Menopause and feminist blog

Karen Brumfitt, the Northern Powerhouse

Anne Bonson-Johnson

My first impression of Karen... very small and very loud. She was sofa-surfing at the house of some friends who'd moved to London to start new lives in the big city. I was still a student at the time and down for a weekender.

I got to know Karen better after graduation when a gang of us shared various places around north London. It was a blast and we were very naughty - doing all those things we tell our kids not to. We had loads in common (home town, uni, art...) but on another level, I felt we were quite different. Karen’s wild abandon and take no sh*t attitude made me feel a bit strait-laced - like some stiff Marjory from the 70s TV sitcom The Good life. 

Flash forward 30 years - Karen’s married with a beautiful teenage daughter. I won’t say she's mellowed - Karen’s still this pocket-rocket who gets sh*t done, even allowing for the occasional meno fugue-out. It’s just now I recognise the fluent communicator and gentle listener in her. Karen had a big career at a multinational household name and this tiny woman with a northern accent held her own in a man’s world, negotiating the hell out of egos the size of houses. Glad she’s packed all that in though and is doing her creative stuff again, running her own business, Mrs B Designs. 

I won’t say Karen’s mellowed - she’s still this pocket-rocket who gets sh*t done, even allowing for the occasional meno fugue-out

Karen will always tell you what she thinks when asked – she’s quick to laugh, dance and (big surprise for me here) cry. She’s a creative who sees things vividly, in shapes, colour and pattern. I’ve always known she’s as sharp as a razor - someone with a fierce intelligence, who always ‘got it’. Now though, I see her kindness, compassion and empathy - they’ve always been there, it’s just now for me they’re in sharp focus. 

Karen is principled - someone who cares deeply for the ethical treatment of animals and righting social injustices. She does the right thing, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing for her personally. She won’t go near products tested on animals and is a vegetarian. She’s socially and emotionally intelligent and I’m very proud to call my friend.

Karen's also a bloody talented artist and screen printer - but she totally stinks at karaoke (though don’t tell her that last bit…).