Wednesday, 12 September 2018

All Change

Summer ending. Days getting shorter. The return of coats: suede, denim, tweed, wool. The anticipation of wood-smoke. Damp mornings. Crisp air and sunlight through thinning trees. More trousers: tartan, velvet, linen. Layers. Evenings spent inside cooking rather than reveling in the last of the light.

This year the move towards autumn feels particularly acute. Unsurprising, given the last few months’ endless offerings of sun and heat and bare-legged antics. Now, sitting at my laptop and staring out of the window at the blank, grey sky, those very recent days of uncomfortable heat – days where I worked from home in cotton shorts and a sports bra because literally any other option was too sweaty – feel vaguely unreal. Almost blurred around the edges.

I like this hazy quality they’ve acquired though. It was a summer that swept by at high speed: full of swims and picnics and reading and writing and afternoons sprawled on the Heath and dinners and gorgeous company and streets still radiating heat at midnight. A summer of Florence and the Machine on repeat, her soaring voice the ideal accompaniment to weeks that felt simultaneously fleeting and endless. A summer of revelations and lazing and a handful of glittering experiences to be clutched close forever more.

A summer of frazzle and frustration too, those temperatures unbearably, increasingly oppressive as sleep became scant and the process of leaving the house often felt fraught. I think I’m glad now to be rolling forwards into a month that’s more settled. There’s a different momentum here. A quieter, more focused one.

There’s nothing revelatory in what I’m saying here. The whole shiny-shoes-and-jumpers-back-to-school mood is the staple of endless articles and tweets and artful Instagram shots. I’m not adding anything to that. Just, I suppose, marking the shift for myself. New things ahead. Work to get on with. Staggeringly scary to-do lists to tick off.


It’s good to pause and take stock as well. Alongside the fun, this summer I had various things published or broadcast that meant a lot to me. I wrote about a ridiculously glorious, opulent trip from Venice to Paris on the Orient Express for Suitcase magazine; discussed Virginia Woolf’s ambivalent relationship with fashion for So It Goes; spent some time thinking about the joys of a mid-morning skive from work for Oh Comely; looked at the intriguing legacy of Gala Dalí for AnOther; and spoke to various brilliant women for Violet Book. 

I also read poems at Urban Outfitters, Curious Arts Festival, and Isabella Fox, chaired events with Charly Cox at Waterstones Gower Street and Lorna Tucker at Port Eliot Festival, and paid homage to Kate Bush and Derek Jarman (among others) in this video filmed at Avebury – but more on that soon…

Perhaps the two things that meant the most to me though were an article I did for The Queer Bible on what writer and illustrator Tove Jansson came to signify to me as an adult, and a radio essay I wrote and recorded for BBC Radio 4’s Short Cuts on dancing, sequins, and dating women. Both made for the first times I’ve properly attempted to explore my sexuality in writing (in short form prose at least – watch this space on various overambitious book/ poetry projects...) In doing so, both felt like they marked a change. One I hadn’t expected to be as powerful as it was.

Here's the thing though. Even in the gaps between working on these pieces and seeing them published/ broadcast, I can see how they've already become time-stamps of a previous self: one who was a little more tentative and unsure, who was still figuring out exactly what needed articulating (to myself as much as anyone else). If I tried to put together either of them now they'd be wildly different again. But that's always the way with personal writing. So much of it is moored in the particular point at which it was made - a little, written anchor gesturing towards a specific set of circumstances and experiences. And I'm glad for the anchors. And glad for the way in which things continue to shift. And glad to run full tilt into another season of change. 


Photos taken by my mum the week before last on a quick jaunt home. Gave me a real shot of nostalgia for my teenage years with all those afternoons of jumping out between bursts of rain to get images for the blog. Honestly maybe the best thing about autumn is that I can now wear this stupendous men's suit she found for me in a charity shop for £7. SEVEN POUNDS. It fits like a dream, and in it I've never felt suaver... 
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