Upper Street and 100 Leading Ladies

Upper Street shop
After a week in the new job, and an evening of eating the ultimate yellow dinner (mac and cheese, mashed potato and cauliflower cheese – mmm, Sunday), it’s time to talk shoes, and a seriously awesome photography exhibition. Continue reading


Sara’s half-marathon tips



My friend Sara, her of the sports jelly beans and witchcraft chatting-while-running, sent me the most wonderful email the week before I did Royal Parks (more on that story later). She had just done her first half marathon in Ealing, and had lots of marvellous advice which she’s said I can put up here. My favourite, obviously, was “Remember you’re allowed all the carbs now.”

Also good, because I came down with SODDING FLU five days before, so never did do my two three mile runs – “It doesn’t matter if you don’t run this week. You’ve been ready for this for the last month, a week off at the end won’t change a think. I did two very short runs but I think it’s more important to rest. Don’t do anything after Thursday!”

What was really wonderful was this picture which she posted shortly afterwards. A bunch of her friends trekked up to Ealing in the middle of the night (or, 10am on Sunday morning which is much the same thing) and surprised her as she came round the final bend with this UTTERLY amazing sign. Bravo Sara’s friends. And bravo the Sara!

Sara’s half-marathon tips:

The Ealing Half was fantastic, I loved it so much. I want to do another one now! Here’s what I learned on the day:

– Find a pacer and follow them. You won’t have to look at your watch, so you can take in the scenery and crowds. It went much quicker for me as I wasn’t checking my watch and thinking “we’ve only done FOUR miles, WTF?” It also meant I didn’t shoot off too fast.

– Chat to nervous looking people at the start, who will probably also be first timers. I ended up running the whole thing with a lovely girl called Jen as we found we were both aiming for a similar time.

– High-five any children on the route! They all had their tiny hands out in Ealing, and were counting the high fives they got.

– I found thinking of it as a ten mile run helped. I knew once I got to 10, I could definitely do another 3. 3 miles = Parkrun = fine.

– Drink at every water station, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Splash water on your face. Don’t worry about how you’ll look in the photos.

– Stretch! Like your life depends on it! I went for a short walk yesterday and did lots of stretching afterwards, and today I feel fine. I should have stretched more on Sunday instead of sweatily hugging everyone.

– Parade around all day in your medal. It’s your right. Loudly say “oh – this? Why it’s just my HALF MARATHON MEDAL” if you feel people are making insufficient fuss.

Sara, you are a total legend. Check out her equally legendary Tumblr, Life! Death! Top Tips!

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster

Sunday Times Style - tall girls are going up (obvs)

Like many of my friends, The Sunday Times’ Style section has been the first bit of the Sundays I read for YEARS.

The first thing I ever had printed in a national paper was a letter about Tara P-T’s column. When I needed advice on choosing a winter coat a few years back, I wrote in to Wardrobe Mistress. As a writer for Domestic Sluttery, I’ve been interviewed for it. And thanks to the delightful Pip McCormac, I’ve been writing bar reviews for its online counterpart for the best part of two years.

I love it. Style gives me my much-needed fix of glossy,  shallow funnies at a time of day when all I’m really fit for is listening to The Archers omnibus and contemplating – and then filing away for another time – whether or not I want to go for a run enough to actually go for a run.

Coming back from a day’s writing/being rained on in Shoreditch today, I settled down with a glass of wine and Style and was bloody thrilled to see tall girls at the top of the hot-or-not barometer. And properly tall ones,  not Topshop’s frankly ridiculous 5’7″ and over.

As with pretty much anything that gives tall girls their dues coupled with wine, it gave me a little pang for the younger me: the combination of Malia Obama, gawky but elegant and full of promise,  and Gwendoline Christie, the actress playing Brienne in Game of Thrones, and probably the only Gwendoline I’ve heard of outside Malory Towers. (Here is a cracking interview with her by SFX magazine from earlier this month. What a nice person she is.)

When I was 10, I wanted to be an astronaut. Before that, I wanted to be a marine biologist, so I could spend all my time reading books about sharks and watching Jaws. After that  I just wanted to be an actress. I adored acting. When I was 15 or so, I got started in musical theatre. I had my own backing dancers  and a series of fantastically absurd costumes.

But in the back of my mind, I always knew it wasn’t going to happen for me. It started when I was 12: I played Miss Kay, the teacher, in Our Day Out, with fifth formers playing my pupils. Then I got a part as a guard, swiftly followed by a giant, a large door, and a bunch of other tremendously fun character roles which I didn’t appreciate at all at the time, because all I wanted to do was to play the feminine parts, and prove that a romantic lead could be 6’1, gangly and ridiculously insecure.

I was a total bloody idiot. I talked myself out of everything: I didn’t audition for a single play during my first year of university after not getting into the first thing I auditioned for. After a fourth year filled with new friends, fun plays and Edinburgh, I talked myself out of even applying for drama school by saying there wouldn’t be any parts for me, and that I would never get any work. I chose instead to try and become a journalist (ironically, those who can’t become critics? Witness my short-lived career as a theatre critic on thelondonpaper,  may it RIP).

Of course, I realise now  that the reason I didn’t become an actress had nothing whatsoever to do with my height and everything to do with my self-esteem and lack of ambition. In layman’s terms, I was just really bloody lazy. I just didn’t want it enough. I couldn’t take the idea of rejection,  or being constantly poor and uncertain about work (although I achieved the latter in spades once I moved to London and started working as a journalist).

Even at 21 I was too much of a security-junkie to say “Oh fuck it,” and work my arse off. You can’t be scared of rejection if you’re going to be an actor. You just can’t! I look at all my friends who work in the performing arts, in theatre, musical theatre, singing, comedy, opera and they all work like absolute bastards, rolling with the punches, getting marvellous breaks that they make through talent, persistence and sheer hard work.

Last year I went back to the Edinburgh Festival for the first time since doing a show in 2007. I realised I didn’t miss acting, because I’d found something else I loved. In writing and online journalism I found something that I was willing to work hard at. I was still rubbish at rejection, mind. But at least then I knew – I know – that it’s about me, rather than how I look. I just hope I can instil more of a can-do will-do attitude into my own children one day.