mercredi 27 mars 2013

Reeling in the Years

Some of my earliest musical memories involve being in the car – do everyone’s? It seems logical, so maybe it’s not just me.

If my mum was driving, my sister and I would be in the back singing along with the Bangles’ album A Different Light (on cassette).  If my dad was driving, it would be a Steely Dan greatest hits compilation called Reeling in the Years.  Bear in mind that their other in-car favourites of the time were Famous Blue Raincoat as sung by Jennifer Warnes, aka Jenny Sings Lenny (Mum) and Money for Nothing by Dire Straits (Dad) – and you can see that my musical tastes were largely formed in the back seat of various battered mid-range 80s hatchbacks.

I still have a great fondness for the Bangles.  I often get an urge to put on their cover of A Hazy Shade of Winter and sing along badly on a sunny Saturday morning.  I still believe that Manic Monday is one of the best pop songs of all time, and Walk Like An Egyptian is not far behind.

I still absolutely love Steely Dan.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t.  We were so tiny when we used to listen to Steely Dan that my sister, practically still a baby, used to sing along earnestly to Deacon Blues with an unshakeable conviction that the lyric was, ‘They call me peekaboo’.

The first time my dad ever met my boyfriend (a guitarist) they listened to Steely Dan while my dad asked ‘could you play this?’ to every song, amazed that the answer was ’yes’.

I listen to a lot of Steely Dan these days.  My favourite songs are:

1.     My Old School
2.     Deacon Blues
3.     Do It Again
4.     Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
5.     Haitian Divorce

It’s probably no coincidence that they were all on that greatest hits compilation.

lundi 25 mars 2013


A very quick note to say that I had the best ever session with my shaman on Saturday.  I am still feeling awesome from it now.

She removed my negativity and energy blocks, spoke to my past selves and brought back lost gifts, and discovered that my power animal is a horse.

I may write about this at length, but really just wanted to check in and say it is really fucking great.  This may well not be your cup of organic green tea, but I for one heartily recommend it.  If you happen to be on the lookout for a shaman in Brighton, please do get in touch so that I can give you the details of mine - she is amazing (shamazing?) and I love her.

Other exciting happenings this weekend: I started reading The Perfect Suicide, the new novel by my friend Lotte Worth.  I barely slept last night because I couldn't put it down, and can't wait for my train journey home for the final pages tonight.  Spellbinding, beautiful, disturbing - one that I know will stand up to re-reads and will stay with me for a long time.

I am off on a jaunt to Istanbul in a day or so, with my best friend, for Easter - have a lovely one.

dimanche 24 mars 2013

Memory maps #2

A Greek island.

I don't even want to say the name of it because it was so perfect and unspoiled.  I feel sad about it because it turned out to be our last family holiday, as our family in its old incarnartion - I did not know that at the time and I planned to go back there again and again; now I do not think I ever want to go back there, but I do not want to forget it.  It was less than a year ago.

I read about a book a day.  I swam in the sea, off the side of the boat.  I ate masses of Greek yoghurt and honey.  I fed stray cats and was desperate to take them home with me.

I slipped over on a jetty, in my flippy blue dress and shiny sandals, and my right calf has never been quite the same since.

I was really happy there.

mercredi 20 mars 2013

XO Jane

Jane Pratt is really cool.  End of.  She's one of those people I've long admired without knowing a ton about her.  I mean, obviously I was a massive fan of Sassy mag - which published my favourite magazine cover of all time - and an admirer of her media exploits and general cool girl-ness.

However, I came to relatively late.  I discovered it via the legend (-arily crazy/awful/glam/) Cat Marnell.  Whatever my views on Cat's subject matter/personal life/relationship with Jane - and, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what those are, one way or the other - I have to admit to finding her writing highly addictive, and I think she is sickeningly talented.  So, I would frequently end up in a black hole of her beauty columns, making the most of the huge turnover of material on the website and sucking them up by the dozen.

Then when I had exhausted Cat's supply of make-up and downtown dramazzz, I would find myself clicking on links called things like "It Happened To Me: My Dad was a serial killer" or "How not to be a dick to your fat friends".

Those are both real-life headlines.  As you can imagine, has thus become a daily read, and one that I now often discuss with my similarly addicted friends.  Some of the topics are thought-provoking, some are silly and/or disgusting and some are sad - crucially, nearly all of them make me feel better about myself and the world, in some way.

vendredi 15 mars 2013

Memory Maps #1

I have recently been reading Memory Maps by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.  She is one of my favourites, such a beautiful woman and beautiful writer.  I recommend this and all of her books, massively.

It also got me thinking about my own memory maps.  In the book, Lisa basically draws you a sketch of her favourite (or less-favourite, but important) places, a tiny snapshot of her life at the time she was there, from her early home in Clapham, to the South American hacienda, to a trip to Mali.

I love this idea and am going to attempt a few of my own.  Here is the first, with reference to La Marina, which is near Alicante in Spain.  My grandmother owns a house there and I have been going there pretty much all my life.  I last visited in August/September 2012, a wonderful week's holiday with Jimmy, Nan and Elda.

When I think of La Marina, I think of chocolate spread.  The kind that is swirled milk chocolate and white chocolate; the milk chocolate swirls are always slightly more melted in the heat than the white chocolate swirls.  It comes in a brightly painted jar, of which I have six at home that I use as water glasses.  As a child, I pronounced the chocolate spread there to be the best in the world.  Last time I was there, at the age of 31, I ate four jars of it and brought home two (telling myself that it wasn't just greed but because I wanted a full set of water glasses).

We go to the beach for paella and surprisingly good massages.  We go to the market, where I buy a leather handbag and a striped red vest, which - entirely coincidentally and honestly, I promise - I am wearing right now, underneath a jumper.

Mostly, though, we do not move - not beyond the patio, the shop at the end of the road, the local bar.  I am very happy not to move, would be happy not to move ever again.  I lie on the patio for hours, oiled up 70s style and wearing a Chinese hat I bought there when I was 13 and has stayed there ever since, with a bottle of gin, a family-sized bag of crisps and an old copy of Jilly Cooper.  I eat hamburgers.  I am so much browner and fatter than when I arrived, always.

La Marina is, to me, a place of peace, a place of not worrying.  Despite who might or might not be there with me to the contrary, it feels to me at its heart - in my heart - a place of women.

mercredi 13 mars 2013

Cats and Dogs

Are you a cat or a dog person?  I just can't decide.

I love both.

My mum has a Yorkie called Lily, who is one of my favourite creatures on this planet and who we all adore with an extravagance bordering on psychosis.  There is nothing like a welcome home from a dog who loves you, and having a dog that loves you is an experience that I have found to be, genuinely, one of the nicest of my life.

But we have recently moved into a road with a lot of cats, one of whom has taken to hanging around outside the kitchen door and who has been edging closer and closer over days and weeks - much to my delight.  I feel we have a cool understanding going on.  In fact, these days I seem to see cats everywhere and I feel more and more drawn to them.  I am desperate for one of my own; ideally, I would like a cat and a dog, but I think a cat might actually suit me (and my arrested-development lifestyle) better.

This Pinterest page leaves me as undecided as ever, each time I update it:

So, in the end, maybe I'm most like Vali Myers - who has somehow sneaked in there with her pet fox.  Because a fox is a cross between a cat and a dog, right?

lundi 11 mars 2013

Moodboard: Gemini Rising

You know how I love a moodboard.

If you are interested in what my forthcoming spooky/rock n roll/teenage book, Gemini Rising, is about - you can find a visual taster here.

You can also, if you are so inclined, use Pinterest to examine my taste in sexy boys, pretty ladies, pets, tattoos and interiors.  You know, the usual internet stuff.

dimanche 10 mars 2013

This Much Is Not True

Last July, I wrote this post:

A lot has changed since then, and I have changed my mind.  Number three: "You can never completely know another human being.  (But you know that you can trust some people to do their best.)"

I stand by the first part of that sentence, but no longer the second one.

It just goes to show, you can never know anything for sure.  And that, Oprah, is the only thing I can ever know for sure.

While we're at it: my two absolute worst so-called "truths", which I do not believe in at all?

1. "When you know, you know."  Surely that means, again, that we never know.  Because you think you know until you really know.  And then you realise you didn't know, because now you really know.  The stupidity is never ending.  We never know; make a decision, and stick to it.  Or don't.  But take responsibility.

2. "It's different when they're your own."  Um, isn't that kind of a big gamble to take?  Because, haven't you read We Need to Talk About Kevin?

mercredi 6 mars 2013

Hot Cakes

Some of you may know that I have a very glamorous and lovely mother called Kim.  If so, you may or may not also know that she is extremely clever and talented.  She runs her own boutique publishing company, Cloud 10 Publishing, and has written an amazingly fun and funny book, called Hot Cakes.

Hot Cakes is pretty unique, as it is a novel with recipes - and, with the book, you can get access to exclusive videos demonstrating the recipes (plus they are also genuinely entertaining in themselves!).

The novel is hilarious, a little bit saucy and with a lot of heart.  I loved it, and not just because I'm biased.

I highly recommend that you read it immediately - and if, like me, you have a cool mum to buy a last-minute Mothers' Day present for... then, you're welcome!

It's available in paperback and Kindle edition here.

lundi 4 mars 2013

A small announcement.

I am ridiculously delighted to say that my first novel for teens is going to be published by Harlequin!

It's called Gemini Rising, by the way.  More details as they come.

dimanche 3 mars 2013

Forgotten gems: Alisha Rules the World by Alisha’s Attic

Do you remember that song I Am, I Feel?  Yeah, I used to sing along with it in my bedroom while I got ready for school in the mornings, with great feeling.  I sometimes think that you forget that I am, I feel – and this girl’s a person, you know!’.

I loved the fact that the band was made up of two sisters.  Better yet was their look, which I sought to emulate – dyed hair, knee-high socks, ratty Portobello Market dresses and smeared-bruise make-up.  I had I Am, I Feel on single and was even more obsessed with the B-side Angel Eyes (‘All the boys say angel eyes/But they don’t know the devil inside/ The babe’s a bitch/She’s making you blind – and if it weren’t coloured it wouldn’t be a butterfly.’)

When the album – Alisha Rules The World – came out, I fell in love with their blend of girlie whimsy and steely-eyed bitch power.  The album, listening to it now, doesn’t really hold up that well – it is very mid-90s-lite – but it’s still an aesthetic and a theme that I love.

You know, it starts off with cute lyrics like – ‘Here we are again/The jangle of my ankle chain/Is the only sound I can hear – when I’m here with you’).  Later on there is the tragic girliness of a song like Stone In My Shoe, which I used to sob to – dear reader, literally sob – as if my heart would break, I thought I related to it so much.  I sneezed another brave idea/I wanna come look for you/It would be wonderful if I ever get there – But if I fall, will there be another stone in my shoe/Making it harder to come back to you?  And if I fly/Lift your eyes as my paper boat sails away/Could it be too late or is our fate just another stone in my shoe?.’

But then there was my favourite song on the entire album, I Won’t Miss You.  I wrote the lyrics down and stuck them to my bedroom mirror.  It was the era of ‘Girl Power’, OK?  She’s got her bow and arrow, army pants and pigtails/She ain’t got to be no-one’s dolly and at nobody’s whim/She’s got her shoes, her blues, her big red heart/She walks to the door and she says: “Yeah, I’m going now/Goodbye, babe, I won’t miss you/It was a long road, but it’s a fine time to get myself a little respect.  Hell yeah – take that, Geri Halliwell!

Both of the Alisha’s Attic ladies have gone on to do cool things – co-writing songs for people like Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kylie and Will Young, among many others.  I hope, like me, they look back on this fun, silly, cool and of-its-time album they made with great fondness.