mardi 31 juillet 2012

This much is true.

In her ‘inspiring people’ series of interviews on her website, Oprah always asks her interviewee what they ‘know to be true’.  (I know, right?  But read the interviews; they’re surprisingly addictive!)  It’s a question that yields some fascinating and unexpected answers.

Thus inspired, here are the first facts that came into my head – some make me very lucky and some are sad.

I know for a fact that:

My mum loves me.
I will keep writing, for as long as I can, no matter what.
You can never completely know another human being.  (But you know that you can trust some people to do their best.)
Being really good at something is no guarantee of anything.
I will never like the bottom half of my body.
Exercise makes you feel better.
Not everything happens for a reason.

And here are some things I wish weren’t true and cannot seem to grasp:

Kurt Cobain is dead.
Chocolate spread will make you fat.
Red wine will give you a hangover.
I do not suit short hair.

dimanche 29 juillet 2012

Stage Whisperings

Last week I went to see Charlotte Gainsbourg play at Somerset House, my most eagerly awaited gig of the summer.

I love Somerset House – I would go so far as to say it’s one of my favourite venues; certainly my favourite outdoor one.  In 2004, Jimmy and I – not long acquainted – went to see PJ Harvey playing there.

Eight years later, I was thrilled when Charlotte Gainsbourg was announced for the 2012 Summer Series.  I adore her – her cool/angelic singing style as well as her personal style and varied career – and she doesn’t play live much, so this was exciting.

I was not disappointed – she was unimpeachably cool in an immaculately skinny all-white outfit, and she is as charming live as I might have expected.  She did many of my favourites – Heaven Can Wait probably being the top one – and, another highlight, a perfect cover of Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes, which I’ve had jammed in my head ever since.  She didn’t speak much, which kind of added to the allure, as when she did it was like a little treat.

It was the first warm and dry evening we’d had for ages; as the evening drew on, the darkening sky above a lit-up Somerset House was a sight to behold.

As you might expect at the gig of a fashion icon and film star as well as singer, the crowd were as fabulous as Charlotte herself was.  Everyone was overdressed, in a very casual-cool-whatever kind of way: I wore head-to-toe APC and spotted a LOT of Isabel Marant and more high heels than I think I have ever seen before at a gig.  Everyone seemed to be French and sexy – it was like a little secret corner off the Strand had been turned into bohemian Paris for the night.

It became most apparent that this was a fashion event as much as a music one, when someone shouted out the best audience-heckle of the concert: “Charlotte!  Are your shoes Margiela?”.

Dreamy.  My kind of place.

vendredi 27 juillet 2012

My top 10 albums of all time

Yikes.  Here it is.   The order is not concrete and I reserve the right to change my mind, frequently.  I’ve probably forgotten something crucial.  The rule is one album per artist, or this would just be impossible/carnage.

Nirvana – In Utero
PJ Harvey – Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
Leonard Cohen – The Future
Hole – Live Through This (although I very nearly chose Celebrity Skin or My Body The Hand Grenade)
Cat Power – You Are Free
Joni Mitchell – Blue (although Court and Spark also gets honourable mention)
Nick Cave – The Boatman’s Call
Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing
Kate Bush – The Hounds of Love
Shakespears Sister – Hormonally Yours

Just missing out on the Top 10 are favourite albums by Sonic Youth, The Lemonheads, Fleetwood Mac (Rumours, obv), Nico, David Bowie and Lou Reed, and probably loads of others.  I may have to mull this over and come up with a definitive Top 20.


Short public service announcement: I’ve written a little article for the very cool teen/feminist/culture website Mookychick!

Behold!  My ‘10 Ways To Win At Chazzing’!

mardi 24 juillet 2012

Dark Places

If you can get hold of it - I think it's kinda obscure - I highly recommend that you dig out this 1973 British horror film forthwith.

It has some of the bad elements of 70s horror but ALL of the good ones, which are massive.  I am of the opinion that horror films made in the 70s are the scariest of all.

This has a spooky house, madness, evil plotting, a duaal time-slip storyline (yay), psychotic children and mega glamore.  The last element is provided by Joan Collins AND Jane Birkin.  In the same film!  How, oh how, did I not know that this existed sooner?

Reader, I die.

lundi 23 juillet 2012


Have I mentioned how much I love Vincent Gallo?  I think maybe I haven’t because I take it for granted that it’s obvious.  Like, how could you not?

I once wrote an article called ‘Boys Hate Vincent Gallo Because They Are Jealous of Him’.  This was for my own erstwhile fanzine ‘The Shocking Blues and Mean Reds’; as it had a circulation of around 50, you will be forgiven if you missed it.

Like so many of us, I was first introduced to the ways of the Gallo by his 1998 film ‘Buffalo 66’, which is still one of my favourite films of all time (in fact, probably the favourite).  He wrote, directed, starred in and scored the whole thing.  I love the fact that it’s one man’s vision, total clarity of intent.  And what a vision it is – if you haven’t I suggest you watch it immediately.  It’s beautiful, funny and gut-wrenching.  And, in keeping with the topic of this little missive, Billy Brown in his red shoes and tight trousers and ‘hold me/don’t touch me!’ dichotomies is perfection.

Gallo’s next one-man-show film was ‘The Brown Bunny’.  This is probably where I start to differ from the casual Gallo fan – everyone loved ‘Buffalo 66’; it felt like no-one but me liked ‘The Brown Bunny’.  I think it’s beautiful; it’s a work of art that should be hanging in a museum.  OK, if you watch it expecting a conventional film, you may be confused – but I genuinely believe that one day people will understand it’s a great piece of cinema.  Vincent Gallo rides a motorcycle, drives a car, cries, stares, has a shower, meets a few random women – I could literally watch this for years.

I love Gallo’s attitude in his film work.  This is summed up thus: ‘you can give me complete creative control or you can pay me up the wazoo’.  Although this has actually resulted in some really good films (such as ‘Tetro’ and ‘Palookaville’), some have been frankly weird (‘Trouble Every Day’, which I actually love) and, um, a bit crap (‘Moscow Zero’, ‘Hide and Seek’, ‘Get Well Soon’).  However, the thing they all have in common is that he is absolutely mesmerising to watch.  Whatever he turns up in, you cannot take your eyes off him, in a way that reminds you how little charisma most film stars have these days.  Plus, I think it’s a pretty cool and honest way to conduct one’s career.

His career is not only in film; I may start gushing now, but his multimedia exploits indicate that he is such a genius he can basically turn his hand to anything he fancies and excel in a way that makes other human beings look decidedly inferior.  I mean, as well as writer, director and film star, he’s been a model, an artist (he only quit his acclaimed painting career ‘out of spite’), a champion motorcyclist, rapper, indie musician (his solo album ‘When’ is stunning), and allegedly rent boy.  As if that’s not enough, his website is a work of art in itself.  I suggest you have a look, and marvel.

mercredi 18 juillet 2012


As I write this, I am wearing an outfit – thanks to our erratic English summer – that I have realised since leaving the house is a perfect synergy of my favourite fashion icons that happened to have the same name.

Black and white striped jumper.  Shorts and tights.  A peacock print headscarf.

The Edies.

Edie Sedgwick came first, for me.  The perfect dream future girl.  The youthquaker.  I could only wish to be that skinny and suit a platinum blonde bowl cut – but I could copy the stripes, the tights, the sparkling shift dresses and the eyeliner.  Even the drawn-on beauty spot.

Then came Grey Gardens and another two – Big Edie and Little Edie.  Of course, Little Edie has the look and the terrific dances, but they work best together – cocktails in jam jars and old housecoats as well as revolutionary outfits of headscarves and old furs and tablecloth skirts.

Put together and it really is revolutionary.

As ever, all of these women are a lesson in living bravely and brilliantly and dancing to the beat of your own sparkly drum.

In the meantime, ‘it always stays the same, nothing ever changes/English summer rain seems to last for ages’.  From the basement to the sky.

lundi 16 juillet 2012

Golden ages of cinema

I recently read an interview with Michael Fassbender (lovely Fassbender) in which he claimed that indie cinema went through a particularly good period in the late ‘80s (Betty Blue, Paris Texas, The Big Blue, and many others that I can’t remember) – but also acknowledged that this opinion may be purely due to his age.

I expect it is purely due to his age, as I feel identically about the late ‘90s.  It still so vividly feels like such an exciting time for film.

In a very short period of time (during which I was in my final months of living at home, and my friend Matt worked in the local video shop), I watched: Buffalo 66, The Virgin Suicides, Battle Royale, American History X, Run Lola Run, Festen, The Opposite of Sex, The Last Days of Disco, A Room for Romeo Brass, Boys Don’t Cry, Fight Club, Man on the Moon, Sweet and Lowdown…

I also watched loads of the older films that I still love (chiefly Betty Blue and Paris Texas from the ‘80s, and older films such as the Kubrick version of Lolita and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?).  At the turn of the century, I briefly lived next door to a cinema and saw so many films they all blur into one – I remember Amelie, Mulholland Drive and a lot of Mexican/South American cinema that I was seriously into at the time.

So, yeah, I think it was probably just my age.  Then again, thinking about it, I am still constantly watching loads of films that I consider to be among the greatest ever (from Black Swan to Kickass).  So, maybe – happily – all eras are full of classics if you think about it enough.

vendredi 13 juillet 2012


I worry sometimes that my brain and ears are closing themselves off to new music.  I still love music as much as I ever did – but I find myself listening to the old favourites a lot.  I get really excited if there’s a new album coming out from PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth or Cat Power – my staples.  However, it’s rare that I find a new band or artist who I fall in love with in the same way and becomes a new favourite.

There are a few bands I’ve grown enamoured of in the last few years, but even they are getting a bit older; still they’re the ones I’ve fallen in love with as a grown-up rather than a teenager:
Bat for Lashes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Frida Hyvönen, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Prinz Horn Dance School, Grinderman, Warpaint, Laura Marling, Josh T. Pearson.

Sometimes I’ve discovered old music at a grown-up age: Nico and Laura Nyro are two examples of artists I’ve come to late.

I love lots of my friends’ (OK, and boyfriend’s) new music.  Jack Lucan, Milenasong and Tied to the Mast.  I saw a band called Fountains last week, who I really enjoyed.

Still, when I went to my local record shop on Saturday to buy Lee Ranaldo’s new solo album, I thought I ought to investigate and buy something new.

I went for Telepathe, as they’ve been on the peripheries of my consciousness for a while without having heard them.  I liked that they are two girls and sound a little witchy and arty and cool.

I’ve only had one listen so far.  I’m yet to fall in love but I am intrigued; I think it will be a grower and I have high hopes.  I kind of hope they’ll become a new favourite.  If there are any others you can think of who might be my new favourite, let me know.

mercredi 11 juillet 2012


As you know, I recently got a Kindle.

I’ve already got quite a lot of stuff on it – it’s actually kind of worrying me how easy it is just to one-click your way to a whole library of books.  Just like going to a car boot sale, or Primark, it all seems so cheap that you fill up your basket with things you don’t remotely need, or even particularly love, in the mistaken belief that it’s a bargain – until you tot up your day’s spending and realise that you could actually have bought one amazing thing instead.  From, like, Marc by Marc Jacobs or something.

Anyway.  My Kindle spending is a whole different issue – and it can’t be a bad thing that it’s making me spend more money within the publishing industry, right?

The point of this is that I have already amassed quite a collection of electronic reading matter.  It’s a mixture of adult and YA, mostly, some great books and some (using the same Primark-shopper logic) that I probably wouldn’t have bothered to buy in hard copy.

Something that I have been finding fascinating is the ‘highlighter’ function.  As you may know, it is possible to electronically highlight passages of books on Kindle, and also to see what other people have highlighted, or how many people have highlighted the same parts.

One of the first books I read on my Kindle was the magnificent ‘You Against Me’ by Jenny Downham.  There was quite a lot of highlighting going on in this book, with one brilliant passage towards the end that had been highlighted by multiple people.  A great function is that you can see exactly how many people have highlighted certain parts – surprisingly, people seem to gravitate towards the same sentences to highlight.

Anyway, ‘what a good idea’, I thought.  Highlighting is such a good thing.

Then, after that, I read quite a few ‘adult’ books, and was surprised to find that nobody had highlighted anything at all.

I read Joan Didion’s beautiful, life-changing, awesome ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ (followed by her devastating ‘Blue Nights’) and could scarcely believe that there were no highlights.  If ever a book was made for highlighting, it’s that one.

Then, straight afterwards, I started reading ‘The Carrie Diaries’, Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City prequel for teenagers.  Yes, it’s full of highlights.

This can only lead me to think that YA books get highlighted more than others.

I think this is a shame.  I am an avid highlighter – not yet on the Kindle (as I haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet!) but in my actual books.  Certain tomes – such as my copies of ‘Your Voice In My Head’ by Emma Forrest, Courtney Love’s biography by Poppy Z. Brite, ‘The Bell Jar’, ‘Franny and Zooey’ – are full of underlinings and highlights.

Although I’ve never grown out of it, I suppose highlighting is kind of a stereotypical teenage thing: ‘how does this relate to me/help to define me/put into words things that I can’t say myself?’.

In ‘The Carrie Diaries’, seven people have even highlighted a passage about the futility of highlighting (!), but in general it is the ‘deep’ thoughts, the universal truths, the things that apply to us that we thought nobody else would ever understand.

Like many people obsessed with books and music and films, I have a natural tendency to look for these highlight-able thoughts everywhere.  My walls were always plastered with famous quotes and my favourite song lyrics.  I would painstakingly transcribe whole songs into my diary.  I would bore my friends silly with how I heard this amazing lyric that spoke directly to my soul (often by Tori Amos, just as likely Brian Molko); I would insist upon reading aloud entire chapters of books that I thought were particularly relevant to our lives at that moment – I couldn’t sit quietly in the library for long without exclaiming ‘oh my god, Ali/Lou/Rach – you have got to hear this!’.

By highlighting, I felt that it gave me ownership, that it really was mine and really did help to sum me up.  It helped me to remember them, to form a reference library of myself.  And I still do it – thinking it’s to remember the construction of a sentence or a particularly beautiful word choice, but I’m sure it’s still just as much for the same reason it’s always been.

I think highlighting is a good thing.  We should try our best not to grow out of it.

dimanche 8 juillet 2012

Carine Roitfeld Ballet

If you start to type Carine Roitfeld’s name into Google, this is one of the automatic options that comes up.  I was struck by this, because it was exactly what I was planning to search for.

Carine Roitfeld loves ballet – not only the aesthetic of it, but apparently doing hours of ballet exercises every day. I am inspired.

I am obsessed, at the moment, with that sort of exercise – ballet, Pilates , yoga – on top of my usual running regime.

Now that I can picture Carine Roitfeld doing her own ballet exercises at home every day, as I do mine, it somehow makes the whole thing seem way, way cooler.

So, thanks for that.

samedi 7 juillet 2012

Summer Mixtape

Well, it might be pouring with rain but it IS July.  So, here's my summer mixtape to cheer things up (somee new stuff and a few classics).

THE PIXIES: I Can't Forget*
MADONNA: Borderline
THE B-52S: Is That You Mo-Dean?
LE TIGRE: Hot Topic
LEE RANALDO: Xtina As I Knew Her***
PJ HARVEY: You Said Something
PLACEBO: English Summer Rain

* Leonard Cohen cover
** Always
*** I am obsessed with this entire album - best of 2012 so far.

vendredi 6 juillet 2012

Happy Friday

Sometimes I think if you say something it can become true.  I started off this week saying: I think this week is going to be an excellent week.

Around the mid-point - tired and working hard and strugggling to go for a run - I was starting to doubt the wisdom of this and wish I hadn't spoken so soon.

But now it's Friday: I've had some promising and positive news on my manuscript and got back in touch with a beloved long-lost friend who is now in New York.

So, you know - keep the faith (Desperately Seeking Susan).

Nam myoho renge kyo.

jeudi 5 juillet 2012

Telling Stories

I am about five minutes too young to have been a fan of The Charlatans.  I was eight when their first album came out, and their sporadic resurges kind of passed me by.  I kind of remember ‘North Country Boy’ coming out in 1996, but it wasn’t really my thing.  To be honest, I hadn’t realised they were still going.

I picked up the singer, Tim Burgess’s, memoir recently on a whim.  It’s had decent reviews and I love a good rock n roll tale.

I’m glad I did, and thoroughly enjoyed it without being familiar with all the players and the songs.  Tim is a charming narrator, a genuine eccentric with a great story and a friendly voice.  He has a sense of humour about himself, which for me was what made this book, particularly as this balanced out his apparent belief that The Charlatans were a bit more important than they were.  I mean, obviously they were to him.  But still.

I also liked how honest he was about his ‘influences’.  Every song he mentions having a hand in writing, it’s always ‘a cross between the Faces and the Beatles’ or ‘inspired by Dylan, with a bit of Lennon.  He even says that an entire album cover concept was ‘borrowed from the Beastie Boys’.  He doesn’t pretend to have original ideas, and is indebted to his heroes.

There is a lot of sadness and madness in this tale, perhaps inevitably.  I hadn’t realised how much.  Again, this is told with a lot of empathy and a good sense of humour (as far as possible).

On a more frivolous note, I also hadn’t realised quite how criminally good-looking Tim Burgess had been.  Worth a look just for some of those early photographs, frankly.

lundi 2 juillet 2012

Sister hols

This photo, taken by my mum in Greece about a month ago, is my current favourite thing in the world.

This is me and my beautiful sister.  Judging by that description, you can probably already tell which is which, but I am the one on the right.  I would say 'the tall one' but if you had met us, you would know that this was all relative and, frankly, laughable.

The Carrie Diaries

If you’ve read the original book Sex and the City, you’ll know that it is nothing like the television series.

It’s nothing to do with female friendship.  It is an episodic series of vignettes – obviously, considering its newspaper-column format – about women in New York.  Women who do not know or like each other.  Carrie Bradshaw is a minor character who turns up occasionally at parties and is known for being needy with boyfriends.

So, when I first saw the TV programme (I was lucky enough to watch an advance tape of it when I was interning at Time Out!), I was surprised but pleasantly so.  Soon, like all women my age and a bit older, I loved it.  You know, what’s not to love?  I too have a close group of girlfriends and love clothes – it’s great to see a glossy version of yourself on the screen.

And that’s where (at least in the early days – don’t get me started on the movies) the strength lay in SATC – it was like watching the movie star version of yourself and your friends.  Everyone loves having the ‘which character are you?’ discussions about that sort of thing.

So, even though lots of people seem to think it’s a pointless cashing-in exercise, I think the concept of The Carrie Diaries fits in perfectly.  I was intrigued to see where Carrie came from, how she became ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ and met the others.

Rather fascinatingly, I thought, Candace Bushnell seems to have grown fond of the characters in the same way that we all have.  Rather than the icy-cool New York tales that she usually writes, this is a really warm nostalgia trip that is much more like the group of friends in the TV series.  It’s almost impossible to read without picturing a young Sarah Jessica Parker in the role, looking just like she did in classics such as Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

It’s a two-parter – book one covering Carrie’s last year at high school in her home town, and book two, Summer and the City, travelling with her to New York for a writing course before starting university.

While the second book gets more exciting – when she starts to become the glamorous, starry New York character we recognise – I actually preferred the first for its ordinariness.  It reminded me of the slightly-out-of-date 80s teen books I used to read in my early teens – Judy Blume, Caroline B. Cooney and Paula Danziger.

It was great to see Carrie transform from the standard schoolgirl – wearing jeans, writing for the school newspaper, competing on the swimming team and obsessing over smalltown boys and friends – to a girl who runs around Manhattan in her grandmother’s feathered hat and a vintage Chinese robe, knocking out plays on her typewriter and dreaming of being a star.

It’s a transition that we all had in some way or another at that age, even if we don’t all grow up to be played by SJP – and, who knows?, we still might yet.