Things weren’t as pure as they ought to have been during the first lunar cycle of the year. I dropped the alcohol cleanse five days into it as you ‘can’t have a curry without a beer’, the smoking thing also didn’t work out because nicotine has a certain hold over the weak (and the not-so-weak) and my main priority for the month – having a job to start as soon as my diploma course finished – was also not successful, because although I bagged myself one, I decided not to go through with it (for reasons undisclosed here).
I needed a break after the chaos of January, so I went home for a few days. It was as lovely as I hoped it would be. The house smelt so clean. My huge piles of stuff had been downsized and transferred into the smaller spare room, meaning my mum did the work I’d been trying to do for 15 years in six months.
It’s strange how strong the feeling of returning to a familiar habitat can give you a real sense of renewal, reminding you of things you once valued so much that you forget you even had (I am talking about my record collection here, not my mother). When I got back to London, I put antibacterial wipes underneath my slippers and shuffled around my room. It now smells like apples. Now’s the time to treat yourself well, get over the last hurdle of winter and look forth to spring being the best version of you you feel like being right now. Behold, 10 songs:
In a weird, flu-induced haze in TK Maxx a few weeks ago, I decided that what I really needed was an organiser for all the piles of magazines and papers that were accumulating on my desk, rather than what I really went in for, which was new pants. The only paper organiser I could find instore was adorned with glittery butterflies, which I was kind of into, but was subsequently won over by the above rack with its gloriously tacky-not-tacky London skyline. The less stuff that’s stored in it, the more [landmarks] you can see, which is kind of a metaphor for life. If anything, these fortnightly posts might inspire me to keep my desk tidier. The rack is there for things to be in easy reach at any given moment, so it’s an apt representation of things that I’m currently into reading/listening to/consuming in all its forms. Welcome to the first instalment of this week’s rack round-up!
1) Been reading… this (glorious) copy of The Fader!
Oh, Fader, how I love thee – thee who I can pick up in various vintage shops for free! What a seriously gorgeous-looking magazine, though. The quality of the paper, the heaviness of it, *breathes in smugly, nose-deep in the spine of the most-perfect perfect bound publication*. I picked this up in the Covent Garden branch of Rokit – the last in the pile – and now I’m doubting whether it was actually free for the taking. Oh, well. Whoever’s copy of Fader I stole, thank you. The interview with Girlpool by Patrick D. McDermott is one of the best things I’ve read about a band in ages, clearly trying to suppress a fan-boy admiration for these two teen queens of nursery rhyme grunge. You can read the entire thing here (thanks, internet!) – it’s kinda long, but bookmark it for later. Me and my mate Chloe saw Girlpool a couple of years ago at End of the Road festival and it was the highlight of the weekend. I didn’t realise that they were the same age as the both of us at the time, which now just makes me even more heart eyes for everything they’re about. Share the love with me! Like this YouTube video! Now!
There’s also a great feature about faith and what it means to yung thingz today. Everything with the world has gone batshit crazy and I’ve often caught myself thinking about faith of late (particularly over Christmas). Here is that feature for you to read/bookmark/print off etc.
2) *Also* been reading… this book from the School of Life series about how we can exist in cities without losing our collective shit.
I’m not going to write at length about this (yet), because as you can see, I’ve been busy furrowing through it flagging up its golden morsels of info about how one can best get on in, and with, the city. I’ve been a Londoner now for six months and I love it so much, but as with all relationships, it requires work. Anyway, I’ll write something longer about this when it’s not a Sunday and I don’t have to get to the supermarket before 4pm. City life, amirite.
3) Been listening to… this: over and over and over and over and over.
If a film were to be made following me mooching around in my bedroom over the past three months, this would be the soundtrack. Not the soundtrack in the sense of the album’s politically-charged and so-very-important messages, but the soundtrack in the sense that it just would be on in the background. Seriously, there’s a button on my CD player where you can repeat an album over and over – I don’t know who I wrote that for, perhaps those born post-2000 – and it fills me with an enormous sense of comfort to press that button after I hit play, snug in the knowledge that it’ll be playing as I’ve been tackling monstrous to-do lists. I’ve just graduated from a really intensive fast-track diploma (in journalism! Please hire me!), and the last few months have essentially been an uber-sized task in time management. The way each song flows into the next, how the chord progressions resolve, the way he sings about God – the album was like a lullaby (and sometimes not even ‘like a’, but rather an actual one, having to play it quietly through my phone in order to sleep). Please, for the love of the world, spend your Sunday listening to it. Its themes are particularly pertinent at the moment, when one has to truly ask ‘What [the fuck]’s [really going] on? Read more about the album in this Pitchfork review, here.
Just a quickie as it’s midnight and I’ve somehow managed to wile away another day of my short, precious life here on Earth by doing nothing of significant importance.
Well, actually, I walked around eight miles today through London. I went to see Marc Bolan’s memorial tree in Putney this morning on an act of total impulse. It was a grey day but it wasn’t raining, so there was no real excuse to stay inside pretending to do work. He died 39 years ago yesterday, so I put The Slider on, brushed my teeth and got on the 270.
Although it was so lovely to see the tributes that make up this very glittery fan-made shrine, I had spent an hour or so travelling there and less than five minutes at the site itself, so I began to walk on as to extend the ‘being outside’ part of the day to its full potential.
Soon after, it had been no less than two hours since I’d last eaten, so I found a cheap enough cafe in Putney where I had a jacket potato and a cappuccino and read the Saturday papers. I didn’t ask for a cappuccino, mind – I asked for a cup of tea – but that’s what the waitress offered unto me and I didn’t have the heart to tell her she’d got it wrong. She did give me a funny look when I was ordering, I thought. I am NOT the sort of person who would order a cappuccino with a main meal! A cappuccino is a BEDTIME drink! I’m Italian! Alas, this waitress would always think I was just someone who’d never been out for a meal before, ordering frothy coffee-flavoured milk to accompany a spud. Oh, well, I suppose. Life plods on.
And so I plod along with it, zigzagging several miles through Fulham, Chelsea and Kensington. I felt like Oliver Twist when he heads to Brownlow’s pad. But with a fake Jagger swagger. Very poor, nonetheless.
So, yeah, it was actually a well spent day. I didn’t expect to be out for so long – I got in at gone nine – but it became quite hard to give up walking once I got into it. There was a way back home every few hundred metres (helllloooo TfL, big up, big up) but I was never quite ready to head back. The final stretch, before I succumbed to London’s underground, was a stroll through Hyde Park. The air was wet and misty. Three weeks into living here, everything felt enormously good. I recently spent a couple of weeks visiting some of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but I feel like I’ve won big by winding up living in London at the end of it.
I thought I’d share with you some things I’ve been up to since I moved her
1) Listening to: … and the Anonymous Nobody – De La Soul
Alice text me one day to ask if I’d heard the new De La Soul album, and I hadn’t, because I’d been too busy unpacking and generally not being able to get my priorities right. I pretty much downloaded it instantly (it’s a life-long goal of mine to seek Alice’s full approval) and I love it! I love it so much I wrote close to 700 words about it (that’s real love, yo), words that you can read here.
2) Saw: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
This was shown in cinemas for one night only last Thursday, and I happily parted with my hard-earned savings to sit front row at the Wimbledon Odeon (tickets were expensive, but maybe that’s just through my newly-student-status eyes). I had been looking forward to seeing this for about a month, so when the day came, I woke up with my toes wriggling (this is a real thing, btw).
I actually went on a date that night too, and the dude was all like: “It’ll be more fun than going to the cinema on your own, see you at 7”, and I was all: “Er, nothing will be more fun than going to see a Beatles documentary on my own, sorry about it, see you at 9:30”.
Anyway, I’m not going to ‘review’ it as such, as if you want to see it, you’ve half missed your chance (you can probably find some bootleg online) – but I’m such a die-hard fan of the band it’d be an impossible review to write.
It was, however, such a good effort to compile so much unseen Beatles footage of the period of the band’s life that, was, well, total mania. Of course, the most endearing thing about the Beatles was how unfazed they seemed by the chaos of their lives during the first half of the ‘60s. Paul sums it up perfectly when he responds to a very RP BBC interviewer with: “Culture? This isn’t culture! It’s just a good laugh”.
Seeing the Beatles having a giggle will always make my heart beat hard under my chest like I’m 16 years old in 1963. It were mint.
3) Reading: 1996: The Year the Decade Exploded – Jon Savage
I’m 95 pages in after a week, but I’m happy with that – this book is not short on detail. It’s a 595-page book about pop music in ONE YEAR, but it’s so well researched and reads so well that I’ve enjoyed allowing an hour or so each night to dive nose-first into it. More as it comes.
I tend to only write about albums I really love, because, quite frankly, I feel it is worth my time to do so. When I get to a time in my life where I have a spare hot second in the day to write reviews upon reviews upon reviews, only then will I critique things that don’t quench my musical thirst at first – but only then. Anyway, I’ve loved Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan since I was a bat-wing-jumper-wearing, bright-red-hair-donning, teenage witch, so I was already excited about this album from its point of announcement.
It was therefore paramount that I caught her set at Glastonbury last weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much, which is strange because she played at 4pm on Sunday and I’m quite sure I’d only had around five ciders by then. Having five ciders on any other Sunday would make one very drunk, but somehow by Glastonbury’s standards, it seems almost crude to admit not remembering a set after five ciders. All I clearly remember from her set is the dress she wore, which made her look like a dead movie star, and the Virgin Mary iconography on display during ‘Sunday Love’, because: Catholic guilt.
I remember crying during ‘Laura’, a well-known, mass-heartstring-pulling single off her last record, The Haunted Man, because the last time I heard her perform that same song was at Latitude Festival in 2013, where she was playing it live for the first time. In attendance was my friend Rosie, and tears were shed as NK sang it – there are few songs quite so pure-sounding as Laura. It really got to me at Glastonbury because I’d had five ciders that day, it was raining, and the song has been a safety blanket over the past few years, which have been turbulent at times, and eventful at best. Anyway, there I was sobbing, wimpering at this song, when this woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was alright.
“Yes!”, I said. “It’s just this music. I am in love with this music. I am crying!”
“Yes”, she replied, looking kinda pissed off. “I know. They’re my favourite band too” – as if to say, “Can you please stop drunkenly mewling in front of me, I like this band better than you”, which I can only contest with, being so moved by this set to the point of howling on my knees in the mud, while my friend bopped along to ELO 400 metres away. Anyway, it’s fair to say that the generalconsensus of reviews for this record is that it is an excellent one, perhaps one of the best of the year, so my fangirl-influenced adjectives aren’t unjustifiably hyperbolic.
Read my review of it by clicking the word here: Here.
Okay, firstly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there is nothing like the sound of a noisy keyboard. In this age of silenced iPhone clicks and shallow laptop keyboards, I love hearing the old PC keys being angrily bashed on, typing quickly and furiously. Or equally when writing to your sweetest beau, hearing your thoughts thumping out when typing up a 20-page love letter (or today’s equivalent, a really, really, er…. really long email) with a noisy keyboard, makes one feel like Carrie Bradshaw sitting at a desk with a Manhattan view. I remember the days when people were still typing with two fingers – maybe that’s why the cacophony of tapping keys sounds so good – it’s the sound of success.
I’m currently re-working a play I started to write back in August, a play that is being performed in front of actual live people on 3 June in Ipswich. The play, Fitting Room, was performed as a rehearsed reading back in November but will now show at Pulse Festival in Ipswich as a reworked, revised version, with the backing of regional theatre company Eastern Angles (big up).
So obviously the best way to deal with this information is to say – “June?! Pnnnah! That’s ages away!” and go about my daily life, kicking dustbins and painting my nails. But when that gets boring, the panic sets in as I suddenly think: “Why is it so difficult to pick this up again??” When I wrote the first version I was an unstoppable machine of words – words were flowing out like bloody endless rain into a paper cup, for Christ’s sake!
Although perhaps they weren’t – hindsight can be deceiving. When I look back truthfully, every writing session had some sort of hurdle. One time I had to order pizza and sit in my shed with just a notebook and pen to get writing, such was the allure of Wi-Fi, spending hours cooking something complicated and, when the Wi-Fi was turned off, Minesweeper.
Now I’m in re-draft stage. When you’re re-drafting something, how much do you change? Do you meddle with only the parts that you didn’t like, or do you take it in a completely different direction? Do I have enough battery left in my laptop? Did I forget to buy teabags?
What I haven’t been doing, and it’s something I know has been the downfall of re-draft Phase Two, is writing. I’ve had so many ideas, endless streams of “Maybe I could do this”, and “It’d be great if she did this instead…” but haven’t been writing them down as anything more than notes on old bus tickets. The mammoth task ahead of me has, at times, started to become quite overwhelming.
The thing is, I know there’s nothing to worry about, and I’m so excited about working on this more, it’s just that once your mind has wandered into crippling doubt, you quickly fall into a hell-hole of irrational pessimism.
I did write a page of A4 though yesterday, so I feel able to write about this a little more. Last week I was totally perplexed as to how to get my brain cogs whirring.
How I got to make the first steps again, to write that page of A4, was by being kind to myself, not getting severely aggressive at a blank document, and giving myself some headspace to think about it. After that, and most importantly, I didn’t think about it for a couple of hours, and it was only then that I was able to start again and write that extra page.
It sounds kind of obvious, but you can sometimes get your head wrapped up in a project so much that it’s constantly playing out in the back of your mind. Of course the problem is is that when you look for things you can never find them. And that becomes exhausting, and then writing isn’t fun. And writing’s the funnest thing in the world ever! That’s why taking a day or two off it (if you have that luxury) can give you the break you need to come back to it feeling excited again.
How I filled those couple of hours was by driving to the library and getting two art books out: One that related to the subject at hand, and one that didn’t whatsoever. The first is a book called ‘New England: The culture and people of an English New Town during the 1970s and 1980s’, a book of photographs taken by local paramedic Chris Porsz over the course of these two decades.
I’ve scanned in a few of them here, which I hope he doesn’t mind me doing. I love all of the photos so much; it’s a gorgeous collection in a beautifully published book. Please go and look at his website here.
My play is about my hometown, Peterborough, and that point where you have to decide whether to leave or stay in the city where you were born – and what that means for different people. Lots of my parent’s generation have stayed in Peterborough, but almost all teens now jet off to university at the first instance and might return after graduating as a second and not-so-preferable option (this is a huge generalisation but hopefully you get where I’m coming from).
Peterborough has this rep of being ‘the place where you change trains’, and ‘where the passport office is’, but with a population of 188,000, it has 118,000 stories to tell. The city has been, and remains to be, a place of rapid cultural change, and I think these photos really encapsulate those changes.
1. Out from behind the curtains, Chris Porsz
2. This heart-warming and priceless photo taken outside the Guildhall in Cathedral Square (for all the Peterborian readers):
3. Wahiwala, Chris Porsz
I like this one so much because it reminds me of my favourite ever photograph taken by Garry Winogrand in Forest Lawn Cemetry, Los Angeles in 1964 (ruined only by the glitter stuck to my scanner):
3. Dressing Up, Chris Porsz
And this (!) – the image of a Peterborough ‘retail girl’ that I am astonished that I found. I went into the library thinking “I need a book about teenagers living in Peterborough working in a clothes shop” – and here it is – the money shot. (The Rockwell painting at the top of this post also made my giggle – the tired, stockinged feet are all too true. Also note the OTT ‘sensible’ shoes of the girl in the photo above).
In his afterword, Chris Porsz apologises to his family for “roaming the streets for hours trying to satisfy some creative urge”. This made me laugh out loud, because the amount of times I’ve walked around Pbo with a camera or notebook, begging to ‘be inspired’, is too real.
I also found this book in the Local Archives section that made the trip to library worth it alone. So camp.
When stuck in a writing rut, taking an unnecessary journey on the bus or sitting in a cafe can sometimes be all you need to hear a golden nugget of dialogue that can inspire you to start writing again. The minute you go into freak-out mode and say you haven’t enough time to write is not going to help you to write. You won’t be able to write anything at all – or nothing that good, anyway. Be kind to yourself, take your time, and read something completely different – something you wouldn’t normally do. It might offer you that slightly different perspective you’re after.
“Why she’s a girl from the chainstore
Her name was written on her coat
Her life was a miserable anecdote”
– Why She’s A Girl from the Chainstore, Buzzcocks
I’ve written something about writer’s block before (excuse the irony of the ‘plethora’ of work about not being able to write), which you can read here.
Happy Fireworks night. I don’t feel so firework-y tonight (long, heartfelt sigh), I’m just gonna have a huge bowl of spaghetti and read a book. I wrote this at the start of October but it’s been laying dormant until now – so sorry if it’s already a little outdated. Like, if this post was a fresh leaf when it was written in late-September, early-October, it’ll now be a mushed-up, rained-on mixture of pulp and chewing gum mashed into some pavement somewhere. Such is life.
Look – I don’t know if it’s anything to do with the fact that both my parents were born within a week of each other at the crossover of September into October, so it’s ingrained into my DNA make-up or whatever; perhaps I’m overly sentimental for things like transitions and change and every other darned thing a writer can get sentimental about (SPOILER: everything)
Maybe it’s the familiarisation of routine that sets back in after a long summer: early nights, hearty meals, people bonding miserably over the miserable and changeable weather; maybe I’m a witch, whatever, who even cares – but autumn is my lady.
There is just something about darkness setting in earlier, leaves browning and yellowing and dark purpling, lying dead on the ground; that smell when they get rained on, get dried, and then turn into autumn sludge again.
This season has more memories for me than any other. In the way that childhood/adolescence is often portrayed in films – hanging out with your friends all summer long, in sepia – I don’t feel as nostalgic about the summer as I do the autumn. (I spent a good few of my summer holidays as a child counting down the days until I could get back to school)
Autumn feels a lot more familiar than other seasons. Autumn and I are friendly to each other. Well, I say friendly. Ms. A.T gives me the gift of big, woollen jumpers, increased portion sizes with every meal (it’s getting colder – I need to be insulated) and this. I mean, I don’t listen to that all the time, although I wish I could say I did – but all I’m saying is autumn provides us with all the tools we need to stay in, get our heads down, and begin to create things. We don’t give it anything, we just sort of walk around in it. But thanks anyway, autumn!
Applying to online courses, looking up university degrees, pitching ideas to magazines. Maybe I link this time of year to being at school, slightly perspiring from the dusty heaters cranked up to 11. Autumn feels pretty studious – until the clocks go back and you’re all ‘I’ll stay in Dreamland for another six or seven hours, thank you” – but there is a brief changeover period where I feel like getting my head down and getting to it.
I hope this feeling of wanting to begin new things prevails throughout the rest of my life. It’s convenient getting stuck into new projects at the start of the season when there’s stationary deals going on in every store across the world as everyone’s getting geared up for another academic year.
Once we get into winter, every evening is a prime Netflix and chill time. And I don’t even mean Netflix and chill, I just mean Netflix and chill. Unfortunately.
Autumn, on the other hand, is pretty expectant. Suddenly, I have to face the fact that there is LESS than two months left in the year. The year! Like, Christmas, guys! Again!
And as I have to pretty much dismiss the potential of doing anything at all in the winter (hibernation, impending eternal darkness, Netflix), I always feel so inspired to spend time on my own, reading books I’ve been saving up all summer, scrapbooking everything I’ve been collecting over the last few months, taking time out to check in with myself and make sure I’m set for the long and cold winter (kind of like a squirrel collecting nuts).
As the nights get colder, it becomes way too easy to indulge nightly in mass social media-ing. I’ve recently deleted my Instagram, because although it’s great fun, it was stopping me from getting all my shit done by the time it needed to be.
[EDIT] That other girl that deleted her Instagram this week got loads of attention online, possibly because she was ‘goals’. Although she cried about being ‘goals’, so everyone was all “This girl was goals for her hot bod, now she’s goals for taking a stand on what is becoming a boring and negative daily ritual for many. The girl is just GENERALLY goals.” I deleted my Instagram and NOBODY even noticed. So I’m not goals, but I’ll do.
I thought it was about time to get rid of all those distractions as I work full-time and have so much I want to do in the evenings. The small solo projects I’m working on now may not amount to anything, but it’s not a waste of time. Use these precious autumnal opportunities to their full potential. It may be the compost that’ll turn into that good idea. Stay in for the night, turn your phone off, throw a huge jumper on, and work all the way through to the witching hour. (‘Tis the season, non?) Pritt-sticking, writing, painting, practising cartwheels: Use your time wisely, and get to it.
(Just for the archive, my first play is on in a couple of weeks (16-17 November)! I’ll probably write more about it and the process of writing it soon, when I have a few spare hours. I’m soooo proud of it. Now I just want to get started on something else! A feature film! A fashion line! A symphony!)
I thought I’d write something today because of the sound and cohesive nature of my mind that’s been serving me well lately, which has felt totally magnificent as I’ve felt very capable of doing things for once. For a good few weeks there, a long run for any 19-year-old, I was doing things pretty well and not freaking out about much – which sounds like a huge NBD – but for someone who’s a long-term nail biter, or dealing with undiagnosed bouts of anxiety, feeling a-OK is such a blessing. It’s nice to surf that wave of feeling good for as long as you can.
Of course, as soon as I began to contemplate how well things have been going, it only filled me with impending doom, which is actually a medical condition linked to anxiety.
“Hey man, how you doing?”
“Yeah, not too bad really, although I’ve got a serious feeling of impending doom right now.”
So sudden, and so unwelcome. Although the thing with panic attacks is the fact they take you so much by surprise, yet feel so certain, like – ah, I knew this must’ve been coming.
Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be about impending doom, it just got in the way (by its very nature)
I’ve been very busy over the last few months, something I feel very lucky to have been. I’ve laid my hat in in London (several times), Amsterdam, Brighton and Dorset for End of the Road festival – something I had planned to write about when I got my photos processed – but the photos ended up being so shitty I almost feel like the time is up in terms of doing a huge write-up on it. I have one photo of Girlpool, but being a film camera, it is doubly exposed with a picture of my friend’s clay model of a rollerskate. Which looks actually very cool and I might send it to them as a suggestion for their next album cover.
Girlpool were very very good – I love to see musicians where I can be like, WOW, I love your work and I can so easily learn those chords and get my mate to play the bassline. It’s nice having bands you admire to be very easy to emulate (not putting down their talent, by any means) – but rather inspiring you to pick up a guitar and make music, too.
We also saw Tame Impala, St. Etienne (who played the WHOLE of Foxbase Alpha – gee, whizz) Laura Marling, Alvvays (another guitar band that I can play along with!) and Fat White Family (among others).
We also went to Amsterdam for the week a couple of weeks ago. As said in my previous post, I reverted back to journal writing during the holiday and it was nice to be away from technology for a bit. I am literally a person that takes social media detoxes! I don’t think I’m ready to accept that.
While away, I continued my ‘supremely enjoyable’ run of writing and wrote two or three times a day.
31 August 2015
“It’s our last day here in the city today. Jack says ‘hi’. We were so lucky with the weather and now it’s raining. Raining hard, the kind of rain you get in Paris, but more stoned. This holiday has been beyond wonderful. Amsterdam is so chill, though, like I know that’s such a cliched thing to say, but it’s true. Generally looking forward to things at the moment, feel very positive about the future.
Hanging around this city has the same atmosphere of being at a festival, but with no real pressure to see any bands, and a less likely possibility to stumble upon a Fatboy Slim set (unless, of course, he is holidaying as Norman Cook). I feel good about writing, and almost content about the fact I can be doing this for my whole life. It feels very satisfying. Not even to make money, but in the more basic sense, i.e I will have the ability to write as long as I have a pen, something to write on, and am not crippled with the inevitable arthritis that runs in my family.”
That ending almost reads like a line from Morrissey’s Autobiography.