Double denim and other disasters

There wasn’t much to do in early 1990s Random-on-Thames of a Saturday night once you’d exhausted the possibilities of the Magnet Leisure Centre and Laser Quest. Fortunately from the age of 14, at all of five foot tall, local bouncers in saw fit to let me into their establishments with the aid of some woefully poor fake ID (Sarah Thomas photocopied the school logo and whacked it between some sticky-backed plastic with a typewritten slip of paper that said: “We’re in the sixth form, honest”). So imagine my surprise and mirth at returning to the scene of the crime(s) a couple of decades on to find that the average 14 year old has an iPhone in one hand, a Starbucks in the other, and a social calendar that would make an It girl weep. Modern adolescent girl is also dressed head to toe in an achingly cool combo of high street, designer and vintage clobber and brimming with confidence. When did this happen? Why did no one tell me? And how can I ever recover from being dressed in Global Hypercolour T-shirts and double denim for much of my youth? Answers on a postcard please.


Back from a blissful Hay festival and wondering how the heady summer days of the weekend have descended so rapidly into a grim and grey week. Settling back into the 9-5 after a holiday has always been a struggle. I have grown to expect all my days to start with a latte on the lawn and some soft jazz in white marquee, cider and venison burgers for lunch and some literary criticism in the afternoon. Real life, it turns out, isn’t much like that. So in the name of fending off the holiday blues, I’m writing down the best bits.

Overheard at Hay:
“I’ve never seen so much sensible footwear in one field…”
“No, they don’t have a Jack Wills concession here.”
“Do they do tofu?”
“I was chatting to Martin Amis at breakfast…”
“Do you know what I think? I think…”
“Oh yes, I love Nietzsche too!”
“I find (insert author’s name here) work so inspiring.”

Spotted at Hay:
A huddle of hot dads pushing Maclaren buggies over rough terrain accompanied by women wearing tie die confections.
The Lady editor Rachel Johnson looking regal with amazing hair, blow-dry perfect even off-duty and in a field.
Two mid brow, thinking woman’s crumpet, C-listers who recently dated friends of mine. Both behaved in ways counter to their on screen/on page persona of carefully cultivated ‘new man’ and both subsequently replaced my challenging, interesting wonderful friends with identikit, miniature and meek girls half their age. Shame.

Priorities, please

Forget the news scoops, insightful interviews and carefully crafted features I have worked on over the past year – all anyone’s interested in now is what the SATC2 premiere was like. I have been asked about this more over the past week than about Womankind, Race for Life, my cousin’s debut exhibition or the marvellous Ben Addis in Eurydice at the Young Vic. All anyone really wants to know is: “What’s SJP like?” The answer? She seems lovely. And a damn sight more entertaining than the film, if reviews are to be believed. Judge for yourself here or marvel at the technical talents of Raid’s Jack Burnford who has put together a collection of such witterings here. No laughing please. Well, okay, a few sniggers are allowed.

Euston, we have a problem

Having experienced Thursday’s debate solely via Twitter, Billy Bragg and the drunken rants of Euston’s finest at closing time, I’ve gleaned an interesting perspective. The inebriated of NW1, it appears, favour a bit of Dave. Billy, I feel, is all about Gordon. And Twitter, well the Twitterati pledged their love to Nick weeks ago. But if you still haven’t made your mind up, you might want to try The Telegraph’s Vote Match – a guide that matches your views on the issues you care about most with each political party’s policies. PS: Yes, Pressure Drop was just as excellent as it promised to be and runs until 12th May. Go see!

Billy Bragg vs Boulton in Bristol

I am ridiculously excited about Thursday. More excited than I have been about many a Friday of late. You see, I have become slightly obsessed by the leaders’ debate. I spent most of the last one enjoying Twitter tirades, Nick Clegg’s tie, and David Cameron’s touché éclat while trying to wolf down a jacket potato and shouting at the telly. It was wonderful pantomime and made compelling water cooler chat for days. But this week I’m in danger of missing my political fix, sort of.  It’s the press night of a new play starring Billy Bragg (aka God). ‘Pressure Drop’, by Mick Gordon, promises to explore social and political reference points that we live our lives by, pivoting around the central question: What makes me who I am? Ever since I realised the calendar clash, I’ve been wrangling with that very dilemma. Should I opt for a night of political drama that is fictional or supposedly ‘factual’? What are my political reference points? And how in hell will I know unless I keep up with GE2010 and the leaders’ debate?! Most of all, I’m wondering how Bragg allowed the two to be scheduled on the same night. After several cups of tea and two Lindt bunnies (yes that’s right, Easter keeps on giving in the Russell household) I’ve come to the conclusion that it must all be part of some master plan. If missing the political event of the year to spend three hours on a bench in Euston is good enough for Billy Bragg, I’ve decided it’s good enough for me. I may, however, pack snacks. And a cushion.