Saturday, April 30

Goose Fair Night, poems by Kathy Pimlott

It's very odd to be writing a post titled Goose Fair Night at the beginning of spring; Goose Fair conjures thoughts of rustling leaves, mittens, muddy wellies and doughnuts, and yet upon first reading Kathy Pimlott's poem (Goose Fair Night) I forgot about Spring jackets and Summer holiday plans - transported back to October's whirling lights, undefinable 90s dance music and bags filled with sugary treats.

Not only am I Nottingham - 'born and bred', as they say, my birthday falls two weeks after the Goose Fair, and I'm still filled with the same excitement as I was aged 5, when at the end of September the trucks housing bumper cars, waltzers and hook-a-duck came rolling down the road. It's an electric, buzzing excitement.

... so say it, / say I walk in beauty like a Goose Fair night. 
from You Bring Out the Nottingham in Me

And that's what this collection does, as Kathy Pimlott describes it, reading this anthology brought out 'the Nottingham in me'. There's a familiarity and unpretentious air in Kathy's Nottingham-ness, even when her poems aren't specifically abut Nottingham, her words feel like home - comforting and warm - like the moment I step out onto the platform at Nottingham station from a moment away.

I also found a bit of a celebration of sisterhood - between her friends and her maternal Grandmother, Enid - which as regular readers will know is a topic close to my heart. A few of the poems in the pamphlet struck me, and are now almost completely covered in pencil, as they perfectly capture nights out with my friends, slightly squiffed and queuing for bars that we barely stayed in.

They teeter in deelyboppers, sashed, / from one fun to another, trashed... /
...they karaoke meaning every word / till, sad as daylit tinsel, with homeward- /  leaning hearts, in glad migration... - from Soho Hens

Kathy's poems are wonderfully unassuming and quietening. An unexpected, but entirely pleasurable read.

 Goose Fair Night is a generous, jellied feast of a book, full of sharp-eyed yet tender details about friendship, family and familiarity. Pimlott ranges around the country and through the centuries to offer her warmly incisive take on living and loving in a gorgeous, unstable world. The poems plunge us into the Midlands, bustling central London, seaside scenes, questionable pots of jam, and the captivating worldview of Pimlott’s grandmother Enid. This is a book to make your mouth water and your heart swell. 

Fellow Nottinghamians, Goose Fair Night poems by Kathy Pimplott will be launching on Tuesday 31st May, at Five Leaves Bookshop.

Goose Fair Night is available to purchase from The Emma Press.

*This book was kindly given to me by The Emma Press for review purposes.

Saturday, March 19

Stuff #4

At some point the books will take over these posts and I'll never buy clothes again - the above for example are the most recent books I bought, specifically these are the books I purchased over the course of two days, it definitely does not include all of the other books I bought in that week. The clothes that are featured in this post are clothes that I bought in one day, however, was the first time in a really long time that I've bought clothes and it made me really happy.

1. Pleated Skirt, Sue Ryder

I've sort of given up vintage for the moment, or at least vintage shopping. As I mentioned a little in my post on Lou Lou's Vintage Fair, I'm really sick of the 1930-1950's and tea rooms, I get it, they have their place, some people don't mind, but I wish someone would do something else!

That being said I got this skirt from the Nottingham Sue Ryder Charity Shop for £6, and I was slightly appeased. 

2. Books! 

I'm not sure if I would've picked up these three books in normal circumstances (whatever normal circumstances are); Carol in particular is not something I'd normally choose, it sounds a little 'boring' maybe, but I am a victim of Oscar buzz and I was curious - if it was good enough to make into a Cate Blanchett film, it's good enough for me.

I had a conversation earlier in the week about Bernard Schlink's other book, The Reader (which is on my to-read list) I've never seen any of his other books before, but Flights of Love was on one of those supermarket charity book sale shelves for 50p and I thought, why not?

The only other Ali Smith book I've read is The Accidental, and my goodness did I dislike that book, I disliked it enough to decide that I probably didn't need to read another book of hers again. But after a conversation with a friend who is currently reading How To Be Both and discovering it just being put out for £1 in Sue Ryder I decided it must be fate, whether I actually enjoy it remains to be seen.

3. Stripy Top, New Look

I know, I know I have a lot of stripy tops, but is it just me or do they never wash very well? I'm at a point where I'm having to repurpose all of my old stripy tops, as someone who still owns (and wears) clothes from when I was 16, so the idea of an item of clothing barely lasting year is kind of ridiculous. Not that I'm expecting this to last that long, but I've all of sudden got a lot less stripy things than I previously had, so I feel like I have to justify this purchase. So there!

4. Apron, Sue Ryder

There is no denying it, that's not really an apron it's a dinner lady's tabard, but I love it (and it cost £3). Even if I don't wear it for dinner serving purposes, that fabric is gorgeous, or maybe I can start a tabard wearing trend.

5. Canvas Tote, Oxfam

I'm loving the 5p bag charge! I feel like shops are making more of an effort with their bags for life since the charge came in, and it's really fuelling my tote bag addiction. I'm at a point now where I feel like I should start making them myself, whether that actually happens well, I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, February 18

Three Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

At this point podcasts have existed forever, or at least since the creation of iTunes (I suppose before iTunes, they were just called the radio). I have, however only caught on to the joys of listening to Podcasts in the past few years, so as is completely normal for me, I am going to tell how brilliant something is, that you already knew was brilliant, these are a few of my favourites.

1. The New York Public Library Podcast

The New York Public Library Podcast is a series of conversations between a wealth of creative people - writers, artists and thinkers - talking about the things that they create and the things that interest them.

This was recommended to me by someone about a year ago and I took the recommendation with a pinch of salt, simply because I assumed it would be not too dissimilar from TED talks, which are good, but can occassionally go over my head as they sometimes feel like someone is just talking at me for about 20 minutes.

I like NYPLs podcast (and pretty much all of the podcasts I've selected) because they are conversational, it feels like I've somehow been invited to sit with two incredibly interesting and exciting people and they aren't even the slightest bit bothered by my nonsensical ramblings (yes, I have been known to talk to the podcasts I listen to). 

There's a wide selection of podcasts to listen to, but so far my favourites have been Matthew Weiner discussing Mad Men, Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Race, Writing and Relationships and Alan Cumming on NYC and Acting.

2. Another Round

I just discovered this podcast, like this week, and obviously I wouldn't share something that I discovered this week unless I spent the week cram listening said thing. Seriously, if you think I've ignored you this week, it's because I've had my headphones on full listening to this.

Hosted by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton is a Buzzfeed created/developed/whatever podcast, where they talk about pop-culture, race, gender and everything under the sun. And seriously, these ladies are incredibly funny and infectious, but they also talk about social issues in an accessible, down to earth manner. They also talk about being black women in a completely unapologetic way, it's nice to listen to something and for it to relate to my life every now and again.

There's an article about Another Round on The Guardian, because obviously The Guardian always discovers exciting things a month before me, you can read it here

3. Bonnie and Maude

I feel like I've gushed about Bonnie and Maude, like a lot, a lot a lot - and they are no longer putting out new episodes - but they deserve an honourable mention because it's the podcast that made me actively search for more podcasts. 

Bonnie and Maude is a film podcast hosted by Eleanor Kagan and Kseniya Yarosh wherein they discuss female driven/centred/friendly films and talk about the role of women from a female-centric perspective. 

You should definitely listen to them all, but a few of my favourite episodes are the ones focused on women in space, Nora Ephron, Batman Returns and Frances Ha. The podcast are incredibly interesting - you can tell that Eleanor and Kseniya definitely know what they are talking about, and genuinely enjoy talking about film (whether they enjoy what they've watched or not), they also regularly include interesting guests (including filmmaker and Pagan, Lyra Hill to discuss The Craft and Eleanor's own mother, Dr Paula Kagan to discuss Rosemary's Baby).

Tuesday, January 26

#52FilmsbyWomen: January

So this is it, the #52FilmsbyWomen Challenge. I am so incredibly excited by this, in the past few years my growing list of favourite films has gradually become more and more female heavy/driven - with Frances Ha, Obvious Child and Bachelorette being added to my regular re-watch schedule; and I followed Marya E.Gates' 'A Year With Women' so closely that, although I have neither the patience nor the self-control to do what she did, I was inspired to do something similar.

“It’s irrelevant who or what directed a movie, the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don’t. There should be more women directing; I think there’s just not the awareness that it’s really possible. It is.” - Kathryn Bigelow

Beginning this challenge I really thought long and hard about the films I wanted to watch, sort of as my own personal challenge to myself, due to the aforementioned lack of self-control there is always the constant temptation to watch Obvious Child once a week for an entire year. I did however manage to resist and began with a film that I've owned on DVD for a few years, but never actually watched.

Bright Star
Dir. Jane Campion

I am very much for these adaptations of classics and depictions of classic writers, but I'm not quite as well versed (pun intended) in Keats, as I am with other Romantic authors.I think that lack of knowledge threw me a little at the beginning, it starts very immediately, and I had to have a mini-Keats Google search pretty early on to catch myself up. Once that was out the way I settled in, and properly loved it. 

It felt a little like a low-key Becoming Jane; I really liked Becoming Jane (although I was not ok with Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen) it was pretty and heartbreaking, but it also felt a little heavy-handed and 'Hollywood' in its story-telling. Bright Star was so much more subtle and delicate, nowhere near as obvious.

And the cinematography is perfect, each scene like a painting. Is it cheesy to say that this film is like poetry in it's subtlety - the use of light and dark, and the immense depth and power of what is left unsaid - so perfect. (Yeah, I know. That's probably cheesy.)


I like that during this challenge I'm 'allowed' to watch films by men, it's good to be able to compare. As well, as watching Bright Star in my first week, I also happened to watch American Gigolo (and Spotlight), which although in a different way, also had a romantic story at it's core. Then again they are similar in that they both portray a woman who becomes enchanted by an aloof, detached man who gradually falls in love with her despite himself (whether male prostitute or penniless writer) and therein, they could have had the same storytelling approach. Nevertheless, American Gigolo (dir. Paul Schrader) favours style and sex, over subtlety and storytelling, leaving the romance cold and emotionless.

I'm not suggesting that it's the mark of a male director to portray romance in this way, but it is something that I've considered previously. With all that in mind I threw a spanner in my 'mind works' and watched American Psycho.

So far, whilst deciding the films to watch during this challenge I'm having fun discovering popular female directed films, were in fact directed by women. As an example I discovered that Fast Times at Ridgemont High was directed by Amy Heckerling, and although I've never seen Fast Times... my mind was blown; Amy Heckerling who directed what is probably the apex of 90's teenage girl films - Clueless, also directed a film whose most famous scene involves Phoebe Cates emerging from a swimming pool in a red bikini, to bare her breasts to a young Judge Reinhold. To me that scene is so 'teenage male' it could be in every single episode of The Inbetweeners, but then again it was written by Cameron Crowe who created the leader of the manic pixie dream girls - Penny Lane.

American Psycho
Dir. Mary Harron

As I said, in doing this challenge I wanted to discover new films, watch things that I would never normally watch and seek things out that may have passed me by. American Psycho is a film that I've known of (I'm sure most people have), I've had the book described to me in some detail and I know of Brett Easton Ellis. But I had no idea who it was directed by.

I feel guilty for being surprised that this film is directed by a woman, not only that but it feels weird that it's so popular and I've never heard of Mary Harron (I have however watched one of her other films - The Notorious Bettie Page). But it makes sense, that the whole 80's Wall Street - money, greed and power scene seemed so testosterone driven that I kind of like a woman directing what to me felt like a dark, satirical portrayal of that. 

Now and Then
Dir. Lesli Linka Glatter

I giggled to myself when I put this on a couple of hours after watching American Psycho - I am nothing if not amused by myself. But this is a fun contrast to it, that it was kind of comical.

I feel like the 90's were littered with these sort of films - heartfelt, scmaltzy, friendship drama - I've seen the Hallmark channel, the only reason tis wasn't made for TV is because it has famous actors. If I'm honest, I did sort of enjoy this, it's like a super cheesy, version of Stand By Me, with girls instead of boys, but I probably missed my window by about 17 years to properly be affected by it at all. 

In watching this I did however discover that Lesli Linka Glatter has directed episodes of a few of my favourite TV shows - Masters of Sex, Nashville, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Weeds, Gilmore Girls... Yeah, a 'few' is an understatement, so that's pretty cool.

Very Good Girls
Dir: Naomi Foner-Gyllenhaal

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; the friendship shared between two women is an amazing thing. If a film maker can capture how I feel when I see two of my oldest, closest friends - our jokes, our shared memories and how much I trust and respect them - well, they've done a very good job.

Maybe the girlhood experiences of 18 year old girls growing up wealthy in New York are completely different to those of girls growing up in medium-sized English cities, but I neither related to nor believed their friendship, or their experiences - everything felt rushed and insincere, so much so that I found myself wondering how and why they knew each other (I also forgot their names, so that can't be good).

The story follows two best friends played by Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen, in the summer before they separate for University and other things. over the course of the summer they both fall in love with the same guy, and blah, blah, blah... their friendship is never the same again. The problem wasn't even the predictability of the story, it's that I didn't care about either character - and they didn't seem too interested in each other either; If it wasn't for Dakota Fanning actually being 18 (or around that age), I would never have believed they were teens falling in love (or teenage lust) for the first time, it felt so forced, faked and incredibly grown-up. I also find it quite telling that it took me about half an hour to find an image of both Elizabeth and Dakota in the same shot.

I always feel that writers shouldn't direct their own work, and I think this film is a prime example of this, nothing - the characters and the story - felt developed beyond one person's perspective.

And I'm off, to a good start I think. Four new, and different films, two of which are directed by women I've never heard of. Not a single re-watch (although, I confess I did watch Obvious Child over the weekend, but I'm not counting it in my 52), and a bulkier list of films to watch. 

Up next, well I'm not sure, I have so many that I want to watch now I'm discovering films, but I also have a few that I've been wanting to see for a while - Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell, Amma Asante's Belle and Gina Prince-Bythewood's Beyond the Lights and Tamara Jenkins' Slums of Beverly Hills. That being said, I am very open to recommendations!

As always, you can follow my viewing activity on Letterboxd!

You can find out more about the 52 Films by Women project here, and make sure you follow the #52filmsbywomen tag on Twitter to see what everyone else is watching. Most importantly, get involved, it's so much fun!

Sunday, January 10

2016: Just Another New Year's Post

Seriously, what even is time? How is it 2016, it feels like the Millennium was just yesterday. Happy New Year one and all.

2015 was a pretty big year for me filled with many a milestone - I got a new job (a big girl job, which means I no longer scour the job listings) and I moved into my first post-uni flat (complete with big-girl bills). I don't want to jinx an entire year, but 2015 was a good one.

And so to 2016, as most will know I don't believe in New Years Resolutions and I didn't make any birthday resolutions, so I'm winging-it a little this year, I am not what one would describe as spontaneous, so this could be both terribly exciting and excitingly terrible, until I eventually just decide to sit down to write a list of things I intend to achieve in 2016 (which will probably happen around mid March at the latest)


Well, firstly I am so excited to read a book that isn't The Goldfinch or written by EL James. I know I only have myself to blame, but I have this awful character trait where I have to finish things once I've begun them and I point blank refused to stop reading The Goldfinch half-way through and I'm apparently fascinated by terrible books, disturbingly so, I mean I read all four of those Fifty Shades books. Although, I should say I only read books by female authors in 2015, which I thought was quite cool regardless of the books I read.

I have started buying all of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith, because I kept seeing them in charity shops, so I thought why not? I'm also currently halfway through Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, which will hopefully bode well for my reading in 2016.


Last season of Girls was, in my opinion the strongest season to date (I think I may have described it as perfect at one point), coming off of that high I am so excited for Lena Dunham to not make it weird again in 2016. I'm even more excited that they set a definite end date of season six, I always find that American shows outstay their welcome a little, so it's a wise move to go out (hopefully) on a high.

I am also on edge about the second half of season two of How To Get Away With Murder. HTGAWM is my new sponsored show, if you tell me that you own a TV, I am likely to yell at you until you watch this. Seriously, can somebody I know please watch this, so I can talk to you about it!


At the moment I really want to see Joy, I tried so hard not to be charmed by Jennifer Lawrence over the past few months, but then she turned up on Graham Norton with ladders in her tights, adjusting her awkwardly fitting skirt and I couldn't help thinking that we should probably be friends. And I know she probably has people who fluff-up her hair and trip her over every now and again to make me think that she's just like me, but gosh darn it, it worked - I want to be charmed on the big screen by my Academy Award Winning, Dior spokesmodelling BFF!

I also want to see The Hateful Eight, because duh!

And finally, I have pledged to watch 52 Films by women this year, that is the equivalent of one female directed/written film a week. #52FilmsbyWomen is an initiative created by WIF (Women in Film Los Angeles) to bring more attention to female film makers. I've now officially started, with two films - one very light and lovely, the other was a complete surprise!


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