The unadulterated joy of having nothing to do

Image from vintagenatgeographic.tumblr.com: Canyon Walls of Jebel Akhdar in Oman|National Geographic | September 1981

How do you spend a day off? With nothing much to work on, no-one to see and no washing to get done (OK, there’s loads of laundry shoved in your wardrobe, but you’ve run out of washing powder)? Can you even remember the last time you had literally no plans for more than a few hours or so? Allowing myself to have a day off where I embrace boredom in all its nothingness is essential to my wellbeing, so I try and do it at least once a week. Boredom may seem like a less-than-covetable state of being, but it’s a state that we often have to force ourselves to be in. So why do we find it so hard to actually enjoy free time?

We’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can very easily record, publish and post anything and everything we do on the internet: whether it be photos, thoughts, rants, or covers of Elvis Presley songs – allowing us to create our identity through showing off our skills to a large (and hopefully accommodating) audience online. In recent months, I’d forgotten how to truly be on my own, in my room, doing my dreaming and scheming and crying and sighing (I’ll stop linking to stuff that your dad would like soon, I swear) and just exist as a solo thing.

A friend of mine recently told me that instead of switching off through meditation, she likes to take time out from the white noise of the world by listening to an album all the way through, while lying on her bed, without doing anything else whatsoever.

For the past couple of Saturdays I’ve done a pretty similar thing. I’ve planned absolutely nothing to do in the day, while still waking up early(ish – before 9am anyway) to experience most of the day. No guilty trot down to the supermarket at 3pm as to “not waste the day”, no listing all those pairs of shoes on Depop because you’ve been “meaning to do it for months”. Just free time. 

After an uncomfortable hour at the beginning of the day, you could well find yourself pretty excited about all of the hours suddenly at your disposal come lunchtime. It might compel you to complete a sudoku puzzle, moisturise your entire body to within an inch of its life, or sit at your desk and commit the lyrics to Who Am I? (What’s My Name) to memory (which’ll come in handy on your next date – trust me). 

Whatever you end up doing, you’ll be pleased to discover that taking an afternoon off from delegating tasks to yourself for the sake of it actually helps you become more productive in the long run. It creates the space in your mind that’s necessary to remember how you like to fill your time without anyone else’s influence, as you allow yourself to be drawn to activities you naturally feel like doing. Remove obligations, to-do lists and Twitter timelines, and you’re faced with the option to do anything you like.

Here’s how I spent last Saturday: after slathering newly-opened No7 creams all over my face that I got last Christmas, I sat down with a notebook and wrote down the names of 10 Bruce Springsteen songs I’d quite like to learn on the guitar. I then spent the next three hours with 11 tabs open on my laptop and a guitar on my lap (the extra tab was for YouTub-ing each song to revel in how glorious the music video was). I totally wasted the afternoon, but I had so much fun doing it.

The summer is really busy for all of us, with birthday parties, weddings, barbecues and the World Cup all making us into obliging attendees of gatherings and get-togethers (often with a six-pack of Kronenburg in hand). However, during those inevitable rainy evenings or lonesome Sundays you stumble upon, try to avoid the temptation to waste away the hours continuously dragging your finger from the top to the bottom of your phone screen in search of that yearning FOMO feeling that makes you thirsty for an Aperol Spritz.

Instead, embrace those precious few hours and enjoy the space that boredom brings – you might even find yourself with a 10-track cover album comprising Bruce Springsteen’s best hits (release date TBC).

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One final thing: if you’d like to listen to the latest episode of Girl Chat, all about periods (tee hee hee), you can do so here.

‘Do you wanna be in the business?’ – 10 songs about the music industry

I read Mike Love’s autobiography last week, the lead singer from the Beach Boys who isn’t Brian Wilson. It’s actually a wonderful read, and a fascinating one at that for anyone supremely interested in 1960s America. In it, Love documents the sudden rise of the Beach Boys as ‘America’s Band’ after Life magazine ran a cover feature about California’s surf craze. So, writing to a brief almost, the Beach Boys signed a deal to produce seven records in something like two years, on the theme of surfing, girls and cars (Surfin’ USA, California Girls, Little Deuce Coupe respectively). While I was reading it I could help but listen to the band on repeat, which got me yearning for summer during a time in mid-March where we’ve been seeing blizzard-like snow. The interesting thing about the Beach Boys is that Pet Sounds and the re-imagined Smile Sessions aside, they have only around 15 hits that have kept resurging every 10 years or so, as another generation discovers their music and makes out with their boyfriends in the car to it. The memoir also recounts the band’s infamous lawsuits throughout the years which got me thinking about the workings of the music industry since the ’60s. So I made a PLAYLIST of songs about the curious, sneaky inner goings-on in the biz (scroll down for related lyrics*). You can listen to it here.

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Here are a list of other books that I have hugely enjoyed since the turn of the new year: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney; Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, Rookie on Love by Rookie writers and contributors; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I’ve tried to get into Goodreads as a way to easily share and get recommendations on what I’ve been reading, but I JUST CAN’T RATE A BOOK OUT OF FIVE! I just rate ALL the books I’ve read out of five, mostly as a pat-on-the-back to myself: Well done you! Five stars for reading a book!


I went to Newcastle for St. Patrick’s Day to see my dear friend and Girl Chat co-host Chloe Trayford. It were a right belter. Here’s some art I saw at the Baltic Gallery that I give you full permission to use as your phone wallpaper.

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On the train home, I watched Beats Rhymes and Life, a documentary about A Tribe Called Quest available on Netflix! Watch it! It’s great! It’s so great I had no idea my train arrived 40 minutes late and I got the full price of my ticket back. All good news.


Other things that I’ve been up to: Saw the motherfucking GOAT Milo at Birthdays in Stoke Newington at both his sold-out shows in London a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have any photos. He did completely different sets both nights and it was probably the most life-affirming duo of shows I’ve ever seen (no hyperboles, trust). It was quite otherworldly to be stood at the front of the crowd and see someone be so creative so spontaneously and with such conviction. If you’ve not heard him yet, I suggest you do so wherever you listen to your music. If you want to support independent radio, here’s an appearance he did on NTS Radio. He steps up around 14m 30s, but listen from the start to hear an insanely good Busdriver track.

OK, I have a terrible cold and I’m out. I’ll be back soon having done some REAL writing.


(P.S. Here’s all the lyrics related to the music business in the linked up playlist, in case you didn’t believe me).
*1. Check the Rhime – A Tribe Called Quest
“Industry rule number four thousand and eighty
Record company people are shady
So kids watch your back ’cause I think they smoke crack
I don’t doubt it, look at how they act”

2. Paint a Vulgar Picture – The Smiths
“Best of! Most of!
Satiate the need
Slip them into different sleeves!
Buy both, and feel deceived
Climber – new entry, re-entry”

3. Free Man in Paris – Joni Mitchell
“I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
Nobody was calling me up for favours
And no one’s future to decide
You know I’d go back there tomorrow
But for the work I’ve taken on
Stoking the star maker machinery
Behind the popular song”

4. Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe – Kendrick Lamar
“You shut me down, you like the control
You speak to me like I’m a child
Try to hold it down, I know the answer
I can shake it off and you feel threatened by me”

5. Re: Animist – Milo
“Showboat rappers get stood up in their studio
I heard Wal-Mart signed Jason Derulo
Then dropped him cause he couldn’t sell crew socks
And refused to adopt the umlaut”

6. W.O.E is Entertainment – Jurassic 5
“Welcome to the wonderful world of entertainment
Where life imitate art and people get famous
Welcome to the world of showbiz arrangement
Where lights, camera, action is the language”

7. We Walk – The Ting Tings
We can’t be honest
We call it off
We got the choice if it all goes wrong
We walk, we walk

8. Have a Cigar – Pink Floyd
“You’re gonna make it if you try,
They’re gonna love you.
I’ve always had a deep respect and I mean that most sincere;
The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think,
Oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?”

9. Country House – Blur
“City dweller, successful fella thought to himself
Oops I’ve got a lot of money
Caught in a rat race terminally
I’m a professional cynic but my heart’s not in it
I’m payin’ the price of livin’ life at the limit”

10. Show Business – A Tribe Called Quest
“Let me tell you ’bout the snakes, the fakes, the lies
The highs at all of these industry shing-dings
Where you see the pretty girls
In the high animated world
Checkin’ for a rapper with all the dough
If you take a shit they want to know
And if you’re gonna fall, they won’t be around, y’all
So you still wanna do the show business?”

Going Underground: Thoughts on life in London, one year on – 6/9/17

I’m writing this as paint slathered on my newly-assembled IKEA bed slowly gets its fumes up in my respiratory system. After what feels like an eternity of frantic Facebook messages, unread voicemails, and offers falling through, a group of very desperate (but very wonderful) girls finally found a house to move in to in Peckham. Go us!

The move marked the end of my first year in London, and it’s been quite the 12 months. Being a serial journal keeper, looking back on things year by year is something I tend to do quite habitually. I used to do this weird thing as a teenager where I’d track my progress each year – say the date was 13 August, I might take a look back at last year’s journal to see what I was up to on or around that date, and see how I fared up. For example: ‘Since 13 August 2013, I’ve kissed four more boys and got a fringe!’ So this post is kind of like that, but with more boys and no fringe.

If you overlook the fact that no matter how hard you work, you’ll never have enough money to go out (from filing copy in the 10 seconds you get Wi-Fi at Underground stops, to never getting a lie-in at weekends to get to the bottom of a to-do list), life in London is a rewarding hustle. It took a while though.

It’s strange to think just how much has changed since I moved away from home, but now, as I sit here, totally exhausted (perpetual state) and in need of a beer (more-than-occasional state), I feel quite grateful for the risk that I took.

Living in the city can be hard, but it pays off. I grew up in a village, where the nearest place you could get a pint of milk was a 10 minute drive away. Growing up in a place with fewer than 100 people in the mid-’00s was a weird one – it didn’t feel very rural, in fact – I spent most of my time inside the house trying to perfect my Tumblr profile.

Yet living in London is different to what I expected. Some thoughts on how to do it:

You are allowed to stay in bed all day sometimes and not feel guilty about it

In Hugo Macdonald’s beautifully written book How to Live in the City, he says it’s totally OK to to pencil in days to lounge around in bed all day – and to do this guilt-free. Because city life is a strain physically, mentally and emotionally, you shouldn’t torment yourself about it, either. (I suppose, in this frazzled digital world we live, the same could be said for those residing in hamlets).

There’s an idea that you should constantly be going at the same rate as the city, but try to remember all those evenings spent working overtime, or the times you had to cancel something hobby-based to do something work-related, and collect all your zzzzzzs guilt-free as you drift in and out of consciousness (unless you’re at your desk, obviously).

Don’t shy away from building small relationships with people you see every day

There are thousands and thousands of people bobbing around a city at any one time. It’s an impossible feat to attempt conversation with everyone you pass on the street, but why does it feel much easier to queue for the self-checkout machines at a supermarket rather than conjure up the effort to talk to someone? Your day-to-day existence can feel more connected when you say hi to the guy who makes your coffee, the woman struggling with her buggy on the bus, or the teenager at the corner shop where you top up your gas. This might seem so horribly self-help preachy but it’s bound to make you feel better, and it requires less effort than you’d think. Even saying hello and – the biggest small change you can incorporate into your city lifestyle – making eye contact, will help you feel more connected to those around you.

Be a tourist in your own city

Exploring parts of the city you don’t usually kick around in is so important to do when you can. There is so much to learn from being a tourist in the place you call home.

Macdonald says: “It’s shocking how many of us have not ‘seen the sights’ in our own cities. Whether it’s the palace, the parliament, the natural history museum, the observatory, the boat trips… these are dots on a map, chapters in a guidebook and stops on a tour for good reason. They represent the history and the culture of the place in which we live. They form the lens through which others see and experience our city – and the more ways we can look at our city, the more interesting it becomes.”

So get your sneaks on and get walking (selfie sticks optional).

Making the most of your commute

The dreaded commute can sometimes feel like one of the worst things about having a nine-to-five in the city (I have to admit, I feel quite blessed when I work from home and don’t have to step outside until everyone’s tucked away in offices). But, if you flip and reverse your commuting habits, it doesn’t need to feel quite so chore-like and time-consuming.

Imagine if you lived above your office, or just across the road from it. It’d be weird! Like those kids who used to live right near school and never knew the struggle of a rotting packed lunches and near-bullying banter on the bus home.

If you can find a way to enjoy certain aspects of your commute, it can become a way to prepare yourself for a day’s work, and likewise, leave it behind at the office as you ride home on your hour-long commute. I lost my headphones for a few weeks recently, and eavesdropped hard on the funniest conversations, the sort of things you read in Time Out’s hilarious feature Word On The Street. If listening to anyone spout bullshit before 9am is your idea of hell, listening to music on your commute is an obvious way to deal, and if you curate your playlist specifically to last as long as your journey (a bit smug about this one), you are DEFINITELY bossing your commute.

If I had 100 words in which to sum up what I’ve learned in 374 days here, they would be these words:

  • Be sensible with money, but try to curb in talking about it ALL THE TIME, as everyone’s broke as shit and no-one needs constantly reminding of that fact. Instead, revel in the solidarity shared with the three other people squatting next to you near the reduced section of the fridge in Tesco. (Except for when they take the last £0.87 sushi you were eyeing up.)
  • Be kind. Kindness is so underrated, and we’re in dire need of it. Thank the bus driver; don’t cancel on your friends twice in a row; hug your flatmates often.

Over and out, and ready for a nap! Zzzzzzzzzzz

I am running a half marathon in October. Here’s why – 3/8/17

Something quite unusual has happened in the past few months: I’ve started running. I ran my first 5km last week. When I told my friend this over dinner a few days after I’d hit that first mini milestone, he said: “Running? From what?”

Yes, I am yet another person who’s gone from hating running (and any sort of thing resembling exercise) to being secretly envious of runners when I’m walking home from work in an unsuitable shoe.

I’m struggling to run further than 6km at the moment, and I have to run just over 20km by October. But something I’ve learned from running three times a week for the past eight weeks is that it slowly becomes easier (the longer your running playlist gradually becomes. Btw, my running playlist started as my 21st birthday party playlist, so it has evolved and grown from a great place).

I’m running the Bournemouth Half Marathon on Sunday 8 October for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Hopefully I’ll be able to raise some money for what is a truly fantastic charity, perhaps I’ll get slightly fitter, but what I’ll definitely have done is learned how to spell obstetrician and gynaecologist, which is a life lesson well worth the sacrifice of blisters and decreased lung capacity.

The desire to begin running wasn’t there before I decided to do the half marathon, but once I was approved by the RCOOG (R-coog, from now on, its gangster moniker) it gave me a huuuge surge of motivation. Yuge, even. I’ll be running the half marathon alongside my darling friend Chloe’s Trayford’s huge, honking FULL marathon; both in Bournemouth, both probably going to get a huge Nando’s afterwards. She’s running 26.1 miles for Rethink Mental Illness, please, please, please help her out by donating to her page here. She’s a superstar and so very inspiring.

When I was scrolling through the list of charities I could opt to donate for, the decision seemed like a weighty one. Clearly, every charity that exists does something good for someone, somewhere, so it really was dealer’s choice. My first thought was to go for a similar charity to my friend, perhaps Mind or Rethink, but R-coog won out because, in an age of Trumps and DUPs, women’s healthcare is something that needs to be constantly fought for, funded, and its importance screamed about from the rooftops. (Mental healthcare does too, as does, well, every -care, but I only had the choice to pick one, so I gone and picked).

We are pretty lucky in England, Scotland and Wales to be able to get access to sexual health and family planning services, from contraception to abortion. While the implementation of these services is not always perfect – and there are things that can always be improved – we can go to our GP or local sexual health service and ask for help from someone who supposedly knows their stuff. Healthcare professionals can – and should – give us free, non-judgemental and informed advice, without telling our parents, or asking for our boyfriend’s approval. They will not report us to the police.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists train healthcare professionals in under-resourced countries to help women during pregnancy and labour.

Its training package Excellence in Obstetric Skills teaches healthcare workers about emergency obstetric skills, early warning symptoms, communication and referral and respectful care. The training package includes ‘train-the-trainers’ to embed skills locally. This video is great and you should at least watch a bit of it:

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Uganda from Mile 91 on Vimeo.

The newly-launched Excellence in Essential Gynaecological Skills package offers training for healthcare workers in 10 aspects of gynaecological health including cervical cancer, early pregnancy loss, abnormal uterine bleeding and contraception. This training package is currently in the development and piloting phase, and it’s the one that I’m specifically fundraising for. Let’s kickstart excellence in essential gynaecological skills, people!

So, those are some of the reasons why I’m running the half marathon for this great and important charity. Running is also making me feel good about having ownership over my own body, a personal freedom too often taken for granted.

I feel like Lenny Henry right now pleading you for your hard-earned wages, but please, please, any donation from your good self will help me reach me goal of raising £300!

Clicking this link will take you directly to my fundraising page.

Thank you!

June edition: Things on the internet that are worth their URLs – 7/6/17

Some things you can look at on the internet other than this blog post: a list, by me. 

Why, hello there! I’ve been meaning to post something on here for so long, but then other things always crop up (Food shopping! Commuting! Clipping my toenails!) so it gets pushed down to the gutter of the to-do list.

Alas, while I’ve been knees deep in spreadsheets, sorting out my personal finance – when I should be packing a lifetime’s amount of hedonism into my newly entered 21st year – other people on the internet have been making some REALLY good shit, some of which I am honoured to share with you here.

There’s some serious stuff re: tomorrow’s impending election (duh duh duuuuhh), enthusiast audio #content in podcast form and a beautiful article about the process of making an album that’s going to be one of the greatest of 2017, because Our Lady Patti Smith has a test pressing in her sacred hands and she is SMILING:

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So rather than this blog post being a DESTINATION this evening, think of it as some guidance within the vast abyss online that is the World Wide Web, pointing you towards URLs worth your time. But if you’re reading this on Thursday, and you’re a UK citizen, stop scrolling right now and go and VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! I’LL MAKE EVERYONE WHO VOTES A BUTTON BADGE OR SOMETHING! WELL, NOT EVERYONE OBVIOUSLY, BUT YOU! YOU! VOTE! VOTE! BUTTON BADGE! VOTE! TAKE AN ‘I VOTED’ SELFIE IF YOU HAVE TO! AND I WILL MAKE YOU A BUTTON BADGE! JUST GO AND VOTE!

Anyway, and on that note:

If you want to see how women across the UK have been feeling in the run-up to this snap general election, watch this video series from The Debrief interviewing 20-somethings across the UK about their thoughts on the policies, the parties and the politicians themselves (why does alliteration always induce so much smugness?) This particular link brings you through to the article about Derby North, the most marginal constituency in the UK. But – as you’ll see in the video – the marginal seat doesn’t spark the sort of enthusiasm and excitement you’d think a two-horse race might. Vice has also released a video about the upcoming election, focusing specifically on the issues that Brexit has pushed aside, and ones that don’t feature heavily in the manifestos, including homelessness, climate change and ‘forgotten cities’. It fucking breaks my heart when Vice journo and hilarious human being Amelia Dimoldenberg hears from a group of Stoke lads that every single nightclub in town has closed down and she’s like, “What!” My hometown is a bit like that – or was heading down that way for a bit, anyway – and while it might not seem like that much of a big deal, it can have such a detrimental effect on the city and the people living there, it’s mad. (Ooh, just so I can share this again because I think it is excellent, Vice also ran a feature called ‘Home Coming‘ where its writers revisited the places where they grew up and it makes for COMPELLING stuff. Or maybe not. Idk. I’m obsessed with the idea of growing up in a dead-end town, so much so, I WROTE A PLAY ABOUT IT! But I can’t link out to that cause it’d be a 30-page PDF. If you missed it at the time, you’ve missed it. Anyway. Anyway.)

If you want a podcast, listen to these wonderful pop music musings on Unbreak My Chart. It’s a half-hour chat between two music writers, Fraser MacAlpine and Laura Snapes, having a jolly ol’ time talking about the top 10 singles in the chart that week. They also talk about new releases across the genres, so if you’re too cool for Bieber, you can be mildly content with the fact that they also mentioned Arcade Fire and Liam Gallagher in the last one. It’s not at all sneering or pretentious, just two people bouncing off each other, reveling in the glory of all things pop. With great adjectives! As shown by the outpour of emotion following the tragic terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last month, and the OneLove megastar concert last weekend, this podcast places the importance of pop music highly – right where it belongs. 

If you want to read about how the creative process isn’t any one thing, read this interview with Robin Pecknold about Fleet Foxes’ upcoming album Crack-Up. FF frontman and indie-folk dreamboat Robin Pecknold spoke to the New York Times about ‘getting out to get back in’, in preparation to record an album that is so hotly anticipated by me, and others, that I GENUINELY HAVE A REMINDER ON MY PHONE TO GO OUT AND BUY IT.

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Kyle Johnson for the New York Times

In it, along with other juicy revealers as to why Father John Misty packed up and left, he dishes out this gem for anyone who is ever considering recording an album/creating something, ever: “[We thought] If we’re going to do this, it has to be something that’s not going to make us want to kill ourselves.”

And on that note, I’m out. Not in the way you’d think I mean by saying ‘on that note’ – but logging out. Bye.

Scrapbooking: Why I’m always buying Pritt Sticks every six months – 12/02/17

I began to rip up magazines and stick them into blank notebooks when my mum made me chuck out two years’ worth of ELLE magazines when I was 16. All 24 issues were stacked downstairs in my conservatory and remained virtually untouched after they’d been read once, save for the occasional rainy Sunday afternoon. They were so pristine, so thick, so full of fucking adverts that I couldn’t bear to give them up. Fast forward a few arguments, and I eventually gave in to The One Who Gave Me Life – but not before ripping out all of my favourite pages. I then discovered one of the small joys in life: Turning something really high-quality into something really funny and a bit shit by ripping things up and rearranging them. 

I enjoy scrapbooking so much because it works better the less you think about it. I’ve kept up the practice of it for years because it helps me de-stress, with the added bonus of having created something at the end.

Writing doesn’t quite have the same effect. Writing is lots of thinking about things that exist inside your head; editing your writing is all about shaping your work until it’s as perfect as it can possibly be. Scrapbooking gives me a chance to work with images from old magazines and use my hands, to create something to no brief, that’s allowed to be a bit terrible. It doesn’t work if I overthink it – the end result always looks like I tried too hard.

I’m usually happiest with the final page when I have a vague-ish plan to glue things down a certain way, and then accidentally rip the paper in the wrong place, or flip the paper over at the last second to reveal a completely different image. This always seems to work better, as it mirrors what the process of scrapbooking is like for me: messy, fast, thoughtless and unpredictable. How fitting that the techniques behind my favourite hobby share the same traits as my decision-making process! 

It’s also something that takes place off the internet, giving my brain some space from cyberspace (forgive me, I’m writing this past midnight). I know this seems pretty hypocritical as I’ve digitalised the pages below, but I’m talking about the process of it. It’s satisfying to press down hard on paper with a dried-out glue stick, hear the sound of stuff ripping, rearrange things without having to drag and drop. And I’m usually quite pleased with the final results, so I’m sharing them with you here. Here’s to us, you scrappy lot!

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This isn’t my best one, but I like the photo of the rose I found in a ‘how to do photography’ book from the ’70s.  Just now, I took a photo of some daffodils in my bedroom by pointing my iPhone towards them and holding my finger down on it, enabling the AF Lock thing. But luckily for me, things were way more complicated 40 years ago, leaving me with books they give away for free at charity shops filled with scrapbook-worthy material. 

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These are some courgettes on top of an old iron bridge. The courgettes are from a Good Housekeeping spin-off book from 1981 called ‘Microwave Cooking Made Easy’.

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Sliced Battenberg; scented cutting from an old Nat Geo feature about the origin of ingredients for best-selling fragrances in 1979; delicious-looking orange juice.

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Again, clearly another quick-fire job, probably when I was desperate to rationalise my thoughts when deciding if I should go and meet that weird guy from Tinder again, feat. the Quiet Beatle, Movieland feature about Audrey Hepburn (circa 1950s), Le Moulin de la Galette postcard by Renoir (although the postcard is a replica). 

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I love this one, but it’s nothing to do with me – just what a photo. I felt compelled to paste something ugly over this, but my gut stopped me. Everything about the above photo’s composition is to die for. My, GOD. Feel free to pinch for your lock screens, people. 

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Butt.

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Something about the ’40s/’90s mash-up in that 1991 ad for Intel processors that is peak-perfect nostalgia levels. img_2786

‘Spezial Transporte’. 

 

Brief encounters: re-visiting acquaintances from a year gone by – 15/01/17

I finished my journal a couple of weeks ago in a weird coincidence that obeyed the rules of the Gregorian calendar. Completing a notebook is a similar feeling to finishing a book, except with extra hand cramp. Before the final pages had been filled, I re-read it, and was reminded of some characters I briefly met that had a weirdly profound and lasting effect on me. Here are words summing them up. 

Festival goers inhale laughing gas at sunrise at the stone circle on the second day of Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset

To the boy with a shaved head trying to flog two bags of coke and ket at Glastonbury this year – congrats! You’ve made my top three brief encounters of 2016. How are you? I’ve been reminded of you more than once since June, and each time I am, it makes me smile a bit. This might sound a bit VICE, but I’ve never met someone so into drugs in such an excessive way, and the way you went about it was admirable and a bit brilliant.
I went all heart eyes for your infectious joie de vivre, which – in a field of festival-goers – wasn’t sparse, but yours seemed totally authentic: committed to the (chemical) cause. We were all sat at the Stone Circle during the Sunday night/Monday morning merge, and I let you kiss me a tiny bit while I was holding the hand of a newly-instated friend I’d first met earlier that day, who lay passed out on the grass among all the popping canisters. You were giggling with your best mate the whole time I was there: a right pair, out of your heads, hopelessly devoted to each other.

You were supposed to be working the get-out for Coldplay’s closing set in a few hours’ time, but decided to (rather sensibly) sack it off and continue to cane it instead. Hope the two of you had a mad sesh planned for New Year’s Eve. And, separately, to the group of sixth form boys we met in the whiskey tent at 6am, drowsy on Valium, I hope you passed your A-levels. You will all be fine.


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To the man I met outside Liverpool St. station in September holding a bag full of meat, I hope you got on with your brother all right. We met when I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch, and you were sat there looking noticeably nervous, with a plastic bag filled to the brim with pork.

You told me you were waiting to meet your brother who you hadn’t seen for nine years – and you’d just come from a charcuterie class. Whatever it takes to calm your nerves, I suppose. I’m glad I was there to witness the physical reunion of you both, experiencing a truly dramatic Slice of (Someone Else’s) Life.

I hope the rest of your date went as swimmingly as the reception did, and I wonder if you spent Christmas together. If so, I really hope you supplied the Christmas ham.



Alejandro*, my first crush on a Catalan boy that took place in Berlin during August, thanks for stepping in to my summer trip at exactly the right time – when I desperately needed someone to make out with at all the major sightseeing spots. Sorry I got so uptight about you not paying the train fare to go to east Berlin for the day, but I’m quite into paying for public transport (and secretly riding the S-Bahn was an affordable tourist attraction I was more than willing to pay for). Not paying did make you look really cool though.

Perhaps the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to me was when I walked you to the train station in the morning so you could jump the train to Amsterdam (transport troubadour), but then you called an hour later to say you were back at the hostel – and would I like to go to the zoo? (Answer: always yes.) You were my total guy for three days, and I will never forget that time in the Photoautomat booth. Happy new year, babe.



*Names have been changed to protect only the innocent