Tuesday, January 29, 2013


While the kettle for my hot water boils.. this is what I wore this evening for a couple of birthday cocktails in honour of Sim's birthday. Another coat borrowed from another flatmate (this needs to stop), a dashing new lime jacquard top from Topshop, my Marks and Sparks school skirt and an Asos hairband. 

We drank at The Alchemist where adults spend lots of money on cocktails from a menu that reads like a child's sugary fantasy. Marshmallow or Bubblegum Daiquiris and flavourings evoking the smell and taste of fizzy cola bottles. As someone who noshes a bang of Haribos in one library sitting when the going gets tough, this kind of night out suited me just fine. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

hot pink sadness

I just got back from a shift at my job in the cafe at a local gallery. I'm exhausted. There were lots of little old Grandmothers who looked sweet on the surface but instead were pernickety and vicious. That's not how Grannies are supposed to be. To pick myself up after a long Sunday, I'm wearing this hot pink jumper from H&M, my banana brooch and my friend Charlie is coming over to make a quiche with me and embark on Season 2 of Homeland. I've been holding out after binging on the first season over Christmas, so that we can watch it together.

In other news, my cat got put down this week (all that thinking about death..and then more comes) which really blows because he was absolutely ace. This big, fat pile of black fur and begrudging love, who would rarely let you pick him up without putting up a fight but would always come and seek you out and curl up for bedtime company. He also used to fart in my Stepdad's mugs of tea as a revenge tool which was personally one of my favourite things about him. He trotted like a pony and you could hear him coming down the stairs, his steps booming like human feet. Not everyone understands the whole cat grief thing but it really, really blows. Yesterday at work I accidentally sliced through the knuckle on my little finger on a broken mug. There was a lot of blood but that hurt decidedly less. There have also been nice things about this week, it hasn't been all doom and gloom, but it has been one to make me appreciate life when it runs smoothly and without pain. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

These Americans


These Americans is one of my favourite websites, an archive chock-a-block with photographs and documents chronicling American historical culture. From these strangely bewitching photobooth portraits to Dorthea Lange's photographs for the FSA, the site is split into categories according to decade, state, city or by more enticing headers like 'pinup' 'prison' 'religion' and 'cars'. You can flick through photographs of Angelenos in the 1960s going about their business; sitting in a movie theatre or being examined in body scanners or the hands of doctors. There are also video clips of Candy Darling, cults, and Detroit dance clubs in the 80s and 90s. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Just What Was Needed

I live in a flat in which "I'm going to clean the bathroom, just as soon as this deadline is over" is a legitimate statement. So this is a new addition to our cistern. If a bathroom cannot be 100% clean, then at least let it be blessed. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Not a fair weathered cyclist: Bill Cunningham cycling in New York during Hurricane Irene's approach, back in 2011. Via Freak Chic.

This week after getting a puncture in my bike, I resolved to take the opportunity to walk lots instead. True, I could easily fix the puncture and once again be liberated and free to enjoy my fast journeys. The only thing is (whisper it) it's sort of..icy out there. And I'm not mad on the idea of cycling on ice. But I'm also very begrudged to be one of those fair-weather cyclists who just hops on a bus when it's snowing. So in order to justify my decision I told myself that I would do lots of walking and download some interesting podcasts to listen as I go (something I wouldn't be able to do on a bike without sabotaging my full attention). 

When it snows in the UK it becomes all consuming and eventually quite tedious. (Bah humbug!) Weather reports use the word 'treacherous' so much that it starts to sound like an epidemic and Facebook is swamped with the snowy scapes of your friends back gardens with the caption 'snowing again!' in case you hadn't realised. And after a while I become just as unoriginal in the anti-snowfall trajectory, my winter delight quickly worn down to Charlie Brooker-style cynicism, irritated by the fact everyone is still talking about it and contemplating a move to Denmark. In short, a nice antidote to all of this is just to wrap up warm, leave the house and enjoy the frost for yourself with a long walk and a podcast. 

Listening to podcasts on the go isn't something I usually do. Instead I stick Spotify on and plough through my 'starred' list of current favourites. I opted for a few to get me going: The TED Radio Hour Podcast and the Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast, both from NPR. Also, WNYC's Radiolab Podcast, BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour and Miette's Bedtime Story Podcast (recommended a while ago by Camille)

These are a couple I listened to and particularly enjoyed:

On Wednesday I spent an hour of my journey to the beautiful John Rylands Library in Deansgate listening to a NPR podcast which compiled snippets from TED talks focusing on happiness. I particularly liked Barry Schwartz's talk about how too much choice ultimately leads to dissatifcation about the decisions we make and can compromise our ability to be happy. (Definitely something I experience when faced with a menu in a restaurant. Occasionally I'm so torn between dishes it leads me to have a mini and silent existential crisis about how my inability to choose reflects some sort of lapse in my understanding of myself and that clearly my friends are much more well-rounded people for announcing 'seafood soup' and snapping closed their menus without deliberation.) 

When faced with the iTunes podcast directory, I asked myself 'What Would Tavi Do?' and searched out any articles on Rookie that might mention something for good listening. The women and girls at Rookie are an accurate litmus test for things I might like. Radiolab was one of those recommended and I downloaded 'The Bitter End'. Aka, 'the one about death'. I chose this one because my Granny's lovely labrador had to be put down this week and since that happened I've been reflecting on death. Not necessarily in a negative way but more in a way that recognises that death is so normal and how it is bizarre that it is an act that is over so quickly yet lingers so long for the people left behind. Over the last month my Granny and I have spoken about death a little; the friends she lost in 2012, our own family members who coming to the end of their lives, and my Granny's own feelings about medicine and the ways in which we as a society are so focused on prolonging our lives. This podcast was a really fantastic extension of this topic and featured a report on the life-saving treatments doctors would decline to have. Out of sheer coincidence, yesterdays Guardian Weekend Magazine's feature article was on this very same topic. In the podcast they mentioned one of Maurice Sendek's last interviews before he died in which he talked about looking at the trees outside of his studio through the window and being in love with the world, but also how he was ready to go, and I found that a very bittersweet but also comforting thought to be left with. 

Part of my enjoyment of listening was also because I was extremely cosy, all wrapped up in my puffa with a pink nose and gloved hands nestled inside my pockets. Having said that, I have been craving a smarter coat to alternate with my puffa that is practical but also pretty. Last night I found myself borrowing my flatmate Cai's coat, which fits the practical and pretty requirement, as I headed out to watch Django Unchained. Big mistake! It is perfect, manly, navy and cashmere and now we're in love but I know I things can't go on this way. I will have to find myself a worthy replacement before I start taking liberties. On a side note, Cai is probably the best dressed of my male friends and has so many fantastic clothes. Jackets that range from allowing him to pose as aviator pilot to a 1970s football manager. See also world-class facial hair, turquoise Saucony trainers and this brilliant Kojak t-shirt(All 'real life' friends please note this is simply an appreciative ode, not some unsubtle wishlist. I swear..)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Moving Moodboard

Clips: 1. Recording from a BBC Ballet contest. 2. Joy and George swimming in the sea with Elsa the lion in Born Free3. Newsround clip from 1993 with a young Kristnan Guru-Murthy (as of this week recently re-appreciated for his skill in interviewing a provocative Quentin Tarantino) 4. Thelma and Louise on the road. 5. Clip from You Only Live Twice 
6. Trawlermen 'gearing up' into their waterproofs and overalls. 

I thought I'd play around with the idea behind the 'moodboard' posts I have so much fun collating and do something similar but with moving images. So, instead of a collage, this is a moving mood board, of various film clips and footage, all intended to be watched with Heatwave's 'Boogie Nights' in the background.

Step 1: Press play for Heatwave's groovy beats.
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.
Step 3: Enjoy Kristnan Guru-Murthy's young face, wonder by ballet and disco don't collaborate more often, smile at those trawlermen changing into their overalls. 
Step 4: When it is all over, go on as you were.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Cars Cars Cars

And before I nip off to the library for another day of mediocre-productivity, this is what I'm wearing. I wore this top on my first day of classes back in the first year of University. In typical ice-breaker fashion, two senior lecturers from the American Studies department took turns picking people to tell the rest of the room aspects they thought defined culture in the United States. I was picked and forgetting what exactly was blazoned across my t-shirt (but presumably subconsciously also remembering) I said 'car culture'. This formed the very first impression my now-best friends have of me, as that neek who lives and breathes cars. Which I don't, I can't even drive. Alas, they decided I wasn't too much of a gas-head and those are the very same people I drove with along the coast of California in the Spring. Just, y'know..in the back seat.

Today I will be writing about Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Audre Lorde, Mark Doty, Kate Borstein and self-representation within American Literature. I will be listening to Cities by The Talking Heads, taking regular breaks for fresh air with Nanon and Ashling and counting down the minutes until lunchtime when I can eat my packed lunch of couscous, bolognese and homemade slaw. I will cycle home, maybe watch some Arrested Development and then go to bed with A Visit From The Goon Squad which I am 190 pages into.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Where Are We Now?

In honour of this mornings glorious, glorious news that David Bowie is releasing his first material in over 10 years, I am posting the video for his new single Where Are We Now. Because a) I was absolutely ecstatic to hear the news upon returning from swimming and switching on the kitchen radio. None of my flatmates were awake so I just danced really quickly on the spot and texted my Mum, the person responsible for my introduction to Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust and b) the video is a curious mix of Wings of Desire and.. Avid Merrion. 

It also felt really lovely to wake up to good news. Usually waking up to a big news story is characterised by a death or a tragic event. But this time it was just a lot of really, really excited people making lots of noise about David Jones. Good to have you back, Mr Bowie. 

Friday, January 04, 2013


Clockwise from top left: Geoffrey Farmer's 'Leaves of Grass' installation, made of cut-outs from five decades worth of Life Magazines, shown at Documenta in Kassel earlier this year/ 'Ed Ruscha Says Goodbye to College Joys' Ah, that sentiment! I'm going to stick this on my fridge to remind myself to enjoy every single moment of my last semester at University starting this month/ Have you ever noticed how cool the security patterns on the insides of envelopes are? I used them in an A-Level art project and haven't really thought about them since. But after googling them earlier, it seems plenty of other people have been making cool stuff out of them. Worth a look. I like the idea of using their designs for wallpaper and dresses./ Reality Bites. I watched this film earlier this week and dang it's cool. Isn't it cool? Isn't Winona Ryder cool? And isn't Ethan Hawke cool? And isn't that scene where they all dance to My Sharona in the gas station just like, really cool?/ This post over at Mondoblog about Mexican architect Louis Barragan's buildings. Lots of mouthwatering colour combinations of buildings in peach, lilac and azur. Where's the paintbrush?/ Photograph from Alasdair McLellan's 'Manchester Division' editorial in Purple Magazine Issue 18/ This woman shot by Anne Bernecker/

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Cycling to Paris

Hey, remember that time back in September when me and some friends cycled to Paris? I recently got the photographs from that trip developed and there are some goodies, some real goodies. It's nice to have some physical evidence of those 4 days which were personally incredibly arduous but ultimately brilliant. My memory of the trip now is slightly akin to a Mother who forgets the trauma of childbirth. Not that I'm comparing the ride to the delivery of a baby, but I've never done anything as physically adventurous as that ride and I went through some mental battles riding up some of those hills.

Still, all worth it for the rewarding and constant glorious sunshine, the cornfields and beautiful towns we passed through, our picnic in the grounds of Versailles, and the first exhilarating views of Paris. There was nothing like seeing that first glimpse of Paris, of sparkling white roofs in the distance as we came over the top of a hill in the suburbs and spied our finish. The 7 of us freaked out as we whizzed down the hill, pumping our fists, dinging our bells and shouting 'we did it!' before a couple of victory laps around the Arc de Triomphe and an obligatory photo under the Eiffel Tower.



Every year I do the same thing and promise myself that I'll stay in with bottle of something fizzy at and Jools Holland for company and 'have a chilled one'. (Much to the snorts of my friends. 'You won't. Come on, save it for when we're older.') Once again I was indeed tempted out but this year really was a chilled one, going out for dinner with my best friend and then ending up at Canteen dancing to Down in Mexico by The Coasters. Yesterday, a delicious bacon and egg sandwich at Bordeaux Quay, a bracing walk around the harbourside and an afternoon of napping and trashy book-reading on the sofa. A good start to the New Year.