Prince

Not that long ago David Bowie died and my boyfriend was really, truly sad for about three days. Certain songs on the radio would make him cry and he was quieter than normal. He is ordinarily one of the cheeriest people I know. I knew he was big David Bowie fan but I didn’t really understand the blues that consumed him.

However, this evening over dinner I heard on the radio that Prince died today. Before I could really think about it, my chin was wibbling and I cried. I’m now listening to some of my favourite Prince songs and can’t help but continue to cry.

Although, of course, I’m sad for the loss of his musical skills that’s not really why I’m crying.

I’m crying because the death of Prince represents the passing of a period of time when I was really, very happy at home with my family. I’m crying because along with that man, it feels as though the golden years when my family were the closest and happiest that we’ve ever been, has died too.

I fell in love with the music of Prince during a single car journey with my dad. To Maplins. In Doncaster. Even more specifically, to the song When Doves Cry.

My parents love music and when we were growing up, would often play their favourite albums late into the night after my sister and I had gone to bed. These indulgent evenings would often spill over into car journeys with the occasional Prince CD (or Barry White, UB40, Robert Palmer…). As was required of a teenage daughter, I would slump grumpily down in my seat and demand we listen to Radio 1 or just, for god’s sake, something, anything, that was cooler. Like, just better. And less, you know, embarrassing?

Obviously they didn’t entertain my hideous grumblings. And I became totally engulfed by the pleasurable drama of his music. I loved the way he squealed, how exaggerated the drums and guitars sounded, I loved how camp and how sexy to all was. It was a whole new sound for my tender S Club 7 ears and it was, and remains, inescapably infectious and wonderful. I was a dancer at heart (stage school brat) and whenever I heard music I would always perform an uninhibited self-choreographed performance in my head. Prince is perfect for that.

So that afternoon when I agreed to pop out with my dad in the car to Doncaster to buy whatever cable he needed for whatever reason, I didn’t protest too hideously when he put Prince on. In fact, when he got out of the car, I asked him to leave the key in so the music continued to play. And I played When Doves Cry over and over on repeat and it gradually got louder and louder until he could hear it from across the car park.

From that moment on nearly all family car journeys, even those including my older sister, took us around the country to a psychedelic disco, rock pop soundtrack. Each of us would have our favourites and we would gleefully request ‘track one!’ or ‘track five!’ and as I sit and listen to the same album now I remember with each track to whom it belonged as a firm favourite. There was never overlap. We each liked different songs but that’s what made it such good fun; together we got to listen to the entire album, sometimes more than once in a single trip. We were all united in a joyful communal pleasure, singing our way to our destination.

It was an immediate and consuming fandom that gripped me and I carried his CDs around in my blazer pocket so I could listen to them on my (strictly prohibited) clumsy walkman while I was at school.

I fell so completely in love with his music that I would defy my adolescent instincts to stick with the pack and would proclaim proudly that ‘I love Prince’ regardless of the response I might get from my peers. Sounds simple now, but as a fifteen year old, that required a bit of pluck.

So thank you, mum and dad for giving me musical pluck. And thank you Prince for musical moments in which I could connect with my family. Thieves in the Temple has just come on and I can still picture in my head the dramatic, balletic, interpretive dance routine I always wanted to create in response to it. Thanks for that too, guys.

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Magazines: my rage and the subsequent plan of action

magazines

On Saturday morning I went to my local Sainsbury’s to do a little shopping and enjoy a £5 ham, egg and chips in the café. This has become something of a Saturday treat.

I was browsing the magazine aisle for something to read while I ate and really, truly couldn’t find a single thing I wanted to actually look at. I wasn’t being indecisive, I was simply (and perhaps foolishly) looking for a light entertainment magazine for women which mirrors my values and approach to life.

I wanted something thin enough that it was stapled and not glued together (i.e. relatively short), with a sunny disposition, genuinely interesting, creatively put together which I could learn something from and would make me feel good about myself.

I couldn’t find a single magazine to meet my perfectly reasonable requirements. At all. In a Sainsbury’s so large it has it’s own pharmacy.

Standing in aisle five, I was faced with a neon wall of snarling gossip magazines, supercilious high end fashion, baking, knitting, crosswords or colouring in. Since I don’t wish to be told what to wear, buy or decorate my home with, nor do I want to do some ‘mindful’ colouring in while I wait for my meal, I can confidently announce that there was nothing there for me.

Strolling a little further down the aisle I can report on all manner of leisure activities packaged into a great variety of men’s magazines. A gentleman in Sainsbury’s has the pleasure of choosing a magazine dedicated to all sorts of pursuits, from fishing and vintage cars to digital photography, fashion, golf and anything else he might possibly deign to read about.

While I’m aware women can and do buy these magazines I believe they speak predominantly to men. And while I don’t want to be told what to wear, I do love admiring what other people wear; people who dress with individuality and panache in a way that makes them peacock proudly about the place like a champion. Since I don’t believe I’ll find that photo story in a women’s magazine, we must accept it’s highly unlikely I’ll find it in a men’s magazine either.

There were of course big fat heavy intimidating publications which I do love to attack every now and again, including Monocle, Intelligent Life and The New Scientist. They are truly brilliant magazines brim full of good stuff but I was looking for something meaningful that I could still enjoy in a relaxed manner over a casual ham, egg and chips.

I cannot be the first person to feel the darkness of this gaping chasm in women’s magazine publishing. I am almost certainly not the first person to consider how we might fill it either.

Enter stage left, to the sound of fanfare, the independent magazine.

Having had a look, there is a huge wealth of beautiful, interesting and unusual independent magazines available to the discerning reader. The majority of these independent magazines, although proudly defying fashions and fads, only do so within a slither of human existence which is their own area of special interest; typography, seafood or Swedish couture. Where are the brave independent magazines, talking creatively and with integrity, about life? In general?

I was so angry while I ate my ham, egg and chips (which I had over-seasoned in a fit of rage) that I decided I would do something about it. I’m going to indulge myself and make the magazine I wish I had been able to find in Sainsbury’s on Saturday morning.

My aim, and public promise, is to create a vision for this magazine of my dreams, a small team of people who can help me create it, produce one issue, print and promote a teeny run of said issue and hope to prove the concept has the potential to maybe possibly work. I don’t know quite what I’ll do after that but, you know, running before walking around chickens and eggs and stuff…

I once read (in a trashy magazine, ironically) of a business woman, whose name I can’t remember, who lived her life by challenging herself with the question, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

I remember thinking about it. The list of things I could trot off in response to that question was and still is endless but right there at the top is the secret dream that is to have a stab at making my own magazine.

So here goes. Because I suppose, there’s a chance I might not fail.

‘Tis the season

Underwood-body

I would be a fool if I didn’t write about this collection of homeware and accessories, touting them as perfect Christmas gifts. Mainly because my job is to develop marketing communications in order to sell them (see here, line two).

Sebastian Cox is a designer, championing our British woodlands by making beautiful and useful objects. Everything he makes is sustainable, thoughtful, modern but somehow a bit medieval and is lovely to touch.

He uses the sort of wood timber yards refer to as ‘characterful’, with expressive grain patterns, knots, pipping, bark, flecking and swirls. Not only does this set him apart from other designer-makers it helps the rest of us fall in love with our unpredictable and under-utilised British species of wood (it’s time to use more than oak, people).

He has collections in Heal’s and on his own website, as well as a collaborative collection with Benchmark Furniture and a kitchen with deVOL. So this means there are lots of ways you can have your own piece of Sebastian Cox design, connecting you to nature and filling your home with glorious British wood.

Most of the pieces here are from a collection called Underwood. The whole team came together to design this collection and I styled and photographed the pieces too so I feel very proud of it.

If you are still looking for Christmas gifts or want to treat yourself, you have until this Sunday to place your order in the online shop. So get cracking. Or clicking.

5 years later…

5 YEARS LATER

It has been five years since I last wrote something on this blog.

In the grand scheme of things, five years isn’t very long. Is it? The world is still turning in quite the same way as it did in 2010 but some things have changed.

For a start, I no longer use the word ‘fashionista’ or wear Uggs. Or fake uggs for that matter. However, I do still cut my food in half. And damn very runny yolks to hell when they ruin a good breakfast.  Furthermore, I still have a desire to write down my opinions as though they were facts and post them here for the world to see.

After a very short period of consideration and a brief discussion with colleagues, I’ve decided to once again write new blogs, post them here and give the site a facelift. But keep the old content. Brave.

I could have ignored my old posts and started from scratch but the chances are prospective employers/online stalkers will probably still find them. So I might as well pick up where I left off, acknowledge that I once wrote an entire post about my hair as if anyone cared, and try to demonstrate that I am a relatively interesting and interested quasi-grown up. Who no longer uses words like ‘fashionista’.

I proudly present to you, myself, five years later, blogging again. I work in Old Street and sometimes I wear lipstick so I’m the perfect candidate really.

Renault Clio: New Va Va Voom Commercial

I love a good advertising campaign and thoroughly enjoy the new Renault Clio television adverts, created by Publicis London.

Sticking with the ever popular ‘va va voom’  concept and poster boy, Thierry Henry, the ads pose the question “what is va va voom?” The answer is most definitely saucy snippets of Dita Von Teese, Rihanna, Marlon Brando and Audry Hepburn played out to Clare Maguire’s ‘Aint Nobody’, Rhianna’s ‘S&M’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’.

A truly genius combination, tapping into some of the coolest figures in history and their most controversial contemporaries. I love that Renault is actively associating itself with the media furore surrounding Rhianna’s new single – how very Va Va Voom.

Vogue Cover: March 2011

My birthday is in March. As a result I feel particularly protective of the March front covers. If a magazine delivers a less than satisfactory cover star/image combination I am alarmingly disappointed.*

So imagine my delight when this beauty dropped through my letter box this morning. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is delicious. And so is this cover.

* Is this something I alone experience? Surely not…Are your favourite magazines all the more sacred from your birth month? Let me know.