vendredi 11 août 2017

Courtly Love

Courtney's right.  This IS a really sick song.  We all know that.  It's actually always really annoyed me how people in the crowd cheer when she says it.  It's not cool.  Sick is not cool.  However, I *do* like - a lot - how dirgy Eric makes the guitar on this.  It's much more fitting than a girl-group sheen, although that obviously has its place.

I've been listening to this and other obscure Hole gems this week (I'm genuinely not trying to be obscure when I say 'My Body The Hand Grenade' is my favourite Hole album).  Thinking about it, Hole are really good on cover versions.  My faves are (look 'em up; they're worth getting hold of):

  • The Void (Raincoats; this cover was a B-side to the original Doll Parts CD single)
  • Hungry Like The Wolf (Duran Duran; another B-side, can't remember which)
  • Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac; from 'The Crow: City of Angels', which IMHO is one of the most beautifully shot yet thoroughly awful films ever made, but bizarrely has a properly great soundtrack)
  • Take This Longing (Leonard Cohen; I don't know if a recording of this exists, but I saw her sing it live - with billowing sleeves, strewing roses across the stage - and it made me cry and cry and cry)

I'm trying to channel a lotta Courtney lately, basically.

This post is also brought to you by: migraine medication, watching 'Nocturnal Animals' while bombed on migraine medication (emphatically NOT recommended under any circumstances), not getting enough writing done and eating a lot of leftover macaroni cheese.

Bon weekend...

vendredi 4 août 2017

The Brighton Fanzine Tea Party!

I am extremely excited to announce that - following our wildly brilliant mini-workshop at YALC - Harriet Reuter Hapgood and I are hosting our very own BRIGHTON FANZINE TEA PARTY.

If you'd like to come, you can buy a ticket here!

Here's the deets:

I AM NOT ASHAMED zine (by YA authors Harriet Reuter Hapgood and Eleanor Wood) presents THE BRIGHTON FANZINE TEA PARTY. Come and spend a cosy afternoon with us, making zines and celebrating DIY culture – with cake and music and glitter. Teens welcome!
  • Make your own zine
  • Chill in the zine library
  • Buy personalised zines and books
  • Browse the jumble sale
  • Drink tea and eat cake
What you get:
  • Everything you need to go home with a master copy of your own fanzine
  • Zine-making tutorial, advice and all craft materials (much glitter)
  • Chat to authors about your book/zine/writing
  • Tea and coffee and homemade cake
  • Hang out with friendly creative people in a lovely cosy place
  • Exclusive I AM NOT ASHAMED party bag

mercredi 2 août 2017

The modern world.

Exciting news, I have made myself a Proper Official Author website!

You can look at it here.  It's very fledgling, so feel free to let me know if you have any comments or suggestions (you can use the handy contact page!), but please be kind.  Technology is not my strongest suit, and neither is self-promotion.  However, I have lots of events and things coming up (more to be announced!) and thought an actual website would be useful for such matters.

I will definitely still be spouting my random thoughts and feelings on things that don't really matter here, in my usual ramshackle and sporadic fashion.  Nil desperandum, obvs.  But please do have a look at my website proper for news, events and official things.

Over and out, more soon.

mardi 1 août 2017

Cowboy Mouth

I was a big fan of Sam Shepard.  His writing, his acting, his face.  Mostly his writing.  Mostly his face.

He was a man made of dreams.  ‘He was just everything one could want,’ said Patti Smith of their first meeting.  A cowboy, a writer, a rock n roll energy, a classic face.  A crescent moon tattoo in the crook of a hand, of course.

He’s the sort of hero one would conjure up.  A cowboy and an American literary genius.  Is there any word sexier than the word ‘playwright’ (and even then they so seldom look like Sam Shepard)?  A man of letters and the outdoors.  He was Cowboy Mouth perfect.

Last night, I spent a lot of time flicking through his Seven Plays.  Just reading odd pages and lines, the rhythm of it all.  The set-up to La Turista, talk of whisky under the sofa…

“This isn't champagne anymore. We went through the champagne a long time ago. This is serious stuff. The days of champagne are long gone.”

Later in the evening, and all I wanted in the world was to watch Paris, Texas.  (Shepard wrote the screenplay.)  It’s a film I haven’t watched in a long time, but which haunts my memory like I suspect it does all those who have ever seen it.  The loneliest film I have ever seen.  Nastassja Kinski in her pink sweater.  I watched it as a teenager, around the same time I first saw Betty Blue, and I still conflate the two in my mind.  Photogenic desert ennui, doomed love.  Something to aspire to – they probably had too much of an effect on me at too young an age.

The day before, the worst sort of Sunday, I had woken up in a half-dream panic: I could not remember the number of the house where my ex-boyfriend and I fell in love.  It was over a decade now, and yet this struck me as all wrong.  It was a significant house, even though it didn’t look like one.  I looked the road up on a map and I discovered the very same house was currently for sale.  The breath was knocked out of me as I scrolled through photographs.  An ugly sofa where there used to be a drum kit.  A baby's room where we used to sit on the floor and watch subtitled films with the curtains drawn, for days on end.  I knew those rooms; I walked those floors.  I used to live alone before I knew you.

The same desert feeling of sadness.

I was convinced I owned a copy of Paris, Texas.  Maybe once I did.  Turns out now I don’t.  I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I thought it had to be on Netflix; it wasn’t.  The closest matches that came up were Paris is Burning (a favourite that I have watched and watched into the ground) and Last Tango in Paris.

I had never seen Last Tango in Paris all the way through.  I vividly remember seeing part of it.  Drunk-ish, late at night, in bed with a boy called Rich, who was not my boyfriend.  He was an old friend, though; he was a sweet soul.  I was 21, before all of it.  Marlon Brando on a tiny TV propped in the corner of the room before we passed out.

Last night, I watched the whole film.  I hated it.  It was the worst thing to watch.  I thought I’d like that early 70s mood, the Paris apartment, the coats.  I love a good coat.  I hated Last Tango in Paris.  Did I mention I hated it?

It’s like when I read The Story of O and expected it to be much like Anais Nin, who is my favourite.  Safe to say, it was not, and I still pretty much take that book as a personal insult.

I suppose it doesn’t help that I do not find Marlon Brando remotely attractive.  Not at any stage in his career.  I do not care for his face.  I would like it to be known that I do not find angry men attractive.  I do not.  Give me the good ones.  Give me the Cowboy Mouth playwrights, please.  Or just a man with a truck in the desert, who writes books no-one will ever read.

It was number 26, by the way.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget it again.

vendredi 21 juillet 2017

Oh, how you do reflect the sun...

I am a Courtney Love apologist and I don't care who knows it.  I have a picture of her on my bedroom wall, which is in my eyeline when I wake up every morning (a greater honour than even Patti Smith, over on the other side of the room, has).  It's in black and white, when she had a chubby face and her original nose.  I have spent many, many hours of my life arguing with a certain type of boy over Courtney Love.  Too many to mention.

As such, it is probably not a surprise to know that I think her first solo album - America's Sweetheart - is criminally underrated.  But IT IS.  Even retro of-the-moment early-00s digs like 'But Julian I'm a Little Bit Older Than You' are still hilarious and poignant.  Even the lady herself calls it 'that coked up piece of shit I made in the south of France when I needed the money'.  However, most of all, it has some of her most affecting songs.

I am, of course, also a great proponent of the iPod iChing.  Yesterday, on a train, I flicked onto shuffle and asked the universe for a sign (it's been that kind of a week, dear reader)...

This is what I got.  Oh, sigh - baby, you were almost golden..

It took me way back to the year this album came out.  I was 23 years old, working a boring temp job and trying to be A Writer, without quite knowing how, living in a sweet little cottage with a girlfriend - where we barely slept for the entire year we lived there, and a boy once pissed on our sofa.  I used to listen to this album non-stop.  Once, literally, all night.  That was when I wasn't listening to What Would The Community Think? by Cat Power and crying my eyeliner off, TBH.  It was a time of total extremes, for which this was the perfect (half) soundtrack.

We would spend days on end in the pub, have post-gig parties with all the bands back at our place.  On Sundays I could be found at Camden Market, helping out my new boyfriend with his art stall.    I still played bass sometimes, then.  Sometimes we had people round for spaghetti bolognese and felt grown up.  I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, with its wooden floorboards and a huge mirror, taking big-haired panda-eyed pale-faced selfies for my MySpace profile.  We used to watch The Dreamers repeatedly, while drinking wine in the afternoons.  We were still young enough that skipping dinner and drinking cheap fizz on a schoolnight felt impossibly glamorous.  It was the house where we saw a ghost.

mardi 18 juillet 2017


So, this year, I will once again be at the Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC), part of the London Film and Comic Con!  I am very excited about this.  Last year I had a great time, did lots of booky things and saw lots of lovely friends, but also sneaked off to see Dolph Lundgren and a Game of Thrones panel.  Dream.

This year, I am extra excited, and with very good reason...  My wonderful friend Harriet Reuter Hapgood and I are hosting a MAKE YOUR OWN YALC ZINE workshop!

Harriet is one of my favourite people in the world to hang out with, and when we do, a lot of our time and chat revolves around zines.  Early in our friendship, we established that we were both former makers of our own 90s lo-fi fanzines.  We talked about how cool it would be to resurrect the scrappy, black-and-white photocopied labours of love from our youth.  We drank some wine, ate a lot of snacks, worked on our novels and sometimes even cut up old copies of Vanity Fair for inspiration.

Then, one sunny Saturday, we spent the day in Harriet's garden with her cat Stanley and we finally put together our new fanzine I AM NOT ASHAMED!  It is a lo-fi wonder, homespun and very much put together in a day, which is how a good proper fanzine should be.

Copies will be available for the first time ever at YALC (each individually decorated and numbered!) and we will also be hosting our workshop on how to make one yourself.  There will be inspo, activities, ideas, snacks, music and LOTS OF GLITTER.

I can't wait.  Hope to see you there... for revolution girl style now!

vendredi 14 juillet 2017

I Blame Jilly

I blame Jilly Cooper.  For many things.  I love her beyond all reasonable measure, but I can’t help but feel it’s all her fault.

Jilly had far too great an effect on me at far too young an age; I spent my pre-teen years nicking my mum’s copy of Rivals and discussing with my cousin which character we’d be.  We don’t still do that; no, not at all.  We’re grown-ups now, honest.  (Ahem, Prudence and Imogen.)

In Jilly World, women should be fun and naughty, just a little bit grubby.  Self-control is not only boring but deeply suspicious.  Pouring stingy measures is so frowned upon it might as well be illegal.  Lunchtime drinking is not only fine, it’s positively de rigeur.  You shouldn’t be too healthy or too good at your job (you’re allowed to be bright, as long as you take two-hour lunch breaks and fuck everything up a lot, but everyone in your office loves you so it’s fine); your house shouldn’t be too clean.  You should be charmingly self-deprecating at all times, a little bit indiscreet, just a tiny bit too fat for your favourite slinky dress (which may be covered in cat hair).

Basically 'Jilly made me do it' is my standard get-out for all of my many character failings.

However, the most important thing I learned from Jilly is that romance has a formula.  The path to true love – with a Matt/Corey/Ace/Declan type if you’re really lucky – is well signposted.  So, obviously I thought this would be the case in real life: heavy hints dropped throughout the story, the happy ending clear cut and arriving just in time.

If the universe would only conform to the Jilly rules, I know exactly the man in my life who I am supposed to end up with.  According to the Cooper Law, here is how it works:
  • You are entirely disinterested and/or antagonistic towards Said Man at first
  • Love Feelings sneak up on you when you least suspect them
  • You find yourself engineering meetings, putting on lipstick when you are going to see him and denying to your friends (who have suspected all along) that you are falling for Said Man, while fervently trying to deny it to yourself (after all, he's not your type/you despise him/you're mad about someone else!)
  • Said Man kisses you and a thousand bolts of lightning go through you, etc
  • You possibly have ill-timed/drunk sex, which makes you both feel awkward and handle it badly in the morning (despite both of you having The Secret Love Feelings)
  • Just as it looks like you might get it together, there will be a dramatic obstacle in the way (a secret girlfriend/estranged wife/evil ex; meddling family/local busybody; a sudden death/illness/horse-related crisis)
  • You are heartbroken and slink off to be consoled by your hilarious boozy girlfriends and their pun-based one-liners, in either a tumbledown country cottage or a flat in Putney (NB their love lives will suddenly and unexpectedly be going brilliantly, just to make matters extra depressing for you)
  • There may be some sort of miscommunication on the way to tangle things up even further and lead you to think it’s all utterly, utterly hopeless
  • He turns up, only to find you in a red-eyed and hairy-legged state of despair, having just eaten an entire jar of pickled onions, yet still manfully declares his undying love and willingness to take on your grumpy cat/blind dog/demanding family/crippling debt
  • You have a very jolly wedding, where Janey Lloyd-Foxe gets off with the best man and your long-divorced parents get so pissed they end up in bed together
  • Live happily ever after.

I mean, is that really so hard?  It’s how it’s supposed to go, according to everything I have ever learned in my life.  I genuinely do not understand why the Cooper Law cannot apply to the actual universe.

The idea that it doesn’t is personally upsetting to me.  I am both affronted and terrified.  I mean, what are you supposed to do if Said Man doesn't appear to have read enough Jilly novels to know how this is supposed to end?  Shit.  There is no Jilly plot for this.

Yep, I blame Jilly.  I'm still going to spend the weekend rereading Prudence in the bath and eating pickled onions.