January 2015 archive

On Minute Critique: Meeting Your Match – Navigating the Minefield of Online Dating, by Daisy Buchanan.

| One Minute Critique, One Minute Critique Books

Meet pic

I met Daisy on Twitter, when I laughed so hard at one of her tweets a bit of the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes I was eating came out of my nose. Which seems like the perfect place to start discussing her book Meeting Your Match – Navigating The Minefield of Online Dating. We met online – see! The minefield could be my nose cavity! Ahem. Since the cereal snot incident I’ve come to know Daisy IRL, which is how I – a happily married woman who last dated when there was dial up (no, really) – found myself reading a book about Internet dating. I knew it’d be funny (see above) and I hoped I might learn how to sound less clueless or patronising when discussing dating with my single mates.

Daisy’s style is LOLsome: ‘We all like going to the movies, but do you go to watch Armenian films about genocide that have no subtitles and last 17 hours, or do you prefer films with so many exploding robots that the heroine faints right out of her bikini?’ And with her strong background in relationship, dating, and sex advice I knew Daisy would have some great tips. All the practical stuff is here: what to put in your profile, what not, which photos to use, which sites, how to initiate, chat, and close down. She walks you through first dates, via short term flings, and on to happy ever after. And sprinkled throughout are choice real life stories to commiserate with, laugh at, and inspire.

What I hadn’t bargained for is the compassion and care Daisy has put into this book. Speaking not like a fusty removed agony aunt, but like a loving older sister: checking you’re okay, that you’re doing things for the right reasons, that you’re happy. Deftly elevating Meeting Your Match far above a simple fun jokey guide. This book has heart, and not just in pictorial form on the cover. Having read it I am better equipped to empathise and support any single friends embarking on an online love adventure: I’ll give them Daisy’s book.

Meeting Your Match, Daisy Buchanan: wearing her heart on her sleeve 5/5


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One Minute Critique: Vigilante, by Shelley Harris

| One Minute Critique, One Minute Critique Books


Full disclosure: I know Shelley personally. We have the kind of friendship that sprung from fireside chats in a writers’ retreat. Where your admiration for the person’s work, spreads to an admiration of them. I like Shelly. I love her book.

Vigilante has an amazing premise: a woman, a real woman, a mother, dresses up like a superhero and fights crime in her sleepy English town. Except this isn’t a cartoon caper of the likes of Kick Ass, this is a visceral, heartfelt act of courageousness by one woman who feels she is disappearing into the mundane mediocrity of her daily grind. Jenny Pepper is flesh and blood and very real. Not simply a midlife crisis, Jenny’s story is a battle cry against hers and the fate of many: the disappearing middle aged woman. She was once young, once lithe, once felt sexy, once full of dreams, and hopes and aspirations. Now she is invisible. Until she puts on her mask. Perversely, by covering up she becomes unavoidable – even if that means people laugh at her, or worse.

With a guttural scream Vigilante shakes what we’ve come to accept: that women reach a certain age and vanish into the background. It slashes through the sexualisation of young women. Tears at the social conditioning that tells us women are weak. Shreds the notion that only men are heroes. Fashion. Footwear. Roles. Sexuality. Society. Marketing. Motherhood. Expectations. Fear. Suppression. Sacrifice. Kick! Smack! Kerpow! Vigilante takes them all on. It shouts of the army of women that cook, feed, clean, that sacrifice their own bodies, their attractiveness, their dreams on the alter of their children. This is a story of love, and fear, and hope, and anger. The effortless fast-paced twists and turns of Jenny’s journey, ever closer to the dark corners of humanity, rip along like flayed fishnet stockings. I’m not playing dress up, I’m not playing at all: Vigilante is one of the great feminist novels of our age. It’s time to fight back. Ladies, don your masks.

Vigilante, Shelley Harris: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No: it’s a great book! 5/5

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Why New Year’s Resolutions Are Pointless

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 new year

2013 did not go how I expected. In January my first book was published: Confessions of a Fashionista – a humorous memoir of my time in the fashion industry. The first few months of the year were spent in a whirl of promotional activities: writing features and articles, event appearances and a lot of networking. As far as I was concerned I was laying the foundations to my new career as an author. Instead I was laying the foundations for a terrible health scare.

I have EDS III, a degenerative connective tissue disorder which makes bones weak, tissues vulnerable to damage, and leaves sufferers with both sporadic and chronic pain. Pushing myself in my work life cost me dearly. In April 2013 I suffered a massive flare up and was unable to walk for six weeks. This was just the beginning. The damage to my body and my core strength was extensive. By September I could just about manage typing for one hour a day, three days a week. Work became a distant dream as I focused on pacing, and building my strength and my health back up. I started 2014 fragile and nervous, hopeful that I might be able to get back to writing properly.

2014 did not go how I expected. I trained myself so I could write 700 words per day, and then trained myself to stop there: terrified that pushing too hard would cause a flare up again. My resolutions, my aims were small, compact, and achievable: I would write the rough draft of a novel.

And then life changed the rules. In March 2014 I was prescribed new drugs. The effect was amazing. I slept. And my body began to heal. I grew stronger and stronger. It was in May, while I was sorting the un-tackled filing from the previous year, that my mum’s words hit home: ‘You’re like yourself again.’ It was like being given permission to try again, to reach, to hope. I still had to pace, and my condition will always need careful management, but it was no longer a choice between having EDS III and being me. I could be me. I could do what I wanted. I pushed on with my novel.

And then in June a documentary director I’d previously worked with asked if I’d like to write the script for a short fiction film. I said yes. Who knew when I’d get another chance to do something like this? Who knew if I’d be well enough? Eagerly I completed the project and the film, Drift, was shot in July.

In July I was offered the role of sit-in host on Radio Verulam, to cover a presenter’s maternity leave. I might never get another shot at this, I thought. I said yes, and I trained up on how to use the desk, sourced guests, produced and hosted the current affairs show Outspoken. It was challenging, rewarding and a huge buzz. For the first time in months I didn’t spend all day in pyjamas.

In October the opportunity to write a play arose. Timing was tight and I knew I’d have to push myself physically to complete it, but it was too exciting to say no. If I was careful with everything else then my body should hold. So I became a social hermit, and the rehearsed readings for my play The Legacy were staged in late December at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden.

It was a glorious end to a year where I’d resolved to write a novel and ended up writing a short film, penning a play, and hosting a radio show. I never set out to achieve these things but when opportunity knocked I said: ‘Disability be damned, hell yeah!’ The way your year unfolds depends less on what you resolve to do in January, and much more on how you respond to what arises throughout it. Sometimes bad things happen and it upsets all your plans. It’s okay: you will get through it. Because sometimes good things happen and upset all your plans too. And that novel I was writing? I finished it in December. Take that, New Year’s resolutions! Wishing you a happy, healthy, and fruitful 2015, whatever you wish for.


I had intended to write this at the beginning of January, but a bout of sinusitis has rather amusingly supported my point.