vendredi 9 novembre 2018

This week.

  • I went to Harrogate.
  • I went to see wrestling. Really. I had a great time.
  • I also saw some fireworks.
  • I fell over and ripped the knee of my jeans. It's annoying as they were the perfect black jeans and I can't even buy a new pair as I am currently boycotting Topshop. I usually fall over once a year. I'm a moron.
  • The wonderful Nina LaCour has started a writing podcast and you should definitely listen to it.
  • I've booked a trip to Paris and a holiday to Italy. I very much like having things to look forward to.
  • I'm planning to buy firewood and make soup this weekend.
  • I like winter. I like boots and tights and boys in coats.
  • I got so tired I ordered a Thai takeaway and didn't even have the energy to eat it.
  • I'm a bit emotional.
  • A scary lady in Pret made me want to cry this morning.
  • I remembered that time when I met Boy George and he sang 'Lady Eleanor' to me. Twice.
  • I once watched all of Match of the Day and did not fall asleep.
  • I need some good books to read.
  • I was reminded of how much I truly love Bright Eyes.

jeudi 25 octobre 2018

Some disparate thoughts.

I just heard the most brilliantly illuminating phrase for the first time: STRAIGHT MEN UNDERSTAND CONSENT WHEN THEY GO TO A GAY BAR.

Fuck, man. That has just blown my mind, Seriously.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, and I almost exclusively associated with gay men, I had a few shit boyfriends who had slightly problematic attitudes towards my social circle.

'I don't mind hanging out with them as long as nobody tries to touch me,' said my most basic bitch boyfriend, who I feel slightly ashamed to have gone out with in retrospect.

As if anybody would have tried. Did I mention he was fucking gross?

This all comes back to the theory that *some* men are automatically frightened of gay men, because they assume gay men will view them in the way that they themselves view women.

Something to think about.

In other news, Halloween is coming up. I am having a little early Halloween party tomorrow night, which I am very excited about. An excuse to dress up, listen to stupid music, eat ridiculous themed snacks, and celebrate how much life has moved on since last Halloween. Full disclosure: last Halloween I was tying myself into knots over a man who couldn't care less, I couldn't sleep at night due to my collapsing rotten kitchen floor, and I had no idea if I would be able to write another book again. So... Thanks, universe. Expect pictures of me and my ludicrously costumed friends on Instagram soon.

I've also just read WHY I'M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Obviously I already like to think I'm on the woke side, but I was still surprised by how much there is to learn. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all.

After that, I read Lily Allen's memoir, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY. I've always liked her. I didn't think it was a perfect book, but it was compelling and I liked it and I still like her.

I went to see A Star Is Born. I was expecting to love it. I was expecting a jolly Sunday date afternoon. I was wrong. The less said about this the better, probably, as I know I'm in the minority. Sometimes I'm forced to wonder if the problem is me, quite frankly. Fortunately - and it was a small saving grace - my viewing companion felt the same. Statistically unlikely and all the more pleasing for it...

As a Halloween treat for all, I will also mention here that my cinema date has written a song to commemorate possibly the best death in horror movie history (side note: he should know as we have been watching the Friday the 13th series in its entirety - currently up to Part VII, which is quite the undertaking). It is marvellously funny.

mercredi 17 octobre 2018

Reasons why it's OK to change your mind

  • I used to be a basic feminist who thought Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham were great. I didn't understand what intersectionality meant.
  • I had a teenage boyfriend who used to play 'Under The Bridge' on an acoustic guitar and for that reason alone I thought the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were not awful.
  • Until relatively recently I had terrible taste in men and no boundaries.
  • I was scared to speak up.
  • Therapy helps.
  • I have been to see the Foo Fighters live on more than one occasion.
  • I pretended to like things I didn't so as not to offend people.
  • I found it hard to get through 'The Golden Notebook' the first time I read it because at that time I didn't really understand it.
  • I spent nearly two decades being embarrassed by my former love of Alanis Morissette before I realised that 'Jagged Little Pill' is genuinely a sublime album.
  • I forgive people too easily.
  • I still love PJ Harvey but she peaked for me with 'Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea' (and to a lesser extent 'Uh Huh Her') and her refusal to identify as a feminist is fucking annoying.
  • I didn't like my friend Neil when I first met him.
  • In fact, my first instincts about people are not always to be trusted.
  • I can see now that Vincent Gallo is problematic and my poor taste in men was linked to my low self-worth. But still...
  • I might try watching 'Fleabag' again. I didn't take to it on the first episode and didn't persevere.
  • When I was a tiny child I genuinely thought I was going to marry either Dogtanian or Boy George.
  • The idea of marriage used to fill me with horror.
  • I once thought very short hair might turn me into Winona Ryder.
  • I used to want to take up less space.
  • I was snobby about 'Love Island' until I watched it.
  • Because we're always learning and that's as it should be.

vendredi 12 octobre 2018

I see you.

Most days, I take the train from Brighton to London. I don’t get on at Brighton mainline station, but a small satellite station a stop away. On a good day, it reminds me of the charming Paris suburbs. On a bad day, La Haine.

It’s not a big enough station to have a café. There’s a man with a coffee cart who sets up on the pavement outside on weekday mornings. Sometimes I buy a latte from him. Usually I don’t have the time, or the cash on me, or I forget. So I don’t talk to him that often.

He’s nice. He’s called Gary. His coffee cart is strung with fairy lights and he is usually playing jazz on a little radio.

This morning, I got up early and decided to treat myself.

‘It’s a latte, isn’t it?’ he says.

He recognised me. He remembered. It has made my morning.

We all want to be seen. We all want to be recognised.

In a text exchange with my boyfriend yesterday, I made a slightly lame throwaway joke without even thinking about it.

He replied instantly: ‘Haha. That’s such a you thing to say.

This was also a throwaway comment, but I don’t think any thought-through extravagant compliment could have made me happier. I found myself thinking about it all day, feeling a little surge of joy every time. It made me feel special, and unique.

I say things that are just ‘so me’! Not only that, but another human sees those things that make me ‘so me’ and actually still wants to spend time with me and go to bed with me at night. That’s quite magical, when you really think about it.

When I finished sixth form, they did an awards ceremony with comedy categories. I won the ‘Clairol Award for Most Hair Colours In Two Years’. It had been long and short and in-between; it had been brown, black, red, blonde, purple, blue and for a while I had an undercut with green stripes at the front. I had also had several piercings and a tattoo. I wore band T-shirts and a charity shop fur coat and baggy skater jeans.

I was trying so hard to find my Signature Look. I thought it would give me a purpose. A defined personality, I suppose. Something to hang on to, anyway. A way to be seen and recognised.

I wanted to be a writer and I had no idea how. I wanted a nice boyfriend but I didn’t know how to make somebody like me. I assumed I would have to try quite hard to make someone like me.

My personality was Nirvana and Placebo and PJ Harvey, Sylvia Plath and JD Salinger. Going to G-A-Y every Saturday night with my friend Neil, and Popstarz every Friday with Russell. Piling on eyeliner to hide my hangover in my waitress job on Saturdays, where I gave my friends free hot chocolate.

I would borrow my cool friend Sheryl’s clothes and hope that not only would they make me look like her, but they would also make me be good at art and have a nice boyfriend like hers. I hoarded other people’s things. I was over 30 before I began to just leave my hair alone.

I’m 37 now. I have a fringe. I have good friends. I have seven tattoos. I like stupid puns. I like singing in the kitchen when I’m cooking. I cry easily. I’m neurotic, and when I let myself, I get into a terrible feedback loop of being neurotic about being neurotic. I’m funny and nice.

I got on the train this morning with my latte, with my sunglasses on and my headphones and my Yoga With Adriene T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. And then I spilled my coffee all over myself.

lundi 24 septembre 2018

A weekend in Barcelona.

I spent the most delightful weekend in Barcelona. Totally worth the delayed Sunday night flights (when will I learn?) and today’s ensuing weariness.

Despite all of the tapas and Cava and beautiful sights and sunshine, the best part by far was bonding with the two small daughters of the wonderful friends-of-friends we were staying with, in their beautiful flat in Gracia with panoramic views of the city and a quick walk up the hill to Park Guell.

The whole family were an inspiration. Hashtag future life-goals all over the place. The girls and I bonded over early morning cartoons and potato cakes for breakfast, then we all spent the weekend playing and reading and chatting and running around.

I am still stupidly pleased that they love all the same things my sister and I did at their age, so long ago now – The Worst Witch, Flower Fairies, Roald Dahl, playing endless games where we all pretend to be sisters/mermaids/genies/pirates/superheroes and making up dances.

The age difference between them is almost the same as my sister and me. Like us, the eldest is bookish and a bit sassy and more independent; the youngest is cuddlier and endlessly good-natured. They are both delightful and exactly how I would like my own children to be.

When we were tired out from playing, the youngest snuggled into my lap and chatted to me, sleepily. She’s only three and a half.

‘What does that word say on your necklace?’ she asked, playing with it absent-mindedly.

‘It says Lily.’

‘Who’s Lily?’

‘She was my dog. This was the tag from her collar.’

‘Did she die?’


‘Like Mimi?’

‘Yes, like Mimi.’

‘I didn’t know Lily. I missed her. Did you know Mimi?’

‘Yes, I met her at your old house. She was lovely. I really liked Mimi.’

‘Mimi lives in a box now, up there on the shelf.’

Mimi only died less than two months ago. She was a beloved old family cat, older than the two girls. She was old and raggedy and yowly and lovely.

Variations of this conversation happened several times over the course of the weekend. Sometimes quite tenuously. A way of talking about Mimi.

We looked together at pictures of Lily on my phone.

‘I like her. She’s so cute.’

She straightened up my necklace very carefully.

‘There. Now you can remember Lily.’

Oh my heart, dear reader. I have come home with enough love to last me through the winter, at least. I got home late last night – much later than I was supposed to. I was tired and grumpy, but there was someone to meet me at the station when I arrived, even though it was nearly midnight, which made my heart glow with joy.

This reminded me of an interview I read recently with My Favourite Living Writer, Emma Forrest. She was talking about her debut film, which she wrote and directed, and which I am extremely excited about. She made the film with her now ex-husband; the script was inspired by their falling in love, and they had agreed to separate when the filming finished.

On the challenge of working together at this time, she said:

‘This is a guy I married, who never said anything about how I slept with the urn of my dead cat in the bed.’

Yes, I thought. Yes. That.

mardi 11 septembre 2018

Strawberry Fields Whatever

I have alluded here before to how much I adore this blog, but I don't think I have ever directly posted about it. Which I must rectify immediately. It's important.

I think I can say with genuine confidence that Strawberry Fields Whatever is (probably) my favourite blog on all of the Internet. That's a pretty big swing, I know. Just like I can say The Future is my favourite Leonard Cohen song. Except occasionally, when it's I'm Your Man.

Elizabeth Barker is one of my favourite living writers. Yep, she's up there with Emma Forrest and Esther Freud, basically. I love her in the same way I love LA and tacos and Weetzie Bat and crystals and wearing kaftans around the house. I am desperate to go back to LA and her writing makes me feel like I am there.

In fact, it makes me feel very specifically like I am back on that trip there the summer I was 17. When I was kind-of anorexic and totally in love with a boy who was gay, but I was actually pretty happy for those two weeks. We drove from LA to San Francisco. We stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt and I insisted on going to a place called The Black Magic Voodoo Lounge. I bought a skirt from Rodeo Drive, a dress from Goodwill and a Shonen Knife CD - all of which I still have. I had short hair with an undercut and chipped blue nails. I decided I would live in California one day. I still never have.

Anyway, I think I came to Elizabeth through Evan. It's funny the number of sort-of remote acquaintances who came about that way. It's nice, actually. One of the many reasons I always feel fondly towards him. Elizabeth has the same sort of optimistic/melancholy nostalgic voice that he does. It's my favourite sort of a voice.

(Also, have you noticed how everyone I've name-checked in this little missive has the same first initial? It makes me feel cosy, like going out with another Gemini INFP or something.)

I highly recommend signing up to her mailing list, as it gives me a little surge of joy every time I see that a new, glorious post has landed in my inbox.

Take the opening paragraph of this week's, for instance:

I think an ideal relationship dynamic would be where you're like Iggy Pop and David Bowie on the Dinah Shore Show in 1977 - goofy and a little shy and so sweet with each other, but also categorically wild and aware of your wildness without being all impressed with yourself about it. I mean, you can just feel Iggy and Bowie adoring the hell out of each other, and being slightly amused by the whole situation but never giving off some kind of boring you're-not-in-on-the-joke vibe, like a lot of other assholes would. They're so above that! They're so generous about being the wildest thing in the world.

I mean???!!! Come on. PERFECT.

She goes on to talk about McDonalds and Parker Posey and Kristin Hersh and zines and perfect black jeans, and by now I am literally that emoji of a cat with hearts for eyes.

If you are remotely interested in teenage summers, Desperately Seeking Susan, listening to music while driving, never growing out of having ridiculous crushes and always wanting to wear the perfect pair of just-right black jeans, I suggest you sign up immediately.

In recent days, I have also read Ariel Levy's memoir, which left me in pieces and awestruck all at once. I went to a nice party in the countryside. My new favourite restaurant in Brighton is Cin Cin (thanks to a lovely dinner date with Katherine).

I've been thoroughly enjoying running again now that the weather has turned a bit more autumnal. I'm still wearing sandals and my grandmother's old Laura Ashley sundresses, but I'm looking forward to fires and red wine and baked potatoes and blankets. I love the autumn, as well as writing that makes me feel like summer. Still, tonight I'm making vegan tacos for dinner and pretending I'm in LA.

jeudi 30 août 2018

Not In Front Of Family

  • I have been listening to this repeatedly and weeping for a multitude of reasons. It is utterly perfect. Especially the song Not In Front Of Family.
  • I have been making my own homemade vegan Nutella (I am not a vegan) and it is very satisfying, because it’s much greater than the sum of its parts or the effort made in putting them together.
  • Over the years, I have been conflicted in my feelings about the Smashing Pumpkins. However, I must concede that I have recently been educated in how listening to Siamese Dream first thing in the morning gets the day off to an excellent start. Preferably with coffee and crumpets.*
  • Anyway, I am as obsessed as everyone else is with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. It is sweet and lovely and I love it and Peter Kavinsky with all of my haggard but perpetually teenage heart.
  • I read Motherhood by Sheila Heti and I think we probably all should because it has made me feel better about myself and other people and the whole world.
  • I have been to see the Picasso 1932 exhibition at Tate Modern twice now and it is awe-inspiring. On a very basic level, just that he managed to get that much done in the space of one tumultuous year, quite frankly.

*Incidentally, this also prompted a weird realisation that boys seem to use Smashing Pumpkins as a definite wooing tactic. The first time I heard them, it was when an older boy called Jago (dream holiday romance when I was 15) played me Disarm on his Walkman. I carried on listening to the song on repeat long after I went home and went off him.

Then, on my seventeenth birthday, a boy called Futoshi gave me Adore on CD. Futoshi was from Tokyo and played drums in my boyfriend Nico’s band. He confessed his secret crush on me with that present, announcing ‘if you like me, you can kiss me’. I declined and ended up giving the CD to my friend Tommy, as it had also soundtracked his much more grown-up New York holiday romance. Circular, no? I can now see that I was an idiot. That Smashing Pumpkins CD was a sweeter and far more thoughtful gift than Nico ever gave me. He was handsome but flaky (in retrospect I realise: mostly because he didn’t like me that much).