Tuesday, 13 January 2015

January


Christmas is over, you’ve finally sobered up after New Year’s Eve and you find yourself back at work, complaining that your skirt is too tight and manically scribbling to-do lists. I miss December and its tinselled frivolity, and I’ve accidentally become a cliché, sincerely telling everyone I meet that I’m “really ready for Spring now”. Somehow though, we must continue living through the dank grey cloud of January, because turning the gas on and breathing deeply could be seen as a little melodramatic.

Here’s a list of things that might help:

-The house red.
-Socks, big woolly ones that you can’t wear with any of your shoes because they’re too good (thick and cosy) for the indecency of going outside.
-GIRLS season 3.
-The cinema (take a coffee and a huge slice of chocolate brownie for optimum viewing pleasure).
-Serial podcast.
-Your Christmas book haul.
-Pubs with open fires and/or handsome bearded men.
-Tea. All day long. Aaaaallllll day long.
-A list of resolutions that you know deep down you won’t stick to but make you feel, at the time of writing, like a together and organised grownup who might at some point do something worthwhile.
-A haircut (although this one really could go either way).
-Pizza, most nights.
-See also: burgers.
-Under no circumstances, no matter how many pairs of gleaming new Nikes you scroll through on Instagram, go to the gym.
-Gin.

And if that doesn’t work, fuck off to Australia or something.

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 - a roundup


It started with a homemade snow-and-brandy slush puppy in the Swiss Alps and an enthusiastic game of Articulate.

Then I returned home, went back to work, and shit hit the fan.

January/February/March: At the beginning of 2014 I was working for the Watford Observer and had fallen out with a colleague. She was a friend, albeit a bad one, and if we hadn’t have been working together we could have ended the friendship comparatively calmly and unexcitingly. Unfortunately though, that was not the case, and it became a far bigger deal than was worthwhile.

I can say beyond reasonable doubt that what ensued was one of the most outrageous displays of injustice I have ever, or hope to ever, experience. Favouritism, hearsay and the need for a scapegoat led to my being bullied out of the company. Which is unfortunate in some ways, mainly for them, let’s be honest, but turned out to be pretty advantageous to me. I waited until I’d got a new job to leave, of course – I wasn’t going to take off before I was good and ready – but once I’d interviewed for a role as a publicist at a publishing house in London and received my shiny new contract, I handed in my notice and took the kind of sigh of relief that causes chairs in China to fall over.

I should probably mention that the reason my aforementioned colleague and I fell out had something to do with my then-boyfriend. He broke up with me in early January, after the shit and the fan had met, and then decided to become BFFs with her. Because it’s not like she’d called him stupid or he’d called her a c*** or anything.

He has, over the last 10 months, apologised profusely for this though, so I will not dwell on the point. It no longer causes me any negative feelings and I’m sure they have the most prosperous of friendships. Yes, anyway…

After handing in my notice I endured one more month of torture, without wanting to sound too dramatic, slightly numbed by the sheer quantity of wine I drank. On my last day I was called into a meeting room at 9am by the chief reporter, told that they’d “like [me] to leave now please”, asked for my laptop and phone to be returned and then banished from the office. Well why change a habit of a lifetime?

April/May: Next up was the hefty commute to Pimlico, and getting to grips with a new industry and a huge list of books to promote. My new job (now not so new) was and is friendly, exciting and an utter blessing. I love publishing and I love publicity, I met some wonderful people who I will now be friends with forever, and in the words of Evangeline Deavall: “I want to send them a letter of thanks for being so awful to you, because now you’re here.” She’s a treasure.

I had some interesting, shall we say, dating experiences. Which included but were not limited to: travelling to Amsterdam to see a guy I’d met once, and going on two dates with a bar-tender I later realised had a girlfriend.

June/July: But on a humid Tuesday morning during an “Introduction to Publishing” training day, a boy with great hair and skinny jeans, walked into my life. We stared at each other all day and then I oh-so-smoothly handed him (and all his colleagues) my card. He’s made the last 6 months pretty great.

August: I moved to London – Oval to be exact. I made my room pretty and found my way into the deep dark depths of my overdraft.

September/October/November: I guess when life is going well there’s not so much to say. People don’t particularly want to hear that you had a lovely time at the cinema, although we did, or that you really enjoyed that time you spent with your family. Autumn 2014 was great and I did lots of lovely things. See my Instagram for more details.

December: Some things of note happened in December – I saw Ellie Goulding perform live for the 10th time, it was mother’s birthday and my dear friend Mitch’s birthday, we had our work Christmas party and then it was actual Christmas.

Christmas was marvellous. It was my first one living away from home so coming back to Chorleywood for some quality time in front of the fire and Christmas tree was more than ideal. I spent a week at home, seeing friends and family, eating so much cheese my eyes watered, and playing an array of board games to varying degrees of success. Then my 500th cold of the year arrived, but that was okay too because of the stack of books I’d gratefully received. You see, stupendous. 

2014 ended with Timothy on Vauxhall Bridge, too ill to do much else but blissfully happy, watching the London skyline light up as hundreds of fireworks exploded from the Eye.  



I just want to finish with a few thank yous, if I may. My friends and family have been amazing this year, but there are a few that I would like to pay special attention to.

Lottie and Beckie. My WO colleagues who got me through those first few months. Your indignation and anger on my behalf made more of a difference than you’ll ever know.

Eve, Mitch and Toby. For Thursday nights at the flat and just generally keeping me laughing (and drunk).

Millie. For psychoanalysing with me in Bodegas.

Evangeline and Rebecca. You guys make tea more fun, and you helped restore my faith in humankind.

And everyone else who I'm sorry I haven't mentioned (including my rather fabulous family), I'm making myself queasy now.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

18 things to argue about this Christmas


1. The rules of Articulate

2. Who’s eaten the most communal chocolates

3. Who, out of you and your sibling(s), is going to wash up

4. Who, out of you and your sibling(s), has done the most washing up over the entire festive period

5. Politics

6. Whether to watch Love Actually or Die Hard

7. Whether or not “I’ve seen Love Actually too many times” is a viable excuse for not watching it

8. The benefits system

9. Recording approximately 500 hours of films and Christmas specials that no one will ever get around to watching

10. Whether dad should be allowed to have a nap

11. How much cheese to buy*

12. Who gets the last roast potato

13. Whether to go for a post meal walk or fully immerse oneself in the food-coma-situation

14. Who gets control of the remote

15. Family members asking for receipts so they can exchange the presents you so thoughtfully picked out for them

16. People who cheat in Monopoly

17. Money

18. Next Christmas


*the correct answer is "all the cheese"

Friday, 5 December 2014

Some things that have happened



I didn't blog at all in October or November, which is disappointing. It's the first time in four years I've gone an entire month, let alone two, without tapping some words out and clicking publish. I haven't enjoyed nor been impressed by this lack of writing, but one of my main concerns is what on earth I'm going to feature in my, frankly, enthralling yearly round-up. This year has been busy and full of change, and the unfortunate by-product of having a lot of things to write about is not having the time to write about those things.

Life, you cruel mistress.

I’ve taken a dismally small number of artfully composed shots of burgers, and my stories from the last few months are blurring slightly in a crowd of unreliable memories.

So I wanted to say hello, I’m around, at least somewhere, and here is a fairly concise run-down of some good and bad things that have happened in my life over the last few months. This may or may not be of interest to you (my granddad would certainly question why I feel the need to write about my life on the internet at all), but I guess this is what we do, people who write and blog, and if its consequence isn’t a reader’s enjoyment, then maybe it’s just for our own satisfaction, and that’s okay too.


- My hair is longer than it’s been since I was seven-years-old which is not only exciting for the novelty factor, but also because the split-ends are so damn satisfying to pick in particularly long meetings.

- My two best work-friends left me in October and, although they were replaced by some wonderful people, I still haven’t quite recovered.

- After half a year of some pretty terrible dating experiences (read my future (hopefully publishable) book for more details), I somehow managed to meet someone great. Actually one of the best people I’ve ever met – so that’s nice.

- I moved to London. I think I might have told you that though. I love it so much. I want to marry it.

- Tim (boy from third point) and I have rewatched Friends from the beginning and communicate almost entirely in references. Not always Friends, sometimes School of Rock and The Breakfast Club, too. Anyway, it's been time well spent.

- I have organised numerous book launches and events and feel sickeningly inspired by my job. I also made tea for Rowan Williams.

- I have gained a new appreciation for my family and my home. They are great, and when I was very poorly last month Father came to pick me up from South London, took me home, and Mother made me honey & lemon while I watched TV in front of the fire.

- One of the things I was most looking forward to about living in London is Christmas here, and boy does it not disappoint. I almost cried when I saw Harrods.

- I got a new shelf, a new toilet seat and a new radio alarm clock in one week and could barely handle the excitement of it all.

- Similar theme: when I cleared my cupboard out the other day I realised I owned stock cubes. I'm such a grownup. 


I know I’ve missed out lots of lovely and important things, but as I said, I’ve all but forgotten them. I’ll try harder to write more from now on. I always say that, but this time I really, really will. 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

10 things that 20-something (women) enjoy.


1. Pop-up shops - We love things they are temporary because we are fickle and apparently the half-finished flat-pack garden shed look screams delicious-burger-joint-that-will-reasonably-charge-7-to-10-pounds-for-a-lunch-wrapped-in-paper-that-you-have-to-eat-perched-on-the-pavement-outside-while-fending-off-rogue-pigeons.

And we don't even bat an eyelid.

2. Avocados - We crush them onto sour-dough toast, make expensive face-masks out of them and call them guacamole because Mexican food is totally cool now and no longer famous for giving people the runs.

3. The House White - We have no money, we want to get drunk, and we regularly tell the man/woman behind the bar: "I will have a glass of your cheapest alcohol kind sir". Needs must, and we have needs.

4. Instagram - There is simply no point in going for a nice meal with friends if you can't get at least 11 likes out of it.

5. The side bar of shame - How else are we going to find out what colour t-shirt Cheryl-Tweedy-Cole-Fernandez-Versini is wearing?!

6. Rooftop bars - If you're not actively seeking out rooftop bars to drink bellinis and have existential conversations atop, frankly, you're not doing life very well.

7. Caffeine addictions - I still don't know whether these are real, but boy do we love to tweet about them.

8. Lipstick - Pair a bold lip with a perfect cat-eye and we pretty much feel like we could conquer the world. Or at least that slightly grimy club we're on our way to.

9. Scatter cushions and candles - Because mood lighting and soft furnishings are important.

10. Lena Dunham - SHE IS OUR VOICE.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Just being horribly self-indulgent.


"I'm going to go home and write a book."

That's what I told my friend last night, anyway, over our two-pound-thirty half pints of cider that we could barely afford but decided were necessary. Tuesdays are hard, after all. 

I guess this is it - this is what Lena Dunham has been talking about. The penniless 20-something's dream; living in the big city, busy and surrounded by people, lonely and exhausted and searching for the next high.

We all think we're the next big thing, we're told we could change the world if we've got enough nerve, we discuss our grand ideas over bottles of wine and packets of cigarettes, and then we go back to our respective homes and make beans-on-toast for dinner, lie down in front of a box-set and think "I'll start writing that book tomorrow". 

It's all part of it. The big romantic dream. The excitement, the arrogance, the struggling and the ever persistent sadness. I reckon we're all feeling it, some of us just write it down.

I moved to central London three weeks ago today. I made my room look pretty with fresh flowers, soft furnishings and the odd candle here and there, bid farewell to my parents, and then took a deep breath and started the “new chapter”.

I get up every morning, reluctantly and often with last night’s makeup on, and walk to work. When I reach Vauxhall bridge and a favourite, particularly empowering song starts playing in my ears, I won’t lie, I kind of feel like I’m in a film. Work happens, wine happens and then the next day arrives. The new chapter seems to involve a lot of soup-for-dinner, ignoring my bank balance, impromptu pub trips, street markets just because I can, 4am casino visits and a lot of wine. Have I mentioned wine? 

I want to write a book even more now. It's that youthful arrogance again, making me think I've got something worth saying. I reckon we all do though. If there was ever a time to be so self-indulgent you, not only, cry alone in your room listening to songs in minor keys, but think your own pathetic life is worth talking about, it's now, in your 20s, when you do stupid things like get your purse stolen in Leicester Square because you're too drunk to notice some guy near-enough groping you to get hold of it. 

This is it then chaps. It's not perfect, not at all, but it's great. It's fucking great. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Let's talk about books.


My friends make fun of me because I like to take photographs of the books I’m reading, pop attractive filters on them (Valencia, thanks) and upload them to Instagram. But I see it as something of a public service, always aiming to make people aware of the latest literary creations available to them (in all good bookstores). They should be thanking me.

I read, on average, a book a week. Some I don’t enjoy, some are simply entertaining acts of light escapism, and some change the way I see the world and live my life. That is the beauty of a book – there is so much potential for greatness.

I decided to collate some of my latest reads. I would recommend all of them, for different reasons, depending on what you want out of them. All are a beautiful or funny or haunting collection of words.


You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney – Based on the popular blog of the same name, this book highlights the hidden assumptions of our everyday life. In 48 insightful chapters, McRaney acknowledges the ways in which we compromise our intelligence every day. 

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion – The message is that love can conquer all, which is sentimental, to say the least, but compelling and touching nonetheless. I adored this book and implore you to read it. It will make you laugh and cry with equal gusto and I for one, am happy with that. 

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler – The author reveals the collapse of Min and Ed's relationship through stories about the “prizes and debris” that Min has kept as mementos and is about to dump on Ed’s doorstep. For me, the highlight of this beautiful little book was the gorgeous illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. Although it was not the most compelling read of my life, it is a sweet and poignant story.

Finding Colin Firth, by Mia March – I loved this book. It’s not particularly imaginative and it’s not going to be talked about for years to come, but it was a perfect commuting read, which elicits genuine concern for March’s carefully crafted characters. Take it on holiday or read it on the train, you’ll like it, I’m sure.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, by Helen Fielding – The first Bridget Jones book was and remains to be one of my favourite books of all time, and when I heard a new one was coming out, there was no way I was going to wait for the paperback. Although it fails to reach the heights of Bridget Jones’ Diary, that infamous voice of the woman who tries so desperately and fails so endearingly, rings throughout.

A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby – This is one of only two books I’ve read after seeing the film, which isn’t a way of living life I endorse. It is important, dark and funny, but the writing style started to jar with me after a chapter or so. I preferred the film.

Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight – McCreight uncovers the relationship of a mother and daughter, which, heartbreakingly, is doomed from the first page. Underneath the mystery surrounding the daughter’s untimely death, is an intensely accurate portrait of the flawed but loving relationship between family members.

The State We’re In, by Adele Parks – It’s Bridget Jones meets Nicholas Sparks; terribly sad, quietly funny, and you’ll heartily root for those characters, happily forgiving their misgivings and faults in the process.

Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell – It is the simplicity with which the author tells of this unlikely young love that makes this book so wonderful. And it is wonderful. Unlikely, of course, and sometimes excruciating, but Eleanor and Park make you realise that love is simple, and perhaps it only breaks because we complicate it.


Writing these reviews made me realise how much I read about love. I’m not sure what that says about me, I’m not sure I want to know, but I think the way that literature deals with matters of the heart has and will always be of the upmost importance.