Dining across the divide: ‘Her T


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Sep 01, 2023

Dining across the divide: ‘Her T

They might both be to the left, but that doesn’t mean they’ll agree on IVF and trans people in sport … Occupation Firefighter Voting history All sorts: “Even communist once!” But generally Labour or

They might both be to the left, but that doesn’t mean they’ll agree on IVF and trans people in sport …

Occupation Firefighter

Voting history All sorts: “Even communist once!” But generally Labour or whoever will get the Tories out

Amuse bouche Running into burning buildings isn’t the hardest bit of being a firefighter – being in a male-dominated environment is

Occupation Theatremaker

Voting history Is French, so has never voted in the UK. In France, she leans socialist. In the UK, she’d probably vote Labour

Amuse bouche Studied to be a doctor for four years but realised it wasn’t her calling

Gabrielle Julia was wearing a T-shirt that said: “I hope you like feminist rants because that’s what you’re getting”, which made me laugh.

Julia I don’t do first impressions; I try to avoid them. But as soon as I heard her French accent I realised I’d assumed she’d be English.

Gabrielle I had the fish of the day and then poached rhubarb for dessert. It was really good.

Julia I had a salt cod mousse for my starter, and a lamb pave for the main.

Gabrielle She doesn’t think IVF should be available on the NHS, while I very much think the contrary. I’m a lesbian and I can’t have children that easily. We talked a bit about me being queer versus her being straight. So that was maybe one of the reasons I was more militant on the subject than she was.

Julia My view is that maybe we should be teaching people to be more comfortable with not having biological children if they can’t. Because there are other things in life. I have two children, both biologically mine, both conceived very easily. But I didn’t grow up thinking that having children was my purpose in life. And I felt strongly from the beginning that if conceiving was difficult I wasn’t going to do IVF because I didn’t want to spend the money. I would just adopt and be happy with that.

Gabrielle IVF is an inequality issue. So we agreed on either funding it completely or not funding it at all. Also, if people don’t have children, then in 20-odd years there will be fewer people to pay taxes and fund the system.

Julia We agreed there should be an even field for IVF on the NHS. If you’re going do it, do it for everyone. I don’t care if they’re straight, gay, single man, woman, whatever.

Gabrielle We are both to the left politically, but we realised we have quite a different approach – she’s much more pragmatic and practical, whereas I’m more idealistic.

Julia We’re both concerned about the climate, but we had different views about what we, as individuals, could do about it. Like, what difference is my recycling really making? It feels like a drop in the ocean. And her view, was: well, lots of drops make a river.

Julia We talked a little bit about transgender people in sport and sort of agreed that we weren’t sure what to do with the issue. She was pro letting trans athletes just compete where they want basically, and doing more studies to work out what possible unfair advantages they might have. Whereas I was more like: well, no, let’s not do that until we’ve worked out what the possible advantages might be. I said: “You know, this is probably affecting very, very few people – is this really the thing we need to be arguing about? Particularly as it’s giving such fuel to the right. Should trans people and allies go and fight a different fight instead?”

Gabrielle Just because an issue is fuel for bigots doesn’t mean you should avoid it. What about abortion? I think she’s sporty – she talked about running quite a lot. So I think probably sport is more dear to her than to me. I do yoga once every three weeks, but I’m not that fussed.

Julia My feeling was that she was not thinking: “I want to achieve X, how do we get the people who will do X into power?” And I get that’s kind of the point of idealism. You have your ideals and you go: we don’t care about how it’s going to be achieved. But I didn’t always see a path towards what she wanted. Still, she gave me some things to think about. The financial equality aspect of IVF was an interesting angle that I might consider more readily in the future.

Gabrielle It was one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. I don’t think she changed her positions, and I didn’t change mine in regard to IVF. But there was no animosity. We wanted to be challenged.

Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

Gabrielle and Julia ate at The Folly in Oxford

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Occupation Voting history Amuse bouche Occupation Voting history Amuse bouche Gabrielle Julia Gabrielle Julia GabrielleJulia Gabrielle Julia GabrielleJuliaJulia GabrielleJuliaGabrielle