‘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).

‘Tis the season, no, not that season (quite yet), but another season: An ode to autumn

This is from my 2011 scrapbook! I know right! Original images. Don't get used to it.
This is from my 2011 scrapbook! I know right! An original image. Don’t get used to it.

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!)