The washing machine, growing up and Brooklyn

1. The washing-machine. When you have kittens in the process of being litter trained you suddenly find yourself giving silent thanks to whoever invented the washing machine. Without it right now I would be utterly screwed.

2. Growing up. It’s not a linear process, something you do once and for all. You can always be a bit more mature, a bit stronger, a bit wiser. There’s no arrival point. You get to know yourself and your capacity for evil because only once you know the hurt you can cause you can make the moral decision to be good.

3. Taking my little sister to see the rainforest in Brazil. Still a dream but maybe a bit closer to a project? I promised to her we would take a trip together hopefully next year.

4. That scene in Bridget Jones where Colin Firth and Hugh Grant have ‘a real fight’. We name the new kittens after them because when they roughhouse they look like those two. God love ’em.

5. Brooklyn. One of my favourite movies scripted by Nick Hornby and based on the novel by Colm Toibin, with the most ethereal Saoirse Ronan. The movie is everything a movie should be. And the novel is incredible too. It spoke to me at a very deep and very personal level. The emotional heartache she goes through when she moves to New York from Ireland is what I went through after moving to London. How do you write something so beautiful?

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A few things I’m grateful for today. Caturday 20th October in the year of our cat 2018

1. The Guardian podcast is facing backlash. According to the interviewer of Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns, there’s something pure about her writing her novel while struggling to eat. Let’s take a moment for that to sink in. There’s nothing noble about poverty. Let’s stop this glorification of poverty. Pass me the popcorn. And this t-shirt:

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2. My soapbox when I’m allowed on it. Somebody today asked me my view on cultural appropriation. Well, kids, gather round. How much time have you got? TL;DR. Write what you want to the best of your abilities and let your book live or die on its own merit.

3. I finally got the joke about Mark Hamill’s dog in the last episode of the Big Bang Theory a million hours everybody else, and I’m still laughing. Seriously.

4. Leggings-type pyjamas bottoms. Because they don’t ride up my legs during the night. It’s like magic. It’s beyond me why they’re not more popular. I would wear nothing else ever again.

5. I’m finally ready to start watching The Good Wife again. Will’s death broke me and I just couldn’t cope. After two years I think I’ve finally worked through the loss and I’m ready to watch the last two seasons.

Fishcakes, friends and computers

Lame Friday, lame post. Sorry my mind is on something else entirely. But I keep plowing on. And I am grateful, I truly am.

1. Fishcakes. I have this thing about fishcakes. I’m hunting for the perfect recipe which I haven’t found yet but I will. Oh I will. Feel free to send your favourites. I hear Bill Granger has a good one to try. I made these this evening. Very nice. Although I prefer a Thai slant.

2.Somebody who knows me to whom I don’t have to explain and justify every single sentence that comes out of my mouth because. although we’re different and disagree on so many things, we share references and know what’s in the other’s heart.

3. Reflections on anger and rage. It occurred to me that the other night, at the talk I attended about female rage, a few important points were overlooked. The first is that anger is different from rage. The feeling of anger, or anger as an emotion is very different from the uncontrolled expression of that anger, i.e. rage. Anger should always be acknowledged but rage is seldomly justified. However, the fact that an emotion is valid doesn’t make it true. We experience anger when the world isn’t built to our own specifications. Sometimes it should and sometimes it shouldn’t. Anyway, I have so much to say on this topic that I’m trying to distill into an essay. Like many things, I wonder if it will ever see the light. But philosophical reflections make me happy.

4. Computer knowledge. I thought I had lost over forty pages of changes but thank you to my (superior?) knowledge I was able to recover them whoo hoo!

5. A serendipitous yoga practise on an empty stomach. Great class after having spent two solid hours on rubbish public transport.

The Orange, a tweet and two books

1. The Orange. Oooh I’d never been to this lovely restaurant (although it self-defines a public house) in Sloane Square. I had two starters: the sweetcorn soup with feta and popcorn, and the burrata with tomatoes.

2. This tweet by Sarah Perry. Actually the entire thread.

3. It’s the birthday of one of my favourite people ever. She’s a wonderful friend, a great photographer and all in all an excellent human being.

4. Uncomfortable truths. I was reflecting today about instances in my life when people I care about have told me things I didn’t want to hear. Painful truths. Truths that made me uncomfortable and uneasy. And how that effectively saved my life several times, way more than the pussyfooting around. Why do we behave in life, love and relationships as if the aim was to always feel comfortable, supported, protected, never confronted or contradicted?

5. Two books very dear to my heart came out today. Pernille Hughes’ Sweatpants at Tiffanie’s and Jeevani Charika aka Rhoda Baxter’s Christmas at the Palace.

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Fangirling hard, War sagas and pasta with chickpeas

1. Tonight I met the author of one of my favourite books this year. Tara Westover, author of Educated, a memoir of growing up in a Mormon family with a violent, mentally ill father, who denied her an education until she was able to get one for herself. She eventually moved away and built a good life for herself but the pain she must have suffered is unimaginable. I fangirled hard. Such an intelligent woman.

2. A quiet day in, working working working. Building. Growing. Pushing harder and harder. At the moment I’m working on a couple of war saga. I had never read a saga and, oh I love it! so gorgeous. The setting, the people, the story, but why doesn’t it have a happy ending? I thought they all did. That the heroine always ended up with the guy she loved. So why this one doesn’t? Extremely upset by it.

3. My new GP. I like him very much. Practical, no nonsense. And a good listener.

4. A recipe for Pasta with chickpeas. Want! I could eat a vat of it right now. It’s a very Italian dish and so comforting I can’t begin to tell you.

5. Sleep. I’m actually grateful for sleep. Even though at the moment I’m plagued by dreams of being naked in public. The husband says it’s because I’m ambivalent about showing my true self in public, expressing my opinions, my believe because I worry they are controversial.

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Mistakes, knowledge and the ability to think for myself

There are things that as women born in the West we take for granted and we really really shouldn’t. Because there are people, like Nadia Murad who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week, for whom these things are not given. So forgive me the serious post but today I feel like giving thanks for the good fortune of being born a free woman in a Western society in the 20th century.

1. The freedom to shape my future whichever way I like. I’m free to get married or not, I’m free to choose whichever career or profession I like. The world is mine for the taking. I have more opportunities that I could dream of. All I have to do is choose and work for it.

2. Ownership of my body. My body and my mind are nobody’s property but my own.

3. I can make mistakes. Mine is the responsibility but also the credit in victory. The freedom to make mistakes is what I believe needs to be protected. Because without making mistakes we can’t grow and evolve and develop.

4. Access to knowledge and information. I received an education. It wasn’t the best and I could have done more and better but nobody ever told me there was no point in me studying because I was a girl.

5. The ability to think for myself. I might lose friends along the way because they don’t like my opinions or the fact that I get to express them. I don’t jump for joy but as sad as that might be, I can live with that. I’m not going to bend for a chance to stay in the cool kids’ club or their echochamber. If they kick me out so be it.

Books, books and more books

It was book group Monday today. We had a splendid news that one of our members gave birth to a lovely baby. So not a bad Monday, all in all. I thought I would do something different today and list five books on my to be read pile I’m grateful for. And also, I bought Nadia Murad’s The Last Girl. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week. I’m desperate to read her book.

1. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. New bookgroup book for January, picked because it’s set in Congo and that was the theme for January. Don’t ask. Looking forward to this as I’ve never heard anything of hers.

2. Tomorrow, Jerusalem by Teresa Crane. Set in Poplar, London, in 1907. I’m working on it for the reissue and it’s very good. I’m enjoying it more than I expected. Not my usual thing but I can totally see why these would be popular. The writing is also not half bad.

3. I’m still very much enjoying Pachinko, which will be November’s book and your truly’s pick. Almost poetic and the paperback edition looks stunning.

4. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I have a stunning hard copy waiting for me. I’m beyond excited.

5. Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Obligatory non fiction book I do want to read at some point in the near future. His account was pivotal in bringing down Stalin’s regime, the horror of which are not studied enough.