samedi 29 juin 2013

Jilly Fashion

Yes, my Jilly obsession returns.  It never went away.

If you haven’t read any/much Jilly Cooper, there are many good reasons to do so.  The romance, intrigue and hilarious one-liners.  But if that doesn’t do it for you, then they’re worth reading just for the fashion – particularly the old 70s stuff.

I have coveted many a Jilly outfit.  Here are my top 10.

1.         Octavia in gold
‘Now you see me, now you don’t!’ Octavia quipped to the shocked Home Counties party, dancing for a slavering audience.  Her completely see-through gold chainmail tunic had only a couple of sequined discs to cover her nipples, perilously.

2.         Prudence underdressed
Prudence is my favourite.  She’s a fan of theme dressing, just like me.  Her green culotte dress, which was by all accounts very skimpy and had enormous cut-outs at the waist, was ‘a showstopper’.  Maggie declared it heavenly, but then wondered how one would be able to go to the loo.

3.         Imogen’s awful beach outfit
Oh, poor Imogen the vicar’s daughter.  She’s in the south of France with a bunch of bitchy supermodels, and her holiday outfits all came from the church jumble sale – but surely she could have done better than that awful old kaftan and moth-eaten bathing dress?  Clueless Imogen tried to salvage things in the glamour stakes by adding tights and high-heeled sandals.  On the beach.  Luckily, Matt was waiting in the wings to whisk her off to St Trop and start playing Pygmalion.

4.         Daisy at Rupert and Taggie’s wedding
‘Bit of a bohemian,’ whispered Sukey Benedict behind her back – inspired by Daisy’s black velvet knickerbockers and black blazer printed with gigantic pink roses.  Little did she know her husband had chosen and bought the outfit for Daisy.

5.         Cameron ‘as a bloke’
Cameron Cook was such an awful, hateful bitch.  But some of her outfits sounded amazing.  Slutty, but amazing.  They seemed to involve a lot of leather and suede, and dresses that laced up the sides to show she wasn’t wearing any pants.  My favourite was when she turned up at Valerie Jones’s cringey dinner party in a tuxedo.

6.         Duckling grows up
So, ‘Duckling’ was always in love with her older sister’s boyfriend and so she decides to wow him when she sees him again by dressing up as a ‘disturbing Greek youth’ – she wears an outfit that sounds, frankly, like the most amazing thing of all time: a silver body stocking, silver high heels, glittery body paint and her hair slicked back in ‘rainbow blonde wings’.  Awesome.  And kind of a good thing that, really, he loved her for her sweet personality.

7.         Flora’s sand-coloured shorts suit
Jilly’s keen on a sand-coloured shorts suit – Taggie also wore one to the polo once, with red lipstick and matching pashmina.  This one came from Jigsaw and was a birthday present from her mum Georgie.  I think Flora sounds gorgeous, with her dark red bob and foxy face, and this actually sounds like an outfit I would quite like to wear.

8.         Hermione’s Chanel suits
Hermione Harefield – opera singer, mistress of the fiendish Ranaldini – is hell on high heels.  She never engages her small brain before she speaks and is a crashing snob.  However, she has a lovely line in Chanel suits, which I covet madly.  Flora even immortalised them in her infamous carol concert ode to Paradise.

9.         Bibi in coral
I love a good makeover story.  For Bibi’s date with the divine Angel, Chessie (apparently in a rare moment of charity) lent Bibi her maid, who used to be a beautician.  Obviously underneath all her usual unflattering work clothes, Bibi has the body of a racehorse and finally shows it off.

10.       Perdita as Lady Godiva
Because that was the only way she could compete with all those rich bitches.

I’m sure there are loads of classics I’ve forgotten.  Anyone?

jeudi 27 juin 2013

mardi 25 juin 2013

Current Favourite Things

Just for fun, here are the things currently making my life a bit more awesome.

My Amazing New Michael Kors Watch
Sorry if this sounds braggy, but I just love it so much!  I copied my awesome friend Lou, who already had one (making us watch buddies, yay!) and it fulfills all my most important criteria: massive, shiny…  Actually, that’s kind of it.  My two criteria.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
I expect lots of you hate this, right?  Yes, you – I can see your judging eyes.  I love it so much.  I expected to feel sneery about it, but it turns out that it makes me feel nothing but pure joy.  I wish the whole family were my best frie-ends (snap).  And that I had a pet pig called Glitzy.

Zoe Karssen
My bat T-shirt and grumpy kittens sweatshirt bring me unimagined joy.  I’m that shallow.

vendredi 21 juin 2013

Running Like A Girl

Running and reading are probably my two favourite hobbies, so this book  (Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley) was always going to be a winner for me.

I started running ‘properly’ about three or so years ago.  I clearly remember the first time I ventured out onto the seafront, in neon leggings and freezing conditions – I got back and congratulated myself heartily on my achievement, then looked at a map and realised I had run less than a mile in feeble little walk/jog bursts.

However, after that, it soon became easier – making quick progress and visibly improving kept my motivation up until I actually found that I was enjoying myself.  A couple of months later I ran a charity 5K with three friends.  Since then, I’ve kept up running regularly, with only the very occasional little gap due to illness or holiday – I run 5–10K three to five times a week, with a longer run every couple of weeks (or whenever I feel like it) of about half-marathon distance.

I wish that this book had existed when I was starting out.  I think it would have inspired me and made me feel better in about equal measure.  Hemmo describes her first run in a way that sounds pretty much exactly like mine.  Like me, she perseveres and keeps it up, getting better and better.  She sums it up perfectly: ‘because I decided to be able to’.  However, then unlike me, she went on to run six marathons and get much more serious about it than I ever have.

I’m not a big fan of ‘organised’ things.  Part of why I like running is just having the freedom to get out and go.  I’ve done my local Parkrun a few times and really enjoyed it (I highly recommend finding one near you).  However, I’ve never really felt any great urge to train for a marathon or similar – I suppose out of fear that it would suck all of the joy and fun out of it, replacing those with pressure and other such not-fun things.

This book made me wonder about that for the first time.  I cried during Hemmo’s description of her first London Marathon, finding the idea of the huge effort and support combined unexpectedly moving.  I wondered if I might like to try it.

I still haven’t decided.  Don’t expect to find me doing any serious training any time soon.  Still, there’s a lot here to think about.

I really recommend it whether you’re a seasoned runner, starting out, or even just vaguely interested.

vendredi 14 juin 2013

Gemini Round-up

So, my little book has been out for a week today and I have probably banged on about it quite enough now.

I have had some lovely messages and reviews, both from people I know and don’t know.

I have been in touch with some amazing bloggers who are doing really cool things.

I have learned that, if I ever do this again (fingers crossed), I should take the publication day off work and do something wonderful – not end up sitting at my desk, doing nothing useful, having lunch alone and secretly climbing the walls with over-excitement.  (However, this was duly made up for over the following weekend with pizza/wine/forcing my boyfriend to see the Liberace movie/a wonderful lunch with my dad in a restaurant in which newly-published authors are apparently given free Champagne!)

Here is a little link round-up of everything Gemini Rising so far:

Normal service resumes here.  Thank you for your kind attention/patience.

jeudi 13 juin 2013

Gemini Rising: Bookshelf

I’ve written (and thought and chattered) a lot about the music and films that inspired Gemini Rising.  Talking about the books seems a bit scarier, somehow – in a way it seems much more direct, but then at the same time it’s more subtle (like, every book I’ve ever read and/or loved has probably been an influence in some way).  Also, inviting comparisons seems a bit dangerous – to pull two random examples from the air, I adore both Lauren Oliver and Esther Freud, but their writing makes me want to kneel down and weep with inadequacy, so it seems a bit presumptuous to say they’ve ‘influenced’ me.

Anyway, as usual, this probably makes no sense – so here are the books that I’ve loved that maybe have had the biggest influence.  I’m bound to have forgotten some and will kick myself later.

When I started writing YA, it was with the idea of writing something that was spooky and exciting, but NOT actually supernatural.  I wanted it to be very much rooted in reality, but telling the story of girls who had grown up with all those supernatural influences.  Kind of giving a nod and a wink to the epic, supernatural stuff that has been around so much, but with that same everyday, suburban tone that so many of the books I loved as a young teen had: Paula Danziger, Judy Blume, et al.

I also wanted it to be contemporary and full of pop culture, with a smart voice –like my favourite books by writers like Emma Forrest and Blake Nelson.

With the themes of female friendship and a very insular school, I adore books that really get across that feeling of claustrophobia and a hint of menace, which I definitely tried to recreate – chiefly, My Summer of Love by Helen Cross.  Plus, I should probably also state that my favourite girls’ school book was (is) Heidi Grows Up.

Another big deal in Gemini Rising is the books that Sorana herself reads, which becomes kind of a running theme.  I used this basically just as a fun way to talk about some of the books I loved at that age; but also, they are a little window into Sorana’s moods and, most of all, how she is trying to define herself – through Sylvia Plath, Bret Easton Ellis, the Beat poets, Douglas Coupland – all my favourites then and now.