vendredi 3 avril 2020

Lessons in Isolation

Nobody really needs another hot take on this. But I like to write things down and remember them.

My cancelled book launch seems a long time ago now. However, the book is obviously still available and is the ideal ebook or audio choice at the moment (Cosmo says so, calling it 'a fun and uplifting memoir')! You can also still order via my friends at The Feminist Bookshop if you want to help out a small business.

I am mostly feeling very zen, very lucky and like 'normal' life is now a dim and distant memory.

My attention span seems to be shot and I can barely read. In a way it's quite relaxing. My main leisure pastime at the moment is reading about other people's beauty routines.

Relatedly, I am trying to make isolation feel like a luxe experience, so have developed an elaborate skincare routine and dragged all sorts of treats out from the back of the cupboard (foot exfoliators! pore strips! sparkly nail varnishes!).

I am enjoying the communal feeling of live-streamed events, whether dance classes or gigs. There is something comforting about knowing things are happening in real time.

I now do Joe Wicks PE lesson every morning.

There are tulips coming out in the pots on my little patio. I also do skipping on the patio. This makes me feel very lucky.

I have eaten kitcheree (my nan's old recipe) for my last three meals. I'm pretty happy about this.

I am fantasising about getting all the tattoos when I get out of here, getting my nails done (which I have done maybe twice in my entire life thus far), going on day trips to Hastings and poking through junk shops.

I will almost definitely succumb to the questionable box dye I found in the bathroom cupboard.

I do not think I will have a new book written by the end of this, despite initial optimism.

mardi 10 mars 2020

A few bits about people who are not me.

The Reverend Richard Coles is truly one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He was exactly how you would expect/hope him to be. He radiates kindness and warmth, and he is just as interested in people, whether the microphones are switched on or not. This wonderful article really captures a bit of that.

I also recently had the pleasure of chatting to Sally Howard, and I cannot wait to read her new book. It's all about how women in co-habiting heterosexual relationships STILL do the vast majority of the housework, even in partnerships where both partners identify as feminist. Relevant to my interests (and, curiously, to a degree I don't usually admit in public), tbh.

If you're preparing for self-isolation, I would do so by pre-ordering the new book from living legend Holly Bourne.

I'm now embarrassed to admit that I used to be addicted to the Daily Mail sidebar of shame. I haven't looked at it in years now, and my life is much better for it. I'm still surprised when I see friends, colleagues and fellow commuters looking at it, even now when we know the Daily Mail is basically evil, but I do understand we have to get our gossip somewhere. I definitely do. I recommend Lainey Gossip as an ethical way of getting your fix if you are so inclined.

I've unexpectedly become interested in Christian rock (long story) and, particularly, in the singular and unapologetic eccentricities of Joshua S. Porter. This book is not my usual sort of thing but it is fun and interesting.

This is the best film I've seen lately, recommended by my friend Jess. Both of the main actors are great in it, but I was particularly struck by the character of Jake, who seemed like a real-life person I would go out with. He was sensitive and sexy in a goofy way. It made me think about how rare this is to see on film.

I'm a bit obsessed with Cash Carraway. Her brilliant memoir is now out in paperback and you should definitely buy it.

Oh and, because I'm pretty self-absorbed during this final run-up to publication, this was in the Telegraph at the weekend.

Finally, I wrote an essay for my evening class that ended up (unexpectedly) being about this current 'be kind' trend. It's clearly well-intentioned, but feels so hollow and useless. We all already think we are kind; we need to examine our own prejudices and beliefs about who deserves our kindness. We need to think about a much more nuanced understanding of empathy. A few days after I handed it in, Eva Wiseman (incidentally, one of my very favourite journalists), tackled the same subject much better than I could.

vendredi 28 février 2020

What we do.

It's been so long since I have written anything here! However - just for myself - I would like to keep this little diary going.

Since I last checked in, I spent Christmas in Iceland, which was delightful. 2020 has begun in a way that I cannot believe. I keep consciously reminding myself to make the most of it, to enjoy it.

STAUNCH comes out in hardback and audiobook on 19th March. If you are considering reading it at any point, preordering it is a MASSIVE help to writers and I will be eternally grateful (thank you). It's available from all the usual places, but I like to buy books from Hive if ordering online.

I spent two days in a small room in Kilburn with a view of a graveyard, recording the audiobook. I was really nervous and thought reading my weird book out loud in its entirety might feel really uncomfortable. In fact, it was a very positive, fun and quite cathartic experience. This was mostly down to Jack Beattie, the producer, who was a joy and to whom I am very grateful. If the idea of hearing my actual voice for 6 hours and 43 minutes is remotely appealing, the audiobook is also available to preorder!

After that, I went straight to the Roundhouse (where, ridiculously, I had never actually set foot inside before - it's such a lovely venue). To see California's finest beach goths, The Growlers. That was really fun.

From there, I went pretty much straight to the BBC, where (in a real 'what even is this crazy wonderful life?' experience) I was a guest on Radio 4 Saturday Live! I was interviewed about STAUNCH by the lovely Reverend Richard Coles, who was just as delightful in person as you would hope. He is just as interested in people whether the microphones are on or not. I was a guest alongside some really cool people: Zawe Ashton, Amit Patel (and Kika, who made the whole experience extra fun) and a guy called Bob who lives off-grid in a converted bus and kept trying to sneak off to smoke. It was awesome. You can listen on catch-up here!

After that, I went home for a very long sleep. Having had an early morning at the BBC and a lot of coffee, I was home by lunchtime, which felt very surreal!

I ate vegan pancakes on pancake day (the most wonderful time of the year). I did yoga every single day in January.

I am now gearing up for publication time. I am having a launch party at The Feminist Bookshop (the place of dreams) on publication day. There will be (vegan) cake (and vegan gluten-free brownies).

I am still not drinking, almost nine months now. I am in phase 2 of my evening classes.

I have a piece in Red magazine this month (April), as part of their 'family' issue. A bit of another dream come true, really - it's such a lovely magazine with great writers.

With a bit of luck in the current climate, I will be going to Abu Dhabi next week. Then back just in time to launch my book into the world.

I'm booking future holidays, as I might feel depressed when the book is out there and that's it (but I'm not sure I will, this time). I think the key to happiness is having things to look forward to. I know I am very, very lucky to be able to live like this. I haven't always been able to and I appreciate it. As someone who is so focused on the future, these days I also make an effort just to be happy in a quiet moment. It's amazing how much the ordinary can delight me these days. Coffee, cats, a book, clean bedding, gratitude every morning. Again, it hasn't always been so. I am very, very lucky.