memory

AWAY

 I'm writing this from London, from a hotel bed just after 6 AM. I'll be staying with friends most of the time I'm here, but wanted a couple of nights in crisp white sheets to sleep off the jet lag and find my feet in this old town. And the ACE is in my old stomping ground of Shoreditch, and they always do such a nice job of things. I first came to London when I was 18, for a three month holiday and ended up staying four years. I was having a drink with friends at a pub in Hoxton yesterday, a beautiful old British pub with real pints and wood paneling and picnic seats out on the Broadway Market where we watched all the hipsters go by on their bicycles. It was grey but bright and just springtime-enough not to wear a coat. I was talking about how different London was, East London especially, fifteen years ago. We laughed as I pointed out that I travelled with a walkman and had only just got a hotmail address, that I didn't get a mobile for almost two years. It was a different world and a different way of being. But it still feels like yesterday, as well as so damn long ago. 

London is so easy, so blissful for me. I know how to get everywhere and all the good places to go. I know which laneways in Covent Garden are best for getting to the National Gallery and all the side streets off Brick Lane. It's like all the hard work has been taken out of travelling and it's just amazing. This morning I'm hiring a Tokyobike from the hotel and riding up to London Fields to have breakfast at Violet Cakes and I can't wait. 

On Sunday I landed early and took myself straight off to the gallery, bought some new jeans from Liberty, and had a late lunch of viognier, perfectly-simple-in-season asparagus, some cuttlefish and soda bread at St John Bread and Wine (all very understated old-school British). I spent yesterday morning at St Paul's Cathedral, my all-time very favourite place in the world. I used to go on my day off to listen to the evensong and marvel at the space, the detail, the tradition. I lit a candle for my grandmother, who isn't well at the moment, and hoped for her to know the strength and love she has given to us all. Walking across the Thames to the TATE Modern afterwards, I looked down to Tower Bridge and Butler's Wharf where I used to walk most days. The tide was out and I could see the heavy stones and debris the city washed up. And as it was a bank holiday I got to have not only afternoon wines with my friend Ness, but a lovely walk along the canal, some overdue catch-ups and way too much good food at Pizza East. 

I head down the coast in a few days, the grey English seaside and proper fish and chips are imminent. 

LUCKY NOW

Listening and feeling all the feelings with this old song lately. It's been on my mind a lot - singing it in my head and playing it on repeat each chance I get.

Some songs just take you back. I think I remember knowing, those first few listens to Ashes and Fire that I loved this one best. It felt like an important song, one that would define a whole time of my life, the way some songs just do.

And then - again - this past month, round and round in my head...

I don't remember were we wild and young All that faded into memory I feel like somebody I don't know Are we really who we used to be Am I really who I was 

The lights will draw you in And the dark will bring you down And the night will break your heart But only if you're lucky now

He'll be in town again this year, I think, old Ryan...

* Picture from Claggie

SUNDAY / 52

IMG_5252.JPGSo grainy in the evening light, a few glasses of wine later, taken on my phone as I walked in the door after saying goodbye to an old friend. I spent the weekend at home in Adelaide again, for a friend's afternoon wedding - a picnic affair, blankets on the grass at the camellia gardens down the road from my folks' house. I made cucumber, cream cheese and cracked pepper sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and the raspberry slice I always make because it is always so good (here with blueberries, I make it with whatever I fancy at the time). I sat with old friends, got hugs from the much loved parents of old friends, drank champagne and smiled for my friend Hayley and her new hubby Nick all afternoon.

It was nice being back in Stirling, albeit a week after I left. The painting is one my mother's friend did for her, one I have grown up with. When I was younger I dreamed of having long curly hair and wearing flowy dresses in soft colours, just like the women in the painting. I thought it was the most beautiful picture I'd ever seen, and it still kind of is. It reminds me of the illustrations in my mother's favourite Arthur Rackham fairy tales, Edwardian prints we used to peak at in the pages of her old hardcover editions.

LAST YEAR.

MONDAY WARMTH

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetToday has been cold, but mostly wet. Raining cats and dogs wet, severe weather warnings and one very soggy pair of white Converse sneakers later, I am home and warm and dry and happy to be kicking back with a glass of rose. And I came across this beauty on Pinterest and it just made my heart happy - looks to be homemade and well-worn and nothing but sweet and cosy. Made me think how lucky I was to grow up in a pretty quiet and very down-to-earth part of the world where, at the age of 16, my friends and I would go to house parties wearing knits just like these. Kell's grandmother knitted them and they were the least glamorous things you can imagine, in various shades of brown (I'm serious), and we'd rug up in boots and musty knits and that's about it. I don't think we ever thought to wear make-up, or brush our hair. We were all about comfort and I am so glad of it. So many years ahead to deal with all the other stuff and feel less than, we were happy just to spend our days talking about buying cheap cider and making mixtapes. I love that.

ELECTRIC LIGHT

20131212-073937.jpg I used to live with a young man in London, when I was 19 or so. He would hide Milky Bars in the pocket of my coat so that I would find them at 1 in the morning, when I was walking home from work on the cobblestones, hands deep in my pockets trying to warm them. One night, I found him fast asleep in the dark corner of our bed, with this red - this electric light - peaking out from under my pillow. He'd seen me admiring it at Waterstones the week before and never said a word. He didn't like a song and dance, he was reserved - very English. But his gestures were magnificent.

ON HURRICANES

BDI was thinking the other day about the time I discovered Bob Dylan. Not like all the times I'd heard and inherited songs growing up, but the  time I borrowed my dad's Desire cassette and the first song on side A was Hurricane and it blew my mind. I listened to it approximately 12 times over, which is quite a bit of listening when you think about it being an eight minute song. I was about 14, and my sister and I still shared a room, but she must have been out because no one told me to stop being such an idiot and rewinding the tape every eight minutes. And so I just listened to it and wanted to be twenty and impassioned about something.

I listened to it as I was getting ready for a concert. My friends Kell and Laura and I were going to a show at the Thebarton Theatre called - I promise - Gig For World Peace. It was as 90s and brilliantly ambitious as it sounds, and Kell's brother had organised the whole thing with a heap of big-time Adelaide bands and all the money going to charity. It felt like rock and roll and being worldly and generous and we knew there'd be lots of guys there that didn't go to our school. I was really happy with my outfit as I had a new pair of dark blue jeans with just the right amount of flare to be flares, but for people to still notice my limited edition black and dark green Converse All Star high-tops (that I'd covertly 'borrowed' from my sister for the occasion). After a lot of thought I had gone with a plain white t-shirt because I didn't want it to look like I'd tried too hard, even though I'd tried really hard. I knew Laura was going to wear her navy blue 8-hole Doc Martins which I was in awe of, and Kell had a new cardigan that looked like it might be 'vintage' even though it was really from Just Jeans. Because we were Kell's friends we got to work the merch desk and go backstage and her brother gave the three of us bottle of Coopers Pale Ale to share and introduced us to his friend who was wearing a faded Violent Femmes t-shirt.

I think Oh, Sister might be my favourite on the album these days, but those first few bars of Hurricane get me every damn time, especially when the violin kicks in. It always feels like I'm 14 and it's early afternoon and I'm certain that the gig and the rest of my life are going to be amazing.

* Image not my own, found via Pinterest