Thursday, 26 August 2010

SPOTLIGHT! Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi is one young author who has always been a bit special in my book. Not only is she a Cambridge Alumni, she's also in the process of attending Columbia University whilst doing press for her third book, 'White is for Witching' which is about to come out in paperback.
Helen's origin story is really quite incredible. Hailing from Deptford, South London, Helen's debut novel 'The Icarus Girl' was picked up and published by legendary publishers Bloomsbury before she was 24 years old. Since then, she has followed her amazing success with 'The Opposite House' which is set in her native Nigeria.
I can't wait to see what she does next!
Here's an interview with The Times in 2007, just before the launch of her second book:

When Helen Oyeyemi was up at Cambridge, she took to going everywhere by taxi. It wasn't a grand gesture. Although she was one of the city's best-known undergraduates ­ with her debut novel, The Icarus Girl, published during her second year ­ and was in possession, according to breathless newspaper reports, of a £400,000 advance, she was suffering a crippling bout of self-consciousness. She had joined one of a tiny minority (0.7 per cent) of black students at the university, and was the only one at Corpus Christi College.

"I felt both visible and invisible, but above all, I felt ugly. That was why I took cabs. I have the bills to prove it," she says with a soft snuffle of laughter. Her accent veers between South London, where she grew up on a Lewisham council estate, and received pronunciation; her adjectives range from "cool" and "rock" to "solipsistic".

Dislocation is familiar territory for Helen Oyeyemi. It's merely the strategy for dealing with it that changes. Born in Nigeria, brought to England at the age of four, she was a precocious brat, a depressive adolescent, and now, at 23, is an engagingly unstudied young woman, who picks her way in outsize trainers through the clubby English ambience of the Georgian offices of her publishers, Bloomsbury.

She is palpably nervous about the publication of her second book this week. The Opposite House abandons linear narrative for a risky juxtaposition of magical fantasy and mundane reality in which a young Cuban-Nigerian, Maja, struggles with leaky plumbing and an unexpected pregnancy in London, while the Yoruba gods exist on the other side of the "reality wall". Yes, it is a flawed novel, but it is also intelligent, lyrical and thrilling in its ambition. It proves she has a future as a writer, that she's the real thing.

But if, as Alan Bennett contends, a writer finds him or herself on the page, what do her novels tell us about Oyeyemi? "Hmmm. My novels share a continuity of themes. There's a mother-daughter tension going on. There's this idea of hysteria. In The Opposite House, you have these two girls [best friends] who are conscious of their acting-out behaviour, but that doesn't stop them. I'm interested in whether there's a cure for it, so I'll keep poking into that." There is also the question of identity. Oyeyemi's earliest memories are not of Nigeria, but of inglorious Lewisham. "Memories of settling in at school.

The more long-standing émigré Nigerian parents were a bit worried about me hanging out with their kids in case I infected them with my strong Yoruba accent. The main thing was to blend in. When I lost the ability to speak and think in Yoruba, my parents didn't want me to re-learn it." Of course, this was but one of an immigrant's contradictory impulses. She grew up sequestered in the two-bedroom flat, reading, writing and living in her own head because her parents didn't want her assimilating too well, didn't want her turning into an estate kid. "I think they worried I might never get out, wouldn't reach as far as they wanted me to reach," she says.

"From the age of six, they were on at me,'Oxford or Cambridge?'" Both were teachers in Nigeria, but their qualifications were not recognised here. Her mother became a Tube driver, stepping back to a supervisory role after the July bombings, while her father retrained as a special needs teacher. In the early years, though, he worked as a security guard on the night shift.

Humiliating? "Yeah. But he was so stoic about it. He'd be reading Engels and Durkheim each night. I got this idea of my dad as a night-time philosopher." So... not middle-class, not working-class; not African, not European. Brought up Catholic, but told the Yoruban myths about the Orisha, the gods. In childhood, Helen loathed returning to city grime after family summers in Nigeria, but when her father talked of moving back, she resisted firmly. "It was like a fairy kingdom; you had to leave before it changed you. My experiences are shaped by the way people perceive me. This is why I say I'm not Nigerian, not English, I'm not anythingŠ That's my way of making a choice." She sounds like a bit of a minx. Even her depression came spiced with defiant, up-yours attitude. Once, she simply stopped speaking for a month.

"I remember refusing to answer the register, just writing yes on a piece of paper. But I did feel physically unable. I thought if I spoke, I would scream." The depression began at 13, coinciding with her brother, Tony, then four, being diagnosed as autistic. "He'd always seemed to be anxious and stressed. His eyes would wander everywhere. I'd say,'You know what? I think he's autistic.' And my mum was like,'Sssh! Don't say that! Don't you know you'll make it true?' "With my brother, my parents could engage a bit more because it was immediate: something is wrong with Tony's brain, we need to plan. Whereas, something is wrong with Helen's.. what? They couldn't sit down with someone from education services and talk about a special school. There was no strategy. They couldn't grasp it."

At the age of 15, Helen took an overdose and was found by her sister, Mary, then only 11, who had been her confidante even during the non-speaking episodes. This image ­ the beloved younger sister frantically dialling for an ambulance ­ hits Helen hard even today. Her face crumples as she tries to control her emotions. Helen describes Mary as, "a lot more sober than you should be at 18. I think she feels like she has to be the one who's OK all the time, which definitely isn't the case. I can't sit her down and say,'Mary, you can have a breakdown now!' but I do try to let her know she doesn't have to be the opposite of me."

Today, Oyeyemi makes rather a good role model. Of course, the newspaper deception is that her life turned around overnight. One minute she was an anonymous, sullen member of the sixth form of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial comprehensive in London, the next she had landed a two-book deal with Bloomsbury and a place to read Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge.

She had been writing The Icarus Girl in secret after sending 20 pages to an agent, who immediately rang to say that if she finished her Turn of the Screw-ish tale of a mixed-race child and her ghost-like imaginary friend, he was sure he could sell it. On A-level results day: "I walk to the board, see my name. Three As! Wow! Then I get a call from my agent. We've signed the contract. That day was so weird." But the publicity game unnerved her. She has avoided Nigeria since. "This supposedly fantastic book advance had hit the headlines and my family over there was talking about it, and it was just... weird." Still, the money was enough to satisfy her desires. She was able to take off to Florence to write during the Cambridge vacations rather than return to dispiriting Lewisham.

She had expected Cambridge to provide like minds. "I was holding on to [the idea of] some place where I would not be strange." In reality, she was ever more the outsider. "I never blame people who have to teach me for not supporting me, because I'm not a good student and I'm not personable in that way," she says. "For a long time I was like,'No medication! No medication!' I didn't want to feel like a machine, putting medicine in and happiness comes out. But in the third year, I took anti-depressants and I wasn't robbed of personality, I just found it a little bit easier to get out of bed." She wrote The Opposite House while at Cambridge, finishing in June just before her finals. It was also there, in a café, that she introduced herself to one of her literary heroines, Ali Smith. "She hates the word mentor. Says it's too close to tormentor. But she is amazing. Lively, irreverent, such a great friend ­ ahh, she's my hero!" In Oyeyemi's company, you get a real and touching impression of a young woman who is working on herself. Since graduating last summer, she has spent time working with the Catholic charity CAFOD in Kenya. How Catholic is she?

"Tough one. Not as in Mass every week, but I'm a believer and I feel it's possible to be rational and recognise your duties to..." But she tails off, squirming. "Oh, I don't know! I don't want to use grand language." She's off to New York this autumn, taking an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia, which is taught by another literary hero, A. M. Homes. "Maybe Columbia will be the one place where my teachers will not dislike me intenselyŠ" Her aim is eventually to split her career between writing and teaching, but she is unsure if this will be in Britain. "I don't really want to come back." Pause. "There's nothing wrong with England but I want to go away. I want to go to Tokyo."

Has she strategies in place for coping with the depression? "Not really. Being self-conscious about it doesn't make it go away." It seems brave of her, being so vulnerable, to cross the ocean for her art. "Oh, yeah, thanks!" she drawls. Then more soberly, "I don't know what will happen, but I figure when I'm right down at the bottom I'm completely alone anyway, so it can't make much difference if I get depressed in New York. Although the Brooklyn Bridge would be good for jumping off."

There's a shy smile when I tell her not to joke. "I'm a coward. I won't jump," she says. And she seems to know herself well enough for that to hold the ring of truth.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Girls In The Attic...

I was inspired by my aunt to do this by an idea she had today and very kindly decided to share with me for a writing idea to help from keeping me writing little pet projects whilst on a hiatus from Beautiful Awakenings...
Here's what I have so far...

Sarah Silver glanced at the morning paper in front of her and knew that today was going to be a bad day. The weather forecast read; "dark, overcast, with heavy showers and thunderclouds ahead." Great. It was the first time in a long time that Sarah actually took time out of her day to read the forecast; normally she didn't need to, and wouldn't waste her time with trivial things like wondering about the weather when she lived in Phoenix, Arizona for all her life.
But, then again, lately, she found herself doing things that seemed alien to her, which included reading the weather forecast for the update in the gloomy town of Pennsylvania, the wettest town in the tri-state area, the small town with a population of approximately 3,000 people was the only one for miles around, and stuck out like a sore thumb on any map.
Deciding to relocate and leave behind her hometown in the middle of the year wasn't exactly perfect timing either. For Sarah, she didn't like to do things by halves, and since her predicament was all too easy to forget about, she certainly didn't feel like her efforts would mean anything, which forced her to question her logic about why she was even going in the first place. For Sarah, she wasn't moving at the end of the year, where you could forget about your troubles and leave your past behind by starting somewhere new, or even at the beginning of the year where you were allowed to take chances, leaps of faith, or even get one last chance for redemption in atoning for your sins, but the middle of the year provided nothing but sheer inconvenience. There was no escaping it.
Sarah Silver had always had a volatile relationship with her father, and although they had shared some genuinely good moments, the best way to describe the relationship she had had with her father on the whole was nothing but a series of broken embraces, where fragments of feelings and emotions were realized but never discussed, and neither of them ever provided the other with the opportunity to reach out.
When Sarah finally got the phonecall to say her father had died, and now realizing she was an orphan and may very well be alone in the world as far as family was concerned, she was a little stunned to find a letter to he father in his things, telling him all about a family she never knew he had,located in Pennsylvania.
Closing her eyes, and retreating back into the memories from that eventful day, Sarah remembered feeling emotional and betrayed, but also as if the void she had always had in her heart from the death of her mother had gotten even bigger, despite trying to fill it with other things, but whatever they were, ranging from boyfriends or stunted trips to the therapist, nothing was able to work.

This had all happened just over a week ago, and at some point in that time she had decided to pack her bags and leave for Pennsylvania, her natural curiosity and recklessness getting the better of her. She took a moment to open her eyes, looking up from where her morning coffee was placed next to her, and registered the date on the newspaper for the first time. The date had no real seminal significance, but she knew from now on and whatever else was to happen, that this date would have some importance to it.

Sarah stood up from the table and took a long look around her kitchen. Over the years, she had fashioned it to be simple and perfectly formed, which made up for it being so small. She sighed as she finished the last of her coffee, and realized she may be without her home comforts; the small, idyllic things in life that made her happy, for quite some time.
Sarah's best friend, Jessica Hart, drove her to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was sixty six degrees in Arizona, the sky a perfect azure blue with not a cloud in the sky.
150 miles northwest of Arizona exists a small town called Little Riding.

The Price Of Beauty...

These pictures all share the common thread that they have been airbrushed almost past the point of no return, where any normal person looking at any one of these covers thinking these pictures were 'normal' would have one hell of a struggle trying to then copy and achieve the looks that are displayed here. Even some celebrities themselves, Kate Winslet most pointedly out of this bunch, to name a few, have spoken in frank and unapologetic terms just how out of hand airbrushing can become, where the picture no longer resembles the real person.

The video below, which is supported by Beauty Company Dove as part of their ongoing campaign for Real Women, highlights the very essence of what it means to be 'airbrushed' to an absolutely amazing degree.
The video features a normal woman who has mousy brown, flat, dull hair. She has several blemishes on her face and her skintone is uneven. Her eyes are dull and seemingly unresponsive.
During the video however, her face becomes clear, refined, and pore perfected, leaving her skin tone representing almost an alabaster white. Her hair is highlighted, with extensions added in to add volume, extra boost, and a lift, before being styled using curling tongs to create soft, beachy waves. Her eyebrows are arched, and her eyes are whitened and brightened before being made wider. The background light has now turned into harsh strobe light, making her skin iluminous and able to catch the light. Her nose has become more streamlined, and her lips have been transformed into a full, slightly seductive pout, and her facial expression has become more responsive. Her neck is elongated, and 'natural' make up added, with a focus on a smoky eye and a nude neutral lip.



To celebrate my 100th post, I decided to do something really special, and in keeping with the essence of the blog and what I'm trying to do in getting all my followers more interested in Bookshelves and Boudoirs...
Here is Time Magazine's compiled list of the All Time 100 best English Language novels from 1923 to the present day... I'm planning to read all of them, but the ones I've higlighted in bold are the ones I have read. Which of these have you read/planning to read? Drop me a line!

  1. The Adventures of Augie March (1953), by Saul Bellow
  2. All the King's Men (1946), by Robert Penn Warren
  3. American Pastoral (1997), by Philip Roth
  4. An American Tragedy (1925), by Theodore Dreiser
  5. Animal Farm (1946), by George Orwell
  6. Appointment in Samarra (1934), by John O'Hara
  7. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970), by Judy Blume
  8. The Assistant (1957), by Bernard Malamud
  9. At Swim-Two-Birds (1938), by Flann O'Brien
  10. Atonement (2002), by Ian McEwan
  11. Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison
  12. The Berlin Stories (1946), by Christopher Isherwood
  13. The Big Sleep (1939), by Raymond Chandler
  14. The Blind Assassin (2000), by Margaret Atwood
  15. Blood Meridian (1986), by Cormac McCarthy
  16. Brideshead Revisited (1946), by Evelyn Waugh
  17. The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), by Thornton Wilder
  1. Call It Sleep (1935), by Henry Roth
  2. Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller
  3. The Catcher in the Rye (1951), by J.D. Salinger
  4. A Clockwork Orange (1963), by Anthony Burgess
  5. The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), by William Styron
  6. The Corrections (2001), by Jonathan Franzen
  7. The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), by Thomas Pynchon
  8. A Dance to the Music of Time (1951), by Anthony Powell
  9. The Day of the Locust (1939), by Nathanael West
  10. Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), by Willa Cather
  11. A Death in the Family (1958), by James Agee
  12. The Death of the Heart (1958), by Elizabeth Bowen
  13. Deliverance (1970), by James Dickey
  14. Dog Soldiers (1974), by Robert Stone

  1. Falconer (1977), by John Cheever
  2. The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), by John Fowles
  3. The Golden Notebook (1962), by Doris Lessing
  4. Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), by James Baldwin
  5. Gone With the Wind (1936), by Margaret Mitchell
  6. The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by John Steinbeck
  7. Gravity's Rainbow (1973), by Thomas Pynchon
  8. The Great Gatsby (1925), by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  1. A Handful of Dust (1934), by Evelyn Waugh
  2. The Heart is A Lonely Hunter (1940), by Carson McCullers
  3. The Heart of the Matter (1948), by Graham Greene
  4. Herzog (1964), by Saul Bellow
  5. Housekeeping (1981), by Marilynne Robinson
  6. A House for Mr. Biswas (1962), by V.S. Naipaul
  7. I, Claudius (1934), by Robert Graves
  8. Infinite Jest (1996), by David Foster Wallace
  9. Invisible Man (1952), by Ralph Ellison

  1. Light in August (1932), by William Faulkner
  2. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), by C.S. Lewis
  3. Lolita (1955), by Vladimir Nabokov
  4. Lord of the Flies (1955), by William Golding
  5. The Lord of the Rings (1954), by J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. Loving (1945), by Henry Green
  7. Lucky Jim (1954), by Kingsley Amis
  8. The Man Who Loved Children (1940), by Christina Stead
  9. Midnight's Children (1981), by Salman Rushdie
  10. Money (1984), by Martin Amis
  11. The Moviegoer (1961), by Walker Percy
  12. Mrs. Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf
  13. Naked Lunch (1959), by William Burroughs
  14. Native Son (1940), by Richard Wright
  15. Neuromancer (1984), by William Gibson
  16. Never Let Me Go (2005), by Kazuo Ishiguro
  17. 1984 (1948), by George Orwell
  1. On the Road (1957), by Jack Kerouac
  2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), by Ken Kesey
  3. The Painted Bird (1965), by Jerzy Kosinski
  4. Pale Fire (1962), by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. A Passage to India (1924), by E.M. Forster
  6. Play It As It Lays (1970), by Joan Didion
  7. Portnoy's Complaint (1969), by Philip Roth
  8. Possession (1990), by A.S. Byatt
  9. The Power and the Glory (1939), by Graham Greene
  10. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), by Muriel Spark
  11. Rabbit, Run (1960), by John Updike
  12. Ragtime (1975), by E.L. Doctorow
  13. The Recognitions (1955), by William Gaddis
  14. Red Harvest (1929), by Dashiell Hammett
  15. Revolutionary Road (1961), by Richard Yates
  1. The Sheltering Sky (1949), by Paul Bowles
  2. Slaughterhouse Five (1969), by Kurt Vonnegut
  3. Snow Crash (1992), by Neal Stephenson
  4. The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), by John Barth
  5. The Sound and the Fury (1929), by William Faulkner
  6. The Sportswriter (1986), by Richard Ford
  7. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1964), by John le Carre
  8. The Sun Also Rises (1926), by Ernest Hemingway
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), by Zora Neale Hurston
  10. Things Fall Apart (1959), by Chinua Achebe
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), by Harper Lee
  12. To the Lighthouse (1927), by Virginia Woolf
  13. Tropic of Cancer (1934), by Henry Miller

A Day In The Life Of...

So... there's NOTHING like a large [believe me, if 'Bucks did an extra large i'd take it] coffee from Starbucks to set you up for the rest of the day!! And for all the aspiring writers/authors/freelancers/rich lazy bums/couch potatoes, I'm sure our nearest branch has now become something of a second home... anyway, a lot of my hours are spent here...
So... it's approximately 4.25 in the morning and I haven't been to bed, so thought I'd follow Emily's lead from and write down 25 things about me to help pass the time... [I considered counting sheep, but thought this was better...]

25 Things About Me...

1. I weighed approx. 2Ibs when I was born, and fit in the palm of my dad's hand.
2. I've been featured in Shout Magazine when I was about 11. My hair looked awful. The stylist did not have one bloody clue what she was doing.
3. I've met Donna Karan, the designer, who said I had a 'Brazilian' booty.
4. I've flown a plane.
5. I've recently decided to become a vegan. It's been about a month now!
6. My poisons are Alcohol and Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice-cream.
7. I buy cookbooks so I can look at the pretty pictures instead of actually making any of the recipes.
8. I have a problem deciding if I prefer Leonardo DiCaprio to Robert Pattinson.
9. I have an acute fear of The London Dungeon and Jack The Ripper.
10. I still get nostalgic feelings from my favourite childhood TV programmes: Live and Kicking, Playdays, Rosie & Jim!
11. I've been on TV as an assistant floor manager for Children's show CITV!
12. I don't like Oreos.
13. I could eat miso soup, vegetable dumplings and vegetable noodles from either Wagamama or Itsu every single day.
14. I would get plastic surgery if I could afford it.
15. I think I could be diagnosed with acute gym-phobia.
16. I'm still obsessed with "The Hills" and "Laguna Beach".
17. I can't drive and don't have my license yet.
18. Christmas is my least favourite holiday. It's really overrated.
19. I was more excited when Twilight came out on DVD than my actual 22nd birthday.
20. I have always wanted to host an incredibly fabulous dinner party.
21. I'm still holding my ideal of having my dream job, dream boy, dream house and dream dog by the time I'm 27.
22. I love rain. But only when I'm inside, warm and toasty with a hot drink in a tidy flat looking at all the people getting wet before watching a movie or bad TV.
23. I love Jersey Shore.
24. My dream is to one day relocate to Los Angeles or New York.
25. I have plans to become a successful writer, features writer, or editor one day in the future.

September Styling...

Having just watched "The September Issue" and "The Met Ball" back to back by the film maker RJ Cutler, I'm feeling incredibly inspired to now do a fashion post. So inspired by the biggest fashion issue of the year, here are some of my favourite current and upcoming style trends for you to incorporate into your look for the next 12 months...

1. Huge Headbands: Don't ask me why, but somehow this works. Yes, it happens to be featured on incredibly stylish and fashion icon Ashley Olsen, who somehow seems to be able to rock just about anything and make it work.... but this look is currently one of my favourites and I definetely see it as a firm Autumn trend.

2. Black Tights & Black Heels: Always a classic choice, never fails to disappoint. My recommendation would be pair a classic heel with fun, quirky tights like the ones below. Your best bet is to save on the tights by going to Topshop - they're generally the best for kitsch, off beat patterns and styles.

3. Black = Yes, Yes, Yes! There's a reason why, when it comes to clothes, Black is without a shadow of a doubt, my absolute favourite colour to wear. Not only is it the most flattering, but when considering a stylish ensemble whether for a night out or a work outfit, it's quite literally a blank canvas so when wearing your LBD to work or for a night out on the town, you can allow other parts of your outfit, accessories in particular, the chance to "pop" adding a demure elegance and sophistication to your outfit without looking over the top and cluttered, but instead looking delicately textured.
What's not to love?

4. Glam up this season with sequins, more black and bowlers...
I absolutely love both Keira and Sienna's looks here... it's so quintessentially the right look for that difficult 'in between' season look where you really don't quite know what to wear or what exactly to put what item with what. Sienna does the edgy rock chick look to perfection, yet manages to be ever so slightly adrogynous but still keeping a definite feminine edge, whilst Keira manages to go for a plain white jumpsuit which she toughens up with a sequinned jacket and blunt, corkscrew curls.
5. One word... Fast.
No, not the act where you willfully abstain from food... shocking, since this is a fashion post, but I'm actually referring to the wonderful designer Mark Fast, who has blossomed and bloomed since his controversial show last year where his stance on not removing his curvy girls from walking his catwalk caused his stylist to immediately quit on the spot. Since then, he's been hailed as the poster boy for redefining fashion with curves, and recently, following the likes of Kate Moss and Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, has now unveiled his new collection for Topshop. I really, really do love this dress... so here comes my new diet once again!
6. Dress up jeans, textured knits, and shorts for evening wear...There's nothing better than wearing a textured knit as soon as Autumn and Winter hits, especially around the cold times leading up to Christmas and New Year... it just calls for a christmassy cup of starbucks goodness or drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire, or taking a long walk in the snow in long, thick boots that keep your feet nice and toasty... you get the picture. The thing I love about knits is that you can dress them up and dress them down as much as you like. The most important piece of advice when choosing knits is, I always make sure I go for the ones that are at least a size too big, although I usually go for a couple of sizes up, so it's not tight. Nobody likes a tight slouchy.

7. Know the value of a good jacket/blazer/coat...Having a good blazer/coat/jacket when it comes to Autumn/Winter trends is priceless. Actually, it's an excellent idea to have a pretty awesome version of all three. Black blazers are timeless - and can go seamlessly from work to social really easily. You should aim to have one short, and one oversized, ever-so-slightly long on the arms so you can play around with the cuffs a little bit, leaving them exposed, so you can easily switch up your look if you want.
A really good leather jacket and some black kohl is a classic pairing, and always a really good go-to wardrobe staple, particularly if you're more rock chick than high school musical.The Burberry trench is a must have for those who can afford the price tag - it's the coat to have, the one which leaves all fashionistas worth their salt salivating over.

8. Colour "Snap, Crackle Pop!"

How amazingly cute is Audrey Hepburn's Orange Mac in "Breakfast at Tiffany's?" Since all of Miss Hepburn's outfits were individually designed and specially made for her by Hubert de Givenchy, it figures. I love the way the Mac is still classic, but also love the burnt orange colour, the texture of it, the look of it, and the way it manages to "pop" and brighten up everything around it.

9. Stack it up!

It's always good to have your Jewellery box filled with accessories around Autumn / Winter when you get the blues so you have something pretty to look at! Makes sense, doesn't it?

10. Make sure to invest in timeless staples...

Make sure to invest in a Chanel bag for Autumn and Winter. It's a timeless classic that will see you through many, many more decades without ever possibly being considered 'unfashionable'. My favourite is still the 2.55 large quilted.

Monday, 23 August 2010

...and I saw Sparks...

I just finished watching 'Dear John' which is the latest novel by Nicholas Sparks to be turned into a film, following the likes of 'The Last Song' and 'The Notebook.' Now, whilst definitely nowhere NEAR as truly romantic as 'The Notebook', I found certain moments quite moving and touching to watch. This must have been echoed by many fellow movie goers, as 'Dear John' ended up being the first film to knock 'Avatar' off its top spot at the US box office.
For Savannah Curtis and John Tyree, it only takes two weeks for them to fall in love with each other, and two years to realize that their fates may be in fact bigger than they realize, and bigger than each other. This is in stark contrast to 'The Notebook' where although young loves Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun are torn apart by fate and destiny, love prevails and brings them back together.
The common thread in both of these movies are letters; the true romance that is found in the simple form of writing a letter. In today's modern society, we use a kindle instead of an actual book, which I love, as the best kind of books are the ones that are continually thumbed through, worn out and weathered to show how much we love them, where we send emails instead of putting pen to paper, and where we text each other in quick, instant, practical short hand slang instead of taking a bit more time to take some time out and hear another person's voice.
Putting pen to paper can be a powerful thing - the very act of sitting down and writing letters to those we love can stimulate a different voice entirely and change the very nature of what we wanted to say; in those instances, we can feel something different, as we take the time to write out each word, so we remember them long after they've been sent away to the ones we love, and the ones we think of when writing and remembering everything... we write it all down, so the love we have for another person remains true.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Want Your Bad Romance...

Heathcliff and Kathy. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. We all want the perfect romance. But what actually constitutes one of those? At first, Heathcliff and Kathy hate each other, Elizabeth and Darcy won't allow themselves to swallow their pride and open their eyes, and Bella and Edward's love almost kills each other. In order to really love someone, does your romance have to turn bad before it can go good, or can it be straight and pure all the way through? But then again, where's the fun or drama in that, especially when it comes to books! In most romantic books, there needs to be a climax, a build up, tension, passion, arguments, complex storylines, fireworks, emotions, and sexual chemistry. There needs to be a protagonist, an antagonist, a villain. Someone who can tear down a relationship leaving the two main characters to build it back up again and find their own truths in the process... but also be able to ultimately bring out the best [and worst] in each other, but the best books are the ones that aren't too cheesy, but have that dramatic edge we all want.
This is what I try to keep in mind when writing chapters for beautiful awakenings. Its hard to find inspiration for what you want your characters to be, which is why I completely understand writers going through writers block. People and critics alike may just brush it off as being lazy, but if you're not feeling truly inspired when you write, and love what you're writing, then there's no point writing just to write something or feel a sense of accomplishment, because you won't, not really. You just have to give it time, but most importantly, wait for the right time. Most writers really do have to take the time to become completely involved in their characters, they can't write from an altogether personal perspective, but instead be able to step outside themselves in order to hear their characters' voices so that they're able to bring the story together.
Like "method acting", most writers and musicians need to feel the inspiration or type of emotion and really go through it before they feel they have enough of an authentic voice to write about what they're trying to say, or really convey their point across to their readers in order to help quantify what they're trying to say.
When it comes to being inspired, particularly by love and the romantics of things, I believe you really can find a romantic thing, gesture, or appeal in almost everything, if you look hard enough, whether that's good romance or bad romance. The most common medium of finding romance in today's culture is probably through photography, as it's the most poignant way of showing every emotion or feeling just by capturing looks on camera.

Skinny Bitch?

I've started reading "Skinny Bitch" again, which is a no holds back 'self help' book encouraging a vegan diet from two former Ford models, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Their mantra is 'cruel love' with phrases like 'smoking is for losers' and to refrain from dairy, phrases like 'go suck your mother's tits' - now although this may not be the way to go for some, it really does hammer home a lot of things we all just dip our head in the sand about, instead of facing up to the truth. And nine times out of ten, the truth hurts, unless you're really, really lucky, which is why we always like to hear lies, because it just sounds better.

"A funny foul-mouthed ode . . . ”
The New York Times Book Review

“What makes this diet easy to swallow is the book's tough-love attitude — part best-friend counsel, part drill-sergeant abuse and a dash of sailor mouth, wrapped in a pretty chick-lit package.”

Don't hate them—be them. The authors of Skinny Bitch offer women a no-holds-barred approach to being thin and fabulous."
— Metro

“The authors are brazen . . .They’re not trying to win popularity contests . . . they just want healthy people.” —Associated Press News Syndicate

“Ready to jump-start [the year] with an electric prod to the system?. . . They tell it like it is, and without delicacy.”
—Chicago Sun Times

“As the authors rightly point out, thanks to slick marketing and food-industry lobbying, we’ve reached such a collective level of ignorance about health and nutrition that a diet telling us to eat lots of meat and no fruit becomes wildly successful. ‘You are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin’ they tell us. Harsh? Yes. But it’s also true. …there’s more solid advice in Skinny Bitch than in most diet and health books.”
Bitch, Anniversary Issue

“By no means for the faint hearted . . . this is as hard hitting as it comes!”
—Hot Stars (UK)

“This diet book doesn’t sugar-coat what you have to do to lose weight.”

“Sensible advice . . .”
—Health & Fitness UK

“Kim Barnouin, a former model with an MS in Holistic Nutrition and Rory Freedman, a former modeling agent, have achieved the seemingly impossible by writing a diet book that’s as sassy and entertaining as it is packed with reliable information.”
Energy Times

“This book is an absolutely hilarious read because the authors treat you like they know you well. They yell at you, they insult you and they call you some very nasty names. But since they are giving out their strongly-held beliefs and advice on living a healthy lifestyle — and you know in your heart they're right — it is refreshingly in-your-face funny.”
— Cathy Mathias, Florida Today

"Skinny Bitch is outrageous, wickedly irreverent, and right on the mark. Any young woman who pays attention to this book will become healthier, thinner, and more powerful."
— John Robbins, best-selling author of Diet For A New America and Healthy at 100

Skinny Bitch combines a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude with cogent analysis and scientific proof to make an engaging, wickedly irreverent, and iron-clad case for eating healthfully. If I had it in my power, I’d provide a free copy to every young woman in the developed world; we could then become, instead of the fattest next generation in history, the healthiest.”
— Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA

"Skinny Bitch dishes up scientifically sound information that will change your health and your life. Its 'in-your-face' approach is at once engaging and humorous, and belies its serious and well-researched underbelly. It’s the spark that will start your personal revolution. Pick it up. Read every last word. Healthy and skinny you will be."
— Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., Senior Nutrition Scientist, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


[My favourite part is the endnote...]

P.S. WAIT!! We have a confession to make! We really couldn't care less about being skinny. Our real hope is for you to become healthy. We don't want anyone to become obsessed with getting skinny. When you eat right and exercise, you feel strong and healthy and confident. You start loving your body - not because you lose weight, but because you feel great. It's an inside thing. You're finally treating your body like the temple that it is.

Comparison is the thief of joy! No matter what we do, most of us will never look like supermodels or celebrities. And accepting this will only make our lives better. So what if there is only one standard of beauty perpetuated by Hollywood that you don't fit into? Don't buy into that bullshit. Take excellent care of the body you were blessed with, and love, love, love it!

[Not so skinny bitches after all!]

Here's what "The Hills" Alumni Lo Bosworth had to say about "Skinny Bitch" on

A few New Years ago when I needed to make a serious change in my eating habits, I picked up Skinny Bitch, the dieting book written by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. It promised me the ass of my dreams plus more as long as I stopped eating crap and went to the gym, plain and simple. And truth be told, it worked (but that seems obvious, right? If you exercise and don't put 8000 calories into your mouth you're bound to drop a few lbs).

Lately, La Scala's Spaghetti Bolognese has been delivered to my home at least once a week on the regular, and I'm feeling sort of doughy through the middle, so it's time to open up the good 'ol Skinny Bitch once more.

I like this book above all the other fad books I've read because a) the writing is so funny, b) the tone actually energizes you to do what the book says and c) because it provides many useful tips plus the reasoning behind every single one. I appreciate understanding the science behind it all; it makes it easier to do what the book asks when you know why you are doing it.

Now, before we get to my favorite tips and tricks gleaned from the magical pages of Skinny Bitch, let's briefly touch on two topics. First, I'm not doing the vegan thing this go-around. I'm just not, end of story. Second, the book does not advocate scrawniness. The introduction makes it perfectly clear that "you don't need to starve yourself to get skinny...[and] you don't need to spend all day at the gym to get skinny. You just need to smarten up and use your head".

Here are the Skinny Bitch tips that actually work for me:

  • Ditch the coffee. Start your morning with a fresh glass of OJ instead. Coffee is highly acidic and causes your bod to produce fat cells. Why? In order to keep the acid away from your organs (16).

  • Rather than drink any booze you want, try a glass of organic red wine produced without sulfites. Booze "raises the level of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, wreaking havoc on your digestive process...hence, bloated fat-pig syndrome" (12).

  • EAT CARBS!!! Just pick good, complex carbs over simple carbohydrates (which the authors tell us are about as nutritionally beneficial as toilet paper). Simply carbs are made from white flower, white sugar, white rice, etc., and complex carbs are natural grains, like brown rice and whole wheat. Other complex carbs: potatoes, beans, quinoa, and pasta made from brown rice, whole wheat or veggies (23-24).

  • Eat fruit for breakfast instead of crap.

  • Snack on fresh veggies, Terra chips and Soy Delicious "ice cream" sandwiches.

[I'm hoping that the "Skinny Bitch" diet will give me the ass of my dreams... a la Britney Spears circa below...]

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Weekends are all about getting the chance to cook lovely home cooked meals.... if you're not at the nearest pub or club that is...
How yummy does this gruyere cheese and asparagus tart look?? :) xoxo
[pictures courtesy of Emily Schuman at]

This weekend i've been....
1. sprucing up the blog BIG TIME! [I hope you like the new look!]
2. Listening to Katie Melua's 'The Flood' and Kelis' '4th of July' on SERIOUS repeat.
3. Writing.... [a lot] please see blog post [When I'm bored I like to...]
4. Not doing one iota of job hunting... that's what mondays are for, right? RIGHT? hmmmmm!

Lounging Miss Lazy...

[I've been trying to get around to finishing all these books of mine for ages!!!]

[...but keep getting distracted by these... stupid damn fashion. I love it too much to let go!]

[...and even considering reading these again... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!]

Sooooooooooooo, I haven't really been doing very much with my time as of late...I've actually been looking at fellow bloggers and wishing my blog was as beautiful as theirs...
Here's a few I really, really like.

1. - Emily Schuman does her blog beautifully, she really does put a lot of hard work and effort into making her blog, especially the presentation, really work for her. Easy to see why she gets over 100 comments per post and has been featured in magazines such as Lucky and Teen Vogue, and even has been asked to design a handbag for designer label COACH.

2. - Joy really does take pride in her blog and showcases one of the many reasons why Big should be celebrated as Beautiful. Her outfits are incredible, almost to the point where you lock into the creation of the outfits so much, and how they look, that you don't even notice she's plus size.

3. - Gabi has just been named as MTV's first ever 'twitter jockey' in a nationwide MTV comp across the states, so fair to say she probably won't have time to blog much anymore, but this blog still comes across as a perfect example of why we shouldn't embrace larger girls like me as fashionable, because nine times out of ten, they actually put together a better outfit than skinny models! Italian Vogue obviously agrees with me because she vlogs on a regular basis for their 'Vogue Curvy' online magazine.

When I'm bored I like to...

[Here's one I did earlier...]



Of all the worst days out of my life, this one really does take the biscuit. This particular day wins, hands down, for being the very worst on record. I know, I know, people are always saying that, and harping on about how bad their day was just because they didn't get the extra shot of espresso in their Starbucks that morning whilst nursing a bad hangover, but in this case it really is true.

On a scale of one to ten, i'm talking a minus one. And for the record, I happen to be someone that doesn't even have the phrase 'high standards' in my vocabulary.

Rain pours down my coat, my shirt, and my collar as I shift from one sore, blistered foot to another, hopping up and down impatiently. Even though I'm completely soaked and have a very good chance of getting pneumonia in the morning, I'm still holding my mac over my head as a makeshift umbrella. The only problem is that my very expensive trench coat from Burberry isn't exactly doing a great job as the material is anything but waterproof, which must have been unimaginable to the sales assistant when she sold it to me, the snooty cow.

My idea of heaven would be getting out of my boots and running a nice hot bath with a glass of merlot, blackberry firmly turned off. Possibly. But I've been waiting here like a crazy woman who looks like she's just escaped from an asylum, standing on the edge of the road, waiting impatiently for my phone to ring, so I can get the green light to start heading home. That was half an hour ago. Actually call it 45 minutes.

I can't feel my toes anymore. I'm never buying shoes from Boots-R-Us ever again. I brought these 'authentic' leather shoes last week in the sale, as I had to make up for splurging on my trench. They were half a size too small anyway, but the girl said they would stretch, and that they made my legs look really long, and drew attention away from my 'rather boxy' arms. And I believed her. Of course I did, I usually buy anything that flatters my figure to a very large extent. Not to mention when I got home, I discovered on the inside label that in actual fact they were 'PVC' and 99% Acrylic as opposed to actual genuine leather, that and the fact that my poor toes were being left to excruciating torture as they got withered away to nubs every day, continuing to rub together with every step I took. Honestly, I'm the world's biggest sucker – I'm surprised some wacky old lady hasn't tried to sell me some 'authentic' magic beans yet.

I'm actually standing on the corner of some street in south west London I'm only vaguely aware of, with music pounding faintly from the club below our feet on an otherwise respectable looking street. A few feet away from me is Keira, my 'boss.' I say 'boss' because she's not my actual boss. I'm her assistant, and Keira's the PA to our actual boss, Amanda Rogers. Only now we've both been put in charge of the V-VIP guestlist for this year's annual black and white party, and it's our job to stay on security and check ins until everyone gets here. Most of the guests have arrived and have been seated, and naturally, it's only the guests of honour who are very, very, very fashionably late. The party is being held in a huge cathedral, featuring a huge fashion show and undeniably large catwalk, so not only are we both waiting on the guests to arrive, but the press, editors, fashion bloggers, staff, caterers and models are all waiting on us, and at this moment in time, I'm the only one who seems even remotely bothered.

Keira has commandeered the nearest doorway and is on the phone incessantly chatting away to her boyfriend. They had yet another argument this morning, and judging by the look on her face, she's completely wrapped up in the fact that they're making up – verbally at least. When she's not on the phone with her boyfriend, Keira spends the rest of her free time talking about her boyfriend with whoever will listen – even the sandwich guy, over how much she's so head over heels for Gareth, her boyfriend of approximately one week. Keira has long dark hair, and a wide smile to match, and an oversized laugh to match. Her dark hair is now all ratty in the rain, but she's still bright faced over Gareth.

Sophia!!” yells Keira, extending an arm towards me, before she presses her phone to her chest briefly. “Any word yet? See anyone arriving? Cars? Limos? Paps?... wow, it's really raining men out here, isn't it??”

This is Keira's idea of being nice to me – saying something vaguely humourous in an effort that I'll collapse laughing and hold her in even higher esteem than she thinks I already do.

Raining men? Do you even see any men around here?” I call back morosely. “It's just bloody raining!”

I normally love “Raining Men”, “Dancing Queen”... all the classics really, and if this had been any other work night which involved me once again working an event, I would have started humming along to myself, but I'm really not in a singing kind of mood tonight.

I feel physically sore, and it's now starting to creep into my psyche now. I just want to curl up into a soft, small little cocoon and escape from everyone, especially this weather. The subtext of “Men” from the song starts me thinking, Austin was supposed to be working tonight. Everyone was supposed to be on red-eye tonight, but weirdly, instead of being out in the rain, he was probably inside the party, working the crowd, and inevitably saving our arses from guests starting to get I restless.

Anyway, after all those 'you're amazing soph' texts; after promising to be here. I sat waiting all that time, watching the door, even when the other girls, Keira especially, never failed to remind me with every five minutes that passed to give up on him, and that he was way out of my league. He was good looking and boy, was it his golden ticket.

Now I feel like a pathetic moron.

Austin Nicholson works as head of Public Relations and works closely with our creative director, Victoria Hendricks, 'Bitchtoria' for short. We've been out on a few dates and even had a fling since we kissed at his friend's barbecue last summer. Everyone calls him Austin Powers around the office, and lately, it's become an out of office trend too. Nobody says it to insult him of course, it's just become a unanimously favourite nickname, and it's even started trickling down to the other departments. I came up with the nickname for him and blurted it out suddenly one late night when we were both working, but he's never told anyone else how he came to get it, despite being asked thousands of times, so it's become something of a running joke now.

Anyway, he just is Austin Powers to everyone, not because of his sexual prowess I might add, although he has definitely been one of the better ones, but just because I wanted to give him a stupid, inappropriate name, the way I've always been called 'fatty boom boom'. I've been called that since eleven, by friends and family, even people I've not known for longer than five minutes. As embarrassing as this was to suffer, I guess my parents called me this more 'lovingly' than anyone else, and my previous boyfriends felt it was quite funny and OK I had this particular nickname, as it meant they could call me 'fatty boom boom' in a carefree, slapstick comedic kind of way without getting punched in the face every single time. Or at least that's what they thought. To be fair, I've always been pretty chubby as a child, but I was allowed to get away with it just being 'puppy fat.' When I hit my teens, I never really managed to lose my 'puppy fat' before hitting puberty, and with the realization of puberty, hormones, and most importantly, feelings, I discovered chocolate, which was allowed down to 'every girl likes their comfort food.' My gentle curves soon expanded, and so did my waistline, into what I would describe [in politically correct terms, that is] as being very curvaceous and voluptuous. But I always say it rounds out my facial features, and at certain mirror angles, this theory proves true.

[Actually, that's a lie. The fact that I'm round as a rubens does not make my face any different. It doesn't smooth my contours, or make my nose more streamlined, or make my face less round and more heart shaped. That's just me saying these things. Myself and my best friend Kaya, who tells me anything and everything I want to hear so I can be in my 'happy place.' Kaya thinks the world is filled with people who laugh and smile all day, have their eggs sunny side up, and has a particular soft spot for bunny rabbits. She also lives a pretty hippie themed, hedonistic lifestyle which might explain some reasoning behind her logic. But I'm planning on losing weight just as soon as I get around to renewing my weight watchers membership.]

A taxi pulls up to the pavement, and I wait with baited breath; the door opens to reveal a foursome of gaggling girls stumbling out of the taxi in their stilettos as the taxi pulls away again. Great. I shove my blackberry in my pocket miserably and continue scanning the roads for any signs of cars.

It's not just being made to stand out here in the pouring rain, it's the bonuses. Today was the end of the financial year at work, not to mention a Max Azria sample sale today at work, which resulted in me getting nothing but my Manolo Blahnik 'seconds' squished, and ten empty rails staring back at me when I finally arrived at the door, out of breath and panting, not to mention someone yelling 'give up the jaffa cakes!' whilst running towards me with an armful of body con bandage dresses. Everyone was jumping up and down with excitement; the girls with their body con dresses, the guys with their bonus pay slips. It was like Christmas come 10 months early, and everyone spent the rest of the day talking animatedly about what they were going to do with all their extra money or what party to wear the dresses to, with the words 'speakeasy', 'elton john', strip joint', 'tequila', and 'threesome' being thrown around in what all sounded like the same sentence. Keira started looking at brand new 7 inch heels online to go with her dress, Austin started planning a 'boys night out' and started speed dialling what sounded like his entire contact list, not to mention making a 'very important call' to Spearmint Rhinos.

And then there was me. With nada. Zilch. Not because I haven't worked hard [to get the extra bonus pay], or because I didn't want the dresses bad enough, because I really, really did, it's just I once again underestimated that the women in my office will literally kill to get their hands on any kind of high end designer label worth having, and not feel even remotely sorry about it to leave you alone and empty handed in the corridor.

With the extra bonuses, it turns out that you have to have worked for the company for over a year, and I missed it by approximately, one day. One day. The word 'unfair' doesn't even begin to touch at the tip of the iceberg of what I'm feeling right now. It's so corrupt and penny pinching. Don't they realize I live in London? I'll be lucky if anyone in HR actually knows my name, let alone where I live, apart from that weird creepy guy with the black rimmed glasses that's in finance, but that's another story.

I'm telling you, if they actually asked me what I thought about it....

Anyway. No point crying over spilt milk, although I have, several times as a child, of not having anything left to go with my oreos and chocolate chip cookies. No juice would suffice.

Not that Amanda Rogers would ever ask my personal opinion about anything – unless Viva Magazine decided to do a plus size cover spread on the cheap and needed an A-Z index of absolutely everything related with being over a size 6. That's the other thing... I have the worst job ever. Well, obviously, not the worst job ever, but at times I really do feel like I'd be happier scraping up somebody's left over chinese food from the day before or giving some poor child their lunch of lumpy mashed potato and cold rice pudding.

It's embarrassing that I'm known to all my friends as 'the assistant's assistant' – primarily in charge of lunch, starbucks, and knowing the exact name and location of 'that sushi place' or 'that restaurant I went to last week' – making sure I have the correct restaurant out of a 100. Prior to getting the job, and in their excitement, my parents had made up 100 business cards for me and my brand new job, not exactly knowing what i'd be doing, or my position, they figured it must be worthy of a business card as its Viva Magazine. However my actual job title is particularly long, all lengthy and complicated, filled with convuluted words so the title actually sounds like one of actual importance.

I look up to see another car come around the bend, and excitedly, happily, I run towards it like a mad woman, hands waving and flying in the air, but not before a shower of dirty water has hit me in the face. I take back what I said earlier, I'm actually happy Austin isn't here. There's no point in even trying to save my make -up.

From the doorway I can hear Keira, still on the phone chatting incessantly to Gareth, but she sounds as if she's taking things up a notch, murmuring into the phone in a sweet, rather raspy voice. I catch a few familiar words and despite my mood, can't help but do my best in clamping my mouth shut before I burst out laughing. Months and months ago now, Keira ended up flatlining a bit at a Viva party, and at the end of the night, started to randomly confess all her explicit dirty talk secrets. Keira said she uses the same two lines every time, and the boys come purring in her ear, full of manic ectasy with the lines 'my underwear is melting off' and 'you're so damn hot. hot, hot , HOT!'

I mean, come on! Would any guy fall for that????

Obviously, by Keira's record, they do.

Me, on the other hand, I always find myself complimenting the guy. I mean, come on!! My peers, the Keiras, the Amandas of the world, the career go-getters don't have time for all of that. They're the angels with dirty faces, the women who take control, who say no when they want, and do things how they want. They have the mindset where they can think like Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl and screw guys like Samantha Jones from Sex and the City.

Hey Soph.” I look up to see Keira off the phone, now lighting up a cigarette instead. She comes over, pulls the majority of my trench coat over her own head and gets out her red lipstick.

Hey”, I say, managing to blink the rainwater off my lashes. “Things all good with lover boy now?”

He's waiting for me at home, stark naked apparently.” Keira replied, blowing out a perfectly formed smoke ring, watching it intently as it sailed up into the dark sky.


What?” Keira looked thoroughly unrepentent. “You know any girl would rather be getting jiggy with it than being stuck out here in the wet and the rain. I look like a wet rat!” She holds up her compact and redoes her mouth in a pillarbox ruby red that makes her whole face pop, and in this light, she looks quite stunning, not that I'm going to tell her that, her ego really doesn't need anymore of a boost.

So, I'm getting a whole new load of make-up”, she says, looking at the half used container in dismay. “Dior, Chanel, crème de la mer, the whole lot. To go with my dresses of course. Now if only I could decide on what party for each dress. There's so many to go to... I just can't possibly choose... and then there's my diet... but what diet suits each dress best, do you think? Soph? Sophia??”

By this point, I had completely zoned out. I wasn't even in the zone. In fact, I was nowhere near the zone and I didn't want to be. All I wanted to do was get these people in, seated and then go home.

You OK?” Keira eyes me narrowly. “You want to go inside the party and get a drink. You could find Austin? I guess I could cover for you...if you want.” I looked up at Keira with a stunned look on my face, like a baby deer caught in headlights. Tears almost sprang to my eyes as I realized Keira was actually doing her best to be genuinely nice to another human being. This really was progress.

Thanks... but it''s fine. I could really use a hot drink instead of a cold one, and besides, Austin's probably working the crowd anyway, to make up for all this lost time.”

Keira smiled. “Well, he'll definetely be working over someone, that's for sure!”

Nobody likes a whiner. There's a mantra that hangs above the office door which me and 3 interns share which says 'If you have to cry, go outside.” It's worked pretty well, having been left by one of the PR girls who used to work at Viva. That or reminiscing the horror story about the young girl who accidentally sliced her hand open with a can opener, and as a result, missed picking up for Lagerfeld, Miesel, McGrath, and Testino who all happened to call in the space of five minutes, so needless to say she was sacked immediately and now works for Women's Own.

Keira is silent for a moment, her hazel coloured eyes glittering in the passing headlights and the glare of passing cars.

you know....” Keira started. I looked up, poised and ready to hear whatever condescending comment she was about to make from her newly painted mouth.

Things will work out for you.... I think.” She says.

How can you be so sure?”

You just have to believe it. I do. I see it. The way you do things, even the worst jobs that nobody wants to do, although you hate doing it, you still do them so perfectly. You still have that drive. For what it's worth, it shows you clearly haven't given up yet.”

I look up at her, and the tears really are starting to show now. “Not for my lack of trying though.” She says as she looks at me and laughs.

Keira's voice is softer now, and I brace myself for my own waterworks as it looks like she's gearing up to say the third nice thing she's ever said to another human being – apart from Gareth, Amanda, and the guy in charge of the sample sales; in her life. I'm in a pretty emotional state at the moment, and if Keira really does surprise herself and me, by saying one more nice thing, that really will push me over the edge – there'll be no stopping it.

Keira's lips are about to move and she's about to say something else where there's a loud noise coming from the door, and both of us turn around, with slightly panic stricken looks on our faces, fearing the worst.

Hey you guys...” It's Kristen, one of the girls on red-eye tonight, but she usually works with Austin in PR.

Anyone of you got a spare condom I could use?” She says with a wink and a smile. Her voice pierces my thoughts as she snaps me right back into actually being in my current situation.

Just in case...” she adds with a seductive grin. “I mean, it is a big one for Viva, and he does have a wife, so we'll probably just end up talking about politics or golf... but you never know!”

I shake my head, whilst Keira roots around her snakeskin clutch to find one, handing it over discreetly.

Thanks babe! I owe you one! Well, it's probably more than one, but who's counting?!” She kisses Keira on the cheek. “Listen, do you fancy coming round to mine tomorrow night? I'm having some of the other girls over too. I'll make spaghetti carbonara!” Kristen looks at me, her face lighting up before registering there's actually another person standing next to Keira. “Oh hey! Ummm... Sophia is it? Keira said she had some kind of new asssitant! Is she breaking you in alright? Well, this thing... do you want to come along to? Keira's told me how much you love carbs!”

I shook my head, before saying “Actually, I....”

Keira interrupted me before I had a chance to explain to Kristen that a home cooked meal for once actually sounded pretty good, even if it was with a group of girls that would watch in shock as I'd probably end up eating more than two forkfuls and actually finish my portion. I mean, how crazy is that?

I can't come sweetie, sorry!” She said, Keira genuinely looking upset.

Why can't you come hang with the girls? What's the matter hun?” asked Kristen.

Well, I'd love to come hang out with everyone, since Gareth's away anyway... I haven't had a girls' night out in so long, and it really does sound like fun.... but... it's this new bloody diet! You see, it's for the annual MET ball, Amanda actually needs me to go this year! Anyway, I don't eat anything.... and when I'm just about to faint, I eat one quarter of a granola bar. I'm just one stomach cold away from my goal weight.”

Kristen's face looks utterly puzzled for a minute, and just when I almost lost hope in believing there could be someone else working in fashion with a normal, rationalized approach to thinking, she puts her hand on Keira's shoulder and looks her square on in the face.

Honey, don't worry about it. I completely understand what you're going through. When I was in Paris for couture week, I tasted everything, swallowed nothing. The Laudauree Macaroons were the hardest!”

I keep smiling as Kristen and Keira say their goodbyes, a kiss on each cheek. I walk a few steps away from Keira until I'm back in my spot closest to the pavement, keeping a close eye out for any Limos, Bentleys, or sheer chaos ensuing. I start fantasizing about my own spaghetti carbonara night... a plate of delicious pasta filled with cheese, bacon, cream.... not to mention a nice glass of white to top things off.

The traffic keeps on piling up down the street, and I start to get a bit light headed when I suddenly realize I haven't eaten anything all day, except for some dry crunchy nut corn flakes as I ran out the house early this morning, and it's almost 10 PM now.

Suddenly, my phone starts to vibrate and I answer it quickly.

Hello? HELLO?” I yell down the phone frantically.

Sophia? Soph? Yeah hi.. it's Austin. We need you in here. The guests are starting to arrive and there's a problem with the VVIP list.... can you come and take care of this? I'm too busy to do it. Cheers. I'm on the third level upstairs. Quick as you can.”


Don't worry, Keira can take care of whatever you're doing. So get your bum in here!” Click.

Flustered, I turn around to talk to Keira, but she's assumed her post back in the doorway, her phone glued to her ear. Bloody Gareth. I try to signal to her, but all I get is a wave back at me.

I start to head towards the door when I'm suddenly all too aware of my appearance. I can't go in there – there's no way.... I look worse than a drowned rat. Keira doesn't look that bad – she's been stuck under that doorway for most of the time, and she still looks pretty much put together, now her hair doesn't look so wet.

There must be a toilet in there before I get to Austin and the 3rd level – yes, there is, I remember there's one on the first floor before the boudoir lounge. I slowly make my way inside, tentatively climbing up the stairs as I nod and smile at the guests, hoping they just let me pass without wondering too much what someone like me could possibly be doing here.

As I get to the first floor, I can see Austin, Amanda, and Karen, another editor, looking down onto the other floors and scouring the floor plan – looking for someone. Probably looking for me, but I can't let them see me like this – Austin for obvious reasons, but more importantly, If I ever want any chance of a promotion, it's probably not a good idea to approach two of the most powerful and influential editors in the fashion business looking like you've been dragged through a wet hedge backwards. Not exactly the best sign of showing that you take your job seriously.

I quickly duck into the toilet doorway before Austin's eyes land on me, and quickly approach the mirror, hoping by some miracle I've remembered to bring everything I need in my clutch bag to make me look half decent. I look inside to find a wet, soggy brush, a half eaten granola bar, some change, some keys, and my business cards from mum and dad. Great.

I fix the loose strands of my hair and try and smooth it out as best as I can, and check my make up for any water stains or mascara lines. Fortunately, I don't seem to have any. I smooth out my black blazer and trousers, and check my shoes. This is the best it's gonna get.

I walk out of the toilet doorway and start making my way up the stairs carefully. My boots are sodden and there's no way they're going to last the night. I've lost all feelings in my nubs now and am sure that I will have blisters the size of Italy when I can finally take them off at home. I can feel the heels on my boots about to give way, hoping I can only make it to the top of these stairs...

I look around the second level to realize it's empty, and Austin, Amanda and the rest of their party have probably decided to go somewhere else. I look around, even peeking over the balcony to see if I can see Austin wrapped around some girl on the dancefloor. Just as I'm about to pull out my phone, I hear my name being called, back towards the stairs.


I walk towards the edge of the stairs and see Austin waiting at the bottom, giving me a short wave. He really can look amazing, especially in a suit. The sad part is he's all too well aware of this.

He signals me to come down the stairs, before tapping at his watch and mouthing 'A-M-A-N-D-A! B-A-L-L-S, P-L-A-T-E!”

I start to make my way down the stairs, one step at a time. My phone starts buzzing again. I pull it out to see its Keira ringing me. As I hold my phone to my ear to answer, I'm not sure what's happening. My phone falls out of my hand, my foot skids on the step, and as I start falling, my brain rushes with sheer disbelief.

I've slipped on my stupid, stupid, cheap heel. I'm tumbling right over, down the steps, oh god, oh god, oh my god!!! I scrabble desperately at something, anything, anything to hold onto. I scrape my skin, bruise my hand, dropping my snakeskin clutch, grabbing for anything to steady myself, to break the fall, but no matter what I do, it's way too late for all of that and I can't stop myself as I tumble to the ground.

Oh crap.

The ground's coming straight towards me, there's nothing I can do anymore. All I know is that whatever happens, this is really, really, really going to hurt.