29 Aug 2010

Why I Sometimes Wish I Still Read from the Children's Section.

One of the hardest transitions to make from children's lit to adult novels is the simple fact that what you want to happen might not. In children's books the hero almost always wins; the shy, quiet girl who you're rooting for gets the lead in the school play or the cute boy. In novels written for adults this does not happen. The woman who desperately wansa baby but her husband isn't convinced remains childless. The man with cancer dies. Unhappy marriages continue, unhappily. You end up feeling angry, really angry, that the author hasn't done what you want. How dare he not? You get so used to authors writing what their audiences will like. Sometimes it's even worse - there is no resolution. You reach the end of a compelling, well written novel with characters that you care about and you don't find out what happens. You don't know if a marriage survives, if a man makes peace with his children, you don't know how the events of the book continue to resonate through the lives of people you feel you know.
Moving from Jacqueline Wilson and Roal Dhal to Christos Tsiolkis and Cormac McCarthy is very difficult, because the writer is no longer writing to make you feel better and relieved and resolved; they are writing to challenge and provoke you.

PS. I turned 17 years old yesterday. We went to Cardiff and Barry. It was lovely and pure.

23 Aug 2010


Last week I went to London with my friend Abi. Abi is a girl I've only met this year but I like her a lot. She's sarcastic and very funny and not really all touchy-feely which amuses me. Her parents drove us down and then they left us in our hotel room and we knelt up on the chairs and lent out the window and just kind of went "why has anybody left us on our own in London?" It was a crazy feeling. Then we got the open top bus around the city and it was just sun-setting time on a Sunday night and loads of church bells kept playing and I felt so happy and it was when we were on there, both grinning like loons, we looked at eachother and said "I want to live here." I've had cities do that with me before - New York, Chicago, Boston. That instant connection with a place that makes you feel so completely involved and alive.
We got the Underground all week (the first time for both of us) and by Friday we knew the lines like Londoners. The Tube is a brilliant place. I loved it. The smell and the bustle and the people and the escalators. And, there were lots of pretty gorgeous suited men on the tube, who I kept faling into and having to apologize too.
We did Oxford Street and Topshop and Urban Outfitters and saw Jude Law and Sienna Miller. We bought food from Tesco and ate it in our rooms. Abi tried to dye her hair and then nearly got an allergic reaction and I panicked about taking her to a hospital because the only one I know in London is St. Barts (and we were miles from that.) We had a fire alarm at half six where I panicked again and ran out of the room sans shoes, knickers, bra and room key. And then there were hot firemen (who knew they existed?!) Then we got ourselves so hyped up that night about creepy Simon's in our room and fires that we shat bricks and had to run down stairs in panic, and the concierge laughed and gave us new room keys.

We breakfasted in Costa with good-looking BBC employees and rang people up pretending to be their lesbian girlfriends (it's a long story.) We made bears in Hamley's and got leered at in Selfridges and gorged ourselves on Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
This one day we went to The Globe theatre to see Merry Wives and at the end all the actors were dressed up and dancing and singing around us and I wanted to cry because I just kept thinking "there's this. whatever else happens in my life there's this. there will always be places like this where I feel like myself." I was so happy.
It's hard to explain but it's moments like those where you realise that you have so much joy in your life and you can't bare the thought because you're so filled up with wonder at living.

I'm going to live in London. Everything feels dull in comparison and I want to go back there and start to live my life how it's meant to be. I fell in love with a city and a feeling.


A couple of weeks ago I went to France with my best freind Alice. The place we stayed was this beautiful little cottage with goats and swings and chickens and a trampoline. We cycled for ages this one day and sat on this bench and it was calm and quiet. We had a gin'o'clock and we read books and Alice played Kate Bush and Frank Turner. We went to pretty little towns like Bar Fleur where I couldn't order food in French and we walked barefoot in the sand.
The room we stayed in had an opening sash-window where I would stick my feet out and read my travel books while she napped. There was fresh bread and cake and butter with salt crystals everyday and I ate and ate and I felt so healthy because the air was cleaner. We stayed up late into the night talking about crap and phillosophy and the future.

There was a beach called Glatigny and I think it was the most desolately perfect place I've been in a long time. The sun was setting and it felt like the sea was going to carry on forever and forever and I was with my best freind and I felt so happy and calm and peaceful.
When we jumped on the trampoline and then lay on it the net felt like it was going right up into the trees and it was strange and wonderful. We talked deeper than I think we've ever talked without things feeling heavy. We watched series four of Doctor Who and Sherlock on the BBC and we talked about Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant and I beat her little brother at Monopoly.
One night we stayed up late drinking cider and then her Mum and Dad were telling these stories from when her Mum was a nurse and went to biker bars with the Irish and Carribean nurses and her Dad was a trainee teacher. I laughed so hard and I thought they should write a book. I think everyone should write books.
Alice is my best freind, but I kind of feel like she's my family sometimes, too. I mean, she has her own sister and everything but sometimes I think she's my surrogate, the replacement for something I couldn't have. I always felt I was too strange, too different, too uncomfortable too find someone who would be like that but I'm dead lucky to find her.