mercredi 30 septembre 2015

This Is England

The original film This is England came out in 2006.  I was 25; it was not long after I had moved to Brighton.  I saw it as soon as it came out, being a Shane Meadows fan after watching A Room For Romeo Brass (brilliant) and Dead Man’s Shoes (terrifying).

I loved it, but I’m sure I had no idea how attached to these characters I would become.  When the TV spin-off started a few years later – that’s when I fell truly in love.

By this point, like so many of us do, I feel as though those characters are my friends.  Nearly 10 years have passed.  They have grown up as I have.  We’ve all been through a lot (admittedly, I have not been through anything quite as traumatic as some of the characters have – thank gxx).

It sounds frivolous, but it’s funny how we can measure our own lives compared to those of fictional characters.  I remember so clearly what was going on in my life and who I was with when every new instalment of the series came out.

This Sunday night is the last ever instalment, apparently.  I hope it isn’t.  I want it to go on forever.

Last week, seeing Lol and Woody together after so much has happened, I cried and cried and cried.  ‘Christ, I love you; it’s ridiculous,’ he said.  After everything.  They look older, different.  I think of the ways I do, too.

I can’t wait for Sunday night.  I also kind of want it never to come.  I want them all to be OK; I don’t know if they will be.

mardi 29 septembre 2015

Lucky Chances

Jackie Collins will always be one of those writers who has a special place in my heart, because I discovered her at exactly the right age.

I read Chances (stolen from my mother’s bookshelf, of course – like me, she has a particular fondness for a well-executed potboiler) when I was about 13 and reading ‘adult’ books for the first time.  Among my favourites were Jilly Cooper, JD Salinger, John Wyndham and, um, Bret Easton-Ellis (I had somehow procured a copy of Less Than Zero under false pretences).  Chances quickly joined my list of favourites.

It was unimaginably exciting.

I’m not saying she was Tolstoy, but I think Jackie Collins was a very misunderstood writer.  Even the articles in the wake of her death have been saying things like ‘a sad loss to the romance novel world’.  Jackie Collins never wrote a romance novel in her life.  I like to think she would be appalled by the very suggestion.

There was sex, but there was mostly crime, intrigue, glamour and ridiculous drama.  Her greatest inspiration was The Godfather, and it shows.  Chances is basically a gangster novel with a bit of extra sex and glamour (which makes it extra fun).

Honestly, if you love a classic gangster novel, read the Santangelo series.   Starting with Chances, then Lucky, and then Lady Boss and beyond.  The Santangelos are one of the great crime families and Lucky is one of my all-time favourite heroines.  She’s ‘kickass’, as Jackie herself was wont to say.

In small tribute to kickass Jackie, I will be re-reading the Santangelo series in its entirety, for the first time since my teenage years.

I was genuinely sad to hear of her death.  She wasn’t that old, at 77 – but because she looked so bloody great for her age, it felt like the death of someone much younger.  Of course, we are all so familiar with her family that I immediately thought ‘oh, poor Joan’, as if I actually knew them.  There was something admirably old-school about the way she kept her illness quiet, completing her book tour and all media commitments only days before she died.

She was one of those women who seemed so indestructible.  She was staunch.  Women like her seem as if they will go on forever.  I wish they could.

vendredi 25 septembre 2015

The Kindness of Strangers

So, a few days after my bag was stolen (or I was 'a victim of crime' as the email from the police said), I received an email from a nice man called Josh.

He had found my bag dumped by the side of Waterloo bridge and picked it up.  My email address was written in the front of my diary.

I was SO happy to hear this.  It not only restored a little bit of faith in the kindness of strangers (it would be much easier to leave a dumped handbag if you spot it than to pick it up and contact its owner, right?) but I must say I was delighted to get the bag back.  It was my mum's, bought in California in the early 90s, and has many stories behind it.

Nearly all of my things were still in it (minus card holder, phone, Kindle - and, weirdly, a cheap pair of sunglasses and a couple of bits of make-up, which I can only think must have fallen out at some point).

It made me wonder (and cringe slightly) what the assorted contents of my handbag would say about me to a stranger.  I don't keep a diary, as such, but in there was a tiny Moleskin notebook containing a few very overwrought passages from last year, plus a bigger notebook containing some inexplicable novel-writing notes.  My Mooncup probably marks me out as a hippie; the detritus of old tissues, receipts and leaky biros and such as a bit of a mess.

I didn't get to meet Josh - he even went to the trouble of cycling to my office and dropping it off, but I wasn't there at the time.  Still I will be eternally grateful for this lovely little bit of London kindness.

dimanche 13 septembre 2015


So...  Following the Handbag Theft of Doom, I now have an iPhone (my mum's old one).  This means I now also have Instagram (finally)!

I'm on there as @eleanorclairewood

Please tell me if there is anyone I should be following on there, as I am currently clueless.

Oh, and I haven't *actually* posted any pictures yet, but of course I am now legally required to take photographs of all of my meals, right?

But it was once so easy.

I wasn't expecting an emotional moment in the kitchen at 10 o'clock this morning, while making tea and scrambled eggs.  I certainly wasn't expecting it to be due to Radio 2, playing absent-mindedly in the background - Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs, FFS.  Surely nobody expects this.  I mean, maybe all those people who write in saying things like "I want to say thank you to my husband Geoff - we've been together since 1978 and he's my best friend" or "please say congratulations to our daughter Laura, who is marrying the love of her life this weekend" - maybe they're regularly having Radio 2-based emotional epiphanies on a Sunday morning, but somehow I doubt it.*

Anyway.  I was making scrambled eggs when I heard a song I haven't heard in at least 25 years, since I was a tiny child.  It was 'On My Own' by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald.  I have a weird love for Michael McDonald because my parents were both big fans of his during my 80s childhood.  The internet tells me that this song came out in 1986, when I was 5.  I probably haven't heard it again since the 80s, but I was surprised to find that I still knew every word.  And now I was an adult, the words made me cry.

It was the strangest combination, suddenly, out of nowhere.  Childhood memories of innocently singing along in the back seat of my parents' car, while they played this on the tape deck.  So many divorces and break-ups in my family in the intervening years...  And now the words hit me as an adult, more pertinent now than ever: 'now we're up to talking divorce, and we weren't even married... no one said it was easy, but it was once so easy... this wasn't how it was supposed to end, I wish that we could do it all again...'

It felt like a very private moment, all mine.  I pulled myself together.  I brought my boyfriend tea and scrambled eggs in bed, where he said: 'God, I haven't heard that song in years... it actually made me a bit teary'.

So I suppose it's just that a good song will do that to us all.

(I have since discovered today that the video contains some amazing acting and an even more amazing red jumpsuit that I really wish I owned.)

*If you have not heard this show, I promise you it is truly terrible.  But I really like a slushy power ballad on a Sunday morning (of which there are many, interspersed with messages from callers dedicating said slushy power ballads to their loved ones).  Although I listen to it whilst making breakfast every Sunday morning, I do not in any way recommend it.

samedi 12 septembre 2015

Saturday song

A song that I will always love, which will make me smile and dance and sing along, no matter what.  Saturday joy.

lundi 7 septembre 2015

In My Bag

My handbag was stolen on Friday night (boo).  I was having a glass of wine at the BFI with my lovely cousin and her lovely husband after work, and it was taken from under the table (by real pros, according to the security guards who saw it all on CCTV - which made me feel slightly better about the whole thing, but not much).

It's particularly annoying as there was really nothing in there of much value to anyone else (I am hoping the thieving baddies will be gutted to have found no cash and discovered that I am pretty much the only person left who doesn't have an iPhone), but of course of much value to me.  I expect it all just got chucked in the river.  And yet I spent the entire weekend sorting out the ensuing hassle of lost things.

Here's what the bastards did get:
  • 1 x brown Coach handbag that belonged to my mum in the 90s (and was very beloved).
  • 1 x card holder (a present) containing debit card (which nobody had attempted to use before I cancelled it), a couple of cards kept from restaurants just for the memories, Foyles loyalty card that had AT LEAST £3 on it.
  • Keys - to my house, office and mum's house; keyrings from Istanbul, Marrakech and Paris.
  • Diary (so they will know that I ran 5K three times last week, started my period last Monday and am due to have dinner with my friend Deborah on Wednesday - truly fascinating stuff).
  • 1 x ancient Blackberry phone.
  • 1 x monthly rail ticket between Brighton and London, which has ended up causing the most hassle and expense of all, and caused me to sit and weep at Brighton railway station on Saturday afternoon.
  • 1 x Kindle, which I guess isn't worth a lot (it's the most basic model) but obviously had a lot of great books on it.
  • 1 x hairbrush.
  • 3 x eyeliners (one fat, one thin, one pen).
  • 2 x Chanel lipsticks (one now discontinued); 1 x Nars lipstick; 2 x Topshop lipsticks; 1 x Revlon Cherries in the Snow.
  • 1 x Bare Minerals face powder.
  • 1 x Nars blusher in 'Orgasm'.
  • 1 x Batiste for dark hair.
  • 1 x small Moleskine notebook that was a present.
  • 1 x notebook that was also a present and had many ideas scribbled in it.
  • 1 x crystal bought in Dungeness.
  • 1 x angel good luck charm given to me as a present.
  • Various soggy tissues, powdery chewing gums, capless Biros, etc etc...

mercredi 2 septembre 2015

It can't be that bad.

I heard this song at the weekend for the first time in years, and was reminded how much I actually like Sheryl Crow.  This is a really, really good song.  It makes me want to drink whisky and do karaoke (that sounds great right now, in fact).  She looks amazing in the video, too.

I was also reminded how much I love getting pissed at lunchtime and doing stupid dances with my mum.