Some things, in the course of 2017 slowly trickling into 18, have changed. My favourite coffee shop is now Caffe Nero instead of Costa. Instead of catching the 34 bus, I catch the 142. My hair is short again. I take fluoxetine instead of sertraline. And I’m a student again. Continue reading “A new year and an old story.”
Summer is the time for macabre obsessions to blossom – to get really, really weird, until you’re spending your break at work reading lists of the Fred and Rose West victims as if it’s a natural thing to do with your downtime. The long light scoots nightmares out. The winter means walking home alone in the dark, often, which is bad enough without worrying you are going to spy Ted Bundy across the road, bobbing around on fake crutches and asking for help with his suitcase. In summer, this feels less likely. Continue reading “Do I want to be or kiss Clarice Starling from ‘Silence of the Lambs’? An examination”
You know that bit in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ where they have to tidy up Grimmauld Place and they almost die multiple times because of all the stuff? Yeah.
5) £70 in loose change
A very good, positive thing to find! Even though, if you dropped that seventy pounds into the big, echoey hole of debt I live in, you probably wouldn’t hear them hit the bottom.
4) Tiny, flower-shaped perfume bottles from Boots circa 2004
These moved house with me in 2007. Why? The perfume is dried up. The bottles are very small, and not particularly pretty, and Past Me engineered it so that in the year 2017 I’d have to look at them and have them, briefly, be a part of my life. They look like something from The Virgin Suicides. Continue reading “Five Unsettling Things I Found Whilst Cleaning My Room, Ranked From Least to Most Sinister”
Some programmes exist in a peculiar hinterland, accessible only in certain stages of your life. They’re such unattractive prospects to everyone else that they may as well be broadcast on a different frequency. ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away’ exists in a liminal space (Channel 5) that you can only reach if you are a student, or depressed. It makes you feel the same way you do when you see someone fall over in public. Continue reading “‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away’: A Literary Analysis”
All I tweet about nowadays is the bus. I am on the bus for at least three hours a day. Sometimes, in the morning, I wish it was longer, because when you’re on the bus, you’re not in work.
So I’m on the bus, or I’m in work, and then I get home at various times of the evening and have tea and talk to my housemates and play with the hamster and read the internet and catch up on TV and have a shower and go to bed. I am dramatic about this, but this is everyone’s schedule, minus the hamster and maybe plus a dog or cat or child. I missed a Trump protest in my town, I’ve only seen one of the Oscar-nominated films this year, and at the weekends I sleep all day and then watch, like, half a horror film over a takeaway before going to sleep again, this time while it’s dark outside. Also I’m worrying about work the whole time and sometimes I’ll remember while my hamster is climbing up my arm or The Undateables is on and it’s like suddenly remembering a crime you’re on the run from. Like the end of The Sopranos. Continue reading “Too busy to write?”
- Top five times I called a Sia song that wasn’t ‘Titanium’ ‘Titanium’ to the absolutely crushing detriment of whatever point I was trying to make
- Top ten weird things strangers have said to me in the street
- Top ten ‘okay’s delivered after strangers have said things to me in the street
- Top thirty-six times I’ve missed the 36 bus Continue reading “A Collection of Top Whatever Lists I Could Write About 2016 But Won’t”
There’s nothing more narcissistic than anxiety. I was sixteen, and I had been to a birthday party. I had felt anxious and silly all night, a spare part, like me and everyone there were sharing this silent joke that I probably shouldn’t be there but, like, okay. Lying in bed afterwards, I was listening to Radio 4 as I tried to sleep. (Radio 4: home to The Archers, the shipping forecast, plays that feature the sound of footsteps more heavily than you’d expect.) It had been my lullaby for years – the Book at Bedtime into the news into whatever feature they had at 11pm, not boring, just reliable, polite.
So – Radio 4, me in bed, facing the wall but antsy and panicking, the kind of panic that can grow big and then fall in on itself. There was a poetry programme on. The presenter read out an email or something from a listener. He wanted, the presenter said, a certain poem to be read. It would make his day if they would read out this poem. Continue reading “Mental Illness, Ira Glass, and Me: A Love Letter to Podcasts”
Remember going through Argos when you were a kid, putting together a Christmas list that grew and grew until you could basically open your own Animal Hospital with the amount of merchandise you were going to get? It’s very stark when, as an adult, you have to interact with Argos – it’s not magical at all. The last thing I bought from Argos was an expensive laptop charger that didn’t work. It just doesn’t compare to writing those tiny numbers next to your request for a Barbie Jeep and then handing it to your parents as politely as possible.
The truth is I’m not feeling very Christmassy this year. And more – I don’t think I really care? Last year I know I wasn’t getting into the spirit of it, and I think that I was upset and unnerved by that. There’s things I do like about Christmas: the amount of effort my family put into decorating the house and sending off cards to everyone on a list and putting all our presents into big sacks that go in the living room on Christmas morning. And I like the songs. But it’s the same way I like World Cup songs (I hate football) – you’ll catch me listening to I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day the way I listen to This Time for Africa or Three Lions which incidentally are absolute tunes. Continue reading “All I Want for Christmas”
I’ve had so many books that have been dear to me – the sort of book that you read and read, for comfort, mainly; the sort of book that would unravel and skip if it was a tape, that would fray if it was a warm jumper. The Harry Potters, the first two Bridget Jones books, ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt were all small homes that could be entered at any time. They were comfortable, even though there were parts of them that weren’t comforting. None of them, though, were as uncomforting yet somehow homely as Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life’ – a book which, tonight, is in with a strong chance of winning the Man Booker prize. This is my love letter to it.
Since finishing it two weeks ago, I’ve had it on my bedside every night; I’ve filled up with tears thinking about it in places as diverse as Sainsbury’s and a club and almost every room in my flat; I think about it when I listen to songs on the bus. It’s a big book, but even bigger are the tendrils it extends into all parts of your life. And for all of the literary merit the Man Booker panel have evidently recognised (precise, beautiful sentences; a structure that allows secrets to be revealed as carefully as in a thriller; settings that are as vivid and lush as a painting) there’s a lot of things that truly pack a punch because of the context. Rich, layered, complex gay characters; mental illness presented unflinchingly; a horrific focus on child abuse, the sort of focus that understandably leads to many people choosing not to read the book. Yanagihara not only creates a world – she represents one. For anyone who sees themself in her New York, the detail with which she writes her characters is something close to love. Almost honour.