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. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Is happy boring?

Does the bad stuff spark creativity? Should we be looking for experience over contentment? Is happy boring?

After binge-watching GIRLS for the last few days and hearing the show’s anti-heroine, Hannah Horvath, explain to a fellow character that she’s “never wanted to be happy”, I started to think about the idea of struggle in a different way.

The bad stuff we go through, while traumatic at the time, leads to lessons learned, a deeper sense of character and stories to tell. For those of us who like to write from experience, the bad stuff sure does offer up an expanse of potential material.

Not only have I learned a lot from the comparatively minimal trials I’ve experienced, but some of my favourite and best stories to tell are tales of woe. The kind of stories I repeat, over and over, to any willing audience I can find, in my always honourable attempt to be both self-deprecating and the centre of attention.

I usually get a big laugh when I recall the day I got dumped and received a formal warning at work for not offering someone a cup of tea, and then almost crashed my car on the way home because I was sobbing so violently whilst simultaneously singing along to the Demi Lavato classic, Skyscraper. It was very dramatic and not at all funny at the time – I was in a deep state of inner turmoil and self-pity and kind of felt like I was in a film – but now, I think it’s fucking hilarious.

Similarly, when I was 17 years old and crippled with OCD, I did some pretty weird stuff, the kind of stuff that only really gets airtime in satirical comedy sketches. And I've used that - I’ve written a lot about OCD and my experiences, my first published article was about the illness, and so, in a way, I’m grateful for the opportunities it provided me with.

Almost all the big comedians have, or have had, some form of mental illness. Stephen Fry suffers from bipolar disorder, Miranda Hart and Spike Milligan from depression, as well as David Walliams, Paul Merton and Robin Williams. A study by Oxford University researchers found that there is a link between mental illness and creativity and that the creative elements needed for humour are similar to traits seen in people with psychosis.

Despite her youthful ignorance, Hannah Horvath, known in real life as Lena Dunham, seems to have hit the nail on the head somewhat. Suffering is authentic and raw, while happiness is more fickle. It is openly and easily expressed, which doesn’t lend itself to character development or creativity.

The idea of not wanting to be happy is an alien one, and it doesn’t sit particularly comfortably. Perhaps though, if only subconsciously, we want the journey more than the end goal. And if not, maybe that's what is best for us. Creatively speaking, anyway.

Of course it's all about balance - everything is about balance. Whether it's how much carbohydrate, protein and vegetables you eat or how much time you spend alone vs social-butterflying. We need the bad to appreciate (or even comprehend) the good, that is undeniable, but to return to my earlier queston, "is happy boring?", my conclusion is yes, but only to the question in its most simplistic form. Negative experiences keep us wanting, discontent and hopefully moving forward. I always want to be moving forward, being inspired and creating. I don't think it is a case of wanting bad things to happen, it is rather a case of wanting to experience as much as possible, and to do that one must enter the world, fully and fearlessly, and get hurt and damaged in the process. You can't be creative without that. It is arguably impossible. 

So Hannah-from-GIRLS, I agree, we should go and experience life, devoid of fear. Let's do that. And then write about it.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Things I think when scrolling through Instagram:

(The best at Instagram)

Ooh, a cat

Burger. HELLO. I've been there. I wish I was there now

I’m hungry

Your pictures look shit when you split them in three. Come on guys, VISUALS

Stop showing me your cat it makes me cry *double taps through regretful tears*

Urgh, I hate your sports-bra-post-run-mirror-selfies because you’re horribly narcissistic and you have such a nice belly

I hate most of the people I follow

Maybe I should unfollow some of them…?

No, don’t be ridiculous, then who would I hate?

I’d find someone

Like this person on holiday while I’m at work. What a horrible bitch




I think I just threw up in my mouth

Your dinner looks shit

I want a cat so bad

I don’t care that you went for a run and I also don’t care how many calories you burnt, but I’m still going to like your picture of your expensive calorie counting watch because I’m such an encouraging friend

I wish I was Joy the Baker


If that picture was of anyone else I’d hate them

I’m going to take a selfie now and I’ll probably go with a Valencia filter because I think that’s the one that makes my skin look good

And then I’ll ask mum if we can get a cat again

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

I finally know what Taylor Swift has been singing about.

Another year is gone, like a lingering hangover in a cloud of biscuit crumbs, cheap wine and vague regret. I am 22-years-old now, and so grateful that 21 is finally over.

I didn’t enjoy being 21, frankly, which had much to do with unfortunate situations and a little to do with unrealistic expectations. I feel like there’s too much pressure on the poor 21-year-old to have all the fun available to them, whilst also being a fully grown grownup who manages their finances and remembers to shower in the morning. The two are not compatible. Such expectations set us up for a fall and I think that’s flawed and a bit mean.

This past year I’ve been juggling a hefty commute, starting my career, a couple of break ups, a LOT of wine, some deep sadness, and, only-on-one-occasion-I-hasten-to-add, staying out till 6am on a Tuesday and then catching the 7.32 to Baker Street to negotiate a day of meetings.

I was not fresh.

I hope to feel more comfortable in my 22nd year on earth. I plan to move to London, get properly settled there and in my new job, and rinse that Taylor Swift song for all it is worth. It’s also the first year since I was 17 that I’ve been single (madness) and I hope to become a little more content in that too.

Before I can begin all that contented new-me crap though, I must show you my birthday. The weekend was splendid, thanks. Friday night nicely tended to my moderate alcoholism, on Saturday we had all the family round for a BBQ, and on Sunday (my actual birthday) I ate my weight in pastries, burgers and cheese, and got a bit sunburnt in a beer garden. Top chuffing notch.

Here’s some instagrams to prove it.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Summer bucket list.

Eat lobster

Take a weekend camping trip to the beach and sit under the stars drinking bottles of cider, listening to pretentious tunes and laughing about complete shit

Don’t worry too much about the tummy rolls on show when sitting at a 90 degree angle wearing a bikini. No one is looking, or cares, so enjoy that sun on your skin gurrrrrrl, but…

Wear sun cream

Meet friends after work on a Friday and sit/stand outside one of those impossibly busy London pubs just being happy we’re all alive and there’s wine in the world

Go buy frozen yoghurt from one of those places you always walk past and think: “I’d really like to buy frozen yoghurt, but I won’t today.”

Rooftop cinema – preferably with hotdogs

Rooftop bar, while watching the sun go down and holding a bellini

Wear short denim dungarees most of the time

Buy and wear funny t-shirts. Under said dungarees

Barbeque halloumi, mushrooms and peppers and shove it all in a warm bun and then in your face

Also, sausages

Make time for the people you love

Don’t take anything too seriously, only have fun, and remember that people disappoint, but pizza is eternal.