Feeling 22: a year in review

When I was 17, it was a very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights. When I was 21, it was a very good year for city girls who lived up the stair with all that perfumed hair.

Perhaps in the same way that you read a horoscope and bend its meaning so dramatically so it fits your situation, I can do the same with this Sinatra song. I was a small towner aged 17 (soft summer nights hardly applicable, though) and a city girl aged 21. And my bedroom’s at the top of a three-storey house, meaning I technically live up the stair with all that perfumed hair (or more accurate, the smell of Febreze coming from the top-floor bathroom).

21 has been good to me, though. My best friend painted me something as a gift last year, full of good luck charms such as a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover, and a fortune cookie.

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‘It will be the most wonderful year, 21.’ The symbols have served me well. Here are some things I’m really, really proud of doing this year.

1. I Spent My Last Birthday Living My Best Life

rome

I was in Rome on 9 May 2017, and had the most perfect pizza and limoncello (on the house! Buon compleanno!) with a picture postcard view of the Colosseum (look! It looks like a green screen!) This year, I’ll be in Zadar, Croatia, so it’s safe to say I’m feeling very lucky and grateful that I get to hop on a plane to celebrate the blessed day my mother went through hours of excruciating pain so I could come into the world and write unmissable online content.

2. I Turned It Around…Screenshot 2018-05-08 at 10.10.57 - Edited

I’m proud that I was able to turn a negative experience into something positive. I hope I contributed to the ongoing discussion around the decriminalisation of abortion and the use of the abortion pill at home through my Debrief investigation into abortion waiting times in England. I didn’t want to write about work stuff on this post, but taking up a good chunk of my year (four months all in all) this was a big project. Appearing on BBC radio to present my findings was also quite special.

3. …And Ran A Half Marathon!

marathon

It’s funny to reflect on this now, as I’ve been drinking for four days (Bank Holiday heatwave, holla) and tried to drag myself out for a run this morning but haven’t managed to yet. In November, six months ago, I ran 13 miles for the Royal College of Obs and Gyns and raised £300!

4. I Saw A Tribe Called Quest Perform Their Last Show

dando diddly

OK, perhaps they’ll be back, but the poignancy of an absent Phife Dawg and the greatness of their final album made this Bestival performance all the more legendary. In other hip-hop news, I made a major discovery for myself this year in the form of MF Doom. The above picture is an unrelated photo of us watching Soul II Soul last summer, because all the other points have pictures.

5. I Became Less Scared of Cats

white catr

I have always been near-terrified of cats and all the things they’re plotting against me, but my lovely flatmate welcomed two gorgeous feline things into our house earlier this year. Here is one of them: Really White Cat. Yes, that is her name. White Cat for short.

6. I Kept Up With This Blog! 

I started this blog more than five years ago when I was off sick from school, insanely bored, with no idea about what to write about or who I was writing for. I still have that problem. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading through it and dance along to some of the playlists I share on here.

Speaking of playlists, I made a 10-track playlist about turning 22! Send it to everyone you know who’s 22 already or who’s looking forward to the age of double trouble.

22

Click here to hear it.

‘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?”

‘Wild is the wind’ – 10 songs about winter

Sunday 21st January 2018

Home for a day to sort through my books and cull all the ones that bring the least amount of sentimentality. My mother is moving house again and my old bedroom is still stacked to the brim: every Bill Bryson book going, 1,001 photos, my school yearbook, a dozen payslips from my first part-time job, and three copies of the same ABBA Gold compilation (despite moving out 18 months ago). I knew I was coming home to do this this weekend, so had prepared myself for the emotions it brings; the idea of other people moving on and you having to change with them. If it were down to me, I’d have kept every single one of these books and trinkets, as, after a few house moves and a move-out, these are the objects and notebooks that have made the final cut many times before. However, I obliged to help my mum out with the move – I genuinely don’t want the Mighty Boosh box set and stray photos of ex-boyfriends to follow her into yet another residence.

Here are some things that I’ve never managed to to throw away that have now followed me to London.

  1. Some loose papers, comprising my AS Level English coursework typed up, and the first handwritten page of the Very First Draft of my very first play. I kept the coursework because I’ve been looking for it for ages, trying to sum up to my boyfriend what kind of parties my friends and I frequented aged 16. I thank my lower sixth self that I essentially wrote a completely true account of a singular hedonistic Saturday night that was had one weekend, when us small town folk were so unbelievably bored with everything, we did everything going (as the generation that was raised watching Skins, scuzzy nights were the norm). The short story brings way more vivid memories of my misspent youth than any highly-posed photographs do. I kept the first page of my first play because there were dozens upon dozens of rewrites to get it to where it ended up, and it’s nice to remember that everything has to start somewhere.
  2. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. I considered throwing this but a dear friend of mine bought it for my birthday during a particularly rocky year (I was 19 or something and despite it having about 30 words all in all it was such a thoughtful gift). There’s something about not being able to go over or under it – we have to go through it! – that is so immediately comforting.
  3. Wayne’s World.
  4. Wayne’s World 2.
  5. One of three ABBA Gold CDs (the other two are headed for a Peterborough British Heart Foundation, on your marks…)

Anyway, on another note, I’m pretty surprised that spring hasn’t immediately followed Christmas again. The same thing happens each year; I forget there’s at least another 60 long nights and early mornings before things start brightening up. As such, here are 10 songs of the alternative seasonal kind to wind down to this winter *fades in music*… 

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/pocketcup/playlist/4Ivq9tWs6RRv1MDuH687QD

(If you like a seasonal playlist, I did one about ‘Spring’ last year, an arguably better month and – whisper it – an arguably better playlist, too).

Sunday Playlist: ‘Food’ – 9/7/17

Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! (You know, I realise now that I must have grown up a bit, because before, that ‘hot sausage and mustard’ lyric used to sound gross, but hot sausage and mustard now sounds so delicious. Pease pudding, which comes later in the song from Oliver!, still sounds gross, mind.)

FOOD! I’ve pulled together playlists on the most random of themes before, but – until TODAY – have yet to line up 10 songs in a sort-of considered order about the thing that brings several moments of joy into my life each day – food.

So, without further ado *clears throat and chokes on biscuit*, here are songs you can play while you’re standing by the microwave. ‘Come and get it!’

Hear it here.

March playlist: ‘Spring’ – 8/03/17

I have found myself pining for the countryside of late. I don’t know what it is: it could be the promise of spring that keeps being snatched away, an inability to keep up with the pace of the city, or an insatiable appetite to watch as many episodes of Escape to the Country as I possibly can on a daily basis (there’s no better entertainment than watching people with no TV experience look around properties under the stare of a huge camera lens).

I’ve also had a fair bit to deal with *emotionally* over the past couple of weeks or so, which has made me pine for wide open spaces, relative normalcy and sea air. Oh, and The Kinks. The Village Green… album always reminds me of coming back from my first Glastonbury in the car with my best mate – the most perfect pastoral album to conclude a weekend spent camping. That’s why songs from this album feature twice on this playlist, something that’s been a joy to collate. Taking the time to put together playlists is a form of self-care like no other, and making paper *visuals* to go alongside them is a proper self-luxury. Finding the perfect music to piece together helps me figure out my mood, what I’m in need of; and painstakingly scrutinising the order to put them in is anxiety-inducing at first, but oh-so satisfying once done.

Here are 10 tracks if you want something to play for the next 40 minutes (especially dedicated to all the wonderful people who’ve offered some kind of solace over the past fortnight). Click the pic below to listen:

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Sunday Playlist: ‘Renewal’ – 5/02/17

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:

February – Renewal, a playlist by Tara Lepore on Spotify