In which I’m going to see The Cure

And I can tell you that the last time I said that was sometime in the early 90s. A tale to thee I will unfold.

Glastonbury, 2019. No, I wasn’t there and I’d paid precisely zero attention to the line up as I assumed it was all people I’d never heard of. As was very much the case when I actually did attend Glastonbury, which was also sometime in the early 90s. But at some point during Glastonbury weekend it came to my attention that the The Cure were playing. Suddenly awash with nostalgia I decided a pleasant way to round off the weekend would be to tuck myself up in bed, with my laptop and a pot of tea, and watch their set.

In fact, I missed the first 20 minutes, but when I did start watching, Robert Smith sounded exactly the same. Exactly. Oh my god. I’m not very good with memories. My own memory is rubbish and I don’t connect at all with photos. Music can be the one thing that pulls me back in time, and that set worked a treat. I started searching for tour dates, and saw Glasgow in August. Hmm.

Then my phone told me I’d got a LinkedIn message, which was from an old school friend.  I would conservatively estimate that it’s been at least 10 years since we were last in touch. No one did anything wrong, we just didn’t maintain contact. The years slipped by, who knows if the contact info is even up to date? You know how it goes. But now she was watching The Cure play at Glastonbury, and asking me if I remembered seeing them way back when, and did I know they were playing in Glasgow in August, and did I want to go?

Hell, yes.

She bought tickets. I booked accommodation. We’re meeting in Glasgow in August.

In shock news to no one, we’re not 20 any more. We’re both nearer 50 than any other significant number and we may have nothing in common. I don’t know if nostalgia and an ongoing appreciation for Just Like Heaven is enough to get us through a weekend. I don’t know that it matters. Our moment could have been when we were both, separately, watching the BBC coverage of Glastonbury and feeling the years roll back.

Things I actually do now I live on my own


white coffee mug on brown surface
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Way back when I first put the offer in on this house, before life proper blew up around me, I wrote about what I’d do when I lived on my own. So I thought I’d go back and see if I realised any of that particular fantasy.

  1. Put the lights on in the morning when I wake up – No. But, when I wrote that originally, I expected still to be working and therefore getting up in the dark by now. At some point, I will set an alarm to make me get up before it’s light, but not quite yet.
  2. Get a really good reading lamp in the bedroom – No, but I curse my current lamp every evening. I haven’t bought a new one because I don’t have any money but it’s inching its way up the priority list.
  3. Go back to bed on weekend mornings with a novel and a pot of coffee – Yes! And not only weekends. For a while, it was most mornings, now I’ve managed to shift myself downstairs earlier. It is one of the small but great pleasures of my new life that because I’m not dashing off anywhere in the morning, I get to make a pot of coffee and sit around to drink two cups while reading, or listening to the radio. In fact, it is one of the incentives to make my own business work, so that I have the flexibility to continue to do that.
  4. Or, get all the cleaning done by 9am so I can sit down with coffee and a novel – this varies. I do tend to get the cleaning out of the way as early as possible. It helps that this house is small and easy to clean – 45 minutes tops.
  5. I will buy a beautiful, colourful rug – No, again because by the time I moved I didn’t have any money. But I will when I get some, the impetus hasn’t gone away.
  6. Music throughout the house – Yes! I bought a Sonos speaker months in advance, so that covers downstairs. I’d like another one for upstairs as well, so that whatever I’m listening to can follow me around the house.
  7. Buy more pictures and not have a TV – Yes! I bought pictures from a couple of artists  I visited as part of Oxford Art Weeks. Plus I have a ton of images that I got from my art nude shoot. But, lack of finance is getting in the way again, so nothing new has been framed. In fact, I still have to hang all my old pictures and there is less wall space than I remembered. Definitely no TV though. I did wonder if I would notice this, as during the summer I got quite used to Neflix on a big screen. But I’ve defaulted happily back to my old ways and watch Strictly on the laptop without noticing the difference.
  8. Scent things in the airing cupboard with lavender and rosemary – Not yet, but good idea, Earlier Me! I shall put that on my list. I have rosemary in the garden so I could dry some of that as a start.

But the main difference I’m seeing is not the living on my own, it’s the unexpected change of not working and therefore having so much more time. My dears, it is glorious. I can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed and it may well be never, given that I’ve been working full time since 1994. It makes the fact that I’ll never be able to retire even more poignant, now that I’ve had a taste of what life could be like.

Of course, I am putting in a good few hours on my own business, but that is currently very flexible. At the moment, I prefer to start later, as a counterpoint to all those early mornings of the last few years. But I spend my time reading or baking or getting other chores done. I also find that I don’t mind working in the evening. I take a break from about 4pm – 7pm, so that I can go for a run, cook dinner, feed the cats and watch Strictly It Takes Two (yes, I am organising my life around Strictly. Because I can.) But then I don’t mind fitting in another couple of hours, particularly if it’s writing work.

Unfortunately, with all that extra time comes less money. But even that has an upside: necessity means that I’m cooking so much more and fortunately, I love a veggie casserole at this time of year. I’m baking my own bread or cakes too, so my grocery bill has plummeted. Over all, I’d say I’m eating less (the workday boredom doesn’t kick in and drive me to snack), but more healthily and for cheaper. I am driven not to waste the fresh ingredients I do have, and that pushes me to be more creative in what I’m cooking. It’s a matter of ‘What can I do with what I’ve got that needs using?’, but I enjoy that, and the knowledge that I’m being less wasteful.

And finally, it’s an absolute joy to spend so much time with the cats. In the seven years I’ve had them, I’ve always been away most of the time. They are older and calmer these days, and spend most of their days sleeping. But they come and find me several times a day, and Belle in particular likes to be nearby. Previously, it seemed that just when they wanted attention, I had to head out the door. Now, I can always stop and make time for them, so I do.

These halcyon days can’t last, because I must earn some money. I am gathering all the rosebuds I can right now.

In which I go to a gig on my own

Yeah. Not the original plan, but at last minute the arrangements didn’t work out, so my choice was pretty much go or don’t go. So I went. It was Miranda Lambert at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham (which was much, much better than the vile and never-to-be-returned-to O2 in London) and as luck would have it, the on site food was a faux diner.

Well, when in faux Rome… I had a burger and fries and a Budweiser. I don’t drink beer, but in England Bud doesn’t count as beer and anyway, I wasn’t going to chance the wine list. The diner was pretty full and I could see several other people who were definitely Miranda bound. You could tell by the hats and the cowboy boots, and one of the women sitting next to me at the counter had a Miranda Lambert cap on.

It probably would have been easy to get into conversation with someone, but yeah. No. I read my book and ate my food, and the diner gradually emptied around me, which gave me some indication that the support act were probably on. So, eventually, I toddled out into the Friday night rain and found the right door and was shown to my seat by a grumpy man. It was a little way into the Ward Thomas set, and the rest of the row stood up to let me pass.

Ward Thomas were pretty good and I read my book again until Miranda came on, and she was great and I was glad I was there. And partway through, I realised with a bit of surprise that this was the first time I’d been to a gig on my own, but it just felt normal. I thought about it some more, and I’m not sure there are any ‘things to do on your own’ left on the list: movies, dinner, theatre, holidays, living, weekends away, drinks, parties, weddings. I’ve got the set.

Isn’t that great? I started off going to movies on my own in my teens, and sure I felt conspicuous but then I’d forget about it while watching the film. All of those things where you don’t have to engage with other people are easy. I sort of drift through them, feeling comfortably invisible in my own head. Parties and weddings are harder, because of the forced engagement with other people, but they don’t really take more than a thin veneer of fake sociability. And, no one notices when you leave early.

I think I owe a big thank you to teenage me. If she hadn’t faked feeling comfortable standing in the queue at the cinema on her own, while hoping that none of the school couples would show up, then I probably wouldn’t have been at that gig on Friday.

In which I am not a fan of Adele

So, Adele. Back in business with ‘Hello’, one of the most whiney ass songs I’ve heard in a long time. A quick poll amongst colleagues (four of us going for a Christmas lunch in the car when the song came on) revealed that I’m not alone in my views.

As far as I can make out, the back story for the song is that Adele (ok, probably not her IRL, but let’s keep it easy for the explanation) dated a guy a few years ago and then dumped him. End of. Cut to song.

In the intervening time, poor Adele has failed to move on at all, so now she’s drunk dialing him every time she feels a bit lonely. Which, if that ‘I must have called 1000 times’ line is true, is every single night for the last 3 years. Sweetie, of course he’s not home. He’s probably moved several times to get away from your incessant calling, and he has nothing to say to you.

He doesn’t want to talk about what happened. You dated for all of a month before he figured out you were in the trouble zone of the needy and obsessive continuum. He was relieved when you broke up with him.  If you didn’t keep calling, he’d barely remember your name. No, he wants to get on with his new life and let’s say he’s learned from experience and his new girlfriend is not a self-obsessed crazy lady.

She, by the way, hates you. And with good reason. There they are, settling in for a romantic evening a deux. The fire is lit, the wine is chilling and then the goddamn phone rings and rings and rings, and they look at each without speaking because they’re beyond wondering who it is and pretending you aren’t a nut job. She’s like ‘I thought you changed your number?’ and he’s like ‘I did, I swear, I don’t know how she keeps getting hold of it’, and she’s ‘Well, I don’t know either but it’s funny the way she always calls. Are you sure you didn’t speak to her again?’.

Because there was that one time when he cracked and in sheer desperation thought that maybe closure would be a good idea, and actually had a conversation. It didn’t work, of course. And a little sliver of doubt enters the room, while the new girlfriend wonders if really, this whole thing is just too coincidental and he’s still too hung up on that bitch who screwed him over to have a real relationship with the woman in front of him.

Anyway, I guess Adele forgot that happened because it was three glasses in to her evening and she pours generously. Besides which, it’s not about him, it’s about her her her.

Seriously, Adele. Get a hobby. Get a cat. Leave the guy alone.


In which I buy more books

Look. You try moving across an ocean without your possessions and then tell me what it takes to make you feel comfortable when you’re living out of suitcases in someone’s spare room. Life has lacked stability of late, and even though I consider myself pretty good at rolling with it, I want some security and familiarity. I may be panic buying myself enough books to build a fortress with, but that’s ok by me.

mine, mine, all mine

Seven Men and Two Others – Max Beerbohm. Because although Zuleika Dobson was stranger than strange, I’ve liked the couple of essays that I’ve read by Beerbohm and he is supposed to be very funny.

Kid – Simon Armitage; Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis – Wendy Cope; The Whitsun Weddings – Philip Larkin – because I used to have the Wendy Cope and because Faber have put all these out with such striking covers, and they were 3 for 2. So there seemed no point resisting them.

A Gun for Sale – Graham Greene – which I’ve never even heard of, but looks sort of James Bond like. Except it is surely far more grim and depressing and (sorry, Ian), much better written. (But that reminds me, in the division of the fiction I generously handed over the entire Bond set, which means I have a genuine reason to buy them all again.)

A Room with a View – E.M. Forster – because I’ve been meaning to get a new copy for ages.

A Note in Music – Rosamond Lehmann – because I liked Invitation to the Waltz.

East Lynne – Ellen Wood – one of those novels that gets mentioned in other novels and which I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

I was also looking for The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman but it’s only out here in hb and not out in pb until January 2011.  Would someone mind sending me a copy? And then in return I will send a book surprise or a specific request? I would be very grateful.

Also, I went into HMV intending to buy Stornoway, and came out with these as well:

Kings of Leon – Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak. Because when I’d had, shall we say, a couple of g&ts at my going away party with colleagues, I was recommended a Kings of Leon album by one of them, which I immediately bought on my iPhone (not sure it’s a good thing that one can now Shop Under the Influence. Thank the gods there is no Tiffany app. There isn’t, is there? Must. Not. Look). Anyway, a few days later, when the iTunes receipt showed up, I remembered the album and listened to it, and liked it. Got these two on the recommendation of the guy standing next to me in the shop, who saw me wavering and was immediately politely helpful.

Amy MacDonald – A Curious Thing – liked her other album. A lot.

Vampire Weekend – Contra – because ‘Walcott’ has been going through my head all week, which means I remembered that they existed while I was in the shop.

Passion Pit – Manners. One of those, ‘if you liked that, then you’ll like this’ recommendations.

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm. Thought I already had this. Didn’t. Mike does. Bugger. I foresee this scenario repeating itself a lot.


Two yoga classes in two days, both of them focusing almost entirely on twists. Which makes a change from the previous focus on back bends that I wasn’t enjoying at all. Back bends are too uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, what with all that opening up. Twists are much better, wringing all the toxins out of one’s spine and making room for all the new ones that come in with the next day’s coffee and cake, and pollution and stress.

Anyway, in honour of  yoga twists, Music Monday and because I’ve been listening to Frightened Rabbit a lot lately (like I ever listen to anything that isn’t male angst music), I present The Twist: