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.

mardi 17 novembre 2015

But what did he say?

For reasons probably best kept to myself, I had a hankering this morning to listen to You Said Something by PJ Harvey.

One of my favourite songs from my very favourite PJ album (and we all know how I love PJ, yes? Have I ever mentioned it?), it felt just right for my mood today.  Well, let's not exaggerate - my mood this minute.

Trawling The Internet to scratch this sudden itch, I specifically wanted to hear a version she did on Jools Holland about a million years ago, which I distinctly remember watching by myself in a tiny awful flat I lived in.  I remember Kelis was on the same show - I still quite like her.  She's a chef now, isn't she?

Anyway, while I was doing so, I came across this article - which I agree with, and which made me laugh.

And here's the song.  But not the version I was looking for, which I have been forced to acknowledge may not actually exist.  Probably about right,


It's been a while.  Stuff's been going on.  We've had Hallowe'en.  We've had Bonfire Night.  Christmas decorations seem to be going up.  Maybe this is only making me uncomfortable because I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing for Christmas this year; then again, I think I always object to early Christmasification.

I'm writing.  I'm running a lot again; I love running in the winter.  I'm getting a new tattoo.

I'm a bit obsessed with this (she's wonderful, as ever).  I am listening to new music with keen ears, at the moment.