lundi 24 septembre 2018

A weekend in Barcelona.

I spent the most delightful weekend in Barcelona. Totally worth the delayed Sunday night flights (when will I learn?) and today’s ensuing weariness.

Despite all of the tapas and Cava and beautiful sights and sunshine, the best part by far was bonding with the two small daughters of the wonderful friends-of-friends we were staying with, in their beautiful flat in Gracia with panoramic views of the city and a quick walk up the hill to Park Guell.

The whole family were an inspiration. Hashtag future life-goals all over the place. The girls and I bonded over early morning cartoons and potato cakes for breakfast, then we all spent the weekend playing and reading and chatting and running around.

I am still stupidly pleased that they love all the same things my sister and I did at their age, so long ago now – The Worst Witch, Flower Fairies, Roald Dahl, playing endless games where we all pretend to be sisters/mermaids/genies/pirates/superheroes and making up dances.

The age difference between them is almost the same as my sister and me. Like us, the eldest is bookish and a bit sassy and more independent; the youngest is cuddlier and endlessly good-natured. They are both delightful and exactly how I would like my own children to be.

When we were tired out from playing, the youngest snuggled into my lap and chatted to me, sleepily. She’s only three and a half.

‘What does that word say on your necklace?’ she asked, playing with it absent-mindedly.

‘It says Lily.’

‘Who’s Lily?’

‘She was my dog. This was the tag from her collar.’

‘Did she die?’


‘Like Mimi?’

‘Yes, like Mimi.’

‘I didn’t know Lily. I missed her. Did you know Mimi?’

‘Yes, I met her at your old house. She was lovely. I really liked Mimi.’

‘Mimi lives in a box now, up there on the shelf.’

Mimi only died less than two months ago. She was a beloved old family cat, older than the two girls. She was old and raggedy and yowly and lovely.

Variations of this conversation happened several times over the course of the weekend. Sometimes quite tenuously. A way of talking about Mimi.

We looked together at pictures of Lily on my phone.

‘I like her. She’s so cute.’

She straightened up my necklace very carefully.

‘There. Now you can remember Lily.’

Oh my heart, dear reader. I have come home with enough love to last me through the winter, at least. I got home late last night – much later than I was supposed to. I was tired and grumpy, but there was someone to meet me at the station when I arrived, even though it was nearly midnight, which made my heart glow with joy.

This reminded me of an interview I read recently with My Favourite Living Writer, Emma Forrest. She was talking about her debut film, which she wrote and directed, and which I am extremely excited about. She made the film with her now ex-husband; the script was inspired by their falling in love, and they had agreed to separate when the filming finished.

On the challenge of working together at this time, she said:

‘This is a guy I married, who never said anything about how I slept with the urn of my dead cat in the bed.’

Yes, I thought. Yes. That.

mardi 11 septembre 2018

Strawberry Fields Whatever

I have alluded here before to how much I adore this blog, but I don't think I have ever directly posted about it. Which I must rectify immediately. It's important.

I think I can say with genuine confidence that Strawberry Fields Whatever is (probably) my favourite blog on all of the Internet. That's a pretty big swing, I know. Just like I can say The Future is my favourite Leonard Cohen song. Except occasionally, when it's I'm Your Man.

Elizabeth Barker is one of my favourite living writers. Yep, she's up there with Emma Forrest and Esther Freud, basically. I love her in the same way I love LA and tacos and Weetzie Bat and crystals and wearing kaftans around the house. I am desperate to go back to LA and her writing makes me feel like I am there.

In fact, it makes me feel very specifically like I am back on that trip there the summer I was 17. When I was kind-of anorexic and totally in love with a boy who was gay, but I was actually pretty happy for those two weeks. We drove from LA to San Francisco. We stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt and I insisted on going to a place called The Black Magic Voodoo Lounge. I bought a skirt from Rodeo Drive, a dress from Goodwill and a Shonen Knife CD - all of which I still have. I had short hair with an undercut and chipped blue nails. I decided I would live in California one day. I still never have.

Anyway, I think I came to Elizabeth through Evan. It's funny the number of sort-of remote acquaintances who came about that way. It's nice, actually. One of the many reasons I always feel fondly towards him. Elizabeth has the same sort of optimistic/melancholy nostalgic voice that he does. It's my favourite sort of a voice.

(Also, have you noticed how everyone I've name-checked in this little missive has the same first initial? It makes me feel cosy, like going out with another Gemini INFP or something.)

I highly recommend signing up to her mailing list, as it gives me a little surge of joy every time I see that a new, glorious post has landed in my inbox.

Take the opening paragraph of this week's, for instance:

I think an ideal relationship dynamic would be where you're like Iggy Pop and David Bowie on the Dinah Shore Show in 1977 - goofy and a little shy and so sweet with each other, but also categorically wild and aware of your wildness without being all impressed with yourself about it. I mean, you can just feel Iggy and Bowie adoring the hell out of each other, and being slightly amused by the whole situation but never giving off some kind of boring you're-not-in-on-the-joke vibe, like a lot of other assholes would. They're so above that! They're so generous about being the wildest thing in the world.

I mean???!!! Come on. PERFECT.

She goes on to talk about McDonalds and Parker Posey and Kristin Hersh and zines and perfect black jeans, and by now I am literally that emoji of a cat with hearts for eyes.

If you are remotely interested in teenage summers, Desperately Seeking Susan, listening to music while driving, never growing out of having ridiculous crushes and always wanting to wear the perfect pair of just-right black jeans, I suggest you sign up immediately.

In recent days, I have also read Ariel Levy's memoir, which left me in pieces and awestruck all at once. I went to a nice party in the countryside. My new favourite restaurant in Brighton is Cin Cin (thanks to a lovely dinner date with Katherine).

I've been thoroughly enjoying running again now that the weather has turned a bit more autumnal. I'm still wearing sandals and my grandmother's old Laura Ashley sundresses, but I'm looking forward to fires and red wine and baked potatoes and blankets. I love the autumn, as well as writing that makes me feel like summer. Still, tonight I'm making vegan tacos for dinner and pretending I'm in LA.