vendredi 26 juillet 2019

I Want

My train was delayed today because it was A Bit Hot. Like, by hours. I had finished my book. So I re-listened to Tracey Emin’s Desert Island Discs.

I adore Tracey. I have three of her prints up in my house, including one super-limited edition one that I couldn’t really afford but inexplicably had to have. 

Listening to her talking, it struck me for the first time that - over and above all the usual observations about her - in all of her work, she is so open about WANTING. It is all suffused with unadulterated wanting, yearning, disappointment, fury at the injustice. Maybe that’s what makes people feel so uncomfortable. At its core: Wanting. 

I’d never noticed this theme before. One of her works I have a print of is called I WANT IT ALL. I used to think it was a joke. It’s not a joke. 

She is the opposite of the cool girl. 

I was bred to be the cool girl. Yeah, I’m fun, whatever you want, I don’t mind really. Yeah, it’s cool. Don’t worry about it.

Fuck that. 

Wanting is ugly. Wanting is embarrassing. Shameful, even. Unladylike.

Wanting may even be disgusting. I realise, lately, that I am never more myself than when I am at my least attractive. At my most disgusting. Home alone, sweating in the heat, slumped on the sofa in my pants, pasta-filled belly out, watching that George Harrison documentary AGAIN.

I want to be disgusting and stupid and very clever and sexy and ugly and fucking glorious.

I want to not be ashamed of wanting.

I want everything.

lundi 22 juillet 2019

How To Be Luminous

My great friend Harriet Reuter Hapgood writes more beautifully than you can possibly imagine. She recently produced both a book and a baby into the world in the space of one week, that’s the kind of casual over-achiever she is.

Usually, if I read a book and wish I’d written it myself to the point of jealousy, it’s because it has a clever, twisty plot that would be far beyond the limitations of my small brain. However, Harriet could write a book in which nothing happened whatsoever – full of sighs, meaningful glances, no dialogue and solely descriptions of beautiful rooms and outfits – and I would happily spend the rest of my life reading it. I honestly don’t know anyone else on the face of this planet who has her gift for unusual description, unexpected detail and sighingly gorgeous lycricism.

Her new book, HOW TO BE LUMINOUS, tells the story of the three teenage sloe sisters. Their famous artist mother has disappeared and Minnie, the middle sister, has lost her ability to see colour. There are gorgeous boys, even more gorgeous settings, outfits I wish were real and in my wardrobe, fictional artworks that I can see right in front of me, and a rabbit called Salvador Dali. There are roses and sequinned platform shoes and secrets and wild swimming and a thousand shades of bright pink and existential angst.

Her first book, THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER, is also wonderful but I think I love this one even more. I highly recommend reading both. She is frequently compared to Jandy Nelson – company of the highest order and very aptly deserved.

In short. I do not even have the linguistic skills to convey how beautiful Harriet’s writing is. It makes me feel like Georgia O’Keeffe and PJ Harvey and Sylvia Plath do, but about teenage girls in South London. I can’t wait for all the things she’s going to do next. The word ‘humbled’ is overused and I hate it but… yeah, that.

As well as being a very proud friend, I also really like this sensible and wise article on being single by Garance Dore. I think she’s a pretty cool woman.

I also bought some tiny Ivy Park shorts on Depop (I only buy second-hand clothes now). I bought them from a cool teenage girl and now totally feel like one when I’m out running. It’s a great feeling.

I have been drinking a lot of kombucha. Fun. Today I’m 42 days sober (the longest since I was 14 years old) and I’m told this is where it gets really good. Incidentally, I have now not smoked in 9 months. This almost passed me by, and it feels normal now, most of the time.

I presume you already do Yoga With Adriene, but stepping up to doing at least one of her (usually short) videos every day has changed my life for the better.

Last night, we ate pasta sauce made with olives from the garden and few things have ever made me happier.

Things are really not too bad on this humid, London, sleepy, wearing my boyfriend’s shirt to work Monday morning.

mardi 16 juillet 2019

Maybe useful, maybe not

I’ve been making a lot of stuff lately. I’ve been low-key productive, focused on the small things. It’s been nice. I find pottering very relaxing. These things make me feel in control when I’m not. I really value peace, at the moment. Also I like it when the end product outweighs the effort involved.

I’m trying hard to live a little bit healthily, for myself and the world.

Here are some of the things I’ve been making and doing, in case it’s useful to you.

This recipe for kimchi has really improved my life. It’s so easy, it keeps, it’s good for your gut, and it makes a really good dinner just with a bowl of rice. I leave out the weird addition of carrots, but once I used the spicy pickling paste just to pickle some carrots on their own, because they were sitting about getting a bit old, and they were incredible. The moral of the story is: spicy pickle anything and everything. Also apple cider vinegar works just fine if, like me, that is your thing.

This very, very basic jam recipe is great if you have any fruit that needs using up. If you feel a little bit fancy, you can add vanilla or balsamic vinegar or thyme. I have some foraging planned.

You can then have your homemade jam on these vegan pancakes for ridiculous smug levels. They are among the best pancakes I have ever made, vegan or no, and so simple you might as well just make them every Sunday. Yay grown-up life.

Who knew that making your own oat milk was SO EASY? Also: ridiculously cheap and saves on packaging (buy your oats from a bulk store and take your own jar!)

Making your own rice milk is also very easy, but I find it a bit less delicious. Still, worth doing if you just have a bit of cooked rice leftover, which you can then use to make chia pudding.

Making your own hummus, if you do it from dried chickpeas bought in bulk, also saves a lot of those little plastic tubs if you get through as much hummus as I do.

Now that I’ve tuned into reducing packaging, it’s hard not to think about it at all times. So just to cut things down, I’d also recommend this deodorant (all natural, comes in paper packaging, works really well) and this luxurious shampoo bar (invented by my friend Jonathan and probably the fanciest shampoo bar there is, although I also quite like the Lush Godiva one).

If, like me, you have limited outdoor space and limited gardening skill/time, I also recommend plants and seeds from the pound shop. I’ve got some carrots growing on my kitchen windowsill from a pack of 79p seeds. I just sprinkled them around and hoped for the best, and magic seems to be happening.

I could, should and hopefully will do more of the above type stuff. Please send me your recs (ideally on Instagram, where I now spend all of my time looking for eco life hacks and sexy sobriety). Thanks!

lundi 15 juillet 2019

Holiday Friends

A weekend of many a seaside jaunt, including going to see my friend Paul Murray sing some lovely songs and we all talked about whether we should move to Worthing. Paul is of the marvellous musical duo Bee & Jackrabbit and, as always, I am astounded that they are not internationally renowned and revered, TBH.

If, like me, you also watched series 3 of Stranger Things in one big gulp and are now slightly bereft - here is another little musical gem that echoes my many strong feelings about Steve Harrington.

I've now started watching Call My Agent, which is fun. It's really trashy, but in a glamorous way because it's French.

I also went swimming, which was nice. I should go swimming more.

Yesterday I made pancakes for breakfast and ate them with homemade jam, and few things have ever brought me more joy. I have high hopes of our late homegrown carrots, and a plethora of pickling plans. The herb garden is coming on beautifully. I have homemade kimchi in my packed lunch today. I've got my eye on some blackberries for foraging.

I wonder if this sudden and virulent enthusiasm for preserving things in jars is a futile reaction to the terrible state of the world at large. Probably. It's the sort of thing that can make you feel like you're in control of events when you're really, really not. Oh well.

Conversely, watching a lot of rubbish late-night horror films and Japanese wrestling. Grown-up life can be pretty great.

mardi 9 juillet 2019

Notes from *any* divorce.

I've been thinking a lot about last weekend's Emma Forrest article.

I agree with her wholeheartedly that: 
"The thing I find most painful about divorce is that there is no marked spot at which to leave offerings."

In the end, I can only conclude that the best thing we can do is to write about it.

Emma's writing has always helped me, perhaps because I relate far too heavily to all of it. I have read her memoir Your Voice In My Head probably more times than I've ever read anything else. It's certainly influenced my current writing a lot.

When she got married I literally started a scrapbook of her Elle columns about marriage. 'If she can do it, maybe I can too,' I thought. 'Maybe...' 

However, as always, her words tap into a comforting place, no matter how sad the topic. I was also reminded of the time my friend Ali and I followed a man around Marrakech for an entire afternoon because we thought he might be George Michael. He was not George Michael.

I'd like to be in Marrakech right now. It was a place I long dreamed of before I ever went there. It was more magical than I would ever have expected. For years, I thought I'd end up being like the mum in Hideous Kinky one day. I don't think that any more.

This week a year ago my dog died and I went to Switzerland with a boy I barely knew.

Anyway. Observations today include that spicy-pickling carrots is always an excellent decision. I'm also heavily into aubergines right now (sprinkle them with sumac and roast them). I've been reading about meditation, which I am quite bad at. I'm prepared to try.

Tomorrow I am 30 days sober and have been instructed to buy myself a treat.

My life has been quite small, lately. It's been domestic and cosy, and I have enjoyed it. I'm starting to feel the itch to do bigger work, though. Maybe because I watched Brene Brown last night and... if you know, you know.

lundi 8 juillet 2019

What I've been up to.

It’s been a quiet cosy time, but it also feels like a productive time.

I have been making a lot of stuff. Kimchi, oat milk, hummus, chocolate spread. I have been pickling a lot of things. The olive tree in the garden has yielded an abundant freak crop of Brighton olives. I’m trying to make us into a zero waste household. I’ve planted some carrots. I’ve started using a natural deodorant and I don’t even seem to stink.

I went to a gin festival and drank coffee.

I’ve been to some nice gigs. I highly, highly recommend checking out the ED Fowler Band and Peter Cat, two of the best things I’ve seen lately.

I re-read The Outrun by Amy Liptrot and The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, both of which are beautifully written and highly inspiring. This is the sort of thing I’m in the mood for these days.

I went to a Belinda Carlisle drag queen contest and it was a lot of fun.

I went for a massage, on a whim. Never done it before, best decision ever.

I’m trying to do yoga every single day, and it is helping.

I watched all of the new series of Stranger Things in a 24-hour period. I cried profusely at the end. Rare for me these days; I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to.

I hate shopping but I’ve suddenly taken to buying second-hand clothes on the internet. Getting parcels is fun. So is having a lot of jumpsuit options, it turns out.

I am in awe of my wonderful friend Harriet, who has made a book and a baby in dazzlingly quick succession. She is one of the most beautiful writers on this earth, and you should definitely read the book.

I’ve been listening to Domino Kirke’s beautiful record a lot and also aiming to be beyond waves. There’s graffiti at the end of my road that declares NO MORE DRAMA and I want it tattooed on my heart.

Today I am 28 days sober, like that film with Sandra Bullock.