Everyone who knows me well knows that London is my spiritual home. As my aunt Kel says:

“The place was sending you the homing beacon since you were a toddler – you were always meant to be there.”

This week, The Globe & Mail – my old stomping ground, back in the day when I wrote a column on environmental issues – asked me to write an editorial about the atmosphere in my city post the London Bridge attacks.

I scratched my head and paced in circles. I’m not much an expert on terrorism or its causes – but I am an expert on why this city was worth every penny I spent to come here.

And also why Teresa May is “loathsome”. Being commissioned to describe her in such terms = life goal met.

Anyways, my two cents:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/why-i-wont-leave-london-ever/article35261590/

Image of the paper – nice spread if I do say so myself…

Globe - London Attacks

 

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I have a gig with Belvedere Vodka going to conferences for bartenders explaining how monkeys evolved to booze. (Kind of best gig ever.)

If you want to understand how alcohol tickles your synapses and know more about “drinking better”, video of our latest event from Edinburgh’s Tales of the Cocktail here:

https://talesofthecocktail.com/vi…/in-depth/guilty-pleasures

With the deeply brilliant Claire Warner of Belvedere, and Jeffrey Kluger, science editor at Time Magazine and author of Apollo 13 (yes, the movie).

As I often say, I’m not really a professional writer – I am a failed pianist. I studied the instrument for a dozen years and hoped to go pro – but I could never ace exams. Stage fright always got the better of me, and I never mastered the art of performance.

But hey – that training gave me a good ear, and I’d like to think I know a thing or two about the instrument.

Haven’t heard of Hauschka have you? You’re welcome:

http://www.the-monitors.com/2017/05/11/hauschka-piano-what-if/

As I’ve been saying since 2008, in lectures about music and the brain, the evolutionary reason for drugs, the biological mechanism behind shivers down the spine, how chemicals burglar your brain… it often comes down to your friend and mine, tasty tasty dopamine. (Or as my friend Roseanne Wakely calls it, “Dope A Mean”)

Thank you Sarah Barmak, they are fabulous. A new mode of inserting my favourite neurotransmitter into my head…

As some of you have observed, I keep my calendar in handwritten form. I actually draw the calendars by hand. Some think it eccentric – but I remember everything, everything, far better this way. When I use my hand to write things down, they go into my brain better than just chucking the info into a computer screen.

I tried using Google Calendars – honestly I tried, I thought it could be more efficient – but for the first time in my life I forgot dates and times. It was as though giving the information to the computer was subconsciously making my brain think “Righty-ho – no need to remember that now.” 

So I’ll stick to pen and paper thank you very much. Also, this way Teresa May, GCHQ, and – coming soon! – Overlord Trump can’t keep track of my future movements.

Anyhoo, I just lost six days of my life to a horrible virus that left me rolling in sweats and agony 23 hours a day, with an hour off for sleep.

So my handwritten calendar comes in handy for recording raw emotions, as well as dates. Can’t get that with a Google Calendar now can you?

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This is my irreplaceable, beautiful, brilliant cousin Ruby.

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I will never forget the day in 1996 when my mother said, “I have big news – Aunt Boz is pregnant!” All I ever wanted, growing up, was a cousin – another human from my planet to add to my brood.

When I heard the news, I bawled. One of the happiest days of my youth, bar none. And I didn’t even know then that she would grow up into such a sweet, brilliant, beautiful creature.

She is now in her second year at the University of Edinburgh. Ruby grew up in New York City, but decided – wisely – not to be one of those Americans who never leaves America. Smart girl. And of course I was thrilled, given that I adore Scotland.

Last year she told me about the people in her student halls, including a big gang of (what else) weird boys who went to male-only boarding school (ugh). You know the type. The ones who treat women like another species because they have spent so little time around them. Who instantly assume a right to status and power because it’s been drilled into them that they are entitled to it. You know the type.

One of the boys had the audacity to mock her with the nickname “Fox News Girl”.

I nearly burst into flames in a bout of rage-induced spontaneous combustion.

“FOX NEWS GIRL?! How fucking DARE they?!”

“No, no, he was teasing but he wasn’t being THAT mean,” replied the Ruby, who is so good-natured and sweet-tempered that she couldn’t even begin to comprehend why somebody would be so vicious to her without good reason.

“No. Ruby. It’s not a friendly jibe. They are being vicious: they see your hair and hear your accent, and instantly presume they are more intelligent, because daddy paid for their schooling so therefore it must be worth something. I’ve dealt with that garbage from posh upper class boys since the moment I arrived – they see my hair and hear my voice and instantly presume intellectual superiority. Kelley will tell you the same about her time living in London. It’s incessant, and such a force of habit, it’s as though being mindlessly condescending and misogynistic is a reflex action. Often they don’t even realise they are doing it. Even worse, they are making fun of you in the most nasty, quintessentially English way possible: a manner they think is subtle, and which you might misconstrue as affectionate teasing, which therefore makes the put-down twice as funny. Where the fuck are these boys? I will come up there right now and slit their fucking throats. Nobody can speak to you like that.”

Ruby is a Walsh and therefore is not cursed with the burden of having a temper. Or the ability to readily spot bullies.

*I* however am a Cormier, have inherited the genes of boxers, gymnasts, death metal promoters, and a wide variety of maniacs. Once upon a time I was a baseball pitcher. I know how to throw a punch. I take pride in not losing my temper at my friends or lovers – but if provoked I know how to do it.

So I am more than happy to let loose explosive rage on an appropriate target in her defense. I would have gotten physically violent with any of those boys on her behalf, given the chance.

Three months later, in April 2016, in the middle of her exams:

“Oh my god, Zoe you were right. Those were the most horrible boys I have ever met. I knew they were kind of mean but I didn’t realise just how awful and heartless. I went to give money to a homeless guy and they told me not to, saying he ‘chose’ that lifestyle. They are HORRIBLE and I don’t speak to any of them any more.”

“It’s ok Ruby – you just didn’t realise how awful they are because you weren’t raised to be an asshole yourself. This just speaks to how good natured you are. Just remember to pity them: their punishment is they have to be themselves.”

So. Cherry on the cake: my irreplaceable, beautiful, brilliant cousin Ruby got a 1st, and crushed all those snobby creeps in the academic standings by a goddamned mile.

Take that you little snots.

I wanted her to give the middle finger with me in this pic, but she’s too sweet for that – so I’m more than happy to do it for the both of us.

Deepest love and respect, Ruby Walsh, you singular, spectacular you.

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For Don.

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03 For Don

Deepest Love.

I thought about going back to my hotel, sleeping, and then crafting a new sign. With the only purpose being a new photo taken when I looked less tired and grief-stricken.

Naw.

If he would have wanted anything, it would have been brazen honesty. Fresh from crying a bit, sleep-deprived, and all.

And after crying a bit, he would have demanded I laugh at what he always called “the absurdity of the world”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pbTmXsfiYk

Yes sir.

So, I saw a house up in Highbury with a collection of gnomes in the front yard. (I’m sure the neighbours LOVE it.)

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Oh please. That’s nothing. Check out this house in my childhood neighbourhood in Toronto that is covered in an enormous stockpile of dolls.

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I know that North Americans tend to make everything ridiculously large compared to the Brits – cars, candy bars, highways, houses, waistlines – but frankly, these Islington gnome connoisseurs need to up their game.

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When I was 13, there was a band from Toronto called Zoebliss. I can’t remember what their music sounded like, but it must have been mediocre or nondescript, as I can’t find anything online for you to peruse.

In any case. 

Regardless of the quality or style of their music, I bought a few merch shirts. Why the fuck wouldn’t you? If a band named <YOUR NAME> < TERM FOR JOY> existed, you too would be pleased as punch, and want to have some historical record of their existence.

Right?

Anyhoo. During my spring cleaning, I re-discovered the band’s logo, imprinted on cotton, stored away 20 years ago.

Featuring – oh yes, indeed – a goddamned alien.

(Sidenote: I can’t stop laughing, every time I look at it.)

I asked my friends on Facebook,

What should I do with this?

1. Frame it.
2. Weave into a slutty top.
3. Other?

Suggestions, please. This is for posterity. Be honest.

Suggestions included “a patchwork stitch onto a pillow”, “Just don’t have it made into a tattoo, please please please” (from my mother), and “appliqué it onto a black denim jacket or canvas bag”.

But the best suggestion of all:

“Knickers.”

Last night my mate Kier and I enjoyed the spectacular pleasure of seeing Jarvis Cocker and a man who is increasingly becoming one of my personal favourite humans of all time – Chilly Gonzales – in conversation at Rough Trade discussing their new collaboration.

If you know nothing of Chilly, this is an excellent summary.

Hometown boy done good. Cannot help but gush with pride that a piece he scored was included in the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music’s Grade 9 Repertoire (which I studied from).

From his Master Classes to his Guinness World Record, there’s no shortage of eclectic joy to be found in his work.

But this. THIS. Chilly explaining something piano-related on German Sesame Street. This leaves them all behind.

I don’t speak a word of German and I think I enjoy it all the more for it.