My respect for Belle de Jour continues to increase, as this talented and complicated woman explores real issues on her award-winning blog.
Her latest blog posting is a perfect example of what makes this remarkable woman so very compelling. This time out, she discusses a topic very close to her heart: the impact of pesticides, and the need to ban specific ones that have proven harmful.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Belle de Jour had been the nom de plume of a celebrated British erotic author, who was also a London call girl for two years.
Last year, Belle revealed her true identity is Dr. Brooke Magnanti, of Bristol, England, a noted scientist. Brooke’s specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is currently part of a team researching the potential effects on babies of their mothers' exposure to toxic chemicals.
But, 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,” she has said.
But, it another aspect of the real Brooke that shines through on this post, not the erotic author, but the scientist who cares about our planet and us. Read her post here in full, or directly from her blog then take time to reflect on what the fabulous Brooke has to say:
“jeudi, février 11
Just for a minute, permit me to go all science.
For 10 years, rural resident Georgina Downs has been campaigning to restrict and ban pesticide use near human living areas. There are a number of substances which are strongly connected with immunological and developmental disorders (among other ailments), and these are legally and widely used in the UK and EU.
As it happens, my current job is researching the use of a particular pesticide, Chlorpyrifos, and its putative effect on neurodevelopment in infants and children. This pesticide is a known neurotoxicant that has been banned from home use in the US for the last decade, and extensive research and expert opinion supports a similar (or even wider-ranging) ban here.
It is possible – many would say probable – that exposure to pesticides at levels far lower than what is considered the safety threshold still has long-term health effects. For the most part, people tend to assume that if a chemical is used, then it has been fully tested and therefore must be safe. In fact the reverse is generally true: substances are used and it is up to scientists and the public to show that it is unsafe before it is banned.
You can read a summary of what Georgina Downs is trying to achieve here, and her organisation's website is here.
As a scientist, of course I have an opinion but am also obliged to note that there is not 100% consensus in the scientific community about these issues. However, in the last 12 months of my job, I have consulted leading researchers in this area, and without exception they believe that at a minimum we need to know more about the effects of pesticides on humans.
POSTED BY BELLE AT 11:33 AM”
As Belle de Jour, Brooke has written four books in addition to her always fabulous blog about her work in the sex industry. Her fifth book, Belle's Best Bits: A London Call Girl Reveals Her Favourite Adventures, was released last month and is widely available across the pond and at Amazon UK's Division.
Here is a description of the book, provided by Orion Books:
“From the summer of 2003 Belle charted her day-to-day adventures on and off the field in a frank, funny and award-winning diaries. She was the first to reveal (among other things) how she became a working girl, what it feels like to do it for money, and where to buy the best knickers for the job. She also discusses her efforts to change from 'working girl' to working girl, whilst sneaking off to visit clients in her lunch hour. From debating the literary merits of Martin Amis with naked clients to smuggling whips into luxury hotels, this is a no-holds barred account of the high-class sex-trade, and an insight into the secret life of an extraordinary woman.”
Her other books are Belle de Jour’s Guide to Men, 2009; The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, September 2005; The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, May 2007; and Playing the Game, June 2009. Each of these books truly delivers – trust me!
Her writing has been so popular that it became the basis for the international hit TV series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper. It can be seen on Showtime in the U.S., and the first two seasons are available on DVD. The third season premieres this month, and was previewed by a special 30-minute interview of Brooke by Billie. Hopefully, that interview will be included in the third-season DVD boxed set once it becomes available.
But let me be clear, it is an ENORMOUS mistake to reduce or dismiss Brooke as only an erotic author. She has so much more to offer, so much talent as a writer and depth as a unique and compelling human being that she transcends all labels and genres. She is Brooke Magnanti, doctor — and she is Belle de Jour. Give her the respect that she has earned and deserves.
— The Curator