vendredi 25 mai 2018

I'm all nerve.

Today, I was sitting in my kitchen, writing. I took a day off Actual Work, to work on a thing I'm writing.

I was sitting in my kitchen. I love my kitchen. It's a ridiculous Pepto Bismol pink, and there are Mexican tiles, and there are purple scented stocks that have lasted over a week now, and there is always music on. Sometimes there is a cat.  There is one of the many Chartier menus, collected over a lifetime, in a frame. There is Marilyn and Hockney and fairy lights and a money plant. There are books (always) and there are gold nipple tassels hanging on the wall.

I was sitting in my kitchen and I was thinking about a person I haven't seen in a while now, not for a few months. Nearly half a year now, in fact. A person I miss, who is (I think) far away (doesn't anybody stay in one place any more?).

I was sitting in my kitchen, and I was thinking about this person, and The Breeders came on the radio. I love The Breeders.

"I wanna see you,
Especially you.
You don't know how much I miss you.
I may be high.
I may hide and run out at you.
You don't know how much I miss you."

Then there was a knock on the door. It was a parcel. For one crazy moment, I thought it was a sign, and it might be from this person. It's my birthday soon. But it wasn't. Of course it wasn't.

Then a cat came and sat on me. Then the song on the radio changed. Then I got on with my writing.

mercredi 16 mai 2018

The usual stuff.

I went to Krakow and I ate A LOT of pierogi. If you have not been, I highly recommend doing so. It’s very pretty, with a river and a Disney castle. Pleasingly, I saw a lot of nuns.

On my return, I attended the second meeting of the unofficial Preston Park Film Club. So far, we have watched Whiplash and Warrior. I’m not sure whether we should keep up this theme of selecting the most stressful films possible to watch.

Of course I also devoured To Be Read Unopened, the new Viv Albertine book, the moment it was released. She is one of my greatest inspirations. I cannot explain how glad I am she exists. She makes me feel better about life. I wanted to underline every single sentence.

I also read Purpose by Jessica Huie. Jessica and I are united by having a BFF in common, despite not actually knowing each other. This is not the sort of book I would usually read, but I have been pleased and surprised to find that important parts of it have very much stayed with me. An interesting lesson.

To complete a trilogy of fascinating reads, I was very lucky to be given an advance copy of the zeitgeisty Darling by Rachel Edwards. It’s billed as a ‘Brexit thriller’ about race and family and is as fascinating – and, at times, uncomfortable – as it sounds.

I’ve been listening almost exclusively to a playlist I madethat consists of songs whose only common denominator is I like to sing alongwith them. That and Camp Cope, who I remain passionately in love with.

Despite my aversion to podcasts in general (no shade, it’s just my brain can’t cope without something to look at!), the one exception is The Adam Buxton Podcast. Not only because I have a crush on Adam, honest. I realise this is not a particularly helpful recommendation, as pretty much everyone I know already listens to it. However, I have been doing so more than ever lately. His voice and general loveliness are very soothing to me, and we all need a bit of that. Particularly recommended old episodes I’ve been revisiting include Zadie Smith and literally anything involving Joe, Louis or Jon Ronson.

Other ephemera of current interest include, but are not limited to: buying plants from the pound shop and keeping my fingers crossed they might spring into life; being as gobsmacked as everyone else by Wild Wild Country; smashing my head against the kitchen table because I hate editing; feeling depressed but then cheering up literally only because it’s sunny and Hey Jude still exists; being a bit shit at painting pottery but having fun anyway; roof terraces in general; my new 70s mum style Iden jeans.

mardi 15 mai 2018

Holden + ECW 4ever

When I was 13, my mum gave me a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. It took me a long time to read it. During that transition between children’s books and adult, I was still secretly reading The Babysitter’s Club, while ostentatiously carrying Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis around with me (I know). My genuine favourites at that time were the early works of Jilly Cooper and everything by John Wyndham.

It took me a long time to embark on Salinger. I would look at its plain silver cover and feel weirdly overwhelmed, even though it’s a thin book. I can’t remember why. My mum had great taste – she was always introducing me to great things. For some reason, I couldn’t see why she wanted me to read this one.

When I finally did, it is no exaggeration to say my life changed. I fell in love with Holden Caulfield. So much so that I pretended in my head that he was real and he was my boyfriend. I was obsessed. The relationship between Holden and his sister made me cry. Everything he said resonated with me so strongly.

It’s one of those books, along with The Outsiders and The Bell Jar, that I read at exactly the right time. So it has stayed with me forever. There are some books you must read when you’re at the height of the reminiscence bump. My memories of sitting in my bedroom reading Salinger and listening to Nirvana on cassette sum up not only my teenage years but everything that was to come afterwards.

I bought a copy of The Catcher in the Rye for my first serious boyfriend for his birthday. I gave it to him with great ceremony, saying that he must read it in order to truly understand me. Happy birthday! (In my defence, I was only 23 and very self-important.)

I was devastated when he said he ‘didn’t get it’. He didn’t want to read about a whiny posh teenager. Since then, I’ve met a lot of people who’ve said the same thing. The Catcher in the Rye is a book that you must read at the right time. It’s not one to read because a girl in a lot of eyeliner and a vintage dress has bought it for you for your twenty-eighth birthday.

However, if you do happen to read it at the right time, then it will never leave you. If anything, I relate to that book more now than I did then. I mean, I don’t reread it and fantasise about going ice-skating with Holden the way I used to (promise). I haven’t actually read it in years. Maybe I don’t need to, as I could pretty much recite it from memory. I do reread the Glass family short stories and I still love them. (If you haven’t, they’re underrated.)

I might have loved that book when I was 13, but I didn’t understand it. It was only when I was older I realised it was a book about grief. Even though it tells you explicitly in the last passage, I didn’t realise it was not a book about standard teenage angst but a book about loss. It’s a book about missing people.

The older I get, the more I think that life becomes more and more about missing people. I’m writing a new (experimental) thing at the moment. It’s a self-indulgent project, different to anything else I have ever written. I’m not sure what, if anything, will come of it.

While trying to wade through the words and edit it down into something more ‘proper’, I asked myself what it was really all about. It’s about a whole lot of feelings, anecdotes, family, friends, history and stories. But what it really is, is a book about missing people.

I seem to be racking them up. It’s still happening. I don’t know what to do about it, other than accept that it’s a part of adult life and try to see the good in it.

Which means that I disagree with my beautiful teenage boyfriend Holden, but I also totally understand what he means.

‘Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.’