vendredi 21 juillet 2017

Oh, how you do reflect the sun...

I am a Courtney Love apologist and I don't care who knows it.  I have a picture of her on my bedroom wall, which is in my eyeline when I wake up every morning (a greater honour than even Patti Smith, over on the other side of the room, has).  It's in black and white, when she had a chubby face and her original nose.  I have spent many, many hours of my life arguing with a certain type of boy over Courtney Love.  Too many to mention.

As such, it is probably not a surprise to know that I think her first solo album - America's Sweetheart - is criminally underrated.  But IT IS.  Even retro of-the-moment early-00s digs like 'But Julian I'm a Little Bit Older Than You' are still hilarious and poignant.  Even the lady herself calls it 'that coked up piece of shit I made in the south of France when I needed the money'.  However, most of all, it has some of her most affecting songs.

I am, of course, also a great proponent of the iPod iChing.  Yesterday, on a train, I flicked onto shuffle and asked the universe for a sign (it's been that kind of a week, dear reader)...

This is what I got.  Oh, sigh - baby, you were almost golden..

It took me way back to the year this album came out.  I was 23 years old, working a boring temp job and trying to be A Writer, without quite knowing how, living in a sweet little cottage with a girlfriend - where we barely slept for the entire year we lived there, and a boy once pissed on our sofa.  I used to listen to this album non-stop.  Once, literally, all night.  That was when I wasn't listening to What Would The Community Think? by Cat Power and crying my eyeliner off, TBH.  It was a time of total extremes, for which this was the perfect (half) soundtrack.

We would spend days on end in the pub, have post-gig parties with all the bands back at our place.  On Sundays I could be found at Camden Market, helping out my new boyfriend with his art stall.    I still played bass sometimes, then.  Sometimes we had people round for spaghetti bolognese and felt grown up.  I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, with its wooden floorboards and a huge mirror, taking big-haired panda-eyed pale-faced selfies for my MySpace profile.  We used to watch The Dreamers repeatedly, while drinking wine in the afternoons.  We were still young enough that skipping dinner and drinking cheap fizz on a schoolnight felt impossibly glamorous.  It was the house where we saw a ghost.

mardi 18 juillet 2017


So, this year, I will once again be at the Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC), part of the London Film and Comic Con!  I am very excited about this.  Last year I had a great time, did lots of booky things and saw lots of lovely friends, but also sneaked off to see Dolph Lundgren and a Game of Thrones panel.  Dream.

This year, I am extra excited, and with very good reason...  My wonderful friend Harriet Reuter Hapgood and I are hosting a MAKE YOUR OWN YALC ZINE workshop!

Harriet is one of my favourite people in the world to hang out with, and when we do, a lot of our time and chat revolves around zines.  Early in our friendship, we established that we were both former makers of our own 90s lo-fi fanzines.  We talked about how cool it would be to resurrect the scrappy, black-and-white photocopied labours of love from our youth.  We drank some wine, ate a lot of snacks, worked on our novels and sometimes even cut up old copies of Vanity Fair for inspiration.

Then, one sunny Saturday, we spent the day in Harriet's garden with her cat Stanley and we finally put together our new fanzine I AM NOT ASHAMED!  It is a lo-fi wonder, homespun and very much put together in a day, which is how a good proper fanzine should be.

Copies will be available for the first time ever at YALC (each individually decorated and numbered!) and we will also be hosting our workshop on how to make one yourself.  There will be inspo, activities, ideas, snacks, music and LOTS OF GLITTER.

I can't wait.  Hope to see you there... for revolution girl style now!

vendredi 14 juillet 2017

I Blame Jilly

I blame Jilly Cooper.  For many things.  I love her beyond all reasonable measure, but I can’t help but feel it’s all her fault.

Jilly had far too great an effect on me at far too young an age; I spent my pre-teen years nicking my mum’s copy of Rivals and discussing with my cousin which character we’d be.  We don’t still do that; no, not at all.  We’re grown-ups now, honest.  (Ahem, Prudence and Imogen.)

In Jilly World, women should be fun and naughty, just a little bit grubby.  Self-control is not only boring but deeply suspicious.  Pouring stingy measures is so frowned upon it might as well be illegal.  Lunchtime drinking is not only fine, it’s positively de rigeur.  You shouldn’t be too healthy or too good at your job (you’re allowed to be bright, as long as you take two-hour lunch breaks and fuck everything up a lot, but everyone in your office loves you so it’s fine); your house shouldn’t be too clean.  You should be charmingly self-deprecating at all times, a little bit indiscreet, just a tiny bit too fat for your favourite slinky dress (which may be covered in cat hair).

Basically 'Jilly made me do it' is my standard get-out for all of my many character failings.

However, the most important thing I learned from Jilly is that romance has a formula.  The path to true love – with a Matt/Corey/Ace/Declan type if you’re really lucky – is well signposted.  So, obviously I thought this would be the case in real life: heavy hints dropped throughout the story, the happy ending clear cut and arriving just in time.

If the universe would only conform to the Jilly rules, I know exactly the man in my life who I am supposed to end up with.  According to the Cooper Law, here is how it works:
  • You are entirely disinterested and/or antagonistic towards Said Man at first
  • Love Feelings sneak up on you when you least suspect them
  • You find yourself engineering meetings, putting on lipstick when you are going to see him and denying to your friends (who have suspected all along) that you are falling for Said Man, while fervently trying to deny it to yourself (after all, he's not your type/you despise him/you're mad about someone else!)
  • Said Man kisses you and a thousand bolts of lightning go through you, etc
  • You possibly have ill-timed/drunk sex, which makes you both feel awkward and handle it badly in the morning (despite both of you having The Secret Love Feelings)
  • Just as it looks like you might get it together, there will be a dramatic obstacle in the way (a secret girlfriend/estranged wife/evil ex; meddling family/local busybody; a sudden death/illness/horse-related crisis)
  • You are heartbroken and slink off to be consoled by your hilarious boozy girlfriends and their pun-based one-liners, in either a tumbledown country cottage or a flat in Putney (NB their love lives will suddenly and unexpectedly be going brilliantly, just to make matters extra depressing for you)
  • There may be some sort of miscommunication on the way to tangle things up even further and lead you to think it’s all utterly, utterly hopeless
  • He turns up, only to find you in a red-eyed and hairy-legged state of despair, having just eaten an entire jar of pickled onions, yet still manfully declares his undying love and willingness to take on your grumpy cat/blind dog/demanding family/crippling debt
  • You have a very jolly wedding, where Janey Lloyd-Foxe gets off with the best man and your long-divorced parents get so pissed they end up in bed together
  • Live happily ever after.

I mean, is that really so hard?  It’s how it’s supposed to go, according to everything I have ever learned in my life.  I genuinely do not understand why the Cooper Law cannot apply to the actual universe.

The idea that it doesn’t is personally upsetting to me.  I am both affronted and terrified.  I mean, what are you supposed to do if Said Man doesn't appear to have read enough Jilly novels to know how this is supposed to end?  Shit.  There is no Jilly plot for this.

Yep, I blame Jilly.  I'm still going to spend the weekend rereading Prudence in the bath and eating pickled onions.

jeudi 13 juillet 2017


I know using the phrase 'hashtag mood' in a bored and ironic way is really overdone (and I'm totally guilty of it).

But if there is one thing that sums up my mood right now, non-ironically, it is this song.  I cannot stop listening to it and over-relating with EVERY SINGLE FUCKING WORD.

We should all want more.  We should all be more Viv - 'I'm not brave, but I'm not scared'.


mercredi 12 juillet 2017

Hi. How are you?

Hi.  How are you?  It's been a while.

What's been going on?  Not a lot, in the scheme of things.

Re-reading Viv Albertine's 'Clothes Music Boys' (incidentally, I always love that 'boys' is at the bottom of that list - quite right), and listening to her 'The Vermillion Border' A LOT.  Basically, I love Viv Albertine very, very deeply.  She is always great for life advice and general inspiration.  Did I mention I love her?

I have also - slowly, carefully - reread Tracey Emin's 'Strangeland', for the first time in a long time.  I also really love Tracey, but in a different way.  I think she's one of my favourite artists because she is so much about words.  Powerful words.  Words like fucking grenades.  But also incredibly beautiful.  I once nearly passed out with vicarious raw emotion at one of her video pieces in the Hayward Gallery.  True story.  It's how she makes me feel.  I can't read that book very often, but when I do it's an experience.  I want to go back to Margate.  And to Turkey.

I went to the launch party for Chris Russell's 'Songs About Us', the sequel to his 'Songs About A Girl'.  Now it's probably no secret that I enjoy teenage books involving girls, bands, music, romance and drama... so, obviously, it's a yes from me.  It was a lovely party, in a great pub called the Cat's Back that was like a cosy living room in a really cool house.  I can't wait to read the book.

Other than that... trying to stay on the straight and narrow, working hard and not getting enough done, feeling lazy but not getting enough sleep, trying to get out into the sunshine and fresh air, dreaming of impossible things.  Keep on keeping on, comrades.