mardi 13 août 2019

Adore/Endure

I want to move house. I always want to move house. I want to live everywhere.

Then I start thinking about it properly, and the admin seems overwhelming. I like my bookshelves. I like my little postage-stamp sized garden, which these days has a very good variety of herbs.

Maybe I will, maybe I won't.

What I do need to do is make the most of wherever I am each day. Such a simple thing, but a really good one to keep in mind.

I try to walk the long way home from the station in the evening; it's prettier. I have been making a cake every week. I have been doing yoga nearly every day, even if it's just a short one. I've been walking more. I've been swimming in the sea at least once a week.

The other day I walked from south London to east London. I even took a picture of that classic Shoreditch High Street motto - 'Let's Adore And Endure Each Other' - on the way.

I go for a massage once a month now. Somewhat relatedly: I'm comparatively fucking LOADED since I gave up drinking (Day 65 today).

I went out with my lovely friend Holly on Friday night. I drank kombucha cocktails. We discussed how difficult mid-to-late thirties life can be. It's a glorious fucking horrible time. Then again, it made me feel much better when we talked at length about how happiness levels all even out in the end, no matter what we decide now and how it affects us in the future. And I think they really do.

I've signed up for an evening course. I've been writing just for fun. I've been reading a lot. I've been wearing outfits that make me feel very happy, all bought second-hand, which also makes me happy.

While I'm striving so hard to be this more evolved, calm, Zen, organised creature - this article by the goddess Taffy Brodesser-Akner made me laugh and laugh, and feel much better about my real, messy yet quite productive self.

While we're at it, isn't Jia Tolentino as wonderful and talented and smart as everyone says? The best thing is, once I would have been jealous, now I'm old enough just to be pleased she exists.

vendredi 26 juillet 2019

I Want

My train was delayed today because it was A Bit Hot. Like, by hours. I had finished my book. So I re-listened to Tracey Emin’s Desert Island Discs.

I adore Tracey. I have three of her prints up in my house, including one super-limited edition one that I couldn’t really afford but inexplicably had to have. 

Listening to her talking, it struck me for the first time that - over and above all the usual observations about her - in all of her work, she is so open about WANTING. It is all suffused with unadulterated wanting, yearning, disappointment, fury at the injustice. Maybe that’s what makes people feel so uncomfortable. At its core: Wanting. 

I’d never noticed this theme before. One of her works I have a print of is called I WANT IT ALL. I used to think it was a joke. It’s not a joke. 

She is the opposite of the cool girl. 

I was bred to be the cool girl. Yeah, I’m fun, whatever you want, I don’t mind really. Yeah, it’s cool. Don’t worry about it.

Fuck that. 

Wanting is ugly. Wanting is embarrassing. Shameful, even. Unladylike.

Wanting may even be disgusting. I realise, lately, that I am never more myself than when I am at my least attractive. At my most disgusting. Home alone, sweating in the heat, slumped on the sofa in my pants, pasta-filled belly out, watching that George Harrison documentary AGAIN.

I want to be disgusting and stupid and very clever and sexy and ugly and fucking glorious.

I want to not be ashamed of wanting.

I want everything.

lundi 22 juillet 2019

How To Be Luminous

My great friend Harriet Reuter Hapgood writes more beautifully than you can possibly imagine. She recently produced both a book and a baby into the world in the space of one week, that’s the kind of casual over-achiever she is.

Usually, if I read a book and wish I’d written it myself to the point of jealousy, it’s because it has a clever, twisty plot that would be far beyond the limitations of my small brain. However, Harriet could write a book in which nothing happened whatsoever – full of sighs, meaningful glances, no dialogue and solely descriptions of beautiful rooms and outfits – and I would happily spend the rest of my life reading it. I honestly don’t know anyone else on the face of this planet who has her gift for unusual description, unexpected detail and sighingly gorgeous lycricism.

Her new book, HOW TO BE LUMINOUS, tells the story of the three teenage sloe sisters. Their famous artist mother has disappeared and Minnie, the middle sister, has lost her ability to see colour. There are gorgeous boys, even more gorgeous settings, outfits I wish were real and in my wardrobe, fictional artworks that I can see right in front of me, and a rabbit called Salvador Dali. There are roses and sequinned platform shoes and secrets and wild swimming and a thousand shades of bright pink and existential angst.

Her first book, THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER, is also wonderful but I think I love this one even more. I highly recommend reading both. She is frequently compared to Jandy Nelson – company of the highest order and very aptly deserved.

In short. I do not even have the linguistic skills to convey how beautiful Harriet’s writing is. It makes me feel like Georgia O’Keeffe and PJ Harvey and Sylvia Plath do, but about teenage girls in South London. I can’t wait for all the things she’s going to do next. The word ‘humbled’ is overused and I hate it but… yeah, that.

As well as being a very proud friend, I also really like this sensible and wise article on being single by Garance Dore. I think she’s a pretty cool woman.

I also bought some tiny Ivy Park shorts on Depop (I only buy second-hand clothes now). I bought them from a cool teenage girl and now totally feel like one when I’m out running. It’s a great feeling.

I have been drinking a lot of kombucha. Fun. Today I’m 42 days sober (the longest since I was 14 years old) and I’m told this is where it gets really good. Incidentally, I have now not smoked in 9 months. This almost passed me by, and it feels normal now, most of the time.

I presume you already do Yoga With Adriene, but stepping up to doing at least one of her (usually short) videos every day has changed my life for the better.

Last night, we ate pasta sauce made with olives from the garden and few things have ever made me happier.


Things are really not too bad on this humid, London, sleepy, wearing my boyfriend’s shirt to work Monday morning.

mardi 16 juillet 2019

Maybe useful, maybe not

I’ve been making a lot of stuff lately. I’ve been low-key productive, focused on the small things. It’s been nice. I find pottering very relaxing. These things make me feel in control when I’m not. I really value peace, at the moment. Also I like it when the end product outweighs the effort involved.

I’m trying hard to live a little bit healthily, for myself and the world.

Here are some of the things I’ve been making and doing, in case it’s useful to you.

This recipe for kimchi has really improved my life. It’s so easy, it keeps, it’s good for your gut, and it makes a really good dinner just with a bowl of rice. I leave out the weird addition of carrots, but once I used the spicy pickling paste just to pickle some carrots on their own, because they were sitting about getting a bit old, and they were incredible. The moral of the story is: spicy pickle anything and everything. Also apple cider vinegar works just fine if, like me, that is your thing.

This very, very basic jam recipe is great if you have any fruit that needs using up. If you feel a little bit fancy, you can add vanilla or balsamic vinegar or thyme. I have some foraging planned.

You can then have your homemade jam on these vegan pancakes for ridiculous smug levels. They are among the best pancakes I have ever made, vegan or no, and so simple you might as well just make them every Sunday. Yay grown-up life.

Who knew that making your own oat milk was SO EASY? Also: ridiculously cheap and saves on packaging (buy your oats from a bulk store and take your own jar!)

Making your own rice milk is also very easy, but I find it a bit less delicious. Still, worth doing if you just have a bit of cooked rice leftover, which you can then use to make chia pudding.

Making your own hummus, if you do it from dried chickpeas bought in bulk, also saves a lot of those little plastic tubs if you get through as much hummus as I do.

Now that I’ve tuned into reducing packaging, it’s hard not to think about it at all times. So just to cut things down, I’d also recommend this deodorant (all natural, comes in paper packaging, works really well) and this luxurious shampoo bar (invented by my friend Jonathan and probably the fanciest shampoo bar there is, although I also quite like the Lush Godiva one).

If, like me, you have limited outdoor space and limited gardening skill/time, I also recommend plants and seeds from the pound shop. I’ve got some carrots growing on my kitchen windowsill from a pack of 79p seeds. I just sprinkled them around and hoped for the best, and magic seems to be happening.


I could, should and hopefully will do more of the above type stuff. Please send me your recs (ideally on Instagram, where I now spend all of my time looking for eco life hacks and sexy sobriety). Thanks!

lundi 15 juillet 2019

Holiday Friends

A weekend of many a seaside jaunt, including going to see my friend Paul Murray sing some lovely songs and we all talked about whether we should move to Worthing. Paul is of the marvellous musical duo Bee & Jackrabbit and, as always, I am astounded that they are not internationally renowned and revered, TBH.

If, like me, you also watched series 3 of Stranger Things in one big gulp and are now slightly bereft - here is another little musical gem that echoes my many strong feelings about Steve Harrington.

I've now started watching Call My Agent, which is fun. It's really trashy, but in a glamorous way because it's French.

I also went swimming, which was nice. I should go swimming more.

Yesterday I made pancakes for breakfast and ate them with homemade jam, and few things have ever brought me more joy. I have high hopes of our late homegrown carrots, and a plethora of pickling plans. The herb garden is coming on beautifully. I have homemade kimchi in my packed lunch today. I've got my eye on some blackberries for foraging.

I wonder if this sudden and virulent enthusiasm for preserving things in jars is a futile reaction to the terrible state of the world at large. Probably. It's the sort of thing that can make you feel like you're in control of events when you're really, really not. Oh well.

Conversely, watching a lot of rubbish late-night horror films and Japanese wrestling. Grown-up life can be pretty great.

mardi 9 juillet 2019

Notes from *any* divorce.

I've been thinking a lot about last weekend's Emma Forrest article.

I agree with her wholeheartedly that: 
"The thing I find most painful about divorce is that there is no marked spot at which to leave offerings."

In the end, I can only conclude that the best thing we can do is to write about it.

Emma's writing has always helped me, perhaps because I relate far too heavily to all of it. I have read her memoir Your Voice In My Head probably more times than I've ever read anything else. It's certainly influenced my current writing a lot.

When she got married I literally started a scrapbook of her Elle columns about marriage. 'If she can do it, maybe I can too,' I thought. 'Maybe...' 

However, as always, her words tap into a comforting place, no matter how sad the topic. I was also reminded of the time my friend Ali and I followed a man around Marrakech for an entire afternoon because we thought he might be George Michael. He was not George Michael.

I'd like to be in Marrakech right now. It was a place I long dreamed of before I ever went there. It was more magical than I would ever have expected. For years, I thought I'd end up being like the mum in Hideous Kinky one day. I don't think that any more.

This week a year ago my dog died and I went to Switzerland with a boy I barely knew.

Anyway. Observations today include that spicy-pickling carrots is always an excellent decision. I'm also heavily into aubergines right now (sprinkle them with sumac and roast them). I've been reading about meditation, which I am quite bad at. I'm prepared to try.

Tomorrow I am 30 days sober and have been instructed to buy myself a treat.

My life has been quite small, lately. It's been domestic and cosy, and I have enjoyed it. I'm starting to feel the itch to do bigger work, though. Maybe because I watched Brene Brown last night and... if you know, you know.

lundi 8 juillet 2019

What I've been up to.

It’s been a quiet cosy time, but it also feels like a productive time.

I have been making a lot of stuff. Kimchi, oat milk, hummus, chocolate spread. I have been pickling a lot of things. The olive tree in the garden has yielded an abundant freak crop of Brighton olives. I’m trying to make us into a zero waste household. I’ve planted some carrots. I’ve started using a natural deodorant and I don’t even seem to stink.

I went to a gin festival and drank coffee.

I’ve been to some nice gigs. I highly, highly recommend checking out the ED Fowler Band and Peter Cat, two of the best things I’ve seen lately.

I re-read The Outrun by Amy Liptrot and The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, both of which are beautifully written and highly inspiring. This is the sort of thing I’m in the mood for these days.

I went to a Belinda Carlisle drag queen contest and it was a lot of fun.

I went for a massage, on a whim. Never done it before, best decision ever.

I’m trying to do yoga every single day, and it is helping.

I watched all of the new series of Stranger Things in a 24-hour period. I cried profusely at the end. Rare for me these days; I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to.

I hate shopping but I’ve suddenly taken to buying second-hand clothes on the internet. Getting parcels is fun. So is having a lot of jumpsuit options, it turns out.

I am in awe of my wonderful friend Harriet, who has made a book and a baby in dazzlingly quick succession. She is one of the most beautiful writers on this earth, and you should definitely read the book.


I’ve been listening to Domino Kirke’s beautiful record a lot and also aiming to be beyond waves. There’s graffiti at the end of my road that declares NO MORE DRAMA and I want it tattooed on my heart.


Today I am 28 days sober, like that film with Sandra Bullock.

lundi 17 juin 2019

100 days.

I am doing 100 days of not drinking. I am only on day 8, so I don't have any profound words of wisdom, but I like to write things down.

Actually, I've been enjoying not drinking. Unexpectedly so. I can't remember the last time I went over a week without having a drink.

During this week, I have been on a date night (drank tea!), been to the pub with friends (drank ginger ale, nobody particularly noticed or cared), been away to Edinburgh for the weekend (went to an awesome Stranger Things-themed pop-up bar and asked them to make me a 'very sour' mocktail).

I took my boyfriend out for a birthday dinner and thought there might have been a mistake in calculating the bill for our incredible three-course meal... then realised dinner is pretty much half the price if you don't drink a kir royale, then a bottle of wine, then maybe a glass of dessert wine.

I might start adding up how much I am not-spending on booze, and put it in a savings account. Or at least buy myself a treat. If I include hangover food in this amount, I might soon have a small fortune.

I am excited about doing jobs around the house and cooking and maybe taking up knitting again.

I am - tentatively - thinking I might keep this up.

I'm less than a tenth of the way through... let's see how I get on.

samedi 1 juin 2019

5 years of birthdays

33
The year I ran a marathon, went to Hydra, got my first 'proper' book deal. My dad took me out to lunch on my birthday and told the waitress my book was being published. We drank champagne.
The last birthday I would spend with my first serious boyfriend. I wonder now how much I realised it at the time. I spent every birthday with him from 22 to 33. Things fell apart very quickly after this one.

34
Alone, drinking wine in an art gallery in Hastings while I waited for my then-boyfriend to finish a meeting with a French lady curator. We got fish and chips on the way home. My first book came out the next day. I was hungover and anxious, and felt I couldn't complain.

35
A weekday and nobody to spend it with. I went to work. I was supposed to go out to dinner with my mum, but a mix-up meant we met for a very quick drink and I was on the train back to Brighton by 7pm. Alone, drinking wine and smoking in the garden. Had a little cry.

36
On holiday in Spain with my nan. Sea swimming. Much gin. Tying myself in knots over a boyfriend who turned out to be the worst one I ever had. Things soon got worse, then better.

37
Paris. Patti Smith. A garden full of pals. The last birthday I would spend with Lily. Things were pretty good, soon to get much better.

38
Tomorrow.

jeudi 30 mai 2019

Nearly a year

It's my birthday on Sunday. I will be 38 years old.

'Do you remember what I said to you, this time last year? I knew it was going to be your year,' a wise friend said to me this morning. 'And it has been!'

It's been a BIG year, at least. A lot has happened. It's all happened quickly.

I've had a lot of adventures. I've been to some new countries. (Finland and Russia, since I last posted here!)

I've cleared out a lot of stuff. I've given up smoking. I've cut off all my hair. I feel Kon-Mari-ed to the absolute core.

Last year I had a birthday party and invited an interesting new friend. A month later we decided on a whim to go on holiday together. We've lived in the same house for six months now.

In my writing life, I've taken some risks that have paid off. I feel like I've made progress and got better at some of the things I do. I've started trying out some new ideas.

It's only been possible because I laid the groundwork first. When I turned 36, I realised that if I was not at rock-bottom, then at the very least things had to change. A month after my birthday, I called a therapist and when she asked how she could help me, I cried so hard I couldn't speak. I've been seeing her every week for nearly two years now, and I know that I wouldn't have the relationship I have or be doing the writing I am doing now if I hadn't made that call.

This time last year, when I turned 37, I spent the day before my birthday in Paris. I felt so much happier in myself but I also felt in flux, ready for things to change.

I know as well as anyone that life can change in a minute, for better or worse. Whatever happens, I feel for the first time like I'll be OK.

I am a solid fucking grown-up woman. It feels great.

mercredi 17 avril 2019

Things I learned in Japan.


  • Girls in Tokyo are wearing a lot of very wide-legged jeans and I am into it.
  • Cherry blossom season in Japan is much more magical than anything you have ever seen.
  • J-pop 4 ever (esp. Nucleus).
  • Pizza man. OMG.
  • I really like taking my shoes off and sleeping on the floor, wherever I am.
  • Buy a jacket.
  • Tap is my all-time Terrace House favourite.
  • Breakfast cake.
  • Get up early in Kyoto to see geishas.
  • Why *not* just wear dungarees very day?
  • I now genuinely miss having a lavatory that talks to me, plays music and has a heated seat.
  • Harajuku is for real everything you would hope and dream.
  • It's not as hard as you might think to communicate/get around/not be permanently confused, and you should definitely go. Definitely.
  • Go and see Japanese wrestling.
  • It's fun to pretend to be a rapper when hanging out in Roppongi.
  • Pretty much everyone you see will be awesome and you will kind of want to be them.
  • The deer in Nara Park are, as they say, everything.
  • Plum wine highballs.
  • MOS Burger.
  • Read 'Strange Weather In Tokyo' with a pretty cover, ostentatiously, in hipster coffee shops all over Japan. Not even necessarily Tokyo.
  • Vegan ramen is good when you find it.
  • I would like to move to Japan.

mardi 12 mars 2019

How is Susie doing?

If I love you, I will show that love by sending you books, book recommendations and links to articles you never asked for.

Often these will be from the deepest depths of the 'Ask Polly' archive. I recently sent this one to a woman dear to my heart who I thought needed it in her life, then was so inspired I decided to post it on Twitter... and promptly received messages from three people who thought I had broken up with my boyfriend. I appreciated the concern but was mildly embarrassed at the fuss I had caused. I have not broken up with my boyfriend. Incidentally, I still think that article is useful for most women, regardless of the details.

In my opinion, the best books to give to friends having a hard time, depending on their sensibility and situation, are:
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • Your Voice In My Head by Emma Forrest
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
  • I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • Riders by Jilly Cooper
You may already know about Nick Cave's Red Hand Files. If you do, aren't they beautiful, wonderful and life-affirming?

If you don't, here's a tip because I love you. Following his 'in conversation' events, Nick Cave has started a letter (I don't want to call this a 'newsletter' or an email, because it feels like a truly intimate, personal letter). You can send Nick Cave any question you want to, and you can sign up to receive all of the answers.

My question has not been answered yet, but - again - every response has inspired me, even if it is not a question I would have thought to ask myself.

This week's felt apt and, duly, I forwarded it on to a loved one. This time last year I was in Korea, on possibly the strangest trip of my life so far. This time last year, in a tragic and senseless accident, the world lost one of its best people, and is a far poorer place for it.

This song is in my head today. Written by Rowland S. Howard when he was a teenager and sung here by a baby Nick Cave, I think I would like it played at my funeral. Which, these days, I honestly hope is a long way away. We are so fucking lucky to be here.


vendredi 8 mars 2019

Things that have annoyed me today

Because that's the sort of mood I'm in.

I've been trying and failing to finish writing anything for the past few days. I'm gearing up to doing a big edit on A Thing, which will see me not leaving my house or partaking in any kind of social interaction for the next fortnight (but then I am going to Japan!). I started writing a list of 'The men you meet when you are in hell', which amused me briefly but then was too depressing to finish.

I have a lot of feelings and ideas I want to communicate (as usual), but all I'm good for is a listicle. Here is one. I'm into being petty at the moment.

  • The man in my office who asked me this morning WHEN'S INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY (answer: 19th November and also why are you so fragile that you're threatened by a day celebrating anybody other than you; see also: WHY IS THERE NO STRAIGHT PRIDE)
  • The inappropriate brands trying to use IWD to sell me stuff. Apparently I'm pretty angry about International Women's Day all round, which is a shame
  • The fact that I spent an hour this week carefully composing a polite reply to a sort-of ex who wanted to meet out of the blue for a drink - it was only after I sent it that it occurred to me I should have replied 'fuck off'
  • The woman I barely know, who said 'you really don't like having your photo taken, do you?' to me in a patronising voice, as if that meant I must be really insecure, when actually I don't give a shit - it was only afterwards that it occurred to me to be angry about this. I still am. See above: fuck off
  • I saw some great dungarees today but they were £150. I actually thought briefly about buying them (I'd wear them loads! I never buy new clothes! I am 37 and today I'm literally wearing a dress I bought when I was 29! From Peacocks!). Then I decided to spend the money on a microphone for a New Thing I am planning. I felt pleased about this decision. So it's not all rage.
In other news: I watched 'Train to Busan' last night and it's the best film I have seen in ages. It's definitely the best zombie film I've ever seen. I cried a lot, jumped out of my seat and felt like I had lived through a profound experience by the end. If you haven't watched it, do.

Also currently selling a lot of stuff on Depop. Watching Parks and Rec. Made some great vegan pancakes. Actually kind of excited about getting down to some serious work over the next little while.

jeudi 14 février 2019

A jolly Valentine's Day scene.

ECW, an unconventionally semi-attractive woman in her late 30s. Wearing red lipstick, leopard faux-fur coat, yellow Adidas Gazelles that were a charity shop steal.

Sainsbury’s, a Thursday afternoon.

ECW walks up to the till with a pot of hummus, a bottle of Cava and a bunch of £2.50 purple tulips.

She has just been out for half a bottle of wine with her girlfriends on her lunch break. She is in a hurry.

WELL-MEANING MAN AT TILL: Flowers! Champagne! What are you celebrating?

ECW: Well, it is Valentine’s day.

MAN: But who are these things for? Shouldn’t someone be buying flowers for you?

ECW: I don’t like to be too heteronormative about these things. Purple is my boyfriend’s favourite colour. He likes flowers.

MAN: Oh, I’m sorry! I hope he has bought flowers for you!

ECW: Um, I’m fine. Thank you.

ECW walks back to her office, holding flowers.

WELL-MEANING WORK COLLEAGUE: Oh dear! Have you bought flowers for yourself? Is that what it’s come to? I’m sorry!

ECW: DON’T YOU LIKE FLOWERS AND DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW HETERONORMATIVE CULTURE DOES US ALL A TERRIBLE DISSERVICE?

COLLEAGUE: I’m sorry, what?

ECW: They’re for my boyfriend. He likes flowers. Purple is his favourite colour. I would like him to know that I appreciate him.

COLLEAGUE: Haha, you should have said they were for your girlfriend. That would have taught a lesson to that bigoted arsehole in the shop.


ECW: Yep. OK. FFS.