It’s way beyond the point of ‘happy new year’ but we’re into the second month of 2019 and I have not written anything in this little online diary. Which is sporadic and self-indulgent, but also a thing that I would like to keep going.
It is a source of minor regret to me that I deleted my old blogs, from back when blogging was first a thing. When I interned at The Face (RIP), I was once asked in an editorial meeting whether I knew anyone who had a ‘weblog’. I went home that night and promptly started one.
‘Lights Out In A Provincial Town’ (circa 2002 to 2003?) chronicled my life as a single gal, aimless writer and comedically useless office temp. I spent most of my time at work in various companies – wearing a grey velvet trouser suit I’d bought in Kensington Market, always with a deliberately lurid 70s shirt underneath – making copies of my fanzine and using the franking machine to submit my unfinished novel to agents.
I posted in my blog daily, as I went out every single night and had a lot of feelings to write about. I chronicled my crushes, nights out and comedowns in great, loving detail. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw or Sylvia Plath, the tone veering wildly accordingly, but I was fascinated by myself and the people around me. (Still am.)
I described my outfits in painstaking detail. A night out at Popstarz could fill a novella, an afternoon in Bar Vinyl at least a short story. I remember writing a long account of the time I was on the tube with a hangover and thought I saw my ex-boyfriend in the next carriage. Shyamalan- level plot twist: it turned out not to be him.
My friends and crushes all had pseudonyms. My flatmate was Alabama (she had blonde hair and we used to watch True Romance a lot). My paramours were variously Django (jazz guitarist), Spiderboy (skinny), Friedrich Bhaer (older academic), 50s Diner Waiter (worked in Ed’s Diner, I met him on Friendster). I can’t remember the others. There were SO many. Like, so many.
Neil, Russell and Jo all had blogs, too. We would read each other’s, daily, in between going charity shopping and clubbing together in order to amass more stories. We didn’t even call it content then, yet.
In 2004, when I was 22, I met my first serious boyfriend. We bonded over PJ Harvey and French films. We met in a guitar shop, which would have made a great story, but I wouldn’t write about it for a long time. By that time, I had joined a band (haha), and adopted a look that would probably be best described as ‘Margot Ledbetter on meth’. I dressed exclusively in 60s vintage, favouring bell sleeves and chiffon. I wore high heels every day (an alien concept to me now). My eyeliner stretched out into my temples and my hair was as tall as a small dog.
I felt like such a cool grown-up. Within a year I had moved to Brighton and finished my first ‘proper’ novel, the one that would get me an agent. As such, I deleted my blog, which was mostly about shagging unsuitable men and taking a lot of drugs.
It felt like a good time to start anew. So I started a new blog, entitled ‘Shocking Blues and Mean Reds’, which was mostly about music and my boyfriend and my fledgling attempts at Being A Novelist.
It wasn’t, in all honesty, terribly interesting. It didn’t last long. I abandoned blogging entirely, got serious about writing, got a real job in publishing where I didn’t come in hungover and spend the whole day stalking boys in bands on MySpace. I kind of forgot about it.
I started this one up years later, when I was getting close to turning 30 and feeling nostalgic for all that ‘fun’ writing I used to do. Reading those old entries back now makes me cringe a bit, but I’m quite glad they exist.
I am a hoarder who goes through spells of being slightly over-zealous in throwing the past away. I still sort of regret getting rid of my old Nirvana T-shirts and Sonic Youth cassette tapes. I kind of wish I still had all my VHS videos. Do I really, though? Are they even as great as I remember?
I’ve been purging recently. My boyfriend has moved into my house and I felt overwhelmed with stuff and things. I gave away nearly half of my books and most of my clothes. I finally got rid of some of those old Margot dresses, which haven’t fitted me for years but which held so many memories (and the residual scent of industrial-strength hairspray and a thousand cigarettes). I told myself the memories still existed; I didn’t need the objects.
On a quiet day by myself, I lit the fire and burned some old letters and photographs, applying the same logic. It felt pretty good, actually. I really don’t think I, or the world, need to hang onto a whole ream of pictures of my ex and I the first time we went to Paris together.
This week it was Chinese New Year. In advance, according to traditional advice, I cut an inch or two off the bottom of my hair. I did it myself, over the bin. Apparently it’s about getting rid of the old and making space for the growth of the new. I think I like it.