Books & blinds

I enjoyed the good weather, honestly I did. But there’s part of me that has always secretly relished the prospect of a drizzly afternoon. When the heavens open and it lashes it down, giving the air a thick, chilly lick, I feel no guilt whatsoever in remaining inside and assuming the foetal position on the sofa with a book. This week I have been re-reading a favourite, Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved. Despite knowing what happens, it’s a novel so utterly compelling that I’ve been functioning on autopilot. Last night, I took it into the bath and lost all track of time, only to emerge, prune like, after an hour. Still reading, I headed to the kitchen, more through habit than hunger. Opening the fridge, the pathetic yellow light illuminated little more than some moulding cheddar, tartar sauce and what may once have been a carrot, so I returned to the sofa with my book. Determined to get to the end, I turned my phone to silent, fought off tiredness and ignored the streetlights flicking on outside. I remember getting to the last page and that wave of emotion that comes with the end of a book you have loved. But the next thing I knew, it was morning. I’d forgotten to shut the blinds and a laser-like light seared open my eyes. My stomach threatened to devour itself and gurgled angrily, reminding me that I had neglected it and missed dinner. My limbs creaked in protest at being concertinaed into a two-seater Ikea sofa for eight hours. And suddenly the idea of reading all night when I had a day’s work ahead of me, a commute, meetings to prepare for, PRs to catch up with, pitches to hone and writing to be done, didn’t seem half so sensible or even romantic. So today is all about coffee. And an early night. And then maybe a small virtual shopping trip to Amazon to order Hustvedt’s latest offering…

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!