Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Glasgow Fieldtrip

My little jaunt last week up to Glasgow was fantastic. This was partly because both Glasgow International and Art Screen were in full swing, the ease of staying in this chilled out room in a tenement in the West End and a lot to do the superbly comprehensive to-do lists that Ally and Michael shared with me before I left. Those lists! One of my absolute favourite things about this here blogger/Twittersphere is the joy of sharing tips about the best things to do, see and eat in a new city. Over the years these tips have taken me to lots of brilliant places I probably wouldn't have encountered otherwise and saved me from lugging the weight of a Lonely Planet. 

And so to return the favour, this is my own little Glasgow guide (I already know that Harriet is planning her own trip- so H, consider this another print-out to fold up and pop into your bag.)

Day one

After arriving I headed straight from Glasgow Central up to Renfrew St. The Glasgow School of Art seemed an appropriate place to begin, chow down some lunch and formulate a plan. I hadn't realised that I would arrive just in time for the opening ceremony of the new Reid building. Perfect. I stood on my tiptoes in a crowd and tried to catch a glimpse of the Rube Goldberg-style causal chain that had been set up so that weights dropped from ceilings and clouds of metallic confetti floated over mezzanines onto grinning students below, showing the space of the building off to maximum effect. 

Then off to the GSoA cafe where I sat surrounded by blunt, relaxed bobs and rollnecks and ate halloumi kebabs and daal with my little wheely suitcase at my feet, pretending to be a visiting professor. Lunch was okay. Watching students assemble the tinsel-fringed stage was better, and I scribbled in my notebook that I should buy some and thought how art school always seems like so much fun. You have a license to wear slightly baggy-bottomed cord trousers which shouldn't work but do and you spend time 'getting to know' materials.

Left: Glasgow School of Art cafe. Right: Glasgow International at McLellan galleries. 

I then wandered down to the McLellan Galleries on Sauciehall Street for my first Glasgow International exhibition. Avery Singer's cubist-style works, produced using Sketch Up were excellent, but Jordan Wolfson's exhibition downstairs stayed with me the most. This may be because I am a sucker for a space that asks you to remove your shoes at the door and then invites you into a joyously carpeted space in which to watch art films. (The same went for the Salla Tykka films at Baltic in Gateshead.) Essentially it is like carpet-time at school. Except Wolfson's films involved a blaring soundtrack of Mazzy Star's 'Fade Into You' (you try sitting in an empty room with no shoes on and not emotionally singing along) and a strangely friendly on-screen condom filled with cartoon hearts. In the next room we see a tongue-in-cheek film in which Jordan whispers, walking around Roman cathedral discussing art and whether there's any point in creating it. I recommend watching some of his works here.

Next stop. Waterstone's, where I bought some three books after feeling disillusioned with the one I'd brought with me to Glasgow. (Things I Don't Want to KnowThe Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am, and The Walk in case you'd like to know) 

Onto GoMA for Aleksandra Domanovic and Sue Tompkins. Domanovic's hanging sheets were very impressive and though Sue Tompkins doesn't float my boat. The interactive room upstairs was very sweet, with a few DIY gems. (See the collaged mirror below with the small 'I'M NOT THAT FAT!' memo)

Next I headed to the subway, where the carriages are comedically small and bubbleish compared to London's Tube. Sort of like a 1970s imagining of the future, with little signs that tell you to 'Mind Your Head', rather than 'Mind The Gap' as you get on. I don't think I've ever taken such fast and efficient public transport. They whizz you around in no time at all, free of tight crowds of armpits. Instead it feels like a perfectly platonic waiting room on tracks. Onto Tchai Ovna in the West End, an institution of a tea house amongst students but the sort of place that I don't think requires much describing. For me it was very special because by the time I found it at the end of the unassuming Otaga Lane I hadn't quite known what to expect. I felt completely relaxed and content, ensconced in an armchair with a hot pot of russian caravan and the first chapter of Things I Don't Want to Know with Deborah Levy writing romantically about a solo trip to Majorca with a typewriter and a room of her own and memories of rubbing clementines along the soles of her feet. I didn't want to move. 

An old university friend took me to Hillhead Bookclub for dinner where I ate a super chewy squid salad and we swallowed down lots of cocktails and merrily commented on how much better this year was than the last; we are both salaried and able to, you know, buy cocktails. The arrival of the the bill went some way to undoing this smugness.

Left: The McLellan Galleries. Right: High art who? The fun room at GoMA.

Left: The McLellan Galleries. Right: GoMA.

Left: Probably the best pot of tea I've ever had at Tchai Ovna. Right: Otago Lane.

Day two

Homemade muesli for breakfast, sitting in the bay window of the tenement flat with a pretty good view of the windows on the other side of the road. No broken-legged Jimmy Stewart with a telescope lens though.

Next onto Mono. The cafe was pretty empty and not terribly appealing; their menu is attractive though so I suspect it's better later in the day. Instead I browsed in the fantastic adjoining Good Press which has a remarkably large collections of zines, magazines, posters and hand-drawn niceties. I had a good chat with Matthew the owner about Manchester, low rents and the demand for zine libraries, and bought a poster which earnestly pronounces 'These Things Take Time'. I was aware of how wanky this sentiment was and therefore, quite justified in buying it. 

More browsing in the pop-up Aye Aye Books at the Glasgow International hub at All That Is Solid coffee shop just over the road. 

Did somebody say "I like my gallery spaces to come with cosy carpeting??" The Modern Institute must have heard with their small but perfectly formed exhibition further down on Osborne Street. 

A stop at Tramway is an essential part of the Glasgow International programme for Michael Smith's brilliant 'Videos and Miscellaneous Stuff from Storage' (I spent a good long while staring at the cabinet containing row after row of his personal card collection. Shiny credit cards, gallery memberships, drivers licenses, faculty cards from universities across the states. His social security is right there for all of these strangers to see! We could just have it. Maybe that's what he wants.) Bedwyr Williams's abandoned coach in the middle of a constructed forest in next doors 'Echt' exhibition was rather brilliant for sheer novelty factor, and his accompanying film which explores 'worst-case scenarios' was hilarious and struck me as akin to an apocalypse orchestrated by Goldie Lookin Chain. Note: Tramway gallery is 5 minutes by train from Glasgow Central. Get off at Pollockshields East and not the similarly named Pollockshaws East, as I did. Doh.. 

Fish and sentiments in the subway tunnel outside Cowcaddens station.

The Modern Institute
Bedwyr Williams's 'Echt' at Tramway, and the view of the gardens outside. 

Left: 'These Things Take Time' poster. Right: 'This Isn't Tesco, Is It?' a one of the photographs from my carefully observed snapchat series 'This Isn't Tesco, Is It?' a reference to my favourite line in Jonathan Glazer's Glasgow-based Under The Skin.

'Holiday mode' wouldn't be complete without an afternoon beer and a side of artichoke hearts (said Virginia Woolf once) Which is exactly what I did at the CCA's Saramango Cafe back up on Sauciehall Street. More ploughing through the Deborah Levy short story before heading to the West End to source something for dinner. If there's an element of American culture that I crave for the UK it's the ability the acceptably dine solo. And I'm not talking about lunch, or a quick steak bake in the window counter at Greggs. I mean a proper meal at dinner time which can be enjoyed alone, free of misunderstanding glances of pity from that couple who are spending more time silently feeling sorry you than actually talking to each other or whatever is it they're meant to be doing. Whereas America has diners for solo Nighthawks, the UK doesn't quite have an equivalent. Little Italy on Byres Road came fairly close and I dined on a wonderfully spicy mushroom, olive and jalapeƱo pizza washed down with a blood orange san pellegrino. The next day I happened to read Nell Frizzel's article on solo-dining and nodded along in agreement. I remember being baffled by the girls at secondary school that would never go to the toilets by themselves. (The more I think about it the more I question how that was even a thing?) But now I sort of feel the same about solo-eating. I understand why some people wouldn't be comfortable doing it but aside from approaching it as a 'joy' (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't) I think it just comes down to the fact that we're all adults, and we're all alone and can't we just go for a meal one in a while without somebody else and have it not be a big deal? Afterwards I needed to cool my mouth from all of the jalapeƱos so I went a few doors down for an ice-cream at Cafe Nardini. I sat in the window with my two scoops of pistachio and vanilla and watched the world go by and felt like Carrie fucking Bradshaw.

Day three

A morning stroll around the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Not quite up there with Brooklyn or Kew, or even Bristol but I can never resist warming up in the hothouses. 

Most of the Art Screen I wanted to catch were clustered on Friday and so first stop was the Art of the Art Documentary talk at CCA which contained more 'cool TV people' than was reasonably tasteful. (My favourite moment was when the man next to me called Kirsty Wark 'Lesley' during the Q+A, an excellent ice-breaker.) It might be worth dedicating another post to some of the soundbites snatched from this event but highlights included Jeremy Deller's strawberry ice-cream-pink socks and Andrew Graham Dixon saying that "X-Factor has had an interesting, positive and less-elitist influence on the way art documentaries are made today."

A trip just up the road to the Tenement House and then onto the Le Swimming exhibition at Renfrew Street's Underground Car Park. I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend the stop here- my current thinking about swimming pools obviously swayed me but it wasn't any good and I wish I'd taken the time to hop across town to see Anthea Hamilton and Nicholas Byrne at Govanhill Baths instead, or Alistair Frost's pop-up nail bar, both of which I regretfully missed. 

The 'This Isn't Tesco, Is It' series continues at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. 
Right: Brilliant pamphlet at the Tenement House recommending odd jobs to find around the house as a means of helping those struggling in recession. Topical...

Left: Not Tesco. Right: A pin that I didn't buy but absolutely should have.

The CCA shop was a real goodie and I got talking to Sally Hackett who was asking there after asking her about a couple of fantastic pottery figures which happened to be hers. Next time I have some more spare cash in my back pocket I'll be buying one of her cheeky naked figures but I did leave with one of Greer Fester's cacti-painted 'archipelaglasgo' brooches. On closer inspection I realised it had been painted onto floor linoleum. It is excellent. 

And onto evening and to the wonderful modernist Glasgow Film Theatre on Rose Street. The inside is just as pleasing as the outside, with wood-panelled cruise-ship quality that which would be best accompanied with martinis and a backless dress and a hand on the small of my back. But of course, it's a cinema in 2014, not a ship in a 1970s murder mystery. I was there to watch Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker's The Big Melt on the big screen, and although it's fantastic that the film was available for months for free on the BBC website, on a big screen is really where it should be watched. For a film that celebrates and chronicles the Sheffield steel industry the booming soundtrack was a wonderful accompaniment- with the rhythmic hammering and of factory sounds seamlessly morphing into Northern club music. Watch the trailer below and you'll see what I mean. I wish somebody would release the soundtrack; an instrumental version of Human League's 'Being Boiled' acts as a theme throughout, along with Acid Brass's cover of Voodoo Ray and a pounding 'I-need-to-dance-now' track from Forgemasters. In the Q+A that followed Jarvis Cocker said "people are inherently better dancers in the north because of the rhythm of the factory machines."

Left: Familiar Glaswegian scenery. Right: Sally Hackett card and Greer Fester brooch.

Left: The Glasgow Film Theatre. Right: Paul Morley, Jarvis Cocker and Martin Wallace in conversation. 

Day four

A coffee in one of the red booths at the University Cafe on Byres Road before catching my train. There aren't too many places like this anymore, and it made me realise that I so often go to coffee places with exposed brickwork and a moral superiority which makes it okay to serve tepid lattes. I finished Deborah Levy's book and particularly enjoyed her references to journal-keeping. "It would probably be more romantic to describe is as 'my journal', or, 'my diary', but I thought of it as a note book, perhaps even a sheriff's note book because I was always gathering evidence for something I could not fathom." 

Later that day I saw on Instagram that Jarvis Cocker and his partner had gone for breakfast at the University Cafe a couple of hours after I had. Regrets, I've had a few( said Frank Sinatra once about a similarly missed Cocker-encounter.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moving Moodboard

Clips: 1. The Greek synchronised swimming team 2. Student protests against rising tuition fees in London, 2010 3. Fanny Craddock makes an omelette, Christmas 1975 4. McCartney family home videos, Scotland 1970 5. The infamous Doncaster Rave film from 1993 6. Roller skating on Venice Beach

Another Moving Moodboard post has been long over-due. I made my first one over a year ago and you can see it here, though as is the case with the natural ebb and flow of internetland, some of the videos have since been deleted from YouTube. That's okay though, if we wanted things to be permanent we might look to other places than the internet.

A step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Press play on Moondog's 'Bird's Lament' right there at the top. 
Step 2. Press play on each of the video boxes, hitting mute at the same time, or experimenting with however much sound you would like from each. Scroll up and down, watch it all come together. 
Step 3: Enjoy Fanny Craddock's eyebrows, the McCartneys running along a Scottish beach, the hypnotic movement of synchronised legs and watch students standing their ground during the 2010 protests before the apathy crept in. 
Step 4: When it is all over, go on as you were.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday Moodboard

On my mind: Opening Ceremony's most excellent upcoming Magritte-inspired collection/ Pat Bradbury's playful works; this one appeals to my current watery swimming-pool thoughts/ 'Boogie socks' from Monki. Footwear that suggests good times on the dance floor and feature fern leaves? Socks that tick all of the boxes/ Beautiful, simple earrings from Rebecca Mir Grady, like kirby pins that have been dipped in gold and hammered/ Some groovy manicure inspiration via Alice at Lingered Upon/ Line drawings by Christina Ramberg, whose show I'm looking forward to visiting at Glasgow International this week.

This week I got some very exciting news, and after 8 months of interning I've been given a promotion at work which will involve a lot more responsibility- something I'm intimidated by also really looking forward to. I'll be sharing a jazzy job title with the likes of Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove so I'm planning on starting to smoke cigars, buy a flat in the city centre and have affairs with lots of young women. (Alternatively I think I'd rather write science fiction under an alias and learn how to tap-dance) If I lost you with those Mad Men-isms then I hope that you feel an obligation to go away and return once you've caught up.

In the mean time I'm super excited to have this week off work. Yesterday I had a lie-in, made myself a big breakfast (eggs and sriracha sauce, always) then got back into bed to catch up Girls before going for a swim. I never get back into bed during the day; I used to a lot at university but now I generally have less hangovers and less time for duvet slobbing so the novelty of being propped with with pillows and guffawing at Lena Dunham really hit the spot.

Later in the week I'm heading up to Glasgow, a city I've been meaning to visit for blooming ages (especially after reading lots about it over on Ally's blog when she was living there a couple of years ago) I've booked myself tickets to the screening of The Big Melt with a Q+A with Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker and am planning plenty of mooching around Glasgow International.

Music-wise I've been binging on Real Estate's 'Atlas' and belatedly discovering the joys of Future Islands. Samuel T. Herring's voice! And his recent performance on David Letterman. In which he wore a Simon Cowell-esque outfit and paced the stage like an unpredictable Gorilla and still pulled the whole thing off, crooning with sexy aplomb. I recommend watching the video, it has the sort of 'off-ness' that I spoke about last week. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Swim swim beach beach

Clockwise from top left: 'The Hockney Swimmer' by Michael Childers/ The wonderful 'Lifesaver' tapestry by Anton Veenstra/ Close-up and original swimming pool shots by Massimo Vitali/ 'Marginal Waters #19' from Doug Ischar's fantastic series of gay sunbathers in 1980s Chicago/ Massimo Vitali's 'Beach and Disco' one of those ultimate coffee table books that gives you page after page of joy and you just want to photocopy every single one and paste them onto your walls. 

This morning I almost hit the snooze button on my alarm, but managed to find the will to blinkily arise and walk the 5 minutes around the corner for my morning swim. The pool was unusually crammed, with every regular apparently having had the same idea; Thursday, 7am. There wasn't much that was relaxing about this swim. Some mornings you can glide through the water and if the sun is already strong it comes through the glass roof and throws itself onto the the water so that the surface becomes dappled with the optical illusion of fried eggs. When it's one of those bright mornings, and everything feels warmer and you have to squint I often close my eyes and glide through and think of beaches and tight swimwear and the various photographs above which I've seen along the way. Massimo Vitali and Doug Ischar and David Hockney. Sometimes the water is smooth, and sometimes the Angel of the Pool arrives at around 7.20 and makes choppy waves with his front crawl and flips as he pushes off the walls at the end of each length. Today though we all weaved in between each other, checking behind ourselves like indicating cars and giving more thought to the process of the swim rather than what we might wear to work or what we had to do today. The showers were fuller than usual and there was more conversation. I spoke to the woman beside me as we lathered our armpits and cleaned between our toes with soap- I increasingly enjoy the oddness of washing openly with the same strangers everyday.

See also: Benoit Fournier's beach series 'Copacabana' and 'Stranger by the Lake'.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lights and Music

Last week was for me, the week of the light show. *Echo effect* The Light Show, Light Show, Ight Show. This is because it was also the week of FuturEverything, a blooming fantastic music arts festival which, from my experience aims to woo its audiences with the instant gratification of a laser beams, mirrors and stamina-shattering stroke lights. Without really realising I'd filled my week with events from the FutureEverything programme with performances from Darkside, Dean Blunt and Evian Christ.

Darkside was a show that was unexpectedly soothing, projecting a lunar dreamscape across the room in the form of a mirrored orb and a sound that tiptoed between Pink Floyd and a road movie soundtrack. Pink beams of light swept over our heads like the surface of water and I felt like I was on drugs instead of two beers down. A few of the dilated pupils around me looked happy, so although I imagine it was mostly for their benefit I felt wonderfully blissed out too. I also considered whether I should adopt a no-festivals policy for the sake of enjoying live music in lab-like conditions where the sound and lighting is as controlled and joyous as possible and you stroll out converted, like the new member of a cult. 

Speaking of cults and feeling spontaneously blissed out and creepy, earlier in the week I caught a screening of Under The Skin. My gosh. What a film for feeling enthralled and terrified. It always amazes me when films like Under The Skin bookend the hype of Oscar season. Just as the collective obligation to attend the cinema and keep in the loop with cultural references dissipates then along come the films that are actually worthy of accolades. Mica Levi's hypnotic score has a lot to answer for and carries much of the film's strange beauty. While some part of the film made harrowing viewing the score, the images of black watery voids and of Scarlett Johansson as a predator in a white van were what stuck with me. I found myself at points almost revelling in the sight of Johansson's van cruising around the streets of Glasgow. What a novelty! The familiar image of the male lech completely inverted, and although I knew I was watching someone cold and dangerous I almost felt empowered by her view of the men on the pavement, suddenly vulnerable and gazed upon which is how anybody who has been yelled at from a white van will have felt. The documentary element of the film also blew my mind somewhat; with the most ordinary people you will see, to the point of being hyper-ordinary. And Scarlett Johansson, Claire's Accessories and constant references to Tesco supermarkets, all happening at the same time; everything about the film felt off and jarring, but wonderfully so. In a way that made me think that 'off' doesn't happen nearly enough. Other films that have stuck in my mind for feeling 'off' or completely new to me in their style are Holy Motors and more recently Nymphomanic. Off is good. 

Clockwise from top left: Dean Blunt, Darkside at The Ritz, the dark watery void in Under The Skin, white van preying in Under The Skin, Dean Blunt's normcore cap, the green lasers at Evian Christ and The Hall. 

And while I'm praising 'off'-ness, I suppose the highlight of my week was the Dean Blunt gig at Soup Kitchen. If we're talking about jarring, awe-inspiring newness then I'd say that Dean Blunt had all of those bases covered. On a side note- while I'm enjoying a renewed interest in going to gigs and listening to new music at the moment I'm not claiming that my 'new' is the same 'new' for you. Some of you lot may be in the habit of going to much more experimental performances than I am. But the Dean Blunt gig felt like a game-changer. 

My colleague Polly wrote a piece which sums up his musical style very eloquently. The gig started with about 10 minutes flat noise- almost static- and dimmed lights, and an audience that went from writhing with anticipation to relaxing into conversation before becoming restless again. Then it was all saxophones and beautiful Cranberries-esque vocals from Joanne Robertson and drum machines and Dean Blunt's flat singing style and sound effects. Dogs barking and glass smashing, sirens blaring. Musical genres flitted, the lights came up and down, and all the while a member of Blunt's band stood at the back of the stage doing absolutely nothing. Just standing still, with the purpose of looking ahead, hands crossed. At points his black outfit merged into the dark curtain behind him so that it looked like his head as floating in the same dark water of Under The Skin. The most intense strobe show I have ever had the unease and gradual pleasure of experiencing also happened. That was a good one for connecting the audience. The lights started off so intense that nobody could look at the stage and we all covered our heads like we'd cut an especially unforgiving onion. Everyone grimaced, framed by the lights into slow motion, watching each other and then very gradually the flashing slowed somewhat and it actually felt good. A bit like the feeling of eyes growing used to a dark room but in reverse, it felt manageable and actually comforting. But nothing about that performance was familiar and nothing could be pinned down. 

Did you read that recent piece about Normcore? Or one of the multiple others that circulated during the same week in which somebody finally named a sartorial non-style which many of us have been wooed by/trying to pin down for a while. Dean Blunt and singer Joanna Robertson were as normcore as they come; he in a baseball cap with a simple Nike tick and an outfit so non-descript and 'American Dad' that I can barely remember it. She wore an oversized North Fleece jacket which made it look like she'd come straight from a campfire to absorb the warm glow of the strobes too. The Nike and North Face logos weren't flashy, they blended in with the whole undefinable quality of the performance. Ultimately I felt like I had witnessed a performance piece and an artist who likes to fuck around and challenge his audience. It's always refreshing to watch an artist who is brave enough to do things boldly and risk losing you, but who has enough faith in the audience to do so. What I really want is to see him commissioned at the Manchester International Festival, given an extraordinarily large space somewhere and to see what he creates. Something similar to the Massive Attack and Adam Curtis outing at the last festival would do it. 

The swansong of the week of flashy lights and haunting scores was a performance from Evian Christ and The Hall. I hadn't heard of Evian Christ beforehand and did wonder if I would arrive and find it a top-secret operation, the unveiling of Kanye West's own brand of bottled water, which is frankly what the name alludes to. In my mind. Instead we were beckoned into a small theatre space and invited to sit on the floor ("like carpet time!" I exclaimed loudly) underneath a mirror, a laser and vacuum pumps. I just had to google what we were sat underneath. At the time I couldn't be totally sure. Were there two mirrors? Or was that other just a reflection? It was so dark I wasn't sure. I spent the next hour feeling hypnotised, watching streams of green laser beams splash and change form. Sort of like the visualiser settings that used to respond the music playing on Windows Media Player. Except right there in the air above us, responding to the sounds being produced by two baby-faced men, plugging and twisting at their synths and a complex series of wires beside us. I had no idea what was making all of this happen, but I sat blissfully unaware watching the dancing beams until it was all over and I was spit out into the light of day. 

I spend an increasing amount of time at work interacting with arts organisations and thinking about programming and creative practises which is fantastic and something I hope to continue to do. I do however find that my own personal time for writing and creating things take a hit and the last week has been a reminder to battle on with finding the time. I sometimes question the balance of attending film screenings and inspiring events if I'm not then able to put time into messing around and trying things out for myself. For now that's where this blog comes into play; somewhere to lay out things out and come back to later. In the mean time I've created a personal rider list containing two words: Light Show. 

PS, You can download Dean Blunt's last album Stone Island for free here. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On eBay and Bellies

When I was at college I was a pretty die-hard eBayer. I was 17 and straight up and down and took punts on loud floral jumpsuits and button-down suede skirts and everything I ordered would arrive and fit me well. Now that I have hips and a little belly the eBay experience has become somewhat murkier territory and as a result I was put off for a while. Ordering bottoms became risky, sort of like a sartorial dating profile in which I would eye the denim skirt sitting at the top of my wishlist and project our perfect future onto the thumbnail. I would make plans, deciding which blouses to pair it with only to experience the heartbreak of misfit once it arrived. The glass ceiling gets a lot of press but often it feels like the thing really stopping me from getting shit done is the hip ceiling; that moment when you're standing in front of the mirror with a waistband exhausted at your thighs and you're pulling and you know how this is going to end and you could cry with frustration but then you think if you do that the soundtrack might kick in and you'll realise that you're actually just a character in He's Just Not That Into You and that is not a road you are going to take.

Unfortunately I don't have a redemptive tale to share, and for those in a similar situation (we all grow, don't we?) my only nugget of wisdom is to embrace the tape measure and then if all else fails, your stiff upper lip. And so my love-affair with eBay has been revived. These things come and go in waves and as I'm currently suffering disillusion with high street shops, that trusty internet auction site has reclaimed my affections. Who knows how long this will last- probably until I next pop into Cos- but the satisfaction of being able to hunt for completely random, niche things online reigns. A couple of months ago I was buying lunch in Co-op and the woman serving me eyed me suspiciously. "Just one thing," she asked as she handed me my change, "why bananas?" I looked down at the fruity brooch pinned to my jumper and could have shaken her by her shoulders reasoning "Child! Because of eBay!" When offered an empty search box would you not also feel the pure, unadulterated joy of entering whatever your heart desires and then sifting through the resulting contents? Yes, that's why bananas. That's also how over the years I've cultivated a wardrobe that contains an impressive collection of snakeskin, a retro lunchbox set I never needed and an angle poise lamp in just the right teal. Now once again I'm coming home to parcels of the sort of dubious purchases my friends may never understand (see: Katherine Hamnett lime green cord jacket) and being challenged on a nightly basis to love and cherish all of the weird shit that seemed totally right in the midst of 11pm internet-land but is sometimes more adventurous 'IRL'. Me and my little tum are relishing it. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Peach Melba Bowie

Last week I found myself immersed in one of those cosy little YouTube adventures, video-hopping and guffawing at Kristin Wiig one minute and searching for weird things like daffodils opening in time lapse the next (as you do... I'm looking to make another moving moodboard)

The crowning glory of this duvet-swaddled internet journey was finding this David Bowie interview. I remember watching TFI Friday with my Mum when I was little. I remember feeling like I was part of a cool club when we watched it because you could hear the cameramen and the crew laughing too and also because I thought it was cool that my Mum's friend Sheryl was working on the show and was probably standing there with a clipboard. Plus it was presented by Chris Evans and he was a really nice man who wore glasses. (When I was really young I thought glasses were a 'good person' qualifier which is why until I knew better I really trusted John Major. In my eyes he was exactly who I should approach if I lost my Mum in the supermarket.) I remember waking up in the mornings to the soothingly cheesy jingle of the Chris Evans Breakfast show on BBC Radio 1 and ending the week with him too, the weekend christened with the opening chords of the super cool 1960s theme of TFI Fridays.* I also remember asking my Mum what TFI stood for and her telling me. 

But back to David... this interview is ruddy hilarious and once again I find myself feeling part of some hilarious in-joke with the camera crew whilst watching it. We all know that David Bowie is cool, but who knew he was this funny? 

I'm also a big fan of Bowie's Refresher coloured outfit (and look carefully for those Buffalo platforms!) So in honour of peach melba coloured schemes, I give you lemons and rhubarb and custard sweets and Picasso and Joan Mitchell and super pink gymnasts..

*This is a must-watch too. The TFI theme tune used Ron Grainer's theme from Man In A Suitcase, which has been matched to other footage here:

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Valentine's: Dress Sexy At My Funeral

If you're going to need some sort of musical acknowledgement of the fact that today is St Valentine's, then I guess we should just go for it.

I get it, we go through life with little musical clues just to remind us where we are. From the death-knell of the alarm clock in the morning to the sweet whispers of Bing and David and Wham! and Mariah come Christmas. And not forgetting Cliff Richard and Alice Cooper as you're dropkicking the doors of your school/workplace/airport shuttle bus open to the summer holidays.

Here then, are ten tracks playing tribute to sexiness, coming out, unrequited love, daddy issues, faultless love affairs and respecting your lady. But remember, you're only allowed to listen to this mix today; on the 14th. Because today is love day.

1) Dress Sexy St My Funeral- Smog
2) She's A Lady- Tom Jones
3) I Wanna Be Yours- John Cooper Clarke
4) Bonita Applebum (Why Remix)- A Tribe Called Quest
5) Si Mi Perderai- Nico Fidenco
6) Outside- George Michael
7) Daddy Never Understood- Deluxx Folk Implosion
8) Slow Burn- David Bowie
9) Let Me Kiss You- Nancy Sinatra and Morrissey
10) Islands In The Stream- Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

Thursday, February 13, 2014


You know the drill. It's that time of week when the clutter of 'recreational tabs' on my desktop has gone from looking inspired and endearing to plain unprofessional. Sort of like a laptop equivalent of a coffee ring slap-bang in the middle of a clean to-do list.

These are the things that have been in my head, in my tabs, in front of my eyes and in my mouth:

1) Have you seen a better photograph of Frida Kahlo (Yes? No? Maybe? It's cool; it's all subjective!) Either way, this is totally frameable. Go on, glue gun some cheap plastic flowers onto a frame and give it to yourself for Valentine's. You know it makes sense.

2) I found this HELLO keyring on the pavement while I was back in Bristol at Christmas.

3) Oklahoma is one of my favourite shop/cafes in Manchester. These are some of the staff showing some steadfast style. (Nabbed from their Facebook page)

4) Uh-oh, am I late on the Laure Provoust train? I know that sometimes doors may close up to 40 seconds before departure but if it's still okay I'd really like to board and talk about how I really appreciate this Turner Prize winning artist's own appreciation of bottom-shaped ceramics and hilarious wordplay. My local cinema are currently running a really great season of Artist Films in collaboration with the ICA and I went to the Laure Provoust afternoon a couple of Sundays ago and had a ball. It feels like it's been a while since I came across an artist with a good sense of humour; or at least an artist who incorporates their humour into their work. If you click right here you can make a note of the names of Provoust's short films and seek them out yourself. I recommend it if, like me, you entertain the idea of one day maybe making videos or getting paid to project things onto walls.

5) This is a pile of food I consumed a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes you go around to a friends place for dinner and they suggest making something you would never think to make yourself. Ham and Eggs. The boys put a gammon in the oven and then popped to the chipshop down the road for the best kind of potato accompaniment. It was simple and sublime. To top things off, sitting underneath the pile of goodness and painted onto the plate was the face of Pope John Paul II.

6) This weekend I visited my friend Lily in St Andrews and made her show me the ship-like Andrew Melville halls, where she lived when she was first at the University, because I'm always down for eye-humping some pretty/ugly brutalist buildings.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A PS, on blogging

A quick ps, to say thank you for all of the lovely comments left on my last post, it really means a lot. I really enjoyed writing about the romance of solitude, not only was it a cathartic piece to pen but it encouraged a lot of interaction from you lot that I haven't experienced for years with the blog. It seems that a lot of people feel the same about solitude and romance, and I hope that maybe I helped some people to recognise solitude rather than 'loneliness'. I actually had the confidence to go to a gig alone after writing that piece and am so glad I did because it was such a wonderful performance, made all the more special by being able to fully immerse myself in it, and not needing to pull myself away to go to the bar for a round!

Blogging has changed a lot since I started in 2006; there used to be a lot more in the way of conversation between the readers and writers of and that's something that doesn't happen as much anymore. I'm just the same, where I used to leave comments regularly on my favourite blogs my consumption habits have now changed. Mostly I'll just scroll, read and then hop off and do something else. Sometimes I'll tweet the author if it's a post I particularly enjoyed, or share it, but having a little more in the way of conversation after my last post was lovely and makes me realise that there is still a community of really cool people out there. Of course I knew there was all along but it's like we all sort of came out of our bedrooms and waved at each other. I find it refreshing especially at a time when my own interest in 'traditional' fashion blogs has diminished and I'm into reading blogs that feels a little meatier, (able to ride through online fads) and which encourage a conversation. I've certainly had up and down periods with this blog, posting less frequently and sometimes feeling uninspired. I think this is pretty natural given that I started writing it when I was 15 (I'm now 22) but I'm glad that I kept going past the moments that I considered stopping and have managed to transition into another direction and that lots of the cool, inspiring people who have been in contact over the years seem to still be kicking about and reading. So once again, thank you for the kind words and I'll be back with an update soon.

FYI: The photograph is by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia who has an exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield opening at the weekend. I've been browsing through this back catalogue online, but that's not the same as gawping at it right up close, and so a daytrip is in order.