30 August 2009


After extensive research, much method acting, many an experience 'in the field' and the odd duvet day of hopelessness, I have discovered highlights of happiness. (Interestingly, I also equate multi-coloured highlighters with happiness. But that's another post for another day...)

So, unadulterated happiness is...

Backseat delirium travelling back from the Dordogne. Trippy chit-chat and giggles with N whilst on the long night drive. Stopping off for a midnight fast-food feast at an airport-style service station, the salt, e-numbers and post-holiday fatigue making for a happy dream of a journey.

Returning from a Christmas Oddsocks, jumping into jim-jams and settling in the playroom with brothers, a cheesy, family-saga, seasonal film and eating, eating, eating - Christmas pudding-shaped rum truffles and mince pie after mince pie after mince pie. Comfortable and cosy.

A Make Perry Merry evening in C's room. Whipping up butterscotch Angel Delight with a hand whisk and a lot of elbow grease, dunking soft cookies into bowls of pudding whilst curled up on the double bed with my mateys and watching 'A Little Princess' on DVD. Every girl (and Perry) is a princess, says Sarah Crewe. Heed her words.

Heading to Waterloo on a late summer's evening with a like-minded friend (to discover someone who is familiar with The Princess Bride is a rare thing, to find that they have also seen and love both Serenity and ALL of Firefly is positively unheard of!) in order to watch a Spanish farce of a film set in the 1940s, after sharing a bottle of full-bodied red by the prop of a white piano.

Unspoilt perfection. And things to dwell on whilst doing the dishes, paying deposits and unclogging plugholes.

28 August 2009

Queer Theory

'We've called her Stephen
So long...

That I really can't see
Why we shouldn't go on'

This sounds like a snippet of nonsense verse, or a children's nursery rhyme. It's got a nice ring to it, and could have been penned by the likes of Edward Lear. However, it actually comes from one of the 20th century's most groundbreaking, seminal, glorious novelistic explorations into the human condition: 'The Well of Loneliness' by Radclyffe Hall.

I may be gay in the sense that I'm happy and full of vim, and I may be queer in the sense that I'm just a little bit odd, but I am not homosexual. Despite my own mother, on seeing my newly cropped barnet, declares 'My, you do look rather like... well... a boy, don't you?' Thank you, Mother.

Of course I don't take any issue with homosexuality. In fact 'some of my best friends are gay...yada yada'. I'm even sleeping in the bed of one of these friends. Alas, he's not here with me... but still.

Carrying half the Homosexuality Lit Crit section of the library around Bloomsbury probably doesn't help with any suspicions, displayed with the titles evident to the world due to my bag already being crammed with the Romantics and Shakespeare. And the other day I did catch myself sitting in a coffee shop openly reading a paperback entitled 'Lesbian Feminist Fiction', the conspicuous cover in full view. This particular work was produced by the Radical Feminist and Lesbian Publishers. Which I think is fabulous!

(I also learnt from one of the short stories in this book that a woman is worth seven cups of tea. Make of this what you will.)

I may love Coco Chanel's outfit to the fancy dress ball, with its nod to cross-dressing, but that's about as far as it goes. And I'm too plain scrawny to pull off butch. And, frankly, my future husband Jeremy Northam/Greg Wise/Gael Garcia Bernal, whom I shall scandalously leave for Carlos Acosta (naturally), is the target of my Eros-arrowed affections.

22 August 2009


Once upon a time there was a young man who loved and lived in London. He was fond of independent cinemas, weeping men and banana milk. He had emotional relationships with buses, and eyes that were too blue for his soul. He wandered the city streets endlessly, exploring, observing, searching...

One sunny day his travels took him to Hampstead Heath. The sun's rays were bright and gently warming, though not particularly penetrating. The young man, however, felt unusually hot as he settled himself amongst the buttercups. 'It's a bit George Michael... a bit Wham', he thought to himself, absent mindedly adopting the lingo of the little rascal that often snapped at his Conversed heels. He began to worry that he was ill, perhaps suffering a mild cardiac arrest. In an attempt to cool his moistening personage he undid the top button of his chaste checked shirt. It was not just coils of manly chestnut chest hair that this exposed however. The unmistakable sight of a pyjama-top collar could also be glimpsed. He was wearing his nightclothes still.
On further investigation it transpired that he was also pyjama-bottomed, fettered in both flannel sleeping-chinos and tight denim skinnies. The young man was alarmed. It was not his body that was ailing after all, but his mind.

In a semi-conscious daze he must have skipped a morning step. He was dapper, well turned out, smart as ever - but wearing one too many layers due to delirious oversight. The young man had walked through London town oblivious to the fact that he was in his pyjamas and madness was in his soul. Now that he knew, he leapt like a live-wire, all a-flutter and embarrassed, and hopped hurriedly onto the nearest bus. He was not dying of a heart-attack, as previously feared, rather of mortification.

As evening drew on and the rascal arrived, she was regaled with this tale of an addled mind and signs of insanity. Horror still resided in the young man's eyes as he imparted the sorrowful story, yet the rascal's weary spirits were cheered. She laughed. She laughed and laughed until she cried, forever grateful to the young man who wore his pyjamas out in the world.

16 August 2009

Thrills and Chills in Printed Pages

I am one lucky lady. A lucky lady who will be sticking to her liberal principals, despite the Thatcherites luring her to their blue hue with inky temptations...
I was given an all access pass to the most amazing crampypants space in the literary world, and for this I am thankful. It is even better than the wardrobe that leads to Narnia.

It is The Book Cupboard.

Crammed to the rafters with brand spanking new, yet to be published books that I lovingly (albeit rather manically and excitedly) liberate from their Jiffy bags and heavy-duty cardboard packaging. If only you knew what these awestruck wide-eyes have seen - from the latest Margaret Atwood, to a proof copy of the new Barbara Kingsolver, to a children's anthology of Carol Ann Duffy poems, to a graphic novel of the life of Bertrand Russell, to a translation of a Japanese modern fairytale about a woman whose toe turns into a penis, that has been highly acclaimed by readers, literary critics, philosophers and academics alike, to Alan Bennett, Nick Hornby, John Banville, Joshua Ferris... I could go on. All pristine, and in varying degrees of completion. And I get my grubby mitts on all the above before the general public can even glimpse 'em.


I had a Bad Book Cupboard Experience. Yes, the cupboard of my dreams (even better than Carrie's Sex and the City closet) may have turned against me.

All alone, ensconced in said cupboard and pretending to be bookseller/philosopher Audrey Hepburn in Funnyface, I was opening a new book. A thriller. I read the blurb. It was about a young boy who writes to an imprisoned murderer, asking where the body of his butchered uncle is buried. I'd just comprehended the basic plot when out falls a piece of paper from inside the book - a handwritten note in pencil that asks a murderer where a body is buried... Then another bit of paper fell out. A biro scrawl from a prison inmate, replying to the boy.

Totally freaked me out. They looked real. Genuine. Not mock-ups. Sick joke? Marketing strategy? Most likely. But chilling nonetheless.

I shall not be reading this book.

9 August 2009

A Man's Home is his Castle (Carrock)

And so the fantasies begin...

A place to escape to, loaded up with kegs of beer and a couple of ounces of weed that smells of rosemary. A group of lads hellbent on oblivion, driven into the wilds by the one who's passed his test, in an old motor that's about as battered as the guys intend to get over the weekend.

A place to recoup, after years of travelling across South America, Mexico and beyond on a moped, meeting all manner of madness. A cottage where the faux-foreigner can become immersed once more in the beautiful drizzly Cumbrian countryside after the colour, adventure and dangers of backpacking throughout the world and growing an impressive beard.

A place to live in, The Good Life meets The Edge of Love. Pottering about in wellies, floral dresses and woolen cardigans. Making soup from home-grown veg and writing novels longhand with a fountain pen and elderflower wine opening the mind to a rich vetch of inspiration.

All planned for Jockey Shields, the cottage of childhood. But need it always be associated with the past? Perhaps it could play a part in futures too...

If it were even for sale, that is. Hmmm.