mardi 3 juillet 2018

Ask Polly

Quite some time ago - literally years ago, in fact - my friend Ruth sent me a link to an 'Ask Polly' column. My friend Ruth is really good at sending me stuff I will like. It was entitled 'I Hate Men' so obviously she thought I would relate (ha ha). Not strictly true, but I did find that the incredible advice and use of language made me feel genuinely inspired.

I woke up the other morning* and felt the urge to re-read it. I trawled old emails until eventually I found it** and I was not sorry I did. If anything, I now found the words of advice even more inspirational. I have been reading the entire 'Ask Polly' archive and have found it invaluably wise and true, even when I don't particularly relate to the original problem. It has been making me feel smarter, more thoughtful and - yes - empowered.

In recent readings, I also finished my friend Holly Bourne's 'How Do You Like Me Now?' within a single weekend. I think a lot of - if not all - young women should treat it as required reading. I am only young-ish (if that, by this point, really?) and I still found it funny, sad, true and thought-provoking.

I've taken up 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' again and remembered how much I enjoyed it.

I went to film club and we forgot to watch the film because we were having far too much fun.

I went to see Jack White and he surpassed all my expectations and all gigs should have no phones.

I am going on an impromptu holiday to Zurich next week. If and when it's possible, I would say that booking surprise travel is Good For The Soul. The prospect of travel to a new place has perked me right up.

Before then, I will be watching two of my best friends get married, surrounded by loved ones and glitter and joy, and I cannot wait.

* This morning I woke up with 'Spin the Bottle' by Juliana Hatfield stuck in my head. You just can't pick and choose! However, it has made me want to listen to the 'Reality Bites' soundtrack.

** I also spent a frankly embarrassing amount of time over the past few weeks searching for an article I once read about how Anthony Bourdain is the Queen of Coins. It was perfect. Thankfully, finally - here it is.

lundi 25 juin 2018

You Learn

Remember the old Alanis Morrisette song?

Well, here's mine.

  • I recommend taking vitamin D supplements. It's really helped me.
  • I recommend listening to 'Bled White' by Elliott Smith on a Saturday morning.
  • I recommend burning sage whenever it feels even a tiny bit like it might be a good idea.
  • I recommend re-reading 'Heartburn' and admitting to yourself that if Nora could find the comedy in that whole situation, you can certainly do the same.
  • I recommend the new Glossier perfume, even if you're too old to be a millennial.
  • I recommend cooking on a Sunday. It makes you feel more in control of the world.
  • I recommend opening the windows.
  • I recommend watching 'Ibiza' on Netflix and eating pizza with a great girlfriend and not worrying you're basic.
  • I recommend taking a couple of Valium and sticking 'Love Island' on if it all gets A Bit Much, TBH.
  • I recommend Yoga With Adriene. Obviously.
  • I recommend listening to Belinda Carlisle in the bath.
  • I recommend chanting, even though I usually forget to.
  • I recommend reading the archive of Strawberry Fields Whatever.
  • I recommend watching a really scary horror film when you need taking out of your own life.
  • I recommend Dear Joan and Jericha.
  • I recommend running things into the ground, flogging dead horses for longer than any sane person would, praying to gods that you know full well don't exist, and never learning any of the lessons anyway
  • I recommend Epsom salt baths.

jeudi 14 juin 2018

People doing the things.

It’s a week of brilliant people doing great things.

Last night I went to see my friend Steve in the play ‘DRUNK!’ by Jack Evans. It was great. The Brighton shows have all sold out, but they are taking it to Edinburgh Fringe and I would highly recommend checking it out if you are so inclined. Steve described it to me as ‘Cheers as directed by David Lynch’ – and if you’re not totally sold on that concept, then I’m not sure we can be friends.

The play last night was followed by music from Mister Jones and the Living, which was very jolly indeed. It was at Junkyard Dogs, which I hadn’t been to before, a very cool café/performance space. They do a good vegan hotdog. (I am not, in fact, vegan. But I have been known to dabble.) Once again, all of the above, highly recommended.

This evening I am going to the launch party to celebrate another utterly brilliant friend, Holly Bourne. As you probably know, Holly is a highly impressive, prolific, hilarious and zeitgeisty YA superstar. Her first adult book – ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ – is published today and I could not be more excited about it. Right up my street. I can’t wait to read it, celebrate her wonderfulness, and eat a lot of cake.

This week I also read an advance copy of my friend Jess Vallance’s new book (coming out in August), ‘You Only Live Once’. Jess is one of my very favourite people in the world. She is also highly impressive: she’s already written two YA novels (‘Birdy’ and ‘The Yellow Room’, both excellent), has a film in the pipeline, an adult thriller coming out soon, and ‘YOLO’ is just the first in a new MG trilogy. She is highly blasé about all of the above achievements. ‘YOLO’ is as funny and sharp and secretly warm-hearted as she is.

Currently reading another YA pal’s new book, ‘Wild Blue Wonder’ by Carlie Sorosiak. I’ve literally only just started but I am already falling in love. Carlie’s writing is magical and beautiful and swoony. Her first book, ‘If Birds Fly Back’ is highly recommended by me.

In other news:
  • I am still disproportionately sad about Anthony Bourdain.
  • Earlier this week, my mood could pretty much be summed up by that time I burst into tears on a bus in Poland and accidentally shouted out loud ‘I’M SAD AND I’M HUNGOVER AND I MISS COLIN AND I WANT MY MUM AND I DON’T LIKE THIS BUS’. However, matters have since improved somewhat – for no good reason, which just happens sometimes.
  • I am very excited about my friend Neil’s stag do this weekend.
  • I watched ‘Mother!’ and it was batshit insane.
  • Then I fell asleep watching ‘The Omen 2’ for slightly bizarre and convoluted reasons – it was surprisingly relaxing.
  • A week today my little sister is getting married, which is lovely but utterly unbelievable.
  • I am furious that Miz Cracker has sashayed away.

dimanche 10 juin 2018

Parts unknown.

Two weekends ago, Katherine and I sat on the beach and spent the entire afternoon drinking rose and looking at pictures of Anthony Bourdain’s face.

What a face.

On Friday, I was at work. It was a quiet day. I was feeling slightly melancholy. I was a tiny bit hungover from drinking mescal with a stranger the night before (don’t ask…). I was wearing a Sonic Youth T-shirt that a boy made for me over a decade ago. It’s falling apart now, but I will wear it forever. I had been to the café over the road for a bacon sandwich and an orange juice. I was drinking tea; I couldn’t quite stomach coffee.

‘Oh no,’ Olivia said. ‘One of your favourites has died.’

Fuck. Who?

I could not believe it. In the most literal sense, I could not believe it. Not Anthony Bourdain: bon vivant, brilliant human, basically my dream husband.

This beautiful, inspirational, curious, generous-spirited man. How could it be possible? I still do not believe it.

I didn’t know him personally. But the nature of his work – and the modern phenomenon of social media – made me feel like I did.

My phone buzzed with friends asking if I’d heard the news, expressing similar disbelief. Sarah and I decamped to the pub; it seemed the only thing to do.

I haven’t felt right all weekend. I, who didn’t even know him. I have drunk too much red wine. I have smoked too many cigarettes. I may even have eaten a whole camembert with my hands. In bed. In my pants. Weeping. Ahem.

I stayed up all night and watched old episodes until my eyes hurt. The Layover in Paris is my favourite: eat some cheese, get drunk, have sex with a French person if you can. Unarguable advice, in my opinion.

If only being an extraordinary, kind, funny, clever person could protect you from death.

The good people die. Even heroes die. One day Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith and Viv Albertine will die.

‘Your body is not a temple,’ the dream man once said. ‘It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.’

We will all die.

But, please, not like this. Not today.

mercredi 6 juin 2018


Rather delightfully, I spent my last day of being 36 in Paris.

And then I woke up on my 37th birthday alone in my house, drank coffee and listened to the Beatles. My mum arrived, with her dog, a huge homemade carrot cake and the loveliest presents. Most of all: Fiesta Melons (look it up).

We spent the day on the beach, chatting in the sunshine, drinking wine and eating chips.

In the evening, we went to see Patti Smith - on my ACTUAL BIRTHDAY, IN BRIGHTON. She was everything I could have hoped. What an inspiration. What staunch.

I feel powered up for the next year.

The next day, we drank tea in bed and then I had lovely friends and family round to hang in my sunny garden, eat party snacks and drink more wine. There were wonderful pals, a dog and singing in the garden as it got dark.

Then I had a nice long sleep before getting back to work.

What a treat. I really like you, 37.

vendredi 25 mai 2018

I'm all nerve.

Today, I was sitting in my kitchen, writing. I took a day off Actual Work, to work on a thing I'm writing.

I was sitting in my kitchen. I love my kitchen. It's a ridiculous Pepto Bismol pink, and there are Mexican tiles, and there are purple scented stocks that have lasted over a week now, and there is always music on. Sometimes there is a cat.  There is one of the many Chartier menus, collected over a lifetime, in a frame. There is Marilyn and Hockney and fairy lights and a money plant. There are books (always) and there are gold nipple tassels hanging on the wall.

I was sitting in my kitchen and I was thinking about a person I haven't seen in a while now, not for a few months. Nearly half a year now, in fact. A person I miss, who is (I think) far away (doesn't anybody stay in one place any more?).

I was sitting in my kitchen, and I was thinking about this person, and The Breeders came on the radio. I love The Breeders.

"I wanna see you,
Especially you.
You don't know how much I miss you.
I may be high.
I may hide and run out at you.
You don't know how much I miss you."

Then there was a knock on the door. It was a parcel. For one crazy moment, I thought it was a sign, and it might be from this person. It's my birthday soon. But it wasn't. Of course it wasn't.

Then a cat came and sat on me. Then the song on the radio changed. Then I got on with my writing.

mercredi 16 mai 2018

The usual stuff.

I went to Krakow and I ate A LOT of pierogi. If you have not been, I highly recommend doing so. It’s very pretty, with a river and a Disney castle. Pleasingly, I saw a lot of nuns.

On my return, I attended the second meeting of the unofficial Preston Park Film Club. So far, we have watched Whiplash and Warrior. I’m not sure whether we should keep up this theme of selecting the most stressful films possible to watch.

Of course I also devoured To Be Read Unopened, the new Viv Albertine book, the moment it was released. She is one of my greatest inspirations. I cannot explain how glad I am she exists. She makes me feel better about life. I wanted to underline every single sentence.

I also read Purpose by Jessica Huie. Jessica and I are united by having a BFF in common, despite not actually knowing each other. This is not the sort of book I would usually read, but I have been pleased and surprised to find that important parts of it have very much stayed with me. An interesting lesson.

To complete a trilogy of fascinating reads, I was very lucky to be given an advance copy of the zeitgeisty Darling by Rachel Edwards. It’s billed as a ‘Brexit thriller’ about race and family and is as fascinating – and, at times, uncomfortable – as it sounds.

I’ve been listening almost exclusively to a playlist I madethat consists of songs whose only common denominator is I like to sing alongwith them. That and Camp Cope, who I remain passionately in love with.

Despite my aversion to podcasts in general (no shade, it’s just my brain can’t cope without something to look at!), the one exception is The Adam Buxton Podcast. Not only because I have a crush on Adam, honest. I realise this is not a particularly helpful recommendation, as pretty much everyone I know already listens to it. However, I have been doing so more than ever lately. His voice and general loveliness are very soothing to me, and we all need a bit of that. Particularly recommended old episodes I’ve been revisiting include Zadie Smith and literally anything involving Joe, Louis or Jon Ronson.

Other ephemera of current interest include, but are not limited to: buying plants from the pound shop and keeping my fingers crossed they might spring into life; being as gobsmacked as everyone else by Wild Wild Country; smashing my head against the kitchen table because I hate editing; feeling depressed but then cheering up literally only because it’s sunny and Hey Jude still exists; being a bit shit at painting pottery but having fun anyway; roof terraces in general; my new 70s mum style Iden jeans.