Friday, 12 May 2017

May picks: Watch, read, listen, visit

Illustration: Brian Rea

One of the reasons I've not been writing blog posts much is that I've gone old school media. Books, newspapers and magazines have been feeding my brain for the past few months and I can see now how much I've missed the feel of paper in hand.

So, what page-turners can I recommend? Read on for reading recommendations plus what to watch, listen to and where to go this month.


I first picked up Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on Record Store Day. My boyfriend had his nose in stacks of vinyl while I perused the print (I'm contrary like that). By the time he'd chosen his records I was 10% of the way through this short travelogue-cum-memoir, gripped at how lyrically Murakami describes his love of running and the places it takes him, both literally and figuratively. It's even made me consider dusting off my old trainers.

From the super healthy to the incredibly debauched, my next recommendation is Pour Me by AA Gill. Now, I know that Gill (pictured) isn't everyone's favourite and I agree that some of his personal politics are at best questionable. Please don't take a recommendation of his writing for an endorsement of his behaviour. It's not. His writing though... it makes my synapses explode. Pour Me is an account of his demise into alcoholism and drug addiction – happy days – but it's not 100% despair. Gill went to art school, the Slade in fact, and was taught by Lucian Freud. He was there at the first gigs of the Sex Pistols and Adam Ant. His father took him on summer adventures to Italy where he witnessed sculpture and old masters first hand, weeping at the sight of two of his favourites. These are war stories of the bleakest, most romantic variety, all told in words that bring it all to life exquisitely.

And onto magazines... the new issue of Oh Comely is out and it's the Awake issue. Turn to page 99 for my account of my first gig. I'm hoping it's long enough ago to have passed through embarrassing and come out the other side into retro cool. Or something. Mollie Makes 79 is on the newsstand, too, and is an early summer bundle of pretty. Turn to page 36 for my piece on how to value your worth as a maker or skip forward to page 48 for a look around Tamsyn Morgans' vintage-inspired feminine home.


Documentaries have been top of our playlist here. Yesterday, I watched Taryn Brumfitt's self-funded Embrace, looking at the current state of (particularly) women's body image. A former bodybuilder, her unconventional 'before and after' pics went viral, uncovering a real need to examine how we see ourselves. I cried. And immediately wanted to watch it again.

Related, What the Health is from the Cowspiracy team and looks at how health charities in the US accept funding from the biggest food producers, resulting in a massive conflict of interest in what's being promoted as a 'healthy diet' – clue: it's not quite what you might think. Really interesting stuff.

Very excited that Master of None is back with a second Netflix series tonight! At the end of the first series, Aziz Ansari was on his way to Italy to learn how to make pasta and this is where the first episode picks up. This already combines many of my favourite things into one sparkly show and I will be putting the kids to bed early tonight in order to get stuck in.

Likewise, another amazing series starts today – this time, the first real series of I Love Dick, after the pilot landed on Amazon Prime last year. The show features Kathryn Hahn transported from New York to rural Texas where she meets Kevin Bacon, the eponymous Dick. From the team behind Transparent, this is another incredible, boundary-pushing show directed by Jill Solway.  

We've been in a bit of a horror phase recently. Get Out (maybe still at the cinema) is absolutely amazing in a Stepford kind of way, while The Witch is probably one of the spookiest things I've seen in recent years (I had to sleep with the light on!) and Prevenge is a brilliant low-budget Britflick from Alice Lowe who redefines the genre.


Image: Rebecca Lupton
Talking of Alice Lowe, she's interviewed on Emma Gannon's ace podcast, Alt Ctrl Delete. Every episode I've listened to has been just ace, but I'd recommend in particular Miranda Sawyer, Bryony Gordon and Lena Dunham.

Under the Skin is Russell Brand's newish podcast and I can't stop thinking about the conversation he had with Adam Curtis about politics and revolution. Particularly relevant now in the days before 8 June...

And I've just discovered the Modern Love podcast from the team at The New York Times. The Modern Love articles are always my favourite to read online as they offer genuinely new stories or points of view in pleasingly meaty, long form features. Give both a go.

Onto music, pictured is Jane Weaver. I loved her Silver Globe album and I'm loving the Slow Motion single from the new album, Modern Kosmology, which is out next week.


The 2017 season of Giffords Circus starts this weekend and it's sure to be a cracker. It's 2017 and Giffords Circus is visiting the Spanish court of the 17th Century. Any Port in a Storm is a thrilling, candle-lit, international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and of course the king of mis-rule Tweedy the clown. A Giffords storm is brewing...

And finally, I was a guest of Elmore Court earlier this week for their Floral Full Moon Party (more soon). One of the most beautiful historic houses set in glorious grounds, it's an incredible party venue and is open this weekend for a MayFair on Sunday 14 May between 12-4pm. Head along if you'd like to see the venue dressed for a wedding by some of the industry's best who will also be on hand on the day to chat through wedding plans. Plus all the rooms will be open for everyone to have a nose around – everyone is invited and admission is free.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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