Life update: October 2018

I’m freshly showered and sockless, sat in a freezing cold hostel in the middle of Bulgaria. We would have missed out on this particular town completely had it not been for a kindred waitress in a restaurant in Sofia, who said we had to come here as part of our trip. “OK, sure,” was the general consensus of my boyfriend and I, “we’re just killing time.” We also figured the name of this penultimate destination on our month-long trip – Veliko Tarnovo – would sound pretty good in a rap verse (him) or a blog post (me).

veliko
The view from the co-working office I worked from this week! It was brighter inside than it appears to be.

For those not in the know, the Netherlands move had to be put on hold for a month for contractual reasons, giving us the smug excuse of hastily making travel plans that would sustain us for a month while we waited around. September was spent in a state of near-distress, wondering how on earth we’d find an apartment in an overpopulated town of students when we were previously both freelance and every real estate agent needed to see payslips from a current employer. Turns out sending a bunch of invoices wouldn’t suffice (understandably, I suppose), but after spending three weeks between hostels, caravans on eco-farms and surfing friendly people’s couches, a guardian angel (formerly known as a friend of a friend) came through and let us take over the contract on her beautiful Dutch apartment, complete with high ceilings, narrow stairways and the Euro-standard lack of bath.

Where would you go if you had a month to kill? There was no point going back to London – no tenancy was tying us down and we’d already said goodbye to our friends three times over. I obviously wanted to go to Italy to put the six Italian classes I’d completed earlier this year to good use, but after doing some simple maths we figured it would take a huge chunk out of our savings, which weren’t looking too bad, but not too bounteous either. (I’d spent a year living frugally AF in London, so wasn’t in a position to spend €90 on a gondola).

Bulgaria it was. And what a great decision it’s turned out to be. Dividing our month equally between four cities – the “multi-layered city” Sofia (named so because of its stacked-up archaeology), then Plovdiv, a town so beautifully named and even more beautifully formed.  We then took the train to Varna, because if you’ve got a month to spend somewhere in Europe you may as well spend some of it at the coast, and now Veliko Tarnovo, where everything looks like an Instagram post, you can’t help but walk at a snail’s pace and take it all in (okay, maybe the steepness of the hills also slows me down).

We climbed a mountain on our second day but haven’t exerted ourselves too much since. Here’s a photo of me wearing my Peckham Rye t-shirt in the middle of a mountain range in the Balkans. I look fairly pleased with myself but I did cry a bit when the altitude got a bit much.

mountain

Spending a month somewhere is ideal because you don’t feel as guilty for spending whole days doing nothing. In October 2018, I knitted 1.5 scarves, had many 4pm beers and became acquainted with several hostel cats. We’re now heading back to Sofia for a couple of nights and then flying home (!) to Amsterdam, ending two rent-free months of transient life *namaste*.

I’m really excited for whatever the next year brings. London is a great city but I felt no compulsion to stay put. I don’t agree that “if a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” I think “if a man is tired of London, it’s because he grew up in a small town and London was just too expensive. And he went on holiday a few times and realised he could live and work anywhere else in the world so long as there was Wi-Fi.”

Anyway, time for dinner. Until next time!

T


P.S I am launching a newsletter this Sunday! Resourceful is a weekly email for people interested in living with less and saving some money. It’s going to be about figuring out what you really need and learning how to be happy with it. I promise to steer clear of too much ‘financial mindfulness’ BS and will occasionally drop in some tasty voucher codes. I’ll share more details on my Twitter page this week while I’m waiting to board my plane, most likely. 

 

‘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?”

I Me Mine: 3,872 characters of stuff that’s happened in June – 18/6/16

I have become so supremely talented at Twitter that I’ve started writing top-class tweets I don’t want to post (of which there are many) in my journal, as to not bombard my Twitter page with Dad jokes that no-one understands. Here is stuff I’ve been up to, in 140 characters plus:

I have been apologising to myself a lot lately for not writing ‘creative stuff’ as much as I’d like to. The two people that live inside my head, the cool, rational, laid-back one, whom I like to refer to as Tara (hoping that this rational, calm side is actually who I am, 95% of the time, when not riddled with anxiety), is all, DON’T WORRY, you write for your job, you continue to write religiously in your journal, you do not owe your life to a Tumblr account. And that’s fine. I trust that voice, with the safe knowledge that I’ll get back to writing again soon, and in a big way.

The other person that lives inside my head, whom I will call Martha (disclaimer: I do call her Martha, IRL), starts telling me I’m not doing enough, I need to be writing more, writing for every website, seizing every opportunity, paid or unpaid, time or no time. I felt quite glad the day I renamed my anxiety ‘Martha’, because now I can just tell Martha to shut up, get out of my head, and continue to listen only to Tara, to whom I have total loyalty to (as she always knows what to do, kind of. She’s done stuff before).

When I don’t know what in the hell I’m doing, when my brain does a wonk and I need to sit down and focus on singular thoughts, I heed these wise tweets of yore from Our Lady Caitlin Moran, one of which suggests: Just Listen to David Bowie. It has yet to fail.

Also, a wonderful, wonderful friend made me this reminder/poster, to de-wonkify my mind:

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That being said, I have been well, despite the lack of productivity with writing-y bits over the last couple of weeks, and a week-long bout of cystitis that’s hit me worryingly Too Close for (Glastonbury) Comfort. Behold, some updates on me:

  1. My play Fitting Room showed to an audience of around 50 people – 50 strangers at that!- at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich a few Fridays (3 June) ago, and the general consensus was that it wasn’t a total trainwreck. A few people even laughed! So that was really fun, and it looks likely to be developed in 2017. No, there’s no deal with Hollywood people, not yet. Yes, it will be re-written by me. Yes, it means I have to write some more of it. Seeing a new audience watch it for the first time and discuss it afterwards over tiny paper cups of coffee – as one only does at the theatre –  was enough for me to know it’s got something to say and people have latched onto that, whatever it is. (I kind of know what that is – being the writer and all – but only kind of. I was delightfully surprised at how much people had latched onto those initial ideas I’d had last July when I was writing the first draft, so something worked). And my friends came to see it, and we stopped off at Wetherspoons on the three-hour journey down, and I didn’t even get a parking ticket. However, I’m going to be taking a few months’ hiatus from playwriting as:
  2. …I’m moving to South London at the end of August to get some more journalism training as part of a six-month course with News Associates. It means I have to leave my current job – sob – (well, don’t I know it! I should be a poet!) but aside from all the changes and goodbyes, etc, I’m really looking forward to moving out and moving into London, something I’ve wanted to do since forever. And, by George, am I ready to continuing making magazines! Heck, yeah! It’s a risk, but I can’t wait. London!
  3. I wrote a review of Amy Rose Spiegel’s Action on that new site I was on about, Obviously a Hobby. Read it here. If anything, it’s become a lovely place for me to post scans from my sketchbook. I’d love for more people to contribute – my dear friend Ella got the ball rolling with this post – and I’ll get there, it’s a work in progress. Success is long patience, etc, etc.
  4. I’m off to Glastonbury in three days and 17 hours! I have that much time to get my kidneys back in action for a week-long binge of Strongbow. Wish me luck!

 

Until next time,

T.A.L x