Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Weekend List: No. 6

Clockwise from left: Peckham Cafe by Stephen Leslie, eating the Italian way via the Rocket and Squash food journal, Ava's vegan Belgian food guideSunspel's Japanese flag cashmere jumper, fat marrows and such, The Bee Gees.  

It's the weekend again! My plans thus far include going to see Richard Linklater's new film Boyhood, re-stocking my fridge, 'spring' cleaning, getting stuck into one of the books I borrowed from the library this week and meeting up with friends.

I also wanted to take this moment to float an idea. After moving into my new flat, I'm seeing if I can survive without installing the internet. Given that so much of my life revolves around internet, it's a bit of a challenge, but at this time this decision is mostly based on financial reasons, seeing where I can afford to cut the corners (and testing the 'hey, read instead!' evening implications.) Instead, if I want to blog I've been staying later at work in the evenings to in order to write and use the internet. Here's the idea: if you have ever read something on Discotheque Confusion that touched you, or made you guffaw or that you passed onto a friend because you thought they might like it, would you consider buying me a coffee? This is a coffee that will enable me to blog in slightly nicer surroundings, enjoyed in one of my favourite cafes just around the corner from my flat on a Saturday morning, in a setting that isn't my office after a day at work. I'm floating this idea because I sense that this blog has a lovely community of readers who might be open to this idea. I've always been open to trying out different ways of sustaining the upkeep of the blog, and this seems like a karmically-good route, which doesn't involve me hawking Amazon products which in the past has earned me a teeny, tiny amount from click-throughs. (This also opens a whole new can of worms because I've finally decided that it's a company I do not wish to support, no matter how tempting and cheap the stock may be) I'm not trying to make a living out of this blog, and doing it for the love will always continue to be my philosophy, but if you've found something here that has kept you coming back and you would think "Hey! Have a Saturday morning coffee on me!", then that would be most wonderful. You can donate below depending on what feels right for you.

Without further ado, here are is your Weekend List. Happy Weekend!

Music- The Bee Gees special

Islands in the Stream; Fantastic piece by Bob Stanley on The Bee Gees and the phenomenon of the comeback.

This is what happened when music journo Pete Paphides asked The Bee Gees to record his answer phone message back in 1996.

Food

"The hook was that I was a white guy making ramen and people were going to come and check me out." The Eight Chapters of Ramen short video via Nowness follows Long Islander Ivan Orkin and the science of ramen.

My Top 3 food blogs at the moment: Tommy's blog. I've been following Tommy's various blogging incarnations for years now. There was the (now defunct) This is Naive, always a fabulous go-to for meticulous city guides paired with dreamy photography. Now I love to browse through this blog, where there are few words but pages and pages of delectable dishes. Often featured are laden bowls of goodness I can't exactly identify, but with piles of thick noodles beneath a roof of greenery and the odd egg yolk, the sort of bowls that bring to mind sheer happiness and a good fatty stock that always finds its way onto your chin.

Guac and Roll. Ava's vegan food blog is beautiful, but in a 'real-life' way that doesn't make you suspicious, or think yeah right! Lots of substantial lunchbox salad inspiration and special mention to her guides to eating vegan in European cities, like Lisbon and Belgium.

Rocket and Squash. A serious 'food journal' with grown-up illustrations of fat marrows and pumpkins, Rocket and Squash is has the appearance of The Paris Review for foodies. Recommended: the 'Supplemental' series, a merry digest of the various weekend food supplements. (A dessert to my very own Weekend List, if you will)

Culture

"He rode a bicycle with such confident pleasure, he leapt over tennis nets, and in one particularly memorable scene he joined Lucy's brother Freddy and the family vicar Mr Beebe as they cavorted joyously, nakedly in a lake on a hot day." Why I'd Like To Be Julian Sands in A Room With A ViewLaura Barton, perfectly capturing that "I want to me a man" moment I often experience when reading about or watching really cool guys on-screen. 

Call Your Girlfriend. My favourite podcast of the moment. Earwig into this brilliant, hilarious, on-point skype catch-up between two long-distance friends.

Stephen Leslie's photostream. Martin Parr-ish, very British.

Why I Adore The Night by Jeanette Winterson. 

Tove Jansson and Island Life. A short feature on the ICA blog about Finnish writer Jansson. If I was in London I'd certainly pop along to the small exhibition which is currently on display in the reading room.

21 Movies About Weird, Kinky or Compulsive Sex via Playlist. Ah, who doesn't like a fantastically niche film compilation list? Also known as "If you liked Nyphomanic then why not try..."

Style

So far I have been doing pretty well in my current frugality mission but if I was living in an alternative universe where I was in a position to buy really very gorgeous cashmere knitwear then Japanese flag cashmere jumper from Sunspel this is what I would damn well go for.

Style Like U's 'Whats Underneath' project interviews women while they undress. It feels sort of like those Dove 'love your body' campaigns, but is far more likeable and more awkward and therefore a lot more like real life.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sofa So Good

Photographs: Jasmine Deporta for Some Magazine.

The Kingdom of Matchy Matchy has been a place I've mostly veered away from; usually associating colour-co-ordination the realm of proms and heels and handbags and necklaces all dipped in identical lacquer. Or that girl who used to work with us at Topshop who once announced "When I does red, I does red." And she wasn't lying; at the next staff party she wore rows of beads, lipstick, bags, shoes and possibly even eyeshadow all in postbox red. It wasn't my cup of tea; there was a lot of red, but the idea of being brave enough to really go all out with one colour stayed with me and I always think to myself 'must try harder.'

This wonderful editorial from Jasmine Deporta for Some Magazine has got me thinking about colour again, of picking a palette and twinning a peachy jumper with a pink skirt, or waking up and deciding 'TODAY WILL BE SAGE THURSDAY" and going for herby colours and mermaid green nail varnish. Matching yourself to your surroundings, as in this editorial is also appealing. Remember Zach Braff in that shirt and wallpaper combination in Garden State? Even if being a normcore furniture chameleon isn't actually that practical when you're on the move, being better with colour, with interesting and 'off' shades, is something I'm aiming for. When I was visiting my Granny's house in Bristol last weekend I kept noticing lots of accents of pink dotted about the place; a chair she'd found on the street, uber-camp and fluro, a wooden foot-stall which looked like it had been dyed with magenta ink and the spray foam loft installation, poking out from corners as the attic undergoes a renovation, was the colour of strawberry ice-cream. She always has a fantastic eye for small details and colour is one of them; the ability to slot items and clothes in delicious tones into her life. 

It also strikes me that paying attention to the colour make-up of an outfit is a good way of fielding out the impressions that we take from the photographs, the art, the adverts, the music and the films that we come into contact with on a daily basis. Last weekend I was in London and, as ever, left each gallery I visited with a few more jottings in my journal. I often wonder what the purpose of these jottings is; I'll write down the name of paintings that I love and come back to them perhaps at a later date, but often not. It's more often about being struck by colours and composition and allowing yourself to be sucked into that wonderful moment of quiet and slowness that comes with walking around a gallery. The notes come from being terrified of forgetting what it was that was affecting in the moment. A bit like the days of listening to the radio before Shazam and pricking ears and shushing anybody around in order to hear the track title from the presenter. So these jottings, a painting by Duncan Grant, a striking landscape by Graham Sutherland, could be the starting point for drawing colour into a wardrobe, of taking the yellows or purples or greens from one of Roger Fry's omega designs and finding a way of wearing them together, of justifying that scribble in the moment and pronouncing "when I does yellow, I does yellow."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Outfit: A Saturday Gander

What I wore: smock top from Urban Outfitters, a jumper 'borrowed' from my friend Cai (he may want it back at some point), shorts from ASOS, 'Good Egg' badge from Parish Council and espadrilles from a charity shop. 

Last weekend was my first in the new flat that stretched out ahead of me, free of the chore of having to move boxes from one side of the city to the other or scrub bus pollution from the windows. I woke up early on Saturday, the place all to myself and proceeded to play out that faithful weekend routine- eggs- but this time in my brand new place. I pottered and played music and cooked the eggs. Tabasco and coriander and salt and pepper and a cafetiere for one.

The best bit about having moved to the centre is being able to leave the house and walk 10 minutes to Manchester Art Gallery. I did this in the startlingly bright sunshine, quickly realising that I wouldn't need knitwear and went to see the newly opened Ryan Gander exhibition. The gallery was nicely cool, good for counteracting that sweaty hairline which is always a feature of the hot summer days you long for in the depths of February. I loved the exhibition, which included a wall filled with perspex paint palettes depicting abstract memories, the tantalising opening into a magical forest trapped behind glass, and a pair of mechanical, blinking cartoon eyes. I found it much more loveable than the way his work came across on his recent profile on The Culture Show. That profile featured Ryan Gander discussing his output in a typically pop way and emphasising the value of productivity as a tool for making art, and in turn, a lot of money with great speed. He showed Miranda Sawyer around his art-studio-cum-production factory where pretty young things tapped away at laptops and spoke down the phone to the craftspeople, the stonemasons being commissioned to mould his ideas with their own hands. He had a cockiness which had been absent in the interviews I'd watched in the gallery, which I had found to be clever and refreshing. Here, being filmed for television he wore a flat peak cap with the awkward mannerism of a teenage boy who has bought a new item of clothing especially for a non-uniform day at school and doesn't yet feel comfortable wearing it. Part of me wondered if it was a joke, then a greater part decided that maybe we give artists too much credit for being pranksters when really, we could accept that you can enjoy somebody's work without liking them per say.

Later I left the gallery and walked around the corner to where it backs onto Chinatown. I bought the ingredients for the week ahead and sesame sauce, glass noodles and bottled hoisin to fill the empty corners of my food cupboards. I asked the woman behind the counter where I could find honey and she pointed me towards the jujube honey. "It's very good to spoon into hot water and drink when you're on your period," she told me. It contains strange fruit, with a consistency like soaked hazelnuts and a taste like figs. I wasn't on my period but there's always something appealing about having older women in shops telling you the right way to go about things. Especially when you live far away from your Mother, Granny or Aunt. It has the same appeal as being fitted for a bra in Marks and Spencer or having somebody come to fix your broken boiler when you haven't been able to figure it out or going occasionally to the GP and telling them why something down below doesn't feel quite right and just feeling so much better when you shut the door behind you and leave even though you're almost 23 and you still don't know how to name your own genitalia in front of a male medical professional. The strangers who help you get shit done and figure things out, often we never see them again.

The rest of the afternoon was spent mooching back at the flat, making lunches for the week ahead. A sweet potato and peanut soup distributed amongst tupperware and frozen in bulk and a sugar snap pea salad which contained a far too much garlic. I listened to Canned Heat and coverage of the Tour De France from a Leeds radio station which I would never otherwise listen to and moved around my little kitchen with the buses travelling down below my windows and farting out their pollution, the hairline at the back of my neck still damp with summer and plans to meet new friends later in the evening.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

How to be excited about going on holiday without wanting to buy new things.


I've booked a holiday. After months and months of closing my eyes and visualising Greek Islands and Majorcan lemon groves and tentatively asking my friends if they fancy popping off somewhere for a week (understandably resounding "no"s because they all either wait tables or work in kitchens or find themselves in post-graduate skint-dom) I've gone and done it. I'll be going to Berlin for a week where an actual friend already lives. This is all very exciting, I feel tired and I'm ready for a to-do list that consists of restaurant choices rather than artwork specs.

There's a funny thing about booking a holiday though. You can be canny as anything when it comes to unchecking boxes and hidden costs with your budget airline ("Skis? Nope. Car rental? No. Health insurance?....") but the notion of a holiday wardrobe eternally beckons. Like a hot, naked siren the holiday wardrobe is eternally attractive even though, in reality it's another indulgent tickbox that can be spared. That's what I'm telling myself this year, anyway. After moving into the flat and booking the holiday itself I'm on a tight budget. I'm on a mission to learn how to be excited about going on holiday without wanting to buy new things.

I was lying slapbang in the middle of a grassy patch in Piccadilly Gardens recently, absorbing as much Vitamin D as possible on my lunchbreak. There was a toddler creeping closer and closer, she was about two years old and wearing one of those strange headbands that some parents think are adorable. They're in the same category as piercing your toddler's ears and unnerving to the extreme. But this child remained lovely bar this parental mishap and spent a lot of time handing me an apple, taking it back and then hiding it in my straw bag. I lay on my back and talked to my Aunty on the phone. Eighteen years older than myself, Mary has always been a big part of my life. When I was 15 I started taking trips to London on my own; her flat was the base from which I learned how to use the underground, and would return to after attending surreal but wonderful fashion week parties attended by Chloe Sevigny, Carine Roitfeld and Mario Testino, when this blog was more fashion-orientated and getting me invited to cool, strange places. Now she lives in Bristol, just around the corner from my home and has two small children. We catch up less often because we're both occupied with our different daily lives but I always feel inspired and very happy after our phone calls. We egged each other on with the subject of frugality. We talked about how easy it is to get caught up finding the perfect pair of sandals or denim A-line skirt ahead of a holiday and allowing these wants to become a part of how we visualise our week away. It's really easy to do...

I often associate memories of particular holidays with the clothes I wore. I think we all do; memories and clothes are forever intertwined. There was the time I visited the Italian Lakes with my Dad, my Stepmum and my younger siblings. This was the first holiday we'd all taken together. We stayed in a mobile caravan on a park full of children and those kid-sized picnic tables and marginally relaxed parents. I shared a bedroom with my younger brothers, aged 18 or 19 and tucked up along side them thinking how bizarre it all was. It was lovely in parts, we took a boat out onto Lake Garda together and it was novel to be in the company of each other all at once. I wore a pair of brown Jesus sandals and a thin cotton smock. I felt like Jane Birkin and one day, at the end of my tether with then four year old Hector's constant whining, I hired a bike and cycled out of the village, along a river. It felt cool and romantic but I did also spend some of the time worried about getting raped on the empty path. That may have had something to do with the fact that I spent the evenings outside the caravan reading American Psycho, the pages were all clothes hangers in the wrong places and dark pavements as I sat eating cubes of dark chocolate whilst the kids slept inside and my parents had a drink together in the village. Then there was Jamaica where everything was caked in a thin layer of sea salt and suncream and sweat and maybe some Red Stripe but that just made everything better and I wore this little white crochet shirt over everything.

Those memories are great but they're not items of clothing that I had to buy especially. It's really sort of silly if you're on a limited budget and you start to view those things are pre-holiday necessities. "It's really not about a pair of Birkinstocks that you don't yet own, it's about how good that feeling is of warm, tanned legs and being in a new place. With more money to spend on seafood," Mary said on the phone, or words to that effect as the toddler stood above me apple in hand, conveniently blocking the sun from my eyes. I also find it helps to imagine Phillip Green cackling atop a pile of his own money somewhere in Monaco because I got suckered into the "Holiday Shop" section at Topshop.

I permanently veer between finding frugality very seductive and just really enjoying the feeling of buying a fantastic new outfit. Of wearing it over and over and walking along the street with that slight 'I'm in a music video" swagger. Like Richard Ashcroft in Bittersweet Symphony. Of course it's slightly different if you have genuine 'holiday holes' in your wardrobe. I have swimsuits older than at least two of my siblings. But come on, we all know that spending an evening having a dig around your wardrobe and trying on some of the things you always passively look past can fill in those gaps. It's true, and that's coming from me who always eyerolls at suggestions of 'swap parties with friends'. (I can think of a lot of less awkward ways of saving money on clothes. Do swap parties ever work? Do they ever not involve one person scoring 5 great things and everyone else feeling like it's Christmas and having to fake-gush over an old H+M dress they don't actually want?)

But I digress. I've given myself the following semi-rules in order to avoid falling into the pre-holiday money trap: 1. Avoid online shopping. 2. No clicking on those tempting emails from Cos telling you about their sale. No browsing Topshop Boutique (I've turned that into a link to test your resilience and I will know if you click.) 3. Start visualising yourself doing a sassy music-video walk/ Ursula Andress sea-exit in clothes that you already own. 4. Break down the cost of the things you want to buy and convert them into the delicious meals/ gallery admissions they will buy you once on holiday. 5. Consider how good the phrase to "Live within ones means" sounds and the fact that you've always dug it but maybe not practised it as much as you'd like. I am completely projecting my Alvin Hall-insecurities onto you. 6. Remember that the allure of the pre-holiday shop is mostly a conspiracy designed to make you spend your money. You are completely allowed to, but don't buy new clothes because you think it'll make you look more attractive/better/"holiday ready". I'm a non-smoker and I constantly visualise my holidays as a sexy smoke-filled scene, all tanned arms and espadrilles and lungs full of Camels. So it's okay, you can have a sexy holiday visualisation that just stays in your head and never gets played out.

So far I've been doing well. God knows I want those Peach Melba Teva sandals I saw the other week more than a lot of things right now. But I'm enjoying the stubborn battle with myself, and of succeeding one day at a time. *Imagines a calendar full of red crosses, harp plays* For now my holiday fantasies consist less of shiny new sandals. Instead it's all about lying on the sands of Lake Wansee with a Patricia Highsmith novel, pausing occasionally to stop the gradual slide of sunglasses down a sweating nose or to take a swig from that bottle of beer which was, for a short time icy and now sits quite rightly on the happy hummock of a beach tummy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Outfit: Summer Fringing and Fraying


Here we have one of my favourite 'get dressed and don't think about it' outfits from the past fortnight. Some Marques'Almeida-style frayed denim with good, airy armpit ventilation for the current muggy climes, and heaving stuff into the new flat. Fact fans: New flat not pictured. An outfit to wear day in, day out and to make your work colleagues think you had a wild sleepover somewhere, when in fact you just stayed in and watched The Culture Show.

Schadenfreude fans, I bought this Warehouse top two weeks ago and it is now on sale. Co-ord fans, it came with a matching frayed skirt. Sale fans, go forth.