mercredi 22 juillet 2015

The Horn

I first saw Prinzhorn Dance School years and years ago (like, 12?).  It was in a grotty pub in High Wycombe called The Roundabout, at a gig my friend Steve organised.

They were immediately special and different, and continue to be so.  I love people who have a strong style, who stick to their principles.

I love their new(est) record.  I have been listening to it non-stop; this song has been in my head for days now.

Good work music.

mardi 21 juillet 2015

Goodbye, Johnny Thunders...

I was walking on the South Bank at lunchtime, as I sometimes do.  Wearing a blue dress, chatting on the phone to my boyfriend.  I strolled back to the office via the book market under Waterloo Bridge.  I often pick up an old paperback there for my train journey home - usually about £3, only as much as I would spend on a Pret soup but bringing me so much more joy.  Many have been the same Penguin classics that I used to 'borrow' from my parents' shelf as a teenager - recently, Margaret Drabble, Doris Lessing, Fay Weldon, all my favourites.

Then a book caught my eye.  'Goodbye, Johnny Thunders' by Tania Kindersley - the same cover that it had when it was on my bookshelf so long ago.

It was one of my teenage favourites.  An oh-so 90s tale of decadence, naivety and heartbreak (still among my favourite topics).  Set in Notting Hill.  A romantic tragedy.  Bad boys drinking whisky and disappearing, wannabe writer girls smoking cigarettes and weeping.  You get the picture.  All set to a hot summer and a great soundtrack and the promise of carnival.  Those youthful days that seemed eternal.  Those seismic relationships and break-ups that change you forever.  The ones you think you'll never get over.  The ones you do, in the end.

When I was going through a bad break-up, years and years ago, this was the book I would read.  I felt that I could have written it, or it had been written just for me.  I would read it on the train and cry.  I would read it at night and cry.  I would listen to Jeff Buckley and cry.

It was the sort of break-up that felt so much more shattering than it really was.  The sort that it would be so easy to sneer at in hindsight, once you've been through break-ups that involve a real history, a whole family (a whole world with its own secret language), and pain so deep you didn't realise even in your most melodramatic moments that it was possible.  Not to mention actual fucking logistics.

Still.  I was young but it was real.

Later, when I got happier again, I gave that book away.  It wasn't that good and I certainly didn't need it any more.  Its moment had passed, in more ways than one.

I had almost forgotten about it, until today.

I almost bought it back.  I am now 34 years old, wearing a blue dress my boyfriend bought me, still wearing friendship bracelets, making plans for the future.

I almost bought it back, but then I didn't.  Someone else might need it.


Hello.  How are you?

Fun stuff going on here...  I recently went back to my old school to host their Junior Prizegiving afternoon, which was a treat.  I also had a lovely time at YALC on Saturday night (this was followed by a much-needed quiet country walk on Sunday).

The countryside is calling me, I feel.  In an ideal life, I would live in bohemian poverty in a ramshackle castle (just a small one would do), and commune with nature and write masterpieces all day long before going for a swim in the moat and playing the lute by candlelight.  Um, I may have stolen this from somewhere...

I spent yesterday ill in bed (nothing dramatic, but generally rubbish) and I am still feeling spacey today. (This could also be because I spent much of the day napping in front of old episodes of the Kardashians, which I'm sure can do funny things to a person's brain.)

So, nothing to say, really.

Oh, but I finally read Amy Poehler's book and highly recommend it to all.

jeudi 16 juillet 2015

Sneak peek!

Public service announcement coming up:

The lovely and brilliant people at My Kinda Book have launched an exciting new 'Sneak Peek' thing...

So... This means you can get free samplers of all sorts of cool new books sent straight to you!  My book is one of them, and there are others by amazing YA heroines like Rainbow Rowell and Leila Sales...  I don't think I will ever get used to mentioning myself even in the same breath as such godstars!

Find out more about Sneak Peek here!

(In other reading news, 'The Dark Light' by Julia Bell is absolutely beyond incredible.  I could not put it down and was holding my breath until the very last sentence.  Best thing I've read in ages.  Think 'The Wicker Man' crossed with 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit' in a tale of YA romance that is as heart-rending as it is sinister.  *SO* HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.)

mardi 14 juillet 2015

On grief and on letting go.

My dear friend AZD wrote a post on her blog today that was so beautiful and wise and sad and uplifting, it moved me to instant tears.

You can read it here.

It really put me in mind of Joan Didion and her incredible 'The Year of Magical Thinking'.  Perhaps there is something about the time period of a year that has meaning beyond one revolution of the sun.  (That's what a year is, right?  My junior school science knowledge is rusty.)

Joan Didion is one of my greatest writing inspirations (although - obviously - I would not dare to put myself into anywhere near the same breath as her as 'a writer') and this is truly one of my desert island books - one of those books that changes your life while also articulating things you already felt, only more beautifully and profoundly.

If she can write her way out of it, we all can.  And that's a real comfort to know.

lundi 13 juillet 2015


Life has been up and down lately.  It's a grey and rainy Monday morning.  But it's OK.

Things are good.  This will be a productive week.

Normal service is resumed.

mercredi 8 juillet 2015


The History Girl

Reading this blog back from the beginning – as I have been wont to do lately, along with other unhealthy things like looking through old photographs and poring over long-ago emails – is a strange experience.

I started it in March 2011.  Not so long ago, maybe, in the grand scheme of things.  But before the London Olympics, before a few house moves, before I turned 30, before Game of Thrones was on, before I really knew what heartbreak meant.

Before this blog, I’d kept up a couple of other (way too personal, very “early 00s”) blogs for years – annoyingly, I deleted them and now wish I hadn’t.  I’d love to read them now.  I have long had the habit of doing stupid stuff like that: throwing out clothes and then wishing I could wear them again, still dreaming about the old cassette tapes I got rid of years ago…

Amid so much change, I’ve been thinking about the past a lot.  Maybe too much, lately.  It seems impossible not to.  The future is so unclear.  Is some level of regret and disappointment inevitable by this age?  Will life always be a bit less shiny than it once was?  Do we ever know what we’re doing?

If you know, please tell me.

(‘If you do, you start missing everybody’…)

mardi 7 juillet 2015

10 years.

10 years ago I was working in an office just outside London.  The job bored me but I kind of liked it.  The people were nice.  I was the happiest I had ever been in my life.  I was madly in love with a beautiful boy who loved me; we had been inseparable for over a year, the longest relationship I had ever had.  In fact, I say ‘madly in love’ but it was the least mad I had ever been.  We had been to Paris and the countryside together; we had a summer holiday planned.  We cooked dinner and watched a film most nights – rented from the video shop, back in those days.  I stayed at his house and took an hour-long bus journey to work every day, even though I lived within walking distance of my office, just so I could see him every night.  We were looking for a flat to live in together.

I saw the BBC news website at work that morning.  As in offices everywhere that day, we were glued to it, put the radio on, called friends and family.  My mum was driving into central London and had to turn back.  My best friend and her boyfriend were stranded and paid £200 for a taxi home.  A lady I worked with had a son in the Met Police.  Thankfully, they were all fine.  We were so lucky.

I was 24.  I would get happier and happier and then sadder and then who knows?  Me and that boy moved to Brighton and we lived together for 11 years.

I wish I could go back there, to when I was 24.  I wish I knew how it would end for all of us.  Maybe everyone does.

But I know we were so lucky.

On making one's own luck

I loved Viv Albertine's book and have been re-reading it lately.  I think she's a real inspiration.

On that theme, I just read an interview with her in The Quietus - and the following answer really struck a chord with me.

VA: I think coincidences are more likely to happen if you're working fucking hard at your life. And you're keeping yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally fit. And then you're in places at the time you should be there. Coincidences and luck are very much down to the work you put into yourself in life.
Vincent coming into my life at that moment, the timing was amazing. If it had been a month before or afterwards, it probably wouldn't have had the impact it did. But it was bang on. I was just beginning to emerge, going to art school, healing from all the illness, moving to the sea. It was just right. So that coincidence came. I grabbed onto that and didn't let it go. I saw him as almost a lifeline. Whatever it was that came along had to be a certain mixture of things, otherwise I wouldn't have been interested in grabbing onto that lifeline. But this was big enough, and out of my sphere enough, that I was absolutely taken by the whole thing. But if I hadn't looked after myself, got myself better, been running, gone to art school, I wouldn't have been ready for that. I know other people who have had things drop into their life and they're not ready to take it. And Patti Smith walking in then - if I hadn't taken a trip to New York, if I hadn't worked on myself, if I hadn't believed this was something coming along to show me I could do more, then I wouldn't have been sitting in that café and seen her come in that time.
So yeah, I think coincidences very much have a lot of work behind them. And if you're not fit, you can't benefit from them.

samedi 4 juillet 2015

Mimi Rose Howard

So many of my life lessons these days seem to come via Lena Dunham’s Girls.  Yes, I am 34 years old…

Since she has appeared in series 4, I have been struck by such dislike for the brilliantly drawn character Mimi Rose Howard.

Now I realise that it is probably for the same reasons as Hannah.  This article, whether you watch Girls and/or give a shit about Hannah/Adam/Mimi Rose is PERFECT.

mercredi 1 juillet 2015

Jemima Kirke is my hero.

I have long been obsessed with Jemima Kirke for her amazing face/hair/wardrobe/tattoos/general coolness.

However, my admiration for her has gone through the roof since she joined Twitter (she is funny and clever) and started speaking out on issues that I are very close to my heart (feminism, body image, abortion).

This article inspired me and taught me a few lessons that I am going to try to bear in mind when looking at myself and others (and especially talking to children).  I seriously could not love her more.