I enjoy that Me In The Past told Facebook and it’s declaration that it “cares” about me to shove it.
zō-et’ik: of or pertaining to life. [Gr. zōē, life]
I enjoy that Me In The Past told Facebook and it’s declaration that it “cares” about me to shove it.
I’m not actually into erotic auto-asphyxiation, it just seemed an appropriate thing to do with Arad’s Curtain Call at the Roundhouse after Matthew Herbert did an hour-long art piece about the human body featuring nudity, the sounds of masturbation and so forth.
Please enjoy what my darling friend Jacob did with the image using the app Prisma.
… which turned into
Generally I don’t like the idea that we can teach computers to do what we have spent three billion years learning how to do – read, draw, sing, etc – but this is quite pleasing.
Jacob also created this image of me humping a subwoofer, which I love because it shows me what I must look like to people who are tripping.
“I think we can make space for you in our place. Come and try it out. It’ll be better for you than going back to working from home again.”
A god-send. Working at home can make you crazy, and after having a space in King’s Cross away from my house for two years, I had no desire to become a house-bound writer again.
And thus, for 18 months I had the pleasure and the privilege of working in the middle of hipster Shoreditch, in an airy listed building with massive windows and wooden floors, with space for all my stuff and the keys to the building so I could come in on weekends (as I frequently did) to work. Keeping my work out of my home helps me stay sane.
With speakers positioned in every corner, we played music all day every day (except during conference calls) – after all, it’s their *job* to keep track of what’s going on in the music industry. So the environment suited me – a child of the music industry – perfectly. Music is my first love.
When it was silent, almost invariably somebody would murmer “More tunes…”
Just to put in perspective how old and how dear, the moment Kier and I first became friends was captured on a disposable camera (remember those?) at Glastonbury’s stone circle in 2003.
When I first met Dan (or Mongo as he will always be known to me) in 2005 I said “What do you do?” and he said “I’m a promoter.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” (My dad’s a promoter, and he worked from home, so I understand the agony and the pain.) He laughed heartily.
“Well, if you have a gig, I will be there.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
“Nope. If you put something on, I will be there.”
And I kept my word (as much as I could.) I’m a promoter’s kid, and I worked at a venue for five years. I know the enormous difference that having just ten more friends in the room – even if you’re losing money – can make to your soul.
For 18 wonderful months I worked side by side with my two best friends, listening to music, watching videos of Corbyn and Trump, chatting politics, taking time out for important things like Tony Blair’s ‘confessional’ at the Chilcot release, and toiling away at our regular duties. With people to chat to and having such a fun, nurturing, positive space, I got way more done on a daily basis than I have… probably ever.
And best of all: every single day Mongo made me laugh to the point of tears. Every single day. Laughter is medicine, and enjoying the space you work in is priceless. Especially when you’re toiling over huge amounts of gritty details or pondering the ramifications of a contract.
Sadly a year ago everyone in the building was informed we’d have to leave. The landlord is – predictably – going to renovate the whole thing and turn it into more upscale office space for the innumerable “creative agencies” (aka advertising agencies) that work in the area. So more of this kind of thing. Record Play had been there 11 years. The designers next to us had been there since the early *90s*. It was emotional for me, but certainly more so for everyone else.
Still, emotional it was. So of course we had to have a smashing party to celebrate the end of an era, with the folks next door, who invited in some lovely people 20 years our senior who had worked in the buildling decades ago.
I miss it a lot. Already. Totally welled up when I got all my stuff home. I was in mourning for a month preparing for this.
But how many writers get to spend a year and a half working on their own projects, but side by side every single day with their best friends? Not many.
Long Live 45-46 Charlotte Rd. You might host more lucrative agencies in a year – but you’ll never have this much character or laughter within your walls ever again.
On August 1st 2016 – five years after I met my editor, four years after I signed my contract, three years after I handed in my first draft, and two years after releasing my book – I decided to finally chuck the printed research and rough work:
– fully typed interviews with over 50 people
– detailed notes and direct quotes from 60 books
– data from over 300 scientific papers
– random bits and pieces of information
And of course the rough drafts themselves: eight full drafts of 60,000 words each, written over 18 months.
(Sidenote: people often have a romantic vision of writing a book, as though it involves staring out the window with a quill and a glass of port. It’s more often than not a draining, arduous process that involves going over huge reams of information again and again in solitude. A radio host once asked, “SO, tell me about the SEXY DRUGGY research you did!” My response: “Dude, I’ve never had less sex or done less drugs in my life. I sat around in my yoga pants with books and paperwork around me by myself until 2am for a year.”)
I have everything fully saved in PDF, but the paper itself – covered in scribbles and notes, which I pored over in detail – was highly significant to me… to put it mildly.
But, as my mother wisely advised me, “You just can’t save every piece of paper forever – sometimes you have to just get rid of it. Otherwise your life becomes nothing but clutter.”
Being an expat who moved her possessions across an ocean (including essays from highschool, my adolescent diaries, and every print photo I’ve ever taken), and as somebody who loves the written word, over the years I’ve had to throw away a lot of things that meant something to me.
But this experience was emotional. To say the least.
Deepest gratitude to my friend Dan Garber for capturing the moment (and putting up with me crying a bit), to former flatmates Ellie Steel and Abigail Graham for being blessedly understanding with my weird solitary behaviour, to Duncan Thornley for lending me an entire house where I could walk in circles talking to myself and be *extra* weird for two months, Kier for dragging me out of said weird hole for human contact once a week, Gemma Wain, Martha Harron and Amy Cormier for all their guidance on the proposal and the contract in the first place…
And of course: to Michael Bhaskar for being such a brilliant, nurturing editor.
It’ll all be pulped by now.
But thank you for the memories.
Brexit. Chilcot. Turkey. Russia. The meltdown in both Labour and the Tories. The rise of Trump. And now of course, the American 2016 Election, which promises to be one of the most disturbing – and entertaining! – American political battles in living memory. If ever.
I said to my mother, “There really hasn’t been a year with this much turbo-charged political action in my lifetime has there?”
“Zo, there hasn’t been a year with this much happening politically in MY lifetime. Maybe 1968, but I don’t think that was this intense.”
Now: we have the next three and a half months to witness the Clinton v Trump contest, which promises to just escalate in jaw-dropping hyperbolic nuttery. I for one will be watching every move, terrified and amused in equal measure. I know Brits often find American political staging horrifying, but you gotta hand it to them: they understand the power of theatre. Labour leadership contests held in townhalls in Grimsby vs Republican primaries in sports arenas, complete with stadium rock music and strobe lights. How can you not love the juxtaposition?
Anyways, for a literary primer, my friends and I will be reading what my mother says is one of the most entertaining and enlightening tomes on American politics: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, by HST. And if we have time, Better Than Sex, a collection of his essays on politics. Everyone remembers his views on bats and mescaline – but not enough remember he was one of the only journalists to ever get a private audience with Richard Nixon. He knew his shit.
“Cormier? You’re a Cajun girl – you just haven’t been home yet.”
It is entirely plausible that New Orleans is my spiritual home.
The cuisine is incessantly spicy.
The music is impeccable.
Their manners are incomparable.
People pronounce my name correctly without effort.
You can buy cocktails to go.
The houses have porches, pillars and gardens, like where I grew up. There are streetcars, and enormous trees.
London is my first love, but I’ll happily have New Orleans as my bit on the side.
So, I know it’s intensely irritating when people post bitchy complaints about their phones; it’s a playing card-sized piece of space age technology. Glitches shouldn’t be a life-threatening disaster.
However. My phone is being a bastard. It keeps spazzing and presenting me with a variety of solid-state colour palettes on the home screen.
I call the current one “Beetlejuice”.
Trickster bullshit asshole phone.
Step One: Pack diligently for a five day work trip to New Orleans, making sure every tiny thing I’d need is in order. And everything that could get me anally probed by the US border cops (from tweezers to sleeping pills) are left behind. Go to sleep sensibly early to prepare for a 6am rise and a 12 hour door-to-door trip.
Step Two: Wake in the middle of the night, check the time, and discover that my new phone (which is on the fritz) had magically turned itself off. Plug in old-fashioned alarm clock, think “Phew that was close.”
Step Three: Get up, leave house at 7am, hop on train from Farringdon to Gatwick, chilled, calm and very pleased with myself for being so orderly.
Step Four: JUST to be extra sure, double check flight details. SHIT. Heathrow. Not Gatwick. HEATHROW. Bugger all.
Step Five: Spend a frustrated half hour on a glacially slow Southern Rail service, and begin to understand why it is the most loathed line in England. Curse myself and curse the transport system. Sit impotently.
Step Six: Change at scenic East Croydon, head back to Victoria right into the middle of a rushhour jam. Get a taxi to Paddington. Get the Heathrow Express. Call mother in a panic on the train, who assures me that I should still be ok for time.
Step Seven: Get to the kiosk in the nick of time, only to have the self-service machine have a digital seizure because it was unable to compute that I have neither an ESTA nor a Visa, yet am not an American citizen, but am still ok to fly to the US. (This always happens – Canadians don’t need the ESTA, but the American border system frequently spazzes at the concept of Canadians travelling to the US via the EU. Bless.)
Step Eight: In a panic, grab a Virgin Airways attendant who physically brings me to the back office – behind closed doors, into the actual admin office – to sort it out on the internal computer system.
Step Nine: Am given a ticket. Because I arrived so late, there was no room left in Economy. So I was upgraded.
Step Ten: Fly to the US, veins coursing with relief, with first class treatment and champagne.
I should be an idiot and head to the wrong airport more often.
Dear Santa: I know it’s July, but it’s my birthday next week. Could you make an exception for me in this case? I would love
1. A time machine.
2. Today’s event.
3. The chance to travel to 1985 and to show it to this man’s smug face.
OK, new idea:
Remember when Boris banned drinking on the tube – and everyone got hammered on the underground, one last time?
A typical photo I took of Brits in full swing, pre-drinking ban. (Sidenote. Everyone ignored the ban and continues to do so.)
We could rent an old school double decker bus – he loves those! – like a wedding party. Then drink copiously. Then park at his doorfront and puke everywhere, vomitorium style. He worships the Romans after all!