Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A bloody red alert.

My period is officially over! Today I woke up with no blood on my night-time pad, and nothing on the just-in-case tampon, either. Thank goodnessing fuck. As soon as I saw the lack of red this morning, I happily cracked open my box of The Pill in my bedside drawer and I popped a 'Wednesday'. I'm too excited for 30 days without that bloody hell, now.

Okay so, did that little string of sentences seem weird? Maybe TMI? Why? Are you not used to hearing these things? I bet if you're an avid reader of blogs, you'll have read something like that before. Also I have so many good blogging pals/heroes who have written about periods in the past year or so (will list 'em below!). It's another taboo that's being pored over and smashed to pieces. And I am delighted.

I've always been quite upfront and open about my Lady Timez. I remember asking friends on the playground at school, 'ermm, wanna come with me to the bathroom?' with suggestive eyebrow wiggles that I felt only young girls got the meaning behind – and then when I got to Year 11 and didn't give any shits I'd just flat out say 'I'm on, who has a pad?' 

Also, at school, I found I got to an age when teachers would always let me go to the loo mid-lesson. I think it was in Year 9, maybe. All us girls were excused – because the teachers, the young brightly-dressed women and even in some cases the stuffier older men, wouldn't want us to be uncomfortable, or y'know, bleed on their plastic chairs (which we all did at one time or another. Ughh). 

Caitlin Moran has said that even aged 40 she still discovers blood in her pants and exclaims 'WHAAAAT, fuck sake!?' like it's a hideous surprise. I do, too. I've come on at the worst possible times (admittedly not as bad as Caitlin, I mean, she came on while sitting on a white sofa and watching Benedict fucking Cumberbatch recite a Sherlock monologue about love that she was saving up in her wank bank). My favourite/worst instance of period was when I was pitching my first novel to an agent at the Curtis Brown Discovery Day. I was wearing a light lilac dress, with just 40 denier tights and a pair of M&S granny pants between me and the padded chair I was sitting on. And y'know what I did? I kept pitching my arse off – as my front bits expelled. I sat up ever so slightly, pulled my light dress out from underneath me (because blood getting on a cheap black padded seat cushion vs blood staining a smart and expensive brainer) and cracked on. Nobody knew. Well, Twitter knew, because I of course tweeted about it from the toilets right after my pitch session was over...

(Not pictured: oozing)

Anyway, back to the point. Periods are considered evil most of the time, but to be honest I just find them irritating. They come along when you're least expecting it and they bugger up your life for a few days. I've known friends to cancel plans with me because they're bed-bound with cramps and don't trust their uterus to behave for long enough to leave the house. I personally have only had proper period pain once, and trust me that was enough. I'll go into that later on...

Also, honestly, how many of my gorgeous female readers have been planning a lovely date night with your other half then BOOM, blood, and the plans are scrapped? Isn't it always the way? I often find I'll finally have something cooking up and getting going (as it were) in the personal department, and then I'll bleed continuously as if my body is screaming with nerves and trying to prevent me falling in love or whatever...
AND guy readers, I'm curious...does the bleeding bug you? I would ask all my guy friends in person and in private, but y'know, it's far more sensible to ask publicly in a post on the internet. That's what I do! 

* Interjection here, period sex is a thing and can actually be well good, like. Here's me talking about it for The Mix, on YouTube for all to see! 
(I showed this to the kids I lectured recently, after talking to them about blogging for 2 hours. It got a good/incredulous response.) *

I was inspired to write this post after seeing Hannah Witton's 'The Hormone Diaries' on YouTube; she has stopped taking her pill for the first time in years to see what happens to her body. I tell you, that is fucking brave. 

I came off my pill once, because I was experiencing symptoms of a brain tumour (+ inflated cyst around the brain tumour) and the neurologist I saw was so sure that my twitches and face slumps and mini-fits were happening because I'd been on the pill for almost 4 years straight and it was starting to mess up my body (after 4 years of blissful harmony with my body tho...?!). I came off my Yasmin and after 2 weeks or wasn't pretty. My body soon realised it wasn't going to get the usual hormone suppression/regulation stuff, it wasn't just a usual week's break, and it got angry. The world fell out of my vag, honestly it was a literal blood bath, I was changing my pad every hour. My lower back and stomach were racked with pain, I was doubled over with it. My skin exploded in spots – a huge plus to my pill, mostly clear skin always! – and my boobs were suddenly aching constantly. My then-boyf would try and pat me on the shoulder or massage me and I'd cross my arms over my chest and shriek 'GET OFF ME YOU HURT EVERYTHING HURTS!' 

Now, I am sharing all this fabulous info with you guys because I feel it's something I should WE SHOULD – be able to share. Okay, there are restrictions, for instance maybe don't talk about your menstrual tendencies on a first date with someone you properly fancy (I guess it could be a good device to get rid of a date you're not that fussed about...) and perhaps keep it to yourself when you come on during a lunch with extended family or in-laws. Just slip away to the loo and take care of it, then tell family members afterwards if you wish. Don't yell, at the dinner table, 'I AM BLEEDING!!', yeah? 

However, with friends and people you definitely trust and think would share their experiences and personal tricks (like how, at 16, I used to tell friends excitedly that wearing a tampon until THE SECOND BEFORE sex meant less or no blood during, pro tip people), go for it. Share share share. Get it said aloud, in conversation, at home or in a public place. 
I personally LOVE being able to text and talk with friends about our periods. I'll throw it into conversation – usually when describing a minor yet emotionally traumatic recent event; 'oh yeah, but I'm on the blob so that could be why I cried for 4.5 hours...' It's guaranteed hilarity and/or sensitivity. So let's talk more. It's a natural thing. Why the fuck don't we talk about it? We talk about pregnancy and babies and (male) wanking (grr) and even a bit more these days about actual sex - so why not this? 

A big moment for me recently was when I actually started ripping out my pads, tearing open a new one and replacing in public toilets. I used to flush the toilet first, or wait until some kind lady would switch on the hand-dryer outside my cubicle. I hated the idea that people knew what I was up to, that I was bleeding and needed to stem the flow with a sanitary towel as all women do tho?! I'm also taking out pads and tampons from my handbag and not making any effort to hide them (but not exactly flaunting them either) as I walk to the toilet. For some reason I always felt like someone seeing me holding a bright pink packet or a yellow plastic tube would change their opinions of me. Wtf? 
-- little note here, can the FHP makers please someday create a wrapper for pads and tampons that actually is SILENT when you open them? Seriously, it can't be that hard. 

Okay, that's me done on this topic, for today anyway. I may have to get on the #livetweetyourperiod hype next month. I know I tend to slip into ranting mode when writing these posts and sometimes that can make the meaning ebb ever so slightly but I so hope y'all stuck it out and read on through the rants. 

This is just the latest in my series of subjects that I wanna chat about! Here are some others... 

And here are some of the aforementioned important blogger pal posts: 

Until next time, folks xoxo 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Gilmore Girls, A Year In The Life: my mixed feels.

Hello friends, readers and fellow Gilmore lovers, it's me. One of your most obsessed and vocal fangirls, who has been tweeting and chattering about this exciting revival since it was announced this time last year. I even blogged about it, with a few requests for the writers – Amy and Daniel, the original Gilmore Creators, thank goodness. 
Well, now I've seen it. I witnessed the revival. And as you can imagine, I have thoughts. 

(Source: my Instagram)

I watched the 4 feature-length episodes that made up 'Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life', with my little sis who is every bit as loving of and dedicated to the show as I am (possibly more, if only because she can name each and every episode, plus its position in the series, when I quote a few lines from it or ask when that thing happened). I'd swapped shifts at work so I'd have the day to watch, and I know of several friends who had booked holiday in advance so they could binge-watch. It was quite the event. 

I must say, the publicity leading up to this magical day was on point – every so often for the couple of weeks leading up to the big reveal at 7am Friday morning (midnight in the US) there was a video on the @gilmoregirls Instagram; the Town Troubadour singing, the key pieces of the set, the cast sharing silly little secrets for the followers to devour, e.g. the Huppah is still erect in Lorelai's garden/Paul Anka's outfits are 'back and better than ever'/Stars Hollow finally got parking meters 'but no-one would pay them'.
All day long on Friday, Twitter was exploding with Gilmore gifs and classic quotes; the hashtag #GilmoreGirlsRevival was in everyone's faces and seemed to win out over #GilmoreGirls (because old school) and #gilmoregirlsayearinthelife (because whoa, long). 

Sis and I enjoyed 6+ hours in Stars Hollow. We got snacks, we set up camp under a blanket, we had litre bottles of water to avoid needless pausing and refilling cups (although this meant we had to pause a couple of extra times to pee...didn't think that through), and our mama initially said she wouldn't be joining us for the first time watching (although she did later on, obvs) because we needed to have this experience together and with no distractions that may inhibit our reactions.
At first we were ignoring our phones, in case of spoilers. We had them face-down beside us and gave the TV our undivided attention. But later on, after much discussion, we decided to chance a glance at social media now and again. I had photos to edit for Insta, and by episode 3 I was actually intensely curious as to what my fellow Gilmore fans on Twitter were thinking of it thus far. We justified it by agreeing 'true Gilmore lovers wouldn't spoil anything'. There was even a photo of a badge doing the rounds online, much like one Jackson once wore: 'I do not want to learn the last 4 words of Gilmore Girls'. Sure enough, I did not see any spoilers when I logged into Twitter. Bless you, friends. 

Now, 2 days on, I am seeing a lot of tweets and Facey B posts that tell of thoughts similar to mine...which is a relief. Everyone seems to have come down with a bout of mixed feelings. Which is the most immense relief for this Gilmorite. I am a physical manifestation of mixed feelings. I am a bag of feels. 
So, let's try and break some of these mixed feelings down, now. 

(Source here)

I promise to be nice and remain 100% SPOILER-FREE. I urge all my fellow bloggers and tweeters who are also experiencing the now very common and surely infectious surge of mixed feelings to do the same. Don't spoil. It's evil. 

***Having said that, if you have watched the 4 new eps then I recommend Jemma (aka the mighty Dorkface)'s spoiler-filled but beautifully positive (and way more coherent) musings which you can read right here

****And I also loved Lex Croucher's video on the subject, entitled 'Rory Gilmore Sucks'. Again, SPOILERS APLENTY. 

*****My lovely friend Kora sent me this Verge article that is harsh af and rammed with spoilers, but I agreed with so many points!?

Okay. My overwhelming feeling, in amongst the aforementioned mixture, is that the show I saw on Friday 25th November was simply not my Gilmore Girls. 

My sister thankfully articulated this perfectly after episode 2 'Spring' – and I was so grateful she felt the same because otherwise our experience watching together may have turned sour – 'Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life' was a Netflix original series. Yes, correct. But it felt like that, too. It felt like Netflix had made their own version of this classic show. It was so Netflix. The bright sets, the camera panning lazily around these insanely bright sets, the perfectly positioned seating arrangements for intense character discussions, the HD focus on the characters' faces that really put me off at times – yes I am aware that this is sounding like me slamming the amazing website's big budgeting and fantastic quality of filming and maybe I am, wasn't Gilmore Girls. It was something else. That's the only way I could say it. Gilmore Girls was always filmed on maybe 10 different sets absolute maximum, and they were never needlessly bright or HD. They were, quite famously, autumnal af. And soft-focused, although that may have simply been down to the quality of filming equipment at the time. It doesn't matter. That was the GG I loved. So when my sister said this, I was relieved it wasn't just me.

Because my feeling up until that point had been 'they've taken my characters, our characters that we love so damn much, and they've just put them somewhere else?!

(Source here)

That's what it felt like throughout. Sure, there were many moments that saved the individual episodes, for instance when Jess reappeared in all his glistening ripped glory, as we knew he would (sis pointed and shouted when Rory came on screen wearing the outfit she was wearing when she chatted with Jess in the trailer; 'JESS IS COMING!'), and he put Rory's life ever so slightly back on track, telling her 'you're still a contender'. 
In fact, a lot of the old cast reappearances were saving graces throughout: Carole King's smiling face made me squeal (even if she was in the worst scenes EVER, like, a 20 minute sketch of sorts about a Stars Hollow musical?! Seriously, wtf?), Sookie of course brought the kitchen to life once again if only for one scene, and of course I could not get over Dean's little burst of screen time, he was perfect
Whenever a new yet old character came into view we kept shouting 'they look EXACTLY THE SAME!' or, in Zach's case, 'WHOA HE IS A DIFFERENT PERSON?!' 
But at times, it felt a little like each character was just shoved on screen momentarily to induce those reactions in us...not many of them actually managed to hold a conversation or take part in the bigger story lines. 

A few full-on slight-spoiler pet hates quickly... 

  • Fat-shaming. The Gilmore Girls let themselves down in one scene when they kept pointing out their less than healthy town peers...why?!
  • Luke had moments when he was...dumb. Luke was never dumb. A bit hapless with his true personal feelings most of the time, sure, but he was never flat-out stupid.
  • The coffee cups were still never full. All I wanted was for the cups to be filled with water or something, just so they would actually be sipping real liquid and so they wouldn't be flinging their arms around so freely while holding takeaway cups!?
  • My immediate family and I have all, at some point in our lives, been to counselling. All with separate therapists, in different places. So we have our experience with this kind of thing. The therapist in the revival, dealing with Lorelai and Emily? Unprofessional and just outright terrible.
  • Okay, I'm done now. (I may tack on more later on in edits) (Oh yes, I did)

Yes, there were many moments when my sister and I would gasp and shriek and grab at each other, excited to see the good old Gilmores on top form, if only for a moment or two. 
Richard's story was as good as it could have been, they did him justice and I was so grateful for that. Rory's mess of a life was pretty much all down to her writing and her career and quite shockingly not all down to which guy she was going to end up with, which was refreshing (I am still Team Logan forever, even after his very bad behaviour in this revival, although I cannot deny Team Jess are seeming stronger every time I re-watch...seriously, why has she never actually tapped that? He's smokin' hot and awesomely mature these days). Lorelai and Luke were still my OTP, just about. Kirk was a silver fox edition of Kirk. 

(Source here)

Now, let's hang on a second here. I know I've been harsh. But you must understand, the first time watching this revival was so important to me. My expectations were sky high, and very delicately balanced up there. 
I re-watched the 'Winter' episode the following morning, with sis again, and the parents as well this time. And y'know what? It was better. Funnier, sweeter, more true to the original series. Maybe it's because my expectations weren't quite as absurdly infeasible that time around – quite the opposite, in fact! So maybe I'll carry on, and watch the next three all over again. Maybe it'll be better the second time. I won't be caught up in the plot, I'll know what happens so I'll be able to appreciate the smaller details and the gentle or enormous character arcs (I mean, Emily Gilmore, you superstar). 

On the 25th November, when I settled down to watch my beloved Gilmores and see where they were and what they were doing 9 years on...I don't think anything could have satisfied me. I'm sorry, Gilmores. My bad. I promise to try again. And you know I will always love you, no matter what. Copper boom. 

(Source: my Instagram)

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Books Are My Bag Readers Awards ; the evening!

I was so delighted and honoured to attend the first ever Books Are My Bag Readers Awards event, in one of my favourite London bookshops, on Thursday 24th November.

I wrote about these awards, specifically the Childrens Shortlist, when they was first announced a while ago. And the beautiful humans at BAMB sent me all of their shortlists in each category! Those babes. I have since been enjoying some wildly varied fiction and hard-hitting non-fiction – breaking each tough read up with a gorgeous picture book, obviously.

The buzz in the room when the award winners were called out was brilliant; I found myself bouncing on my toes as I silently rooted for the authors and books I'd voted for online...but then at the same time I was totally psyched for all the other shortlisted candidates, all of them excellent and worthy of the win.

There are so many awards these days that are judged by a panel, and subject to just a small group of opinions – but these awards were perfect in that they were voted for by readers! Good work, BAMB. Giving the loyal and loving readers a voice – and no doubt the authors appreciate their wins more when they know it was a mass vote that people took time out of their days to submit! I certainly would, anyway. 

The evening was packed full of lovely moments. Seeing Stacey again after so long – and after she'd been on several European adventures – was lovely. And while hugging George Lester (often for longer than strictly necessary) is always a treat, this time was extra special because we were all dressed up and feeling important as we were both featured bloggers for these awards, thank you very much. 

Then of course chattering my head off with authors is always a highlight of a book event for me – even after doing it for over a year, I still freak out and babble excitedly and lose my cool (if I even had it in the first place) when an author looks my way.

I was thrilled to meet David Litchfield, author of 'The Bear and The Piano'. That picture book is so beautiful that I read it twice in quick succession – and it made me weep a little. I may have panicked the author slightly when he went for a handshake and I pulled him in for a hug...

I was so heart-wrenchingly happy when Matt Haig won the award for Non-Fiction; his book 'Reasons To Stay Alive' brought the most insane clarity and relief to me and my silly brain when I discovered it a while ago, and I have lent/gifted it to everyone I know who I feel would benefit from his musings and stories as much as I did. 
Then after the awards were all presented, and approximately 3 glasses of wine were consumed on my part, I strode up to him to tell him just this, all of this, plus deliver a huge thank you of course. We ended up chattering for a while after he recognised me from Twitter, I gave him my business card and then postponed my excited freaking out for the train home. Phew. 

When Max Porter's 'Grief Is The Thing With Feathers' won the award for Fiction, I lost it a bit. Because hell yes, this book (which I devoured in 4.5 hours one sunny Sunday sitting in an independent book shop) (and have since bought for about 5 different friends) just made me feel everything. It reminded me of my time studying Creative Writing at uni, when I'd happily unleash all my messy thoughts onto a poor unsuspecting page and afterwards edit and see what worked. His beautiful tangles of words and emotions were just...something else. Congrats, Max.

But it was when Julia Donaldson and Sarah Ogilive's book 'The Detective Dog' was announced as the winner in the Children's shortlist that I squealed the most. Because I was so happy their gorgeous and genius picture book won – it was up against some stiff YA and MG competition, not to mention its picture book rival 'The Bear and The Piano'! Congrats again to Julia and Sarah, and to Pan Mac. 

Also, mad props to the writers of 'The Good Immigrant', you all smashed it and yeah, obviously you won the Readers Choice Award. I mean, c'mon. 

I could ramble on about this wonderful evening forever and a day, but I'll leave it there for now. If anyone wants to know more, like how many glasses of wine I managed to consume, or how overcome with joy I was when they presented me with a goodie bag as I left, or how magical it was walking to Charing Cross station with the one and only George who was my very cheeky guardian angel at those awards...well then DM me, perhaps.

I haven't actually been able to attend many book events in the big smoke recently, and I felt that this was the perfect one to pull me back into the excitement of the bookish world. I'd missed it. Let's hope I have more time to attend these events in the new year. I may make it a resolution...

Wanna win the entire list of winning books? Click here!

Oh also, today is BAMB's Civilised Saturday; the perfectly chilled follow-up to the wicked Black Friday! Check it out.

Other blogs I have written under the lovely Books Are My Bag umbrella:

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Just Some Things #8 : Rosie B-D.

This is the latest instalment in my feature Just Some Things!
In case you don't know, here's how it works...
I send a writer an individual email with a series of prompts from the '642 Things to Write About' book – chosen entirely at random – and then when I get the responses, I dedicate a post to them and their piece. It could be short, long, backwards, in another language, I don't mind. It'll be an adventure whatever happens! And they can use or ignore however many of the prompts they wish. 

When published on the blog, their piece will be put in first and then I'll add in a little piece beneath it, my response to the same prompt. I will always ensure mine is shorter and less prominent, obviously. It's all about featuring my fave writers.

Today my guest writer is the delicious Rosie B-D; one of my many barista pals but this gal is particularly special as she loves books AND cats just as much as me. She is a newbie book blogger, too! 

Her prompt was: The secret that, if revealed, could change everything... 

It sits heavily in the depths of my stomach. Dragging me down, down. Oh, the weight of the world is crushing upon my shoulders, an attempt to bury me in the cold damp earth.
Do you know how small I have become? How I plead with the universe to let me disappear? To solely wish to become only but a memory in the vast blackness of nothing; be at peace with myself...?
I wish, so desperately, to take it all away; to cleanse my body, my mind. How I beg to turn back time and right my wrongs to save myself from this inevitable punishment.
I walk along the crowded corridor. Everyone is rushing by me. They think of classes they need to get to, excuses they need for homework that was never completed. They cannot see me, no one does. I’m trying to focus, to see some hope, to feel some strength inside me that can solve this. My feet do their best to move me forward, one step at a time, but I feel that I am only going backwards. There is nowhere where I will be safe; no one that would understand what I have done and what will happen. The sadness rips through me like a hot, burning knife.
No words can be uttered through my trembling lips. I clamp my mouth shut as if they had be sewn together; surpassing the urge to rip them apart, through all the pain and anxiety. I wish more than anything to be free; to fly away and never look back. To feel that cool breeze caress my body, to become carefree.
But freedom comes at a price.
If I spoke the words that angrily travel around and around in my mind, oh everything would be ruined. I could not bear it. The sadness that I would cause would be unthinkable. The anger, the guilt, the pain that I would have caused…
I would have no one to turn to, no one to depend upon. I will be alone, more alone than ever.
It’s entirely my fault. I am to blame. There’s nothing I can do but shut my eyes and will this to disappear. For me to disappear.
My secret grows inside of me; each day it grows bigger and stronger. I do not know if I have the will the contain it; to hold myself together and be brave.
I count day the days, the months. I watch the hands of clock tick, tick tick. My skin crawls and I feel the hopelessness.

Rosie's blog : Twitter : Instagram

And here is my response to the same prompt...

   My name is Sid. I'm your average fellow, tall and dark and arguably handsome, and I frequently commute into London for writing gigs, some magnificent theatre experiences and of course the occasional shmoozing session over cocktails...oh yes, I am quite normal, if slightly classier than most perhaps. 
   But of course, I am not without my dark past and closely-guarded secrets. One secret in particular I feel would blow minds and induce shrieks, were it to come out of the bag...shall I tell you? Fine, I will indulge the masses of eager readers. But you cannot tell anyone else, understood? 
   Good. Now, wait for it...
   I am actually, quite secretly, a cat. Yes, I know, shocking right?! I'll give you a moment to calm down and correct yourselves. I need to clean my left leg anyway. 

   I know, I know, how did I manage to keep this from you? To deceive so many?! Well my disguise is excellent; a floor-length trench coat, five-fingered gloves stuck on my paws, a fedora pulled down over my ears and obscuring my particularly fluffy brow...I could fool anyone. 
   I am flawless, I think to myself, as I walk upright through Waterloo station at 8:31am, nobody would know. 
   I have mastered human language, through a series of awkward grunts and stutters when really I am tempted to mew loudly. I now ace social interactions and keep my hands (paws) to myself when I am really fighting the red hot urge to knock a person's drink off the table or nudge their face with mine over and over again and oh, that would feel so good............but I must resist. I am human meow. I Shh, my friends. Tell no-one. Nobody can know. 


If you'd like to be involved in one of these Just Some Things posts, email me at

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Past encounters.

In the past 2 weeks or so, I have had 3 encounters with my past. 3 people that had been waiting to re-enter my life for who knows how long, and finally Fate rung her bell and our paths crossed in the most unexpected ways. 

Human encounter #1 was...a pleasant surprise. It was something I'd dreaded and at times actually properly feared, and despite being almost constantly reassured by family members and friends – real friends – I knew someday it would happen. We'd meet again, and things would be said. They would have to be. The way we left each other's lives was messy to say the least and, well, just unfinished. It left a deep and complex sadness in the pit of my stomach and a sour taste in the back of my throat. It led to me hysterically weeping on trains as they passed through that station; I would desperately scan the platform to see if by some sick twist of fate they would get on my train, and the peace that I'd worked so hard to achieve in their absence would be shattered in seconds when their eyes met mine.

Yes, I was afraid. Yes, I was unsettled. Yes.

So then when the moment, that somehow inevitable yet unexpected reunion, came about in the middle of the city one evening – when they reached for me and started the conversation that soon became riddled with timid enquiries and gentle compliments that were easily inserted but clearly heavy with wasn't what I thought it would be. It was nice. It was a relief. Of course, I was waiting throughout our chattering for those old feelings of hatred and rage and maybe even fear to stir inside me, for the memories of fights and screams that then subsided into outright ignoring and enormous silences, to fill me up and make me sick...but they didn't. I looked at this face, that I knew so well even after years away from it, not seeing it every morning in the kitchen or every afternoon in lectures as I once did, and I felt nothing but light and polite interest; like I would anyone else I hadn't seen since the days we spent together as students. But I also felt that much better in myself, not like a shadow of this person any more, not a supporting character. I felt cool and strong and even a little bit hot. And I felt them recognise that in me, and respect it.

I got on the tube afterwards and genuinely felt light and free and like I could just whoop with joy in this carriage crammed with strangers at 10:41pm.

Because I hadn't quite gauged the size of the storm cloud, nor the immense weight of it, that our sudden parting of ways after some dark exchanges had brought about. I almost looked up to see if the sky was any clearer above me. It certainly felt that way. Because I'd finally got my closure, and finally had questions answered that had been brewing within me for 2 years. So thank you, human #1. Thanks for reaching out. You know, I think if I'd seen you first I'd have instinctively scurried away, buried my feelings and burning questions, and then regretted it for more years.

Human encounter #2 was every bit as excellent as I wanted it to be – and knew it would be.

Human encounter #3 was the worst, but was exactly what I'd expected when I got over the initial shock at seeing their face again, in an unfamiliar environment – actually not unfamiliar at all, it was my environment, with my usual inhabitants who I've come to be so familiar with, it was just their presence that was alien and odd and unpleasant. I won't lie, my heart kicked into overdrive and my legs almost fell apart beneath me; my hands shook as I grabbed for my nearest friend to help me somehow, to save me from this hideous reminder that was staring me in the face – even though it hadn't seen me yet.

3 double whisky and gingers, drunk in quick succession and courtesy of the open bar, steeled me for any awkward conversations – they wrapped me in a fuzzy blurry blanket, tinged my cheeks pink and stretched my grin wider as I watched my friend and his wife take to the floor for their first dance to an obscure indie song.

I needn't have worried. In fact, I should have guessed. This would be an encounter if only in terms of seeing and then quietly and very deliberately not seeing. The averting of eyes and turning of backs; the division of the dance floor and careful scheduling of bar was the only way it could have gone. It was their usual tactic.

Because they are, and always were, a coward.

This in-person yet indirect encounter was still a relief. It was only when I realised that I was in the right, that I didn't need to hide behind a partner because I had a whole crew on my side (and I was definitely more of a legit guest at this party, not a plus one)...that I started to feel powerful and ecstatic and yeah, strong yet again.

And I will continue to be strong from now on. I won't be afraid of the past, of whatever comes back to me, be it in human form or just a forgotten story or even a place...I can handle it. I reckon I've got past the worst of it now. And I've smashed it every time so far. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

King Lear ; who was the fool?

I was delighted to attend the rather exciting press night of The Royal Shakespeare Company's latest hit production at the Barbican Theatre...King Lear. Having never seen this play before, my excitement was extra intense. I won't lie, the duration terrified me slightly – 2 hours 55 minutes?! Madness. But y'know what? I didn't even feel I was watching for that long. I was into it for the entirety of the performance, and the time flew by.

My only query of this play was...who was the fool? No, really? 

The obvious answer would be, well, The Fool. The king's resident fool, in his woolly hat and with his sly ways, was played by Graham Turner. I had seen him before in Cymbeline, and so my brain fizzed with confusion when I saw him suddenly in his shocking white long johns playing up to the crowd. He was the classic Shakespearean entertainer, the perfect blend of idiot and secret genius – the obvious choice for this title, the ultimate fool. And yet...I contested his position.

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

My next candidates for the role would be the dukes. The Duke of Albany (played by Clarence Smith) and the Duke of Cornwall (played by James Clyde) were exceptionally dense at times – however, maybe not quite as easily led as the Earl of Gloucester (played by David Troughton), who was viciously blinded (sorry for the spoiler) and then taken, allegedly, to a cliff he could leap off, by his son...what a silly billy he was. 

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

Still, these noble men were not quite as foolish as, well, the king himself. Yep, Lear was a complete and utter buffoon, and he wins the title of Ultimate Fool, I give it to him with both hands and a roll of my eyes. My goodness, what a tit he was at times. He was so easily absorbed in others' lives and stories, his beliefs were so quickly changed...and the flower crown was just the finishing touch, the final nail. But then, the last scene of the play was his becoming. And his end. I actually found myself touched and feeling sorry for him as he addressed his comrades and us, the audience, for the final time. 

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

Oh, quick little footnote here, you know who wasn't a fool, like not at all? Edgar. Or should I say Poor Tom?! Either way, my gosh, he was an absolute genius at times, a sparkling whizz of wit and excitement. It was a real treat to see Oliver Johnstone again, having seen him just the week before in Cymbeline and properly fallen for his Iachimo – the sleazy son of a something who scammed and tricked his way through the play. I can confirm that yes, I do indeed fancy him in both roles. 

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

Thank you again, my beloved RSC, for an absolute treat of a play. I can safely say a night with you guys is always most excellent – and even at times educational! See you again soon, I hope...

King Lear runs at the Barbican Theatre until 23rd December.
Just one more month to see this excellent production!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Just Some Things #7 : Emma Petfield.

This is the latest instalment in my feature Just Some Things!
In case you don't know, here's how it works...
I send a writer an individual email with a series of prompts from the '642 Things to Write About' book – chosen entirely at random most of the time – and then when I get the responses, I dedicate a post to them and their piece. It could be short, long, backwards, in another language, I don't mind. It'll be an adventure whatever happens! And they can use or ignore however many of the prompts they wish. 

When published on the blog, their piece will be put in first and then I'll add in a little piece beneath it, my response to the same prompt. I will always ensure mine is shorter and less prominent, obviously. It's all about featuring my fave writers.

Today my guest writer is Emma Petfield of Howling Reviewsthe place to go online for succinct, fair and generally lovely book reviews. Emma recently became Comms Exec for John Murray Ltd, which obvs means I can now visit her in the gorgeous Carmelite House for lunch dates...
She and I actually have a writing date set up this very evening, and I cannot wait. 

Their prompt was: Write the first line of your memoir. Then the second.

   The change was never something I anticipated. It just happened one night.

   It was kind of like an out of body experience. One moment I was sitting on my bed flipping through a bio-analytics textbook, the next my skin began to bubble, my bones shifted and my muscles burned spasmodically. There’s nothing quite like the sound of your own bone cracking. I’ve come to decipher between a clean break, an egregious snap, and the crunch of the irreversible. And yet, my body always bounced right back.

   The nights were the worst. Not knowing if I was going to get my regular hours or if I’d spend the time writhing in pure agony and wake up with gaps in my memory. But then those breaks disappeared; I wished they hadn’t.

   Vivid flashes of pounding against the ground; waking up to find leaves in my hair. None of it made sense, until it did. Then the shedding began. At that point, I really couldn’t deny it anymore. I still didn’t want to believe it.

   It was getting more frequent and I didn’t know how to control it. I watched as my skin flecked with fur, a periwinkle grey. If it wasn’t for the fact that the entire experience was terrifying, I’d be mesmerised by the sublime beauty of my other form. The only bonus was that my legs had never looked so athletic.

   I took up running, became pretty good at it, actually. One day I was jogging home, about a mile away. It was still light outside despite the rain, so I thought it was safe. It had never happened in the day before. So when the ache ran from the tip of my spine to my feet, I knew I wasn’t going to make it home. The cracking began, my heart thudded in my ears. I dropped to the pavement, thrashing against wet curb. Bones re-aligned. Skin morphed. I emerged on my feet – all four of them. A pair of yellow eyes staring back at me. My own eyes.

   Which leads me to this. My recount of becoming a wolf. 

Emma's blog : Twitter : Instagram

And here is my response to the same prompt...

   The cheeky Ms Fate once said to her unusual suitor, Sir Coincidence: 'I feel we were meant to be.' 
   The entranced man held his tongue, when really he knew deep in his soul that it was just a lucky break, that their paths had happened to cross, nothing more to it than that. 
   As he watched her victoriously sip her drink, smirking to herself, he knew he couldn't ruin this perfect moment, this happenstance, by shining a light on the truth.    So he kept quiet, and let her have this one. And they were happily together from then on, until forever. 


If you'd like to be involved in one of these Just Some Things posts, email me at
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