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I went on Woman’s Hour

It would be no exaggeration to say that being on Radio 4 is one of my greatest, most heartfelt, most enduring ambitions. And now I’ve done it – spoken on Woman’s Hour about camping. What a wonderful feeling.  You can listen again on iPlayer HERE.

I wrote about A Moment That Changed Me for The Guardian

Flattering photo, right? I was so honoured to asked to write this, I can’t tell you. The whole A Moment That Changed Me series is great – much better writers than me telling much better stories. Read them all here. Or you can read mine HERE. Or, of course, read an unedited version below…

At thirteen, I looked like a Meatloaf impersonator. Bat Out Of Hell era. I had long, straggling hair, a chin like a melting church candle, an unfortunate penchant for waistcoats and a fine collection of faded black jeans. More I’d Lie For You than ingénue. More roadie than radiant.

We were spending the summer – as we always spent the summer – in Falmouth, staying with one of my mum’s oldest friends; the man who ran The Miracle Theatre Company. One of the great things about having a teacher for a mum, apart from the ready access to felt tips, the huge supply of cartridge paper and being able to play Chuckie Egg on an actual computer at home in 1996 was that we could go away for a whole month during our summer holidays. Every year we would haul out to the coast from our provincial medieval world and spend four damp weeks in Cornwall sunbathing in anoraks, watching plays, eating clotted cream (hence the Bat Out Of Chin), swimming in the sea, making enormous sand mermaids (usually replete with breasts and armpit hair), walking the dog, catching crabs and studiously avoiding going to Flambards.

It was during this summer that I was taking one of those long, self-exploratory baths that happen during your adolescence. As a teenage girl, having a body can feel like frying an egg on a volcano – you’re never sure what’s going to burst out, pop open, spray up, squirt, hurt or bewilder you next. There was a razor on the side of the bath and, out of sheer innocent curiosity I started dragging it across my thigh. No soap, tepid water, a blunt blade and absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was like trying to chop gravel with a bread knife. But, I’d heard that this was what people did. And hey, I was people. Maybe I’d have a bash at it too. (Continued)

I’m doing The Playlist at Green Man Festival

Come! It’ll be fun!

I interviewed Season Butler about Bill Cosby for The Guardian

The moment I read the words ‘dancing as Bill Cosby’ I knew I wanted to interview the performance artist, writer and academic Season Butler. You can read it online here or the unedited version below...

Season Butler is dancing about architecture. Specifically, the social architecture of fame, gender and class that can apparently allow a powerful man in the public eye to sexually assault a number of women. That’s right – she’s dancing about Bill Cosby.

Butler’s latest project, Happiness Forgets, due to open at Fierce Festival in October, is probably best described as a multimedia lecture. As part of the show she’ll be performing eight dances based on the opening credits from The Cosby Show. Remember those dances? The top hats and twirls? The slow shoe shuffles and swing out steps? She will then interpose those dances with spoken accounts of her personal experiences of race, gender, sex and class. It’s a show, she says. An all-dancing, all-talking show. But one that addresses some of the trickiest subjects on offer.

“Last winter I had the blues. The kind of blues that make you go to bed and do a TV binge,” Butler tells me when we meet for a drink by the River Lea, half way between my house and her studio. “I was looking for something comforting, non-threatening and a-political. So I started binge-watching The Cosby Show, from season one, episode one. It was the wrong choice.’ (Continued)

I’m working at The Debrief this month

Which means I’m writing quite a few articles for them. There’s this one, about the joys of living with a man. And this one about celebrities who look like cake. And this one about how to stop a wedding. And various others if you want to read them on The Debrief.

I wrote about air conditioning for The Guardian

I mean, hell, who didn’t. Read it online HERE.

As any woman who’s sat beneath the blasting Arctic gale of an office air conditioning unit can tell you, it’s not just a glass ceiling – it’s covered in ice too.

The journal Nature Climate Change, which reports on the cutting-edge research behind the climate change debate, has published a study of 16 young women performing ‘light office work’ showing that they were at risk of being ‘over chilled’ by air conditioning. Air conditioning may suit hairy-chested middle-aged men, but it is a daily discomfort for the rest of us. The cold office phenomenon, as well as being a reckless use of fossil fuels to deep freeze female office staff, has also spawned a second work wardrobe – the air conditioning cover up.

The promotional hoodie

Left in a cardboard box at the back of the stationery cupboard following that recruitment drive last Autumn, these giant fleece-lined hoodies are the perfect way to both get the blood back in your fingers and tell the world just how excited you were to attempt the Marketing Team 5km Fun Run. (Continued)

I wrote about the women of Nepal for The Debrief

This story got delayed quite a bit, meaning it went through about three different versions. You can read the last of these online HERE or the original, unedited version below…

Women are hit hardest by natural disasters. It’s something you know in your bones and yet may never have actually read in black and white.

According to research released by the LSE, more women die as the direct and indirect result of natural disasters than men, particularly in countries where those women labour under poor socio economic rights. Why? Because while loss of crops, homes, hospitals, roads and bridges threaten everyone’s very existence, it is particularly dangerous if you are already subjugated, going into childbirth, work solely at home, are poorly educated and do not own your own money. To quote the UN Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, “In countries where gender discrimination is tolerated, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards. Not only is the percentage of women and girls who die higher in these countries, but the incidence of gender-based violence — including rape, human trafficking and domestic abuse  is also known to increase exponentially during and after disasters. Most disasters place an undue burden on women and girls who are responsible for unpaid work such as providing care, water and food for households.” (Continued)

That Athena poster you ordered is now ready

I love my friend Alice. And I love her baby. My god I love her baby.

I wrote about camping for The Guardian

The gig I did with Josie in the Hebrides was an incomplete history of my sexual disappointment in tents, so it seemed a good time to write about the pure passion-killing horror of outdoor living for The Guardian. You can read it online HERE or the unedited version below…

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so fatal for dating than to watch a near-stranger sluice themselves down with a wet wipe. The last thing you need, when the sticky buds of potential romance start to appear on the branches of single life, is to go camping. Sliding into a nylon shroud of foot-smelling claustrophobia beside someone you’ve only known for a short while, beneath the insane flapping of a top sheet in the middle of a field is the relationship equivalent of putting your arm in the mouth of a Rottweiler.

Believe me. I should know. As the season of music festivals and midge bites, camping weddings and weekend getaways, open fires and starry nights rolls merrily on like honey off a spoon I give you this warning: beware of camping.

Camping is supposed to be romantic. You’re meant to cling to each other under an open sky, count the stars, stare into the dying embers of where you recently baked a potato and sigh at the simple earthly pleasures of it all. But the truth, more often, is that you’re bent over in the drizzle, hammering a tent peg into bedrock, a smear of sheep shit up one thigh and plaster on the other, while a kid with a tambourine smashes around less than ten feet away. Or you’re caught, halfway through a wet wipe bath, fossicking around in your undercarriage while the mournful face of a baby stares out from the open packet as though asking, silently, why? Why have you done this again? (Continued)

I interviewed Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney for VOGUE

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Sweet lord but I love Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan. And I loved Catastrophe. So, as you can imagine, this was an absolute dream, dream commission. You can read it in September’s issue or an unedited transcript below…

Sharon: They get more horrible to each other in season two.

Rob: We first contacted each other on Twitter. I knew and admired Sharon from afar for all her shows. I had a lot of followers so I think she thought I was somebody important and then she met me and was like ‘Oh no, you’re not’.

S: No, you didn’t. You had about 5,000 or something. I just thought he was disgusting and funny.

Nell: As a single woman living in East London I watched the show and thought, ‘Oh it’s fine, I’m going to be okay.’

S: Lots of people have said that. I feel a bit guilty. I mean, it can happen. It happened to me and it happened to my sister. We met someone by accident and ended up pregnant. But it’s still fairly unusual. (Continued)