jeudi 31 décembre 2015

New sh*t.

I just came back from my traditional new year's eve run in brand-new Christmas-present leggings (thanks to my sister).  It was sunny, then cold, and then I got rained on and I picked up a pretty stone, and some jolly people said 'happy new year' and then I nearly got run over - bit like 2015 in microcosm form, maybe?!

Anyway.  I ran through the front door and this song was playing on the radio.  I hope it's a sign for 2016.  Maybe.

(MSCL has nothing to do with it, but Angela is so sweet.)

This year is ending completely differently to how I thought/hoped it would.  To everyone for whom this is the case today, I will be burning sage, drinking Champagne and saying a little prayer for us all.

Then again, last year ended a bit differently to how I expected it to as well - you'd think I might have learned my lesson by now.  Against all better judgement, I remain unshakeable in my faith that 2016 will be the best year yet.  Maybe.

So, here's to old endings, new beginnings, exciting possibilities and the triumph of hope over experience.  Right?

mardi 22 décembre 2015

Stuff this year.

Well...  It's been a bit of a year, hasn't it?

Some very un-favourite things have happened, but some good ones too.  Here are some of my favourite cultural things of the whole year.

BOOK: The First Bad Man by Miranda July.

I have long loved pretty much everything that Miranda July has ever done - well, since I went by myself to the Curzon in Soho to see 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' and then worked backwards.  I loved her book of short stories, and had high hopes of her first novel.  Well, reader, this surpassed all of them.  I read it with not much idea of the story/premise, which was probably ideal.  I have never read anything quite like it.  Literally life-altering.

FILM: Another game-changer, I have to say 'Diary of a Teenage Girl'.  I saw it by myself (bit of a theme emerging here?) on a weekday afternoon.  Question: is there anything more decadent than going to the cinema alone on a weekday afternoon?  This film, and all of its performances, are so incredible - I walked home in a daze, my head spinning.  Bonus points for the lovely 70s San Francisco aesthetic.

MUSIC: Of course, of course it has to be 'Divers' by Joanna Newsom.  Is that too cliche?  I know some people who would think so - apparently my taste in music can be way too 'middle-class white girl who has a fringe and tattoos and lives in Brighton'.  I don't care.  I love her love her love her.  This is still going to be on my record player throughout 2016.

TELLY: I rarely watch stuff on 'actual' telly, and then I feel all superior about it.  For years I really enjoyed saying 'actually I don't have a TV' but now everyone watches everything on computer, that doesn't really have the same cachet any more.  But lately not so much no-telly superiority on my part.  A big reason for this was 'Catastrophe'.  The premise doesn't sound that great: couple get pregnant after casual fling and decide to make a go of things (sounds pretty standard, right?).  But the writing, acting and general charm plus LOL-ness really elevate it.

Oh shit, and I nearly forgot 'This Is England 90'.  And probably loads of other stuff.

vendredi 11 décembre 2015

Tattoos are like songs (and vice versa, so I've heard)

Today - right now - I am being tattooed!  My third tattoo.

So, here is a little story I wrote about the last time I was tattooed.  It was originally in Cassiopeia magazine, and I have posted it here before - but I am still very fond and quite proud of it.  It all still applies.

Yes, again I am amid turmoil.  I wonder how many more times in my life I will be tattooed.

Footsteps in the Snow

I suppose we have tattoos because we want to be more like snowflakes – unique, special, unlike any other.  We can kid ourselves.

My tattooist, Francisco, has the skin of someone who did not see snow until last winter.  Nearly every inch of it is tattooed.  He is from Brazil and saw grey London snow for the first time in December – a sight that delighted him beyond my comprehension.  Not unrelatedly, he has a tiny sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of his nose that elevates his face from really nice looking to beautiful.

It is not coincidental that Francisco is tattooing me today amid turmoil – to mark and erase all at once.  Footsteps in the snow.  Firmly planted, for me, myself, where only I can see them.  He knows this instinctively and he looks after me; our conversation on the tattooist’s table is worth a year of therapy.  I am so happy that he will always have been involved in my body, a part of this permanent reminder.

What a strange job – such responsibility and permanence.  I wonder if he feels the weight of it when he goes home at night.  I want to ask him, but we have had to stop our incessant talking because it is making me move around too much and he cannot work.  It is hard for me to stay still.

With no other distraction from the pain, I recite mantras in my head, force myself into a rhythm.


DaddyyoubastardI’mthrough.  DaddyyoubastardI’mthrough.  (Like a train, that one.)


Above Francisco’s whirring gun: the sound of footsteps, crunching in the snow, where nobody will ever see them.

jeudi 10 décembre 2015

Always knows best.

'Your Voice In My Head' by Emma Forrest is well documented as being one of my very favourite books.  I have come to regard it as a life essential.

While out running along the South Bank today, I found myself thinking about a letter - short, to-the-point and wise - from her mother about her recent and horrible relationship breakdown.

When I got back from my run, I had to go and look up the exact wording, because I had the strongest feeling that it might be just what I needed to hear today.  If you exchange the word 'movie star' (I haven't had one of those) for something else (all sorts of other things), this advice applies - beautifully - to the end of so many relationships.

"It will get better now. You can allow the whole thing to recede. You've had your movie star. He's had his smart, funny, sensitive girl from something like the real world. You'll find someone more grounded. He'll find someone tougher. Done."

Not cool.

Occasionally, I will wake up with an essential burning question in my head.

Today: Hmm, I wonder what Dido is up to lately?

I never said I was cool.  And obviously such questions take on disproportionately major importance when I have lots of work and Actually Important Stuff to do.

However, my Googling efforts threw up this song, which I had entirely forgotten about and which I actually think is really great.  You know, in an of-the-moment, slightly dated sort of a way.  It has a morning-after sadness to it that still appeals to me a lot - see also Central Reservation by Beth Orton.

I seem to remember that it was in a film or TV programme when I was at university.  (Although I just Googled that, and apparently it was something called Roswell, of which I have literally no recollection.)  Oh well, at least that put a stop to my Googling black hole of a morning...

mardi 8 décembre 2015

I could skate away on.

I spent the weekend by the river.  Then I travelled back home, by myself in Sunday gloom; trekking through London, it is little wonder I was reduced to tears by a brass band at Victoria station playing Christmas songs.

Of course - of course - I am put in mind of this song.

mercredi 2 décembre 2015

The Sky Lit Up

My hair is officially longer than it has ever been.

So, this song - because it is great and it makes me feel infinite (in a The Perks of Being a Wallflower way, of course).

And, very tenuously, that's how the words go.

And this world tonight is mine,
A world to be remembered in.
Think on a faded photograph,
My hair longer than it's ever been.

And the sky lit up...

samedi 28 novembre 2015


It totally took me by surprise.  This month (almost to the day, in fact) I have lived in Brighton for 10 years.

I moved here on a whim, with a boyfriend.  I had only ever visited for the weekend once before.  I didn’t have a job or anywhere to live.  We arrived on the train, on a rainy Sunday night, a little bemused and with our possessions in rucksacks.  We lived in a B&B for a few weeks until we found a flat.

It all sounds so young and brave now.  So stupid, some might say, but it’s worked out OK.

I’m not with the same boy any more – but we both still live in Brighton.  I’ve lived in four different flats and houses around Brighton.  I have made brilliant friends.  I have written books.

I have done all the things you do when you make a city your own.  I have staked out my favourite pubs.  I have got to know my neighbours.  I have run along the beach and the streets and the parks.  I have taken visitors to the Pavilion and been ice-skating there in the winter.  I have discovered favourite new bands in grotty venues.  I have had secret assignations in the museum.  I have eaten spaghetti Bolognese in the 24-hour caff at 4 in the morning.  I have got excited every time I saw Nick Cave or Natasha Khan in the street. I have bought a lot of shit from Snoopers Paradise.

All that stuff.  You know.  For 10 years.

To mark the occasion, I think I will do my best to remember and to forget.  I will drink Champagne and burn sage.

Brighton, I still love you.

vendredi 27 novembre 2015

Fuck dance, let's art.

I was feeling sleepy and a bit hungover this morning.  A bit burnt out, a bit sad.

So, instead of eating food or going running as I usually do, I spent my lunch hour in the Tate Modern.

I am not clever about art, and I wouldn't even consider myself a very visual person, but there is something about an art gallery that makes me (re)fall in love with the world and its possibilities.  Other people's work - sometimes especially when it is a different medium to the one you work/aspire in - is so inspiring.  It's the best form of 'jealousy' (not quite accurate but for want of a better word) - when other people's creations make you want to work harder and be better at your own.

I also bought a print of this, which is a portrait I find fascinating:

Then I came back to my computer and saw this on Facebook.  It is really cheesy and I normally hate this sort of thing - but right now I whole-heartedly agree with every single one...

Or an epiphany...

"It was about being broody for either children or new creative ideas or an epiphany..."

I love this Bat for Lashes interview:

mercredi 25 novembre 2015


Quiet, writing, winter times...

Please may I just stay in my house until the spring, with candles burning and a bottle of red wine and nothing but the new Joanna Newsom album on the record player?  That's basically what I'm doing these days.

I am in love with 'Divers' so much.  The whole album is just beautiful.  I feel immersed in it; I don't want to listen to anything else.  As a friend of mine pointed out, 'it's not one to dip in and out - put it on and get lost in it'...  Good advice, I reckon.

vendredi 20 novembre 2015

A quite-funny story about the time I took up belly dancing*

I am the bookish type.  But sometimes I like to dance around in my kitchen to Beyonce.  We all do, right?  No?  Please tell me we all do.

Anyway, when I am a bit drunk, or bored or sad or happy, I like to dance around to Beyonce.  Usually by myself, occasionally with a girlfriend or future/current sex partner as witness.

When I saw the advert for belly dancing classes, it appealed to what I guess is the same instinct.  I signed up for a six-week course, bought a scarf with jangly bits to tie around my hips, and diligently took a bus to a community hall every Tuesday after work.

I loved the belly dancing class.  I was probably not the best in the class but I was definitely not the worst!  I downloaded the songs and practised the routines at home in my kitchen, occasionally for polite girlfriends, who I’m sure were truly fascinated by my new expertise in doing a figure-of-eight with my pelvis.  Not to mention my new desire to talk about it at every possible opportunity.

Most of all, I loved the teacher.  We will call her Gala, like Gala Dali (her name in real life is very much like Gala but is not Gala – have I mentioned that this is a true story?).

Gala was probably in her late forties, but with the air of somebody who has a superhuman pelvic floor and probably has sex with twenty-two-year-olds.  She was tall, with long red hair and tattoos.  She wore the sort of swishy skirts and clanking bracelets that one would reasonably expect in a belly dancing teacher.

At class one week, she informed us all that she would be hosting a one-day workshop on women’s sexuality and empowerment.  I was IN.  Obviously.

I turned up on a Saturday morning and prepared to feel empowered.  This was going to be so great.

To cut a long story short – it wasn’t great at all.  Amid a load of other total bullshit, we all had to dance around in circles while Gala barked strange commands at us.

‘Dance like a prostitute!’

Everyone else in the room ramped up the sexy.  My dancing, which had previously been pretty joyous and energetic, kind of slowed down.  I affected a surly expression and popped a hip in a grudging fashion.  I did a half-hearted sexy grind and made a sad face.

Gala pulled me aside.

‘What are you doing?’

I was happy to explain.  I was quite pleased with myself.  I was feeling very ‘method’.

‘Well, I was thinking about how sad I would feel if I were forced to work as a prostitute and dance around.  It also made me feel quite cross.  I thought it came out rather well in my dancing.  That was definitely how a sad prostitute would dance.’

‘You are ruining today for everyone,’ she informed me.

Next, we were instructed to dance ‘like a queen’.

‘What are you doing now?’ Gala asked me, visibly losing patience.

‘Well, after our previous conversation, I didn’t really feel like dancing.  And I thought – I’m a queen, I don’t have to.’

‘You have a very bad energy,’ she told me.

In response, I told her she could go fuck herself.  Then I dramatically stormed out.

Well, I mean, obviously I didn’t.  I am the bookish type, remember?  I meekly endured the rest of the horrible day, paid my money and thanked her on the way out.  Then I went home and cried.

Then I got drunk and danced around the kitchen with my girlfriends to Beyonce.  Like a queenly prostitute.

* it occurred to me only as I was writing it, that I have written about this experience before.  (Shit, am I running out of amusing anecdotes?)  I was out running the other day, and thought this would make a funny story.  It’s only recently that I am seeing the funny side of this incident, TBH – previously I was pretty freaked out by it, which you can read about here.

mercredi 18 novembre 2015

Crown and anchor me, or let me sail away

I was brought up on a diet of Joni Mitchell.  This is not exactly news – I know a lot of people were.  That is not like saying ‘I was brought up exclusively on a diet of Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart and pickled onions’.  Which sounds pretty ideal to me, actually.

Anyway, Blue (the entire album) is engrained into my memory, its every note and cadence.  I could probably sing it backwards.

I hadn’t listened to it in a while.  Then, the other day, I sang along with the entire album while I was in the bath on a Saturday afternoon.  I was in exactly the right mood and it was just the right day for it.  A cold wintry day, a hot bath, a glass of wine.

I kind of want to say ‘I had forgotten how good it was’.  But that is patently not true.  Not possible.

It was more that, for some reason, I noticed some new things about it.  Well, a couple.

a)    Some of the singing on there has almost a hip hop rhythm to it.  Just a tiny bit.  In places.  Honestly.
b)   For every song on there that reduces you to tears – and that album literally slays me – the next one counteracts it.  After Little Green there is Carey.  After Blue there is California.  I hope this might be a metaphor for life.