enough,” she later says. “I’m not Catherine Zeta-Jones”) and has a beautiful profile. She has two tattoos — a scorpion on her leg and a bee on her arm. She speaks with a northern accent with a bit of West Country thrown in, plus the occasional twangy American vowel sound. (She went to high school in Florida because both her parents, about whose former occupations she is frustratingly evasive, ended up there for work. She is an only child.) It’s a mashed-up accent that’s unplaceable, apart from geographically: she sounds educated but it tells me nothing about her background.

Physically, she could be a particularly trim-figured mother at the school gates; one who knows how to dress for her shape. The dress, an ordinary-looking thing at first glance, really suits her — hugs her bosom discreetly, clings to her long body (she is a curvy size 8 with a fantastic figure) — without seeming as though it’s trying too hard. Most women don’t know how to dress this way; I guess maybe you pick up some useful wardrobe tips in her former line of work.

She wears little make-up and seems nervous; she is clutching a copy of Paul Auster’s latest novel (and later chats to our photographer about the chapter on prostitutes in SuperFreakonomics and to me about Auster’s wife, the writer Siri Hustvedt). I scrutinise her face without quite knowing what I’m looking for — dead eyes, maybe, like in a movie, or something a bit grim and hard around the mouth. But both are perfectly normal; she is, if anything, sweet-faced and gentle-looking. I watch her being photographed, which is frankly weird: she’s by a bed in a hotel, being told what to do by a man she’s never met before — “Would you wear the lingerie now? Could you put your hair up? No, down again. Could you raise your arms?” — staring into a big lens.

Having been nervous during our initial chat, she is perfectly at ease on the bed; she can make her eyes express desire on demand, with one flick of the lid. In between the shots, her eyes go vague and dreamy. She knows exactly what she’s doing and she’s 100% comfortable doing it: any lingering doubts about her identity are assuaged. I believe she is who she says she is, and I apologise to her for thinking she was a man.

She says she doesn’t mind. “When my publisher first met me, I asked her if she was disappointed — I thought maybe for £300 an hour she’d expect some 6ft, gorgeous Amazon. But she said, ‘I’m just glad you’re not Toby Young’.” It’s a very Belle joke.

We’ll start at the obvious place: would she be outing herself if it weren’t for the voluble ex-boyfriend? “I’ve been thinking about it for the past few months, because it feels like a good time to do it.”

Was she always planning to reveal herself? “I don’t know that I was. Initially I thought that it [the blog and the fuss] wouldn’t carry on this long and that it would be easy to disappear again; that I wouldn’t have to come out at all. I thought I’d just fade away back into normal life.”

How has she kept her identity so well concealed when other bloggers are outed as a matter of course? Girl with a One Track Mind, another formerly anonymous sex blogger, had her identity exposed within three days of her first book’s publication. “Incredible luck,” she says, though later it turns out that the luck was supplemented by a quite extraordinary, MI5-ish degree of subterfuge — companies set up to receive payments, false e-mail accounts, much legal advice, smoke and mirrors.

“Also, I started writing in 2003; I was one of the first bloggers to be anonymous. People weren’t used to it. It was relatively easy for us to get our resources together and keep me anonymous. By the time other anonymous bloggers came along, people were looking out for them — they were under a lot more scrutiny.”

And now here we are, Dr. Magnanti. “It was time. I’ve felt so much guardedness and paranoia about remaining anonymous recently. It’s really been playing with my emotions. Now I just really want to be on the other side of this. I don’t mind what happens about coming out; I don’t want this massive secret over me any more. It’s changing the way I behave around people, the way I conduct my life.”

But surely, I say, the methods you developed to keep the secret all those years ago are by now so finely honed that they’re second nature. “Yes. But the secret has become heavier to bear because I’ve changed a lot in the interim. At the time, keeping secrets and not being open with people was working for me. I’ve got to a point in my life where that’s no longer true.”

Brooke is where she wants to be professionally. She lives in Bristol with T, her boyfriend of a year. “T thinks I’ll be much happier once I’ve got this off my chest,” she says. “He knew I was Belle before we started dating properly. He told me something that showed he trusted me, and I felt I could trust him back by telling him. It was the acid test. At that point I’d become convinced that nobody who knew I was Belle would want me.”

Later in our conversation she says she’d like to have children. What’s she going to tell her prospective offspring? “There’s nothing I can do apart from trying to be honest. I can’t not ever have children because there was a brief period in my life when I had sex for money.”

How did she become a prostitute? She studied anthropology and mathematics in Florida: “I wanted to be a physicist, but that just didn’t work out.” After Florida, her family lived in Sheffield, where she studied some more: “By the time I got to Sheffield it was for doctoral study at the department of forensic pathology.”

On the net there are glimpses of a long-expired scientific blog she wrote nine years ago: “The Autopsy — blogger Brooke Magnanti takes a close look...‘The autopsy is an examination of the body as machine...’” She still contributes online recipes — Quorn moussaka, jicama salad — to the Calorie Restriction Society International. She tells me she’s interested as a researcher, because calorie restriction can be used as an approach to preventing disease.

After Sheffield, she moved to Scotland and worked in a hostel. “I was finishing my writing — I was getting ready to submit my thesis. I saved up a bit of money. I thought, I’ll just move to London, because that’s where the jobs are, and I’ll see what happens. So I did. I submitted the thesis but I was still preparing for the viva — there was quite a lot of writing and studying still to do.

“I couldn’t find a professional job in my chosen field because I didn’t have my Ph.D yet. I didn’t have a lot of spare time on my hands because I was still making corrections and preparing for the viva; and I got through my savings a lot faster than I thought I would. The difference between living in the Highlands and living in London is massive. I hadn’t really thought that one through.

“I have a pathological aversion to being in debt. My mother’s family are Jewish; there’s this hoarding thing, saving, being prepared — if you’re in debt somebody could come and knock at your door and take it all away tomorrow. It got to the point where I didn’t have quite enough money for my rent. I asked my best friend if I could borrow some money and he posted me a cheque.

"I was looking at this cheque. It wasn’t even the total of my rent; it was a quarter of it or something, some stupidly low amount like £120. I thought, ‘But once I deposit this cheque, I’ll still need money for next month.’ And I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t borrow this money knowing that I couldn’t pay it back and that I’d need more pretty much straightaway. And that was when I started to think: what can I do that I can start doing straightaway, that doesn’t require a great deal of training or investment to get started, that’s cash in hand and that leaves me spare time to do my work in?”

I don’t know that prostitution would necessarily be one’s first choice, I say. Starbucks? Waitressing? Bar work? Bunking down on a friend’s floor? “Yeah, you could work behind a bar. But how many hours would you have to do just to pay your rent? I couldn’t even get an overdraft at that point, though of course once I started depositing so much cash they offered me a mortgage, about three months later! And I wasn’t prepared to borrow from friends or family. To be honest, the writing-up of a thesis takes up so much of your time and so much of your energy.”

So: hookerdom. “Yes. I didn’t object to the concept.”

She tells me later that she has a relative who used to be a streetwalker to support a drug habit. “She was sentenced for soliciting. She had several young children. I was told about it as a teenager — ‘Ooh, she did such a bad thing’ — but I never thought what she’d done was particularly bad. The addiction was bad; it was terrible. She had such a problem — and the problem is what led to the mess.

“Did you see that television programme where Ann Widdecombe helped the streetwalkers by pointing them to the nearest jobcentre?” She rolls her eyes. “It’s not going to help. It is so beyond that kind of help, and it frustrates me that people won’t see it.”

Being free of addictions, unlike her relative, and having decided that she had no objection to the principle of having sex for money, Brooke considered going it alone but was put off by the amount of effort it involved. “I’d have had to set up a website to advertise myself and so on. So I started looking at agency websites. But I hadn’t fully committed to doing it, you know. Not until I had my first client.”

Did she think, I ask, that she might be doing herself harm, that what she was about to embark upon could hurt her emotionally, and perhaps physically? “I didn’t think I’d be doing myself harm, no. I didn’t go into it cheerfully, but I wasn’t resigned and broken either. If anyone’s ever thinking about prostitution and they have that doubt about harming themselves, they shouldn’t go into it. You need a pretty good gut feeling that this isn’t going to screw up the way you think about yourself, because that’s not worth it.”

Was the gut feeling right? “Yes. I’ve felt worse about my writing than I ever have about sex for money.”

So Brooke found an agency website “where the photos were very nice — there was a girl who was naked but you couldn’t see any bits; just her long back. It described her as being ‘like something out of Barbarella’. I thought, any agency that makes an active reference to Barbarella, they get it. Men want to have sex with women and the words don’t really matter to them. But to get the women in a place where they feel they are being respected and appreciated...I thought anybody who could make that Barbarella comparison — well, they’re not going to be your second mother, are they? But they do at least show some awareness of the women’s feelings. So I sent an e-mail with a couple of photographs and then went for an interview.”

Here’s her October 26, 2003 blog entry about the interview, which took place in a café:

“So now we have to talk about services.” She pronounced the word like it had 12 vowels: suuuuuuuuuurvices. "Have you done A-levels?" A-levels? Well, yes, but that was years ago. Besides, I was under no impression that academic fluency was a prereq for the job. “A-levels?”

“You know,” her voice dropped to a whisper. “Anal.”

I’m quite sure the waitress didn’t need to refill my coffee right at that moment.

“Oh, right. Yes, I can do that. Provided I haven’t been out for a curry the night before.”

We laughed.

Was she concerned for her personal safety, or about being ripped off by the agency? “That was always a concern. Trust was gained by degrees. I e-mailed them from a fake account; the interview was in a public place in a busy area. I thought, I can walk away at any point — they know nothing about me. I have a fairly strong instinct for when I’m in danger and I trust it. There’s no such thing as being 100% correct, but thinking skeptically and being switched on helps, as does keeping your eyes and ears open. I’m stronger than I look.”

I’ll say. I trot out a clichéd question: is she strong because she had a troubled background? “I don’t think that theory can possibly be true,” she says with a smile. “It causes me cognitive dissonance. Somebody with a troubled background may be more likely to end up as a prostitute, but it’s not an absolute.” (Note: that doesn’t really answer my question.) But anyway, she signed up to the Barbarella agency with the nice pictures, slept with her first client and decided to continue until — what? Financial security?

“Until such time as I no longer felt like it. I did have another job at one point, as a computer programmer, but I kept up with my other work because it was so much more enjoyable. I did the two — computer programmer by day, prostitute by night — for three or four months.”

She says, when I volunteer that I wouldn’t much like being in a strange room with a strange man, who could be any kind of psycho for all anyone knew, “There are a lot of situations that people put themselves in on a daily basis where there is the potential for harm to come to them. Going out drinking and clubbing as a woman. Going to house parties. You don’t know whose house it is. You know two people there but you lose track of them.

“You need to be aware of your surroundings: if it goes wrong, how can I get out of this room; how can I get into a taxi; how can I brush someone off if I need to? Professionally, it happened to me extremely rarely. I never left an appointment. There was one client who wanted to film me, to make a sex tape. If I wanted to be filmed, I’d have gone into porn. But he was very pushy. And another one I felt uneasy about because he kept changing the location. But they’re the only two. I told you — I’m very lucky.”

Would she ever do it again? If, for some terrible reason, she lost her job and house and found herself badly broke? “No, I don’t think I would. Certainly not while in my current relationship. And after coming out I don’t imagine there will be any offers either now or in the future that could tempt me otherwise. Running guns and drugs are all that are left to me now if the going gets tough — ha!”

When I reviewed The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl all those years ago, I was enraged by the view of prostitution that Belle de Jour presented — promoted, even, it seemed to me.

I used to travel through King’s Cross every night for years. It’s since been cleaned up, but at that time it was prostitute central and those women were desperate — ill, dirty, addicted, abused, wrecked in every sense. The idea that anyone would propagate the myth that their job was somehow glamorous or fun or a bit naughty — “Let’s have a harmless laugh and then I’ll give you loads of money, which you could perhaps spend on a Conran sofa or some pesto” — seemed to me a lie that was both naive to the point of delusion and completely irresponsible.

Last month John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, singled out Belle de Jour when he gave a speech attacking the glamorisation of prostitution.

“We are meant to believe that these sex workers are independent women, empowered by the hold they have over men, who sell their bodies for money but who treat it like any other day job,” he said.

“This attitude can be evidenced by the popularity of books and television programmes such as The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, where the heroine, Belle de Jour, a high-end call girl, has two very distinct lives...There is a myth that has been perpetuated in recent years that many people who prostitute themselves do so not because they are being oppressed or desperate for money, but because they see it as an easy way to make money through a relatively safe and lucrative career.”

Does he not perhaps have a point?

“He didn’t think I was real either,” says Brooke. “He said I was fiction. I thought, when did I become fictional? That’s when I first thought, enough — I’m coming out.

“Look, of course trafficking occurs. It’s awful. Awful. Desperate. But you don’t have a go at prostitutes — you have a go at border controls. You do something on the policing front. I thought his remarks were so reductive and also slightly patriarchal, and I was upset at being used as a counter-argument — ‘Belle de Jour says this, but she is of course fake.’

“The thing is that people are complex. People lead complicated lives. I’m not the only person walking around who’s an ex-call-girl, believe me. And you can’t say I’m not real, and that my experience isn’t real, because here I am.

“Some sex workers have terrible experiences. I didn’t. I was unbelievably fortunate in every respect. The people at the agency looked after us appropriately and instructed us appropriately and weren’t going to put us in harm’s way if they could possibly avoid it.”

She is, she says, “entitled to speak about it, or write about it, as I lived it.”

No regrets, then? Did she ever feel lonely? “Sometimes. But, again, because of the writing, not because of the sex. And being anonymous is no fun. No jolly lunches to celebrate the book’s success; I couldn’t even go to my own launch party. On the plus side, I didn’t have to do book tours.” Until now. “Yes, until now.”

We stare at each other silently. I think she has no idea of the coming storm: she seems to believe that, having given this interview, she can go about her daily life peacefully and concentrate on her medical research. I’m sure that day will come, but not right away.

What’s going to happen to the blog? There are two more books in the pipeline authored by Belle de Jour, “after which I think the public appetite will have died out.” She tells me, quite shyly, that she has also written most of a novel as herself, a piece of magic realism that owes nothing to Belle.

Dr. Magnanti, meanwhile, will continue working on her research, until the project ends next spring. And after that? “I’d like to go back to studying cancer epidemiology and etiology: the causes of cancer and the diagnosis rates. They’re my thing.”

There’s no chance of finding Dr. Magnanti on duty in hospital or as a GP: this is medical science, not clinical practice. “I decided against being a medic years ago because, ironically enough, my bedside manner is terrible.”

And the blog that kickstarted all this? “The blog will continue for the time being, even though it doesn’t feel authentic to keep on being Belle. But I’ll keep on for a bit. I’d like her to have a happy ending.”

(FYI: As Brooke said in today’s interview, a month ago she had revealed her secret to her research project colleagues at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health, who were “amazingly kind and supportive.”

More specifically, Brooke is based at St. Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, and is employed by the University of Bristol.

I am very, very happy to report that the university is also supportive of Brooke. Late today, Barry Taylor, a university spokesman, told the London Sunday Times that, “This aspect of her past bears no relevance to her current role at the university.”

The spokesman added that Brooke's revelations would not affect her chances of future employment with the university.

Also, a supportive statement posted on the website of Orion Books, which published Belle de Jour's novels, read: "It's a courageous decision for Belle de Jour to come forward with her true identity and we support her decision to do so."

"We have published her since 2005 and we are looking forward to continuing that relationship."

I am thrilled that Brooke is receiving PUBLIC support from her friends, employer, and her publisher! Way to go all, including Bristol U and Orion Books!

--- The Curator)

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