mercredi 27 novembre 2013

Eight years by the sea...

I am crap at remembering dates and anniversaries.  However, it is at this time of year when I usually remember that I moved to Brighton somewhere around the end of November.

Walking up St James's Street with my friend Jack last Sunday, we walked past the B&B where we stayed for two weeks when we first arrived here off the train from Victoria, before our flat was ready.  Those were good times - there was a telly in our tiny top-floor room; the place was run by the lovely Paul and Sean, who gave us extra breakfast and a motivational speech every morning.  I arrived - technically unemployed and homeless - on a Sunday night; by the Monday afternoon I had a job, which I am sure was due to this extra hash brown and enthusiasm.

That was eight years ago.  Since then, I have lived in three Brighton flats.

A crazy top-floor flat in a historic building in Market Street, the middle of the south Lanes: where a friend slept on the sofa for over a year; we had cheap pizzas from the restaurant over the road for dinner nearly every night and then had an impromptu street party after we all watched Italy win the World Cup together; the off-licence across the square did a special deal of two bottles of terrible red wine for £5...  I wrote my first full-length novel - the one that got me an agent - sitting at that kitchen table at night and smoking a zillion fags.

Then we moved ten minutes' walk up the steep hill to Albert Road in Seven Dials.  We rented a ground-floor Victorian flat with a tiny patio from a friend of mine, which was cosy and lovely.  I wrote like a maniac in that flat.  We became friends with people who lived in our road, and everyone in the amazing local shop.  I baked a lot of cakes in that tiny galley kitchen, feeling very grown-up.  I still also drank a lot of red wine and smoked a lot of fags on that back patio.

When it was time to move, we didn't want to go too far.  We were supposed to stay at Albert Road for a year, and ended up staying for four and a half.  So, we moved to Buckingham Road - a new address but technically about seven doors down the road.  We were now even closer to our favourite corner shop.  We could see the old flat from the new one.  This was helped by our vantage point from the high-up third floor; we called that place 'the garret'.  It was a lovely flat, with a weird layout and a tiny kitchen that reminded me of Paris.  It got really good light and it gave me my first-ever view of the sea, if you stuck your head out of the bedroom window/fire escape.  It was a great flat for writing in.  However, we heard our downstairs neighbour making weird sex noises pretty much every night just as we were sitting down to dinner.

So... nearly a year ago (in late January) we moved to a tiny little house on the other side of town.  The first time I've lived in a house (with stairs, and my own front door!) in over a decade and the first place I have ever 'owned'.  I have roots in Brighton now.  At the moment, at least, I feel like I hope they carry me out of my house in a box in approximately sixty or so years.  Incidentally, my next door neighbours have actually lived in their house for sixty years - isn't that cool?

vendredi 22 novembre 2013

Some Current Faves

  • My new Isabel Marant haul - white jeans, a vest and a sweatshirt.  Swag.
  • Elizabeth Taylor - I'm more obsessed than ever (I just read 'Furious Love', which is hyperbolic and silly but worth a fun read) and have ordered her hilarious diet book 'Elizabeth Takes Off' from the depths of out-of-print online booksellers.
  • Red wine, because it's winter.
  • Making kale chips and imagining I'm Gwyneth.  You may all know by now that, like so many of the proletariat, I love imagining I'm Gwyneth.
  • Writing, writing and more writing - I really do love it so!

mardi 19 novembre 2013

Candidly Nicole

I don't mind saying I'm slightly obsessed with her.  She is hilarious and I would quite like her to be my best friend.

Most importantly, should I copy her hair cut?

samedi 16 novembre 2013

Mind the Thigh Gap

I adore Hadley Freeman.  I think she is one of our cleverest, funniest and most sensible writers.

In a recent article she wrote about the much-discussed 'thigh gap', her closing paragraph read to me like the perfect call to arms.  It is what I want to remind myself of when the images and pressures occasionally feel too much.

This is what I will be doing.

But what we – the adults who don't obsess over thigh flesh – can do is to keep reinforcing the message to young people that to be strong and healthy is a good thing and to be frail and sickly is dangerous, and that anyone who feels differently is not to be hated but to be pitied. And, most of all, we need to live by our words and set the example accordingly. Because, ultimately, a life spent measuring your thighs is a life wasted.

The full article is worth a read and can be found here.

mercredi 13 novembre 2013

Smash Mode

This video of my brilliant and crazily talented friend Jack Lucan is so awesome, I want all the world to see it!

lundi 11 novembre 2013


I am in danger of slipping into grandma-esque ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ nostalgia here.  Not that my own grandmother has ever said anything like ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ in her life; she’s pretty modern, unlike her second-eldest grandchild.

Anyway, a little while ago – as I do – I was looking up The Hotel Chelsea on Youtube.  I came upon a 1981 BBC Arena documentary about my spiritual home.  It’s very BBC and early 80s – it doesn’t tally with my own memories of the Chelsea at all – but it’s fabulous.  To me, it seems kind of sanitised, but perhaps it just captures a bygone era that I missed.  It was, after all, made in the year that I was born.  It’s still utterly brilliant – featuring Quentin Crisp, and a hilarious lunch involving Andy Warhol and William Burroughs in the style of a nature documentary.

So, this made me notice that there were a lot of Arena documentaries on Youtube, and I started watching the lot.  They are, without exception, brilliant television.  I suggest you watch them all.  I’ve been watching episodes on such varied and interesting subjects as Joe Orton, Poly Styrene and Cindy Sherman.   I also accidentally watched one on Pete Doherty, and even that was good TV.  After all, Werner Herzog called the Arena series “the oasis in the sea of insanity that is television”.

(I should probably also mention that, in general, I don’t approve of people assuming they should have free access to content [watching whole programmes on Youtube, etc.].  But I pay my licence fee – now I actually have a television – and I don’t think there’s a way of being able to pay to watch these, so I don’t see that there’s a problem.)

On a less boring note, I shall leave you with my favourite moment from the Chelsea documentary, which occurs in the pyramid on the roof…

jeudi 7 novembre 2013


I don't want to make this a forum for rants.  Not all the time.  But so many petty things are driving me completely effing crazy right now!

A brief summary as follows:
  • People on trains: if you are reasonably young, able-bodied and perfectly capable of doing so, why do you behave as though it would actually kill you to stand up for a stop or two?  Is it really more important to you to have a seat than to be a decent human being?  This makes me want to cry.  Or maim.
  • Can we please never use the word 'hubs' (as in, short for husband) ever again?  'Hubby' is bad enough, but this even worse current trend for 'hubs' makes me so murderous I can hardly see.  This is probably also the time and place to note that 'other half', as a phrase in general, makes me vomit.
  • While we're at it, Twitter, can we lay off 'tweeps' as well, please?  It makes my teeth hurt.
  • If you are aged 20 or over (and I think I'm being pretty generous here), can you please not refer to yourself as a 'girl' or 'boy'?  You are an adult.  Please refer to yourself as such.  If you are calling yourself a 'girl' when you are over the age of 30, you probably need help.
Please do feel free to disagree with me vociferously.  It also (surprise, surprise) annoys me when people do blogs and then get all offended when people comment with anything other than 'OMG, you're so fricking great, I want to be just like you'.  Not that I have ever received a comment like that, but I spend quite enough of my life trawling pointless lifestyle blogs to know how it works.

To counteract all this negativity, um...  Snoopybabe?

You're welcome, internet.

dimanche 3 novembre 2013

The 'Other' EW

I recently received an email from Eleanor Wood.  For a minute I thought this literally meant that I had received an email from myself - maybe one of those online forms you fill in and it sends you an automatic email to show you it's sent properly.  That kind of admin thing.

It turned out not to be from me.  It was, however, from a lady called Eleanor Wood - who is a writer in her early 30s and lives on the South coast of England.  Pretty spooky stuff, right?

Fortunately, the 'other' Eleanor Wood is very cool and nice, and was also mildly spooked/intrigued by this coincidence.

She stumbled upon me whilst Googling herself.  She then wrote a really interesting blog post about it and, best of all, had the good manners to get in touch with me directly.

We agreed that it's lucky we don't share a middle name or initial - at the same time, it's kind of nice to feel that, if there's another 'you' out there somewhere, I'm pleased she's doing great stuff that's a bit different from mine.

We're all unique after all.  Aren't we?