Earlier on Twitter:

“Instead of going to work I could be working on my horror novel about a golliwog doll that comes to life and two supernatural ginger kids”

So, I’m actually doing it.


The town was more industrial than the travel brochure suggested. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dirt and dust, save from the giant billboards towering above desaturated trees, advertising car dealerships cut-price hotel rooms.

The couple drove through the empty streets in silence. At some point one of them reached over and turned the radio down. There was factory smoke coming from the depths of the city, the only sign of life.

‘Can we stop to get a drink?’ the Girlfriend said. Her hand was on his thigh and he could feel her growing cold and tense.

The Boyfriend wanted to get to their hotel as soon as possible but he didn’t want to start the trip off with an argument. They pulled into a parking lot in front of a parade but the bleak neon signage only promised them pine furniture, second-hand fridges and Nails by Jenna.

The Girlfriend lit a cigarette, grimaced and threw it to the ground where a tiny wind started dancing with it. ‘I need a drink… hey, what about this place?’ she pointed towards where the Marlboro was rolling, a dirty glass front tucked between a pawnshop and a barber’s. The only handpainted sign in the parade read, ‘Mama Lazarou’s Curiosities’.

The Boyfriend said, ‘Well, I’m curious.’

‘If it’s a tourist type place then they might have a drinks fridge,’ she said, ‘come on.’ He watched her jerky gait as she headed towards the shop and felt irritation instead of pity for the first time. He wasn’t sure which was worse.

They threaded their way through the bead curtain as a bell signalled their arrival. Inside it was dark and musty, incense fighting with mildew for sinus space. The Boyfriend sneezed and jerked sideways, elbowing something soft off a shelf in a cloud of dust. It was a golliwog toy and a chill went down his spine.

‘Be careful,’ the Girlfriend said.

‘It’s just a toy,’ he gripped it by the legs and whacked it against the wall a few times. ‘I wonder what the Chinese child labourers thought when they were making this.’

There was no drinks fridge and no one came out to greet them. The Girlfriend wanted to browse through shelves of strange, twisted statuettes and organic matter but he took her by the hand and led her outside. ‘Not now.’

‘I have a voicemail,’ she said. Her face twisted as she listened. ‘This is odd.’


A voice crackled on loudspeaker, ‘Hi there, this is Catherine Laveau calling from Holiday Inn Orleans. Unfortunately due to the conference we are now fully booked and are unable to offer you a room. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused and we hope to see you at Holiday Inn soon.’

‘When did she call?’

The Girlfriend looked at her phone. ‘I… I don’t know. There are no missed calls.’

‘You must have been out of range,’ the Boyfriend said.

‘I can’t believe they would do that. What do we do now?’

‘Drive over there and make a scene.’

‘No!’ her voice rose. ‘Don’t. Please. I don’t want anything to happen like the last time.’

He took his phone out. ‘We’ll find a different hotel. This is a big town, there must be loads available.’

The only place with vacancies was St Louis Bed & Breakfast. It looked like a charming family-run boutique hotel with just the right amount of shabby chic (overgrown hedges but also clean towels). But strangely the sat nav couldn’t find the destination… no, dear Reader, that would be too clichéd, wouldn’t it? It showed a perfectly straightforward route and the Couple drove away from the parade, neither of them wanting to mention the fact that they felt like they were being watched by someone in Mama Lazarou’s.

Nothing breeds contemplation like commuting.

I’ve been taking the train to London for over three years now – an hour each way – and once music and the Metro became boring, the only thing left to do was stare out of the window and think (I can’t sleep on trains). Most of the time I think about things that don’t exist, like what it would feel like to be a CEO rather than an admin worker, or precise physiological reactions of the guy who spiked my drink if I hit him repeatedly in the face with a broken bottle, or how my unicorn would look at me if I walked past him on the beach with a perfect belly and finished tattoos. Then sometimes I think about deeper things; whether I’ll make a difference in the world, what will I think when I look back on my life, the precise chances of dying from a rogue blood clot at any random moment in time.

I’m not a fan of philosophising over existential issues; it’s much better to go out and do things without overthinking them, otherwise you’ll feel like you’ve already done most of the work and end up writing whiny blog posts about how difficult life is. But I’m too high-strung to meditate so the only thing left to do for two hours every day is to let my brain take over and fire off neurons in ten billion paranoid directions at once (incidentally I just googled the phrase “fire off neurons” and found this video which is pretty cool).

Sometimes it’s fun to mentally have an out-of-body experience and float above the train pulling into London Bridge station and London itself. One of the strangest realisations is that all the intense emotions, from euphoria to near-suicide are experienced by millions of people at the same time. They feel like they change the fabric of time but they’re just a storm in a meat-and-bones teacup. They are overwhelming but unnoticed by anyone else because we still keep a bored-and-slightly-pissed off facial expression and that paradox is scary.

I wrote the above paragraphs this morning and have been in some kind of daze all day. There are days when I wake up and feel so out of sync with the world that it’s like my brain has teleported to a different universe.

I’m also getting annoyed at this blog becoming all me me me but I haven’t done anything exciting recently that’s worth writing about.

It’s hard to go out and do things, even for the purpose of writing an interesting blog post about them (as good a reason as any), when all I want to do in my spare time is curl up under the duvet. It’s harder still when I get up with a ‘rah’ bravado and determination to git shit done and end up spending the day moping around the house and staring into space. I’ve also realised I tend to slip into the second person when writing about these things (i.e. “when all you want to do in your spare time…”), whether it’s because it’s difficult to admit to myself that I struggle with life sometimes or because it’s a technique to draw the reader in. Check me out. I use techniques.

What else? I’ve accidentally paid too much council tax because I hate logging on to my online banking so much that I forgot to cancel the standing order. I wore red lipstick that looked good for the first time last week. It’s my birthday on Monday. I feel less hostile towards people.

Life goes on, regardless of storms.

Let’s Get Boring

I recently moved house from a middle-of-nowhere urban wasteland to a 2-minute walk from the local bar district. The British love their booze and given that most of my social circle has worked in a bar at some point in their life, there hasn’t been a shortage of “fancy a pint?” texts.

One night I was sitting in Wetherspoons with friends and we were talking about getting older. I said, ‘It always annoyed me how society expects you to do certain things in a certain order by a certain age… go to uni, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids.’

Emily said, ‘And everyone feels sorry for you if you haven’t done that… even if you don’t want to do that.’

Her words reminded me of a time an ex said, ‘Congratulations, you now have the party lifestyle you’ve always wanted’ like it was an insult. Like now I was no longer eighteen, I should have settled down to a lifetime of monotony.

The truth is, yes I am a party girl and yes I like going out. I like the dissonance of a packed bar, I like the semi-euphoric feeling of occasion, I like the tipsy wine haze. The moment I give that up for slumping on the sofa in front of “crap telly” (seriously, if you say those words with a humble sense of pride then just kill yourself), I’ve let myself down as a person. I would have given up doing what I like for a calm, monotonous, sensible life because society thinks I should take up gardening or baking or some other wholesome bullshit that women who post memes about how being knee-deep in used nappies is the hardest job in the world do.

I’ll take the partying, thanks, especially given that I can bake the best chocolate brownies on the planet already. And instead of judging me, why don’t you judge yourself for being dead inside.

Don’t be that person

My favourite article this morning was this one, with the headline “‘Fairy control’ to halt tiny doors in Somerset woods” and the whole thing is brilliant, I highly recommend reading it if you’re having a bit of a downer and need cheering up.

My second favourite article was a Buzzfeed one – “A Woman Left A Romantic Sign For A Hot Guy And He Replied”, I like happy endings and serendipitous situations, we don’t get them enough in life so bite me. The gist of the article is that a woman left a physical ‘missed connection’ sign, it got noticed by the local community, both parties became minor local celebrities, they met up and it went really well. It’s really sweet in a cheesy feel-good sort of way.

I promised myself to never read the comments on news (or any other) sites but this time I scrolled down because you can’t say anything negative about the situation, right?

The majority of the comments were criticising Sarah’s (the woman in the article) outfit. Why did she wear a baggy t-shirt? What’s with the shorts? Why does she look so much older than him?

I don’t remember seeing any comments about Will’s outfit and to be honest I don’t want to re-read the comments because they’ll just make me angry again. What is wrong with people? The two people directly involved in the situation – the only two people directly involved in the situation met up, they got on well enough for the guy to ask her to stay for a WEEK, and all people can focus on is that her outfit isn’t to the liking of random strangers on the internet? That’s without even mentioning that there is nothing wrong with her outfit at all. Have we really become that compartmentalised as a society that anyone who doesn’t wear a bodycon dress on a date is vilified?

The most common rebuttal in the comments to anyone called out on the shallowness was, ‘Well it’s a public website and I’m entitled to my opinion’ and yes, the proverbial about opinions and arseholes is true. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t educate yourself. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop before pressing the submit button and think, ‘What gives me the right to judge a woman by her looks instead of being happy that two strangers connected against all odds and everyone got a little warm feeling inside?’ There’s a good chance that I would’ve made the same comment a few years/months ago but I like to think I’m a better person now.

One of the depressing things about the comments was that so many of them came from women, probably the same women who complain about being objectified and catcalled in the street. How do they expect attitudes to change if they’re perpetuating the exact same behaviour? The girl in the article is beautiful and great for not being afraid to take the initiative and put herself out there like that. The people who are ‘entitled to [their] opinion’… I’m sorry, but no. Your opinion is shallow and wrong and you should be ashamed of yourself.


The Downside of Dignity

So the worst thing about not wanting to air your dirty laundry in public and smiling and saying, “It just didn’t work out” when asked is that people nod sympathetically and say things like, “Aww poor guy, he must be finding it hard still”. While you smile and make a semi-apologetic face and roll your eyes internally because they have no idea.

They don’t know about the texts you get asking you to hook up, then claiming it was just a joke (“oops wrong number haha lol”) then going demented at you and calling you a selfish cunt when you say you’re not comfortable with the jokes.

They don’t know about the bitchy comments (“not surprised you had to go have an STD test, hope it’s cleared up by now”) or the digs at your life (“what have YOU done with your life since we split up apart from get drunk”, “you’ve lost too much weight, you used to look so much better”).

They just think you’re an evil bitch from hell because all your doubts and uncertainties get paraded round a little backslapping circle of woman haters with bruised egos as proof of your bitch-from-hell status (“She wasn’t sure if she wanted to get back together? No no, she was STRINGING ME ALONG”. They’re human, you’re not) while you’re smiling and making a sad face and telling people it just wasn’t working out while thinking that everyone can just go fuck themselves. 


I like wrinkles; pathways to frowns and smiles and cigarettes in the sun. I like scars; keloid notches of fire and metal and trauma. I like tattoos; gritted-teeth art inherited from tribes and mutated into rotary machines. I like things that make a blank canvas with genetically correct features look more interesting.


To say that the human body is a temple is pompous and self-important. Life is a tempestuous, unpredictable journey that weathers and changes people, and the human body is a chronicle of that. It’s not a pure slab of polished stone that stands unmovable in the eye of the storm, as unnatural as a sixty-year-old with a smooth neck and perky breasts.




People who say, ‘That tattoo is going to look terrible when you’re older’ haven’t thought their argument through. Do we go through life with the purpose of preserving a beautiful-looking corpse?


No one grows old and wishes they stayed at home more.


We can – and should – do what we can to look and feel our best. But to treat wrinkles and scars and signs of ageing as something to be reviled rather than stories of a life of adventures and experiences is to admit that your own fear of going out there and really living is being projected onto other people.


Don’t end up as a beautiful-looking corpse. There are better things to do with your life.

There’s No Shame In STI

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the waiting room of the local GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic to get tested for STI’s/STD’s (I don’t know what the difference is). I’d never been to one before; I’ve been tested at my GP’s but at that moment in time I was in the process of changing doctors and when I decide I want to do something, I want to do it right fucking now.

The clientele ranged from giggling teenage girls to a couple in their fifties. I found myself thinking with disdain that the girls probably turned up for a positive test result every month and one of the couple probably cheated. Then I wondered what they thought of me; young, blonde, a little hungover. Maybe I looked like I was here to get the morning after pill after fucking some meathead I met in a club.

I was called in. The nurse went through my sexual history and a few other questions (“Have you ever injected drugs or been paid for sex? You’d be surprised at how many people have”). She was weirdly insistent on taking down the name of the last person I slept with. I refused because it made me feel uncomfortable. Then I took my bottoms off and got on the bed. She got the speculum out – “This will feel a little unpleasant in the same way that your smear test does” – I closed my eyes and thought of England. This part of the test was to collect samples to be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Feeling grossed out yet? I was as she explained all this to me.

Then it was time to move into the next room for the HIV test. The idea of one was sobering. Nurses with syringes instilled terror in me ever since I fainted and had a seizure halfway through giving blood. A second nurse came in to get some tablets out from a cupboard. She saw me and said she’d hold my hand. ‘How did you spend your Christmas?’ she asked.

I said, ‘I got drunk and spent Christmas day on my parents’ sofa reading a book and eating sausage rolls.’ She laughed.

I was given a piece of paper with the results line number on it and sent on my merry way. I checked Twitter when I got home and flinched at a Tweet that read, ‘Never holla at a girl in the doctor’s waiting room, she might be there because she has the clap’. I remembered how judgemental I felt about the girls and the couple in the waiting room. Really, they could have been there for any number of reasons. Maybe their partner cheated. Maybe the condom broke. Maybe they were there to get the Pill, or to change the type of Pill because of side effects. Maybe they were there to change their Nexplanon. Maybe they had sex with a new partner. Maybe they had sex with a stranger, or multiple strangers, and so what if they did? For someone who bangs on about not judging other people’s lifestyles, I was a piece of shit for glaring at the other people in that waiting room.

There is no stigma around catching a cold from someone sneezing on you. There is no stigma around getting an upset stomach from badly prepared food. But being diagnosed with an STI is massively shameful and dirty because sex is a clean beautiful romantic thing and the idea of HORRID DISEASES ruins the idea, right?

And that’s not good – because it’s wrong. There are still big conservative sections of society that believe in the sanctity of the unsullied vagina etc (side note: why is my “honour” and “self-respect” represented by my cunt?) but for the most part it is much more socially acceptable to have sex with multiple partners before marriage – if marriage even happens, and if it doesn’t then that’s completely fine too, hurrah society etc. Therefore more people have sex with more other people and there is a bigger chance of STI transmission.

Shaming people for having sex isn’t going to solve anything. We need to be honest with ourselves and with each other about sexual health, partners and the risk of infection. We need to know about symptoms (or in some cases, lack of) and to get tested regularly after each new partner. And we really need to realise that having an STI isn’t indicative of ‘slutty’ behaviour. I could go off on a massive tangent about how sleeping around doesn’t even make someone A Bad Person because I strongly believe that and anyone who doesn’t is an insecure child but I won’t because that’s not the point.

The point is that one of my friends, who only slept with four people in the entire thirty years he’s been alive, once tested positive for chlamydia and had to take a dose of penicillin that made him feel like shit for two days. My overall ‘body count’ is higher but when I rang the results line two weeks later, an automated voice told me that all my results came back negative.

Still think I’m a skank?

Brain Scribbles

“All the heat and fear had purged itself. I felt surprisingly at peace. The bell jar hung suspended a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air. ”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I’ve been writing again and generally feeling better about life. For the millionth time I’m starting on a semi-autobiographical novel that chronicles all the things me and my friends did and/or could have done when we were younger. It’s going to be funny and sad and witty and we will all learn a lesson about life at the end. Or I’ll get bored by the third chapter and it will stay in my ‘Fiction’ folder of abandoned Word documents.

Anyway, here’s the first couple of paragraphs:


Nicole came in to find me sitting on the sofa eating a Topic bar, still in my coat, hair unbrushed. She knew I’d been out last night but she didn’t know the details; sambuca, cocaine, hazy skin-on-skin in the bathroom with a guy with a gap year tan and tattoos. More cocaine, then a stumble home with a tight jaw and an unbearable nicotine craving.

‘You need to sort your life out,’ she said with a steely voice usually reserved for her asshole on-and-off boyfriend. She hung her coat – black wool, very clean, very smart – on the rack and stared at me.

‘I know,’ I said, mouth full of chocolate. ‘I will after I’ve had a shower.’ I kicked my boots off –fake leather, not very clean, slightly slutty – to prove that I meant business too.

‘I mean in general,’ she said. ‘You can’t keep living like this.’

I wanted to tell her about the permanent tightness in my head. About the constant slow trickle of irrational anxiety into my bloodstream. How doing anything other than self-destructing felt like trying to kickbox at high altitude. But I didn’t. I nodded my head and promised her that I would clean up my act.

I think she was disappointed that moving in with her didn’t automatically turn me into an upstanding citizen but, much like soldiers with PTSD, you can’t just stick someone into normal society and expect them to adapt straight away. You don’t just develop a healthy sense of self-worth when you’ve felt like vermin for so long.

At least I’d given up on trying to run away from my past and almost never felt suicidal anymore. When I did, I no longer had intense visuals of my body shutting down organ-by-organ from a massive overdose or rotting away in an overflowing bath with flayed wrists. I just imagined what it would be like to no longer be around. I didn’t think it would make people’s lives better but I definitely believed it wouldn’t make things worse. But I’d stopped planning it. I just promised myself that if by the age of forty I was a chubby suburban housewife with kids and an office rat husband, I would step in front of a train. Preferably the Eurostar, to fuck up more people’s days. Welcome to the UK.

I shook my head to chase away images of goggle-eyed lycée students live tweeting about my guts all over the tracks. Nicole and all the others were right; my life could be so much worse. And I’d always ranted about people who refused to help themselves get out of whatever bad situation they were in.

Now that I was one of them, it didn’t seem quite so easy.

Marlene Dietrich is the baddest bitch of all time


So I’m not a massive fan of retro stuff or the Golden Age of Hollywood, and I haven’t seen any of her films either, but this lady is legendary.


  • Born 27 December 1951 in Schöneberg, the German Empire
  • Died 6 May 1992 in Paris
  • Show performer (post-war) as well as actress

The interesting stuff

Marlene’s Wiki page gets interesting once you get to the Personal Life section.

“Marlene, who was bisexual, enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920’s Berlin” and according to someone called Diana McLellan was also “the busiest and most passionate bisexual in theatrical Berlin” with “a notorious and compulsive appetite for the sexual seduction of other beautiful women” (source). I’d recommend reading that source by the way, there’s some pretty explicit details about an alleged affair between Dietrich and Garbo.

Onwards. “Throughout her career Dietrich had an unending string of affairs, some short-lived, some lasting decades; they often overlapped and were almost all known to her husband, to whom she was in the habit of passing the love letters of her men, sometimes with biting comments”. That is ice cold. And hella liberal.

She also banged “Mercedes de Acosta, who was Greta Garbo’s periodic lover”. Given that she said some pretty mean things about Garbo when those two were lovers, Garbo must have been livid. Also, was everyone in Hollywood at least bisexual at the time? Why is it full of asexual vegans nowadays?

“She counted George Bernard Shaw, John F. Kennedy and John Wayne among her conquests”. JFK got everywhere, the dirty old dawg.

Oh, and she also “maintained her husband and his mistress first in Europe and later on a ranch in […] California”.

According to Wikipedia this was all done out of the public eye as well, so she wasn’t some Marilyn Manson-esque shock figure, she just did her thang and was unapologetic about it. So I guess what I really like is that back in the 20’s there was a cool as fuck liberal woman who was hugely successful, made bank and partied hard. But she was also anti-Nazi and chose to adopt American citizenship rather than collaborate with the party.

Unfortunately, as cool as being a bad gyal in Berlin sounds, it had the usual predictable consequences. In the final 11 years of her life, Marlene became an alcoholic dependent on painkillers and was practically bedridden, with only a select few allowed to see her. She died of renal failure.


She was just cool, basically. And I like the fact that even though she paid the price for living a life of excess, she had fun and didn’t restrain herself because of what people might think. Something we could all learn from.


Angry and reckless

I miss being a teenager sometimes. I burned my diaries from that time (my mum found them in the attic last year and I couldn’t sleep until I had them back in my possession) but I’ve kept a few scrapbooks and looking through them reminded me of the kind of person I used to be. Even though I was a selfish little drama queen who made at least three bad decisions a day, the person that comes through in those pages has so much more energy and drive and general IDGAF attitude. I didn’t care about what people thought, I did things for myself. I had huge dreams and no clue how to accomplish them but that didn’t make me believe in the fact I was going to get there any less. I wasn’t afraid to try new things for fear of not being very good at them. I believed strongly in ideals and rushing out and doing things without overanalysing the fuck out of them in order to find a reason not to. I don’t really know how to get that back. Well, I do; I need to go out and start doing things again but it’s so hard to get out of the mindset of finding excuses to stay at home with the laptop and being crippled by self-doubt the whole way through. It’s hard to be at the mercy of your brain which can decide to go into a slump where getting out of bed in the morning is a purely mechanical action at any time. It’s hard knowing that the euphoric feeling of ‘no one can stop me’ can go at any moment. And it’s hard doing anything when at the back of my mind there’s a little voice always going, “What’s the point? It’s not like any of this is going to matter in five years time”.

I mean, it might. Anything could happen. But my subconscious has placed a bulletproof glass ceiling between myself and doing something with my life, and I don’t seem to have the energy to try and smash through it. I need a metaphorical tank. Where does one get a metaphorical tank?

Anyway, egoistical whine over.

EDIT: Found a gif on Tumblr that describes it perfectly