mardi 21 avril 2020

Dance memory

Years ago, I spent a year living in a tiny top-floor flat, with a view of treetops from the sitting room window and a very distant view of the sea from the fire escape out the back. The miniature galley kitchen in that flat reminded me of Paris. The sun came in through the window in the afternoons and the ancient cabinets were trimmed in bright egg-yolk yellow. That kitchen was so tiny, the fridge had to be kept out in the hallway at the top of the stairs.

The year in that flat coincided with my temporary obsession with Tracy Anderson. This sounds strange and felt out of character. Tracy Anderson is Gwyneth Paltrow's personal trainer and I am not at all sure that we would be friends in real life (who knows, though?!). She looks like an Olsen twin, or a small woodland creature in very tiny outfits. She says cheerful motivational things - 'Let's have fun! I'm so proud of you!' - in a very flat monotone. There is something very corporate, maybe even robotic, about her. She talks in pseudoscience and fetishises being 'tiny' and 'the dancer's body'.

For some reason, I bought all of her DVDs. In that flat, I did them diligently every single evening.

There is something about Tracy Anderson that I find incredibly relaxing. All of the movements are very repetitive, to the point of being boring. Her choreographed dances seem to have no logic to them whatsoever. Some of the movements are so insane, she reminds me of Kate Bush, even though she is the exact opposite of Kate Bush.

All of her workouts are set to bland electronic music that just fades into the background. I discovered that this could easily be muted and replaced with Sonic Youth. There is something about this combination that works perfectly.

Whenever I hear Lee Ranaldo's solo album 'Between the Times and the Tides', I am instantly transported back to that flat, doing Tracy Anderson dance moves for hours on end on the nasty brown rental-flat carpet, with a view of the trees. Incidentally, Lee Ranaldo was really the underrated member of Sonic Youth.

I've been spending a lot of my lockdown time exercising. Physical movement is currently helpful.

I find repetitive motion very comforting, so I suppose it's natural that I looked up Tracy on YouTube. It's almost like meditating, maybe because I've done it so many times now. Just add the Sonic Youth member of your choice.

vendredi 17 avril 2020


As I start writing this, I am 313 days sober. That’s 10 and a bit months. That’s nearly a year. I did not anticipate this. It’s the longest (by a very, very long way) I have been without drinking since I was 14 years old. Actually, I talked to my dad about this the other day, and he thinks it might have been 12 or 13. He might be right.

Originally, I was aiming for 100 days. Then I kept going. I’m currently aiming for the full year. I am still learning new and surprising things about myself and my old relationship with drinking, so – at least until that stops, and maybe beyond – it seems a good idea to keep going.

I wonder if lots of people are accidentally sober at the moment, as usually they only drink when they go out and see people. I am very deliberately sober. A lot of the time, now, I don’t think about it. Then, suddenly, I am hit round the face with a sense-memory: a cold glass of white wine with lunch, a delicious glass of red wine by a fire, a French 75, an icy margarita, a late-night whisky, champagne when it’s free. It passes.

Incidentally, I love(d) free booze more than almost anything in the world. The things I find hardest are still a) catered events; b) long-haul flights. I always joked that the classiest thing in the world would be to go on a business-class flight and not drink the free booze. I guess I’m classy now.

Anyway, I most definitely did not only drink when I went out and saw people. I loved drinking alone almost more than I loved drinking with friends. I loved all kinds of drinking. I was known for it. I was the person who you would call if you were in the mood to get drunk on a Tuesday. I was the one who would always be guaranteed to say ‘let’s get another bottle’.

I do miss it. But I’m better without it, these days. I’m glad not to be hungover. 

It’s good to keep assessing what you miss and what you don’t. Sometimes it changes. Sometimes it’s surprising.

A few weeks before the lockdown started, I realised I was exhausted and I simultaneously realised how much time I used to spend horizontal and unproductive because I was hungover. I would get home from work, get straight into bed, and order enough takeaway food for at least two people. Then I would fall asleep with a film still playing on my laptop. If it was a Saturday, I might only get up in the evening to cook a mixing bowl full of pasta. I do not miss hangovers, but I kind of miss those days. I’m always so upright and productive now. Sounds perverse, which is probably why it took me a while to figure it out. There is something about a hangover that makes you treat yourself as you would a child, because you can only deal with an immediate and very base level of need. ‘Am I hungry? Might I like to get up and have a bath?’ I resolved to recreate those days occasionally, even though I no longer need to.

Sometimes you miss things you shouldn’t miss. Like hangovers. And having an excuse for poor behaviour or an irrational outburst (‘I was just sooooo drunk!’). But mostly, I don’t miss a thing.

I received a message yesterday, out of the blue, from someone I have not seen in a long time. Someone I used to miss a lot. Someone who I associate more than almost anyone else with days and nights of drinking – pink cocktails and white wine and pints of Asahi and even bright green absinthe. Secret boozy lunches, impromptu evenings, missed trains, hungover breakfasts. Never, ever sober.

Admittedly, in my life, this could be quite a few people. But this was the one I once enjoyed drunken arguments and poor decision-making with the very most.

‘I miss you,’ it said.

I used to miss this person so, so much. But when somebody offers you a plate of crumbs and tells you it’s a goddamn feast, you change your phone number and you move on.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the past, but it sometimes occurs to me that I do things very differently now. This is not a coincidence.

I gave up smoking. I cut all my hair off. I went back to school. I gave up drinking.

I feel like a different person now.

mercredi 15 avril 2020


  • You can eat dandelions!
  • I am obsessed with attic conversions
  • The Ordinary has actually improved my skin - acid is exciting
  • I love being basic now
  • I think I need to talk to my therapist about my feelings for Don Draper
  • I wonder if the actors who play Don and Joan look as sexy in ordinary modern clothes
  • I want a pink boiler suit
  • I know this sounds self-centred but it's so mind-blowing to think that all the world is still out there!
  • Peanut butter noodles
  • Homemade kimchi on everything
  • The light on the walls at times when you are usually never at home
  • Please leave a nice review of my book somewhere if you can
  • I am looking forward to moving meditation with music at 6pm today (currently keen on any kind of livestream situation)
  • Jet was the best Gladiator
  • I'd really like to be commissioned to write things I would never have thought of writing
  • The roses are starting to bud in the front window
  • At lunchtimes, my kitchen is now officially called the Moon Dust Diner
  • Set up a tent in the sitting room for a holiday at home!
  • I keep thinking a lot lately that what is meant for you will not pass you by
  • I'd like to adapt a book for the screen (any screen)
  • It's hard to knit when the weather is getting warmer
  • Five minutes outside makes a (lucky) difference
  • Oreos are accidentally vegan
  • So is most ready-made pastry - information that, to me, has been nothing short of life-changing

mardi 14 avril 2020

Isolation activities.

Isolation continues. Cosy, scary, sleepy, confusing. I have to admit it's nice to have time on my hands. I realise this is a huge privilege.

I really, really like jam now. I used to think jam was only OK. Apricot is my favourite, but I have now finished the apricot and the blackcurrant is also good.

I am obsessed with Pinterest and all the decorating ideas I have 'for when this is all over'. For some reason, there is currently something comforting about visual fripperies. Especially when I am seemingly incapable even of reading a book at the moment.

I am going to paint my stairs pink. I am going to paint a dull wall bright purple. I am going to go to junk shops and poke about all day long and buy things and paint them. I want to start painting wooden wardrobes and shelves.

The light is nice in corners of my house, at times when I would never usually be there. I feel there is something important to be learned from this.

I have come to the conclusion that gxd has been saving Mad Men up for me at this time. I am obsessed. I dream about it at night and cannot wait for every next episode. Oh, Don Draper. My heart. Oh, also the styling. And everything.

Oh, and I did a podcast! I know that's the last sentence anyone needs to utter, now or at any time, quite frankly. But I promise it's not just me talking. It's not a 'haha, me and my friends are so funny, people would LOVE to listen to us just chat!' type podcast. Because there are more than enough of those, thank you very much.

The STAUNCH Podcast basically consists of interviews with interesting people who are far older and wiser than I am. Featuring stories and life advice and general chat. It was such an enriching experience that I am very grateful for. I honestly think it's a very comforting and reassuring listen. Available now on Anchor and Spotify (other platforms forthcoming), if you'd like to. Let me know what you think!

vendredi 3 avril 2020

Lessons in Isolation

Nobody really needs another hot take on this. But I like to write things down and remember them.

My cancelled book launch seems a long time ago now. However, the book is obviously still available and is the ideal ebook or audio choice at the moment (Cosmo says so, calling it 'a fun and uplifting memoir')! You can also still order via my friends at The Feminist Bookshop if you want to help out a small business.

I am mostly feeling very zen, very lucky and like 'normal' life is now a dim and distant memory.

My attention span seems to be shot and I can barely read. In a way it's quite relaxing. My main leisure pastime at the moment is reading about other people's beauty routines.

Relatedly, I am trying to make isolation feel like a luxe experience, so have developed an elaborate skincare routine and dragged all sorts of treats out from the back of the cupboard (foot exfoliators! pore strips! sparkly nail varnishes!).

I am enjoying the communal feeling of live-streamed events, whether dance classes or gigs. There is something comforting about knowing things are happening in real time.

I now do Joe Wicks PE lesson every morning.

There are tulips coming out in the pots on my little patio. I also do skipping on the patio. This makes me feel very lucky.

I have eaten kitcheree (my nan's old recipe) for my last three meals. I'm pretty happy about this.

I am fantasising about getting all the tattoos when I get out of here, getting my nails done (which I have done maybe twice in my entire life thus far), going on day trips to Hastings and poking through junk shops.

I will almost definitely succumb to the questionable box dye I found in the bathroom cupboard.

I do not think I will have a new book written by the end of this, despite initial optimism.