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seven things

I have been tagged by Sally to write seven things about myself. I would estimate that this blog already contains around seven thousand things about myself, but who am I to stand in the way of seven more?

1. I have spent this entire weekend writing my essay about Virginia Woolf. I haven’t even been outside. I have certainly not done anything that could really be classed as ‘social’ or ‘fun’. My ‘reward’ for this hard labour is that tomorrow is Monday and I get to go… to work! Party poppers all round. (The lesson here is: don’t try and do an MA at the same time as having a full time job, because how ever much you like both of these things, it is not good).

2. On the plus side though, I’m having beef and ale stew with mashed potato for my dinner. The stew is currently in the oven cooking and it smells amazing.

3. The only other thing of significance I have done this weekend is knitting. I really enjoy knitting. It’s a bit like meditation, except at the end of it you (hopefully) have something you have created, like a hat, or a scarf, or even some gloves, or if you’re more talented than me, perhaps some socks in a fancy pattern. I really like watching something concrete and new appear from nothing (well, from a few balls of wool anyway) – a bit like baking, which appeals for similar reasons. My current project is a rather nice navy blue blanket for my friends’ new baby (though the baby is not really so ‘new’ anymore – in fact, at the rate I’m going, this blanket’s going to be about ready for when he goes to university).

4. I’m writing this sitting under my new red blanket (a Christmas present from my Dad, who knows how I like blankets) which I need because I’m extremely cold. I think I feel the cold a lot more than most people. This is unfortunate, but will be helpful for any pastry-making I need to undertake as I hear cold hands are good for that. All last week I wore a lot of clothes – two pairs of socks to counteract cold toes, and fingerless gloves which are handy for keeping your hands warm whilst typing, though though one of my colleagues did tell me I looked “like Bob Cratchitt”. However, style must be sacrificed in the face of numb fingers and toes.

5. It’s my birthday in one week’s time. I am going to be 26, which sounds quite proper and grown up. It also means that I will no longer count as a “young person” (at least in terms of railcards and suchlike) which seems a bit of a shame. I’m not sure how I’m going to celebrate my birthday yet, but it will definitely involve eating nice food, drinking nice drinks, seeing friends, not thinking at all about essays and wearing my new dress. The dress has a very interesting black and white pattern all over it, which reminds me of illustrations in old books, perhaps woodcuts. My boyfriend says it makes him think of illustrations from “Wuthering Heights” though I don’t know how he’d know, as I’m pretty sure he’s never actually read “Wuthering Heights”. Update – I found what it reminded me of – check it out here.

6. The book I am currently reading is Alexandre Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers” – the rather fabulous new Penguin edition shown above with cover illustrations by Tom Gauld – which my boyfriend gave to me for Christmas. I am really enjoying it, but the only problem is that owing to a childhood love of the cartoon “Dogtanian”, I’m having big trouble imagining the characters as anything other than cartoon dogs. I don’t really mind though: after all, “Dogtanian” was brilliant. Just watch this and remember…

7. My i-pod is on shuffle. While I’ve been writing this it has played Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, “Great DJ” by the Ting Tings and Laverne Baker’s “Bumble Bee.”

A lot of people seem to have been tagged with this one already, so I’m going to be renegade and break the rules and not tag 7 other people. Perhaps instead I’ll tag everyone who reads this. If you read this and then feel like going to write 7 things about yourself on your blog, leave me a comment so I can go and read them, as I like reading other people’s blogs, and also I’m just naturally a bit nosy.

happy new year!

I haven’t written anything here for a while, largely because I’m in the middle of trying to write an essay about Mrs Dalloway. Right now, I feel like I hate Virginia Woolf a bit, but I know from experience that I will probably forgive her again when I have finished writing the essay. That’s just how it goes. The essay isn’t actually due until 19 January (which, coincidentally, is also my birthday) but I have been trying to get as much written as possible before I go back to work tomorrow.

It’s now 2009. Today it’s very cold, and as I am writing this it is snowing a tiny, tiny bit. It’s a grey and dark day.

2008 has ended, and I don’t really know what I think about the last year. It was a funny one I think. It had a lot of good bits, but overall I feel it was a tough year, a year of hard work and graft. If I was going to represent it symbolically, it would be one of those big cart-horses, or possibly some sort of barefoot Victorian orphan getting sent down the mines or up chimneys. I hope that this year will be different, with less hard graft and more fun. I would like to feel a lot more healthy, have more energy, and spend more time sleeping. I am tempted to say I would like this year to be like a happy sloth, but I think it might be better to opt for something with a bit more vitality and ‘oomph’, like a poodle, or an iguana, or perhaps an anteater.

I haven’t actually made any new years resolutions, but if I was going to make any they would be along the lines of “eat more cake” (which I’m sure I saw suggested on a blog somewhere -can’t remember where though) or “more playing” (see Chris Cleave’s ‘Down with the Kids’ column in yesterday’s Guardian).

Here’s a few highlights from 2008:

Books: as always, too many to list, but off the top of my head, The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and pretty much anything by Haruki Murakami and Barbara Pym.

Exhibitions: many, many, many, but some that spring to mind are Peter Doig at Tate Britain, Pipilotti Rist at FACT, Made Up at Tate Liverpool especially the Drawing Room, The Intertwining Line at Cornerhouse, Made Up at The Bluecoat, and…erm… From Toad Hall to Pooh Corner at Seven Stories.

Watching: Juno, The Dark Knight, The Cat Returns, Little Dorrit, The Wire, Quatermass and the Pit

Listening to: CSS, Kraftwerk, Bat for Lashes, Stereolab, The Long Blondes, Squarepusher’s ‘Just a Souvenir’ album, old Kate Bush records, Birdsong Radio and of course the Ting Tings.

Events: again, far too many to list, but I must mention the very fine no point in not being friends, as well as of course, the Manchester Blog Awards at MLF.

Thing I missed but wish that I had not: the La Machine Spider in Liverpool.

Some other things I have appreciated and enjoyed this year include: blankets (especially my electric blanket); pyjamas; dark chocolate; rare moments of sunshine; the outside bit at The Bluecoat in Liverpool; my leopard print earrings; trains; cinnamon tea; the colour moss green; porridge for breakfast; ginger beer; knitting; long cardigans; Spritz Aperol; baths; vietnamese food; exploring London; my mum’s soup; mittens; making lists; chicken dinner with my favourite red cabbage; really nice pens; parks; naps.

blog loveliness


1. the unicorn diaries 2. the cherry blossom girl 3. treats & treasures
4. the tea drinking english rose 5. blaze danielle 6. wish wish wish
7. wild keikei 8. rose posie rosie 9. (inside) a black apple
10. monmartre’s sketchbook 11. scout holiday 12. i’m not antisocial, just shortsighted

Today, for a final blast of ‘December loveliness’, I thought I would share these blogs – all relatively recent discoveries, which I like as much for their lovely images and overall aesthetic as for their written style.

I especially like the fact that all of these blogs make the most of the potential offered by online platforms without feeling scarily uber-digital or hi-tech: in fact, if anything, blogs like the tea drinking english rose, or the unicorn diaries more closely resemble an old-fashioned handwritten journal that you could imagine you might tie up with a ribbon or lock with a key.

Whether or not the particular aesthetic appeals to you, what really stands out about all these blogs is how defined their individual styles are – visuals, content and prose style all work together to create a particular identity. It’s perhaps for this reason that these blogs feel so personal – reading them is like taking a little peep through the keyhole into the space of the bloggers’ imaginations.

It’s interesting to observe how blogs such as i’m not antisocial just shortsighted (a very recent find, which I discovered via jo’s blog) or the cherry blossom girl develop, becoming a broad creative space to experiment with a distinctive personal style, bringing together together many different interests and sources of inspiration – from fashion to design to writing to photography to fine art.

Blogs like these seem to be first and foremost spaces to play with and share ideas, becoming (quite literally in the case of blogs like treats & treasures) ongoing scrapbooks or collages which are always growing and developing. These blogs are little treasure-troves of inspiration.

favourite things: polaroids

I love old photographs, and polaroids in particular. I have recently become slightly obsessed with poladroid, a brilliant free-to-download image maker that allows you to transform any photograph into a polaroid in a mere matter of seconds. You can even watch the picture develop, just like a ‘real’ polaroid photograph.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to capture in polaroid form a few more of my favourite things to add to the ever-increasing list:

blue skies and autumn leaves

felt-tip pens

typewriters: I am seriously coveting this one from three potato four

sitting in the oklahoma cafe with a hot spiced apple juice

a very old and special friend

lists are good

I think I have struck on something with this list business. I wrote my list of 100 favourite things the other day, and then my lovely cousin Shona joined in here (Shona likes “Agent Provocateur lingerie,” “Christian Loboutin shoes” and “chip butties”), and then today my mum wrote herself a list (my mum likes “red wine”, “Chanel perfume”, “the National Portrait Gallery” and “peas in pods”). Everyone really enjoyed making their list, and it seemed to cheer my mum up a lot, which is a good thing because she is not at all well at the moment – in fact she is suffering from an extremely nasty dose of shingles, which is not a very cheering illness. Anyway, making a list of things she liked made her feel better. It is undoubtedly medicinal.

Making the list was so much fun that we then went on and wrote a list of our cat’s favourite things, which was a bit silly but we have got a lot of time on our hands at the moment. It didn’t reach a hundred but we thought of quite a few (Mim likes “ham”, “plastic bags”, “tinned tuna”, “hiding places” and “chewing hair”). I think making lists is good for you – theraputic, and surprisingly satisfying.

I am ill too. What I thought was just a bad case of my usual throat of doom (plus a few extra ‘lucky dip’ symptoms thrown in for variety) has actually proven to be a virus, and my doctor has signed me off work for a week. I feel fairly ghastly, but also a bit bored. I am bored of being ill. Be prepared for lots of unpremeditated, badly-written, slightly incoherent blog posts. And possibly more rabbits.

My mum and I are trying to find things to cheer us up. As well as lists, we have been trying to create an Enid Blyton-style convalescence for ourselves. We have been having nice cups of tea and cakes (and the odd hot toddy) and watching old films and playing card games and reading children’s books and knitting, and waiting, perhaps somewhat optimistically, for the doctor to send us off to recover at the seaside for a month.

In spite of all our good efforts though, sometimes I feel a bit grumpy. I feel like I’ve had enough illness. Instead, I would like to be bursting with health and energy. Instead of pyjamas, I would like to be wearing a stylish, elegant and distinctive outfit. Instead of languishing in bed, I would like to be sitting in a cafe looking interesting and writing something wonderful. I would like to be writing lots of new things – proper things – like a really good new novel and some excellent short stories. I would like to make this blog a bit less twee, and have fewer of what Sally, in her blog post of earlier this week, aptly terms “silk scarf moments”.

For now though, I think silk scarves are really all that I can manage. I’m just going to concentrate on bunnies and writing lists of nice things.